Over a century of history...
The history of golf in Crans-sur-Sierre dates back to 1905. Arnold Lunn of the same company name, owner of the Palace Hotel, lets himself easily convinced that the pastures located west of the hotel would suit perfectly the implementation of a golf course. So sooner said than done. The British Freemantle and Gedge are appointed to draw the course among which the first 9 holes are opened in 1906 and the last 9 in 1908.
Until 1914 golf is almost exclusively the privilege of the British Lords and Ladies. When World War I brakes out, the British leave the “Haut Plateau” and the golf course is then abandoned. It will take until 1921 to hear again about golf. Two hotel owners, Elysee Bonvin (Hotel du Golf) and Albert Bonvin (Beau-Sejour), set up for their guests a 9 hole course with a start and a finish located at the Hotel du Golf. The Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club was founded in 1924 with René Payot as first President.
By 1926 the project to restore the 18 hole course is examined. In the fall of 1928, work is undertaken and the following July the 18 hole course was inaugurated with the tee off and the finish area located as today. Shortly after opening, the British architect Harry Nicholson is mandated to improve the course. He reshapes many greens and adds several bunkers, giving to Plan-Bramois the form that was still in its broad lines the same until 1997. Golf gradually has a decisive influence on the locals. They are getting always more interested in the game, thanks to their children who become caddies and begin to hit balls. Moreover, the Swiss Open, now called the European Masters since 1983, organized for the first time in 1939, continues to be held every year on the “Haut-Plateau”.
At the end of World War II, steps are taken to build a second course on the Xires field. The inauguration of this 9 hole course takes place in July 1951. Used until 1986, this second course is then transformed and expanded to become, as of summer 1988, the “Jack Nicklaus” course.
At the end of 1995, the golf champion and golf architect, Severiano Ballesteros is mandated to carry out various arrangements on the course, to make it both more selective for professionals involved in the European Masters and even more attractive for the many amateurs visiting the resort. The improvements made by the Spaniard are barely finished, that fate plays a bad trick to the course. Indeed, after the Canon European Masters in 1997, one must face the facts. The Plan-Bramois greens have suffered the ravages of time and must be changed. Severiano Ballesteros is mandated to carry out this mandatory transformation that starts in the fall of 1997.
In Summer 1999, it is a brand new course that is introduced to the “Haut-Plateau” visitors. Today, not only the greens have been redone exhibiting sometimes very different shapes and slopes than in the past, but also some tees have been moved and some obstacles added or transformed. Severiano Ballesteros didn’t hesitate to modify the old design of the course, and now some holes have literally changed, that includes also 7th hole with a green close to off-limits, 17th hole, which became a dog-leg on the left and 18th hole, where the green is protected by a front water obstacle.
During the 2002 Omega European Masters, the course was renamed in honor of its famous architect. And now, it is on the “Severiano Ballesteros” that local players, tourists and professionals eager for glory, practice their best shots. Note also that before each new season, small development works are undertaken to correct here and there the shape of a bunker, the outline of a green to further improve this beautiful course.
For further information, the book "Histoire du Golf de Crans" from Pierre Ducrey is on sale at the welcome desk of the Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club.