- German Open
In 1911, Baden-Baden golf club organized what it called the Open Championship of Germany but the German Golf Association disapproved of the event. It still went ahead and Harry Vardon proceeded to walk away with £100 of the £250 total prize pot when he posted an aggregate score of 279, nine shots clear of Sandy Herd in second place.
The following year, the club staged the contest for a second time, with prize money doubled to 10,000 marks, equivalent to £500. This time J.H. Taylor defeated Ted Ray by six strokes in a 9-hole playoff, pocketing £130 of the prize money on offer, after both men had finished the 72-hole event with scores of 279.
Fourteen years then elapsed before the first official German Open took place in 1926 and fourteen editions of this 72-hole men’s professional stroke play championship were held before the outbreak of World War II caused suspension of the tournament between 1940 and 1950.
Twelve of these early competitions were secured by just three golfers: Percy Alliss claimed the first four titles then another in 1933; Auguste Boyer was champion golfer in four of the seven years between 1930 and 1936; and Henry Cotton won the last three events before hostilities in Europe put professional golf in Germany on hold.
Percy Alliss had become the head professional at Golf-und Land-Club Berlin-Wannsee the year of the first Open, which was held at his home club, and he put local knowledge to good use by recording an 8-stroke margin of victory against his nearest rival, Aubrey Boomer, repeating the feat at the same venue in each of the following three years.
The Open was then hosted by Baden-Baden in 1930, with Frenchman Auguste Boyer winning by three strokes from Percy Alliss and Henry Cotton. Boyer would win fourteen national Opens (Italian, German, Swiss, Belgian and Dutch) on the continent between 1926 and 1936 but the one he most wanted to win, the Open de France, always eluded him.
After coming second three times in four years, Henry Cotton finally got his hands on the trophy in 1937 at Mittelrheinischer Golf Club Bad Ems, near Koblenz, winning in style by a record margin of 17 shots from Auguste Boyer in second place, thanks in part to completing one of his championship rounds in a mere 63 strokes.
Berlin Wannsee and Mittelrheinischer Golf Club Bad Ems each hosted the German Open six times during its formative years but when the competition resumed after the Second World War, only Berlin-Wannsee featured in staging the event and even then it was for just one edition in 1980, won by Mark McNulty.
During the pre-European Tour years between 1951 and 1971, the championship winners became more international with golfers from Argentina (Antonio Cerdá, Fidel de Luca and Roberto de Vicenzo), South Africa (Bobby Locke, Bobby Verwey, Harold Henning and Barry Franklin, and Australia (Peter Thomson and Bob Stanton) claiming ten of the twenty-one German Opens contested.
The Open was held on a rotational basis at four venues during this period: Hamburger Golf-Club (6), Krefelder Golf Club (6), Frankfurter Golf Club (4) and Golf- und Land-Club Köln (4). The 1971 event was then held at Club zur Vahr in Bremen, just before the dawn of a new European Tour era that lasted three decades.
International winners continued unabated during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s: Simon Owen from New Zealand beat Peter Oosterhuis in a playoff in 1974; American Corey Pavin won by three strokes in 1983; and Mark McNulty from Zimbabwe picked up his fourth German Open victory when he made par on the first extra hole in his playoff against Paul Broadhurst in 1991.
Impressive as that win tally is for McNulty, it’s still not enough to beat Bernhard Langer’s record of five German Opens between 1981 and 1993 – and it could have been even more as Bernhard was pipped at the post by one stroke in 1995 when Colin Montgomerie retained the title he’d won a year earlier.
Five additional courses were used by the European Tour to host the event. Düsseldorfer Golf Club (1977) and Stuttgarter Golf-Club Solitude (1982) both made one-off appearances on the Open rota. The East course at Golf Club Hubbelrath near Düsseldorf was employed in 1973 and 1986 then for five editions starting in 1990.
From 1995 to 1997 the Open moved to Golf Nippenburg near Stuttgart before the final two iterations of the tournament were played out on the Faldo Berlin course at Golf Club Bad Saarow, then known as Sporting Club Berlin Scharmütselsee. Sadly, Jarmo Sandelin’s 1999 playoff win against Retief Goosen was the last time the competition was ever staged.
You’ll not find Golf Nippenburg below as it doesn’t feature in any of our German listings.
German Open Top 100 Leaderboard