Gaston Barras, an Honorary Life Vice President of the European Tour who for decades has been the person behind one of the Tour’s most historic events – the Omega European Masters – has died. He was 89.
Barras was Chair of the Organising Committee of the Omega European Masters - formerly the Swiss Open - since 1964 and was a central figure in the tournament’s ongoing success.
The Omega European Masters is the longest-running European event to be played at the same venue, having been staged at the famous Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club since 1948.
The event has been ever-present on the European Tour schedule since the Tour’s inception in 1972 and boasts an impressive list of winners which includes the late, great Seve Ballesteros – who has lifted the trophy on three occasions. Indeed, the course at Crans-sur-Sierre bears his name, the legendary Spaniard having been involved in redesigning it in the 1990s.
Born and raised in Crans Montana, Gaston Barras was a hugely respected figure in the golfing community and was a valued friend of the European Tour.
He was only eight years old when he caddied in the first tournament to be played at Crans-sur-Sierre in 1939 and was privileged to be present for every tournament hosted by the club up to 2019.
A member of the golf club committee at Crans-sur-Sierre since 1954, he was made President of the club in 1981 and held that honour until his final days. He served the sport in Switzerland with great distinction in a number of other high-ranking positions, including president of the Swiss Golf Association (ASG) - now Swiss Golf - from 1991 to 1996, a period during which golf developed significantly in Switzerland. He was also President of the World Council of the Rotary Club from 1985-1988.
His contribution to the sport was recognised by the European Tour on the eve of the 2010 Omega European Masters when the then Chief Executive George O’Grady afforded him the honour of Honorary Life Vice President of the Tour. A member of The Royal & Ancient, he played in four Swiss Opens and played off a handicap of one at the peak of his game.
He spent his final days in his apartment in Crans-Montana in the company of his two sons François and Christian and their families.
Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, said “Everyone at the European Tour is deeply saddened to hear of Gaston’s passing. As well as being a much loved and valued friend of the European Tour for many years he was, quite simply, the driving force behind golf in Switzerland. We extend our sincere condolences to Gaston’s family and friends, the Organising Committee and staff of the Omega European Masters and everyone at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club at this time.”