Scotsman Alec Ross won the inaugural Swiss Open in 1923 (the first of three titles that he would claim) at a time when there were only eleven golf courses in all the country. The event took place on a further eleven occasions, rotated around Engadine-Samedan, Lucerne, Lausanne and Zurich-Zumikon, before it permanently transferred to Crans-sur-Sierre in 1938.
One of the top private clubs in the country, Zurich Golf & Country Club attracts discerning golfers in the Zurich area the same way as Geneva does in the west of Switzerland. The course was laid out by Tom Williamson (the professional at Notts Golf Club) before Tom Simpson remodelled it in 1936.
The front nine is reasonably flat but long while the back nine is routed over hillier terrain, ending with the 504-yard par five home hole. Most of the fairways are lined by mature trees which, along with greens that are always well tended, offer golfers a superior game in a lush parkland setting.
Donald Harradine was called in by the Zurich club in the mid 1970s and his vast expertise in Swiss course design and restoration was put to good use as he upgraded a layout that today measures in at just over 7,000 yards from the back tees.
German architect Thomas Himmel has been consulted in recent times about a redesign of the course and his master plan is currently being developed.
I had the good fortune to play the Golf and Country Club of Zurich on a glorious summer's day (August 2019). It is a lovely parkland course with generous fairways and very well conditioned throughout. It is a nice walk but there are some decent elevation changes. The greens roll out beautifully; some have very tricky slopes and I had trouble reading them. Bunkering is not overdone, yet I found too many! Again, the sand was beautifully presented.
For Irish golfers, it is a cross between Grange and Tullamore. For Aussies, think a cross between Catalina, Moss Vale and Mollymook, all in NSW.
The players moved swiftly in the pairs and threes, so the single golfer had good momentum. Hence the round itself was very enjoyable.
The outstanding feature of the Club was the delightful friendly and welcoming staff, especially the manager Mr Bob Snoddon. The members too were cheerful and friendly. The facilities are first class and are presented in an understated way. I had lunch on the terrace overlooking the course. The "snack" produced was very tasty and huge: no need for dinner quite some hours later. The waitresses were efficient, cheerful and attentive. So, 4 to 5 for the course, 6 for the manager and club.
Overall, it is a very classy place with a delightful atmosphere. I would not hesitate to spend the day here whether alone or in company.