Golfing at the Engadine Golf Club – Switzerland’s Oldest Golf Club
Switzerland’s oldest golf club, the Engadine Golf Club, established in 1893 and located in the picturesque Engadine Valley celebrates its 125th anniversary. Looking back on its rich, eventful history, the golf club certainly has had a fascinating history.
The story of the Engadine Golf Club began in the summer of 1889 when hotel pioneer, Conradin von Flugi, undertook a journey to England with the intention of researching the possibility of constructing a golf course in the Engadine Valley.
The following year a 9-hole course known as the St. Moritz Golf Club, located between today’s railway station and St. Moritz Bad, was first mentioned in the Engadine Year Book of 1890. Thus it was the people of St. Moritz and their guests who first gave a home to golf in Switzerland.
When the game took the Engadine by storm, it came as no surprise that the town of Samedan granted permission to the Hotel Bernina to build an 18-hole golf course in the Champagna plane.
The Director of the Bernina, Angelo Franconi, became the first Honorary Secretary of the newly founded Engadine Golf Club in 1893, the same summer the Engadine Championships took place for the first time. In the following spring, a simple shelter was built in the shape of a chalet, served as the first clubhouse.
With two golf clubs in the Engadine existing simultaneously with more or less the same memberships, it was not long before a merger between the two establishments took place. It also made a great deal of sense as St. Moritz had the funds and Samedan the territory. Joining forces meant that a proper clubhouse could be built, sponsored by generous patrons!
Over the next few years, the Club developed in leaps and bounds. In August 1904, for example, the General Assembly adopted new articles of association and rules and decided to join the Swiss Golf Association, which had just been founded.
In the same summer, the first Championships of Switzerland were held at Samedan. These championships and the ones which took place in the Engadine in following years were regularly won by English players, given their already strong association with the region and the fact that the golf course was still the reserve of hotel guests and tourists, with the locals unable to join.
Everything, however, came to a sudden and dramatic halt at the outbreak of WWI in the summer of 1914.
It was only in the 20’s and 30’s that sport returned to the valley. Once again, regular tournaments took place but alongside the English, there were now German, French, Italian and even Swiss players competing for the prizes.
Tourism once again came almost to a standstill with the advent of the Second World War. Nevertheless, there were tournaments every summer, binding players and club representatives into one big golfing family with the common goal of retaining the sport in the Valley.
Then in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, the golf course in Samedan became a popular meeting place for personalities from industry, politics and even show business, with the likes of the Aga Khan, the Duke of Windsor and later Sean Connery (aka James Bond) regularly playing in the Engadine.
Another turning point in the development of the club took place in the late 40s. Several local caddies, enjoying plenty of practical instruction and experience out on the course, became proficient at the game and excellent players themselves. However, the club refused to accept them as members, remaining an exclusive association of guests, their hosts, and friends, making it almost impossible for anybody else to join.
This led to the foundation of the Samedan Golf Club in 1949, which was accepted into the Association Suisse de Golf in the 70’s. As a result, two golf clubs made use of the course in Samedan.
With the opening of a second 18-hole course in Zuoz-Madulain, the golfing capacity in the Engadine Valley was increased to 36 holes and a third golf club, the Zuoz Golf Club, was established.
Soon after, Golf Engadin St Moritz AG was founded in order to operate the two golf facilities, and all three clubs were entitled to use both courses. By the end of 2007, the Samedan Golf Club and the Zuoz Golf Club were incorporated into the Engadine Golf Club. This merger led to the formation of one of the biggest golf clubs in Switzerland, with a total of over 1,300 members.
Still today, members of the Engadine Golf Club are entitled to play at Samedan and Zuoz-Madulain, with the two courses run by the Golf Engadin St. Moritz AG.
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