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Head to the fairway: our annual Golf Special looks at a favourite pastime of young and old, male and female, and debunks a few myths surrounding the game here. So, if you've been longing to pull out your knickerbockers and tam o'shanter headgear, your golfing salvation lies within.

Return to the green

With spring rapidly unfolding around us, golfers everywhere are dusting off their clubs, but ... Isn't it really expensive and virtually impossible to play here as an expat? The slightly surprising answer is, no.

Most Swiss golf courses recognise club memberships from other countries, as long as your home club is acknowledged by its national golf association. So, if you have a membership back home, bring the card or member letter with you--or alternatively, have one sent over. This should get you a tee time on most courses in the country, though reservations can be difficult to come by on weekends. Also, your handicap needs to correspond to the standard of your chosen Swiss club, which is usually between 30-36.

If you don't have a membership somewhere else, you will need to take the 'playing permission' or Platzreife course with a Swiss Pro. This is basically a 9-hole practical test, and a written rules-and-etiquette test. That may sound a bit irksome, but with the high cost and lack of land, Swiss courses want to make sure that potential players plan on respecting their multi-million-franc investments.

Should you decide to become a member of a Swiss golf club, you will be looking at paying a one-time entrance fee amounting to anywhere from SFr 5,000 for an open or Migros course to SFr 75,000 for the privilege. Afterwards, yearly membership fees of SFr 1,200-4,000 get you club camaraderie and first crack at the tee times of your choice.

However, since the payout represents big bucks for a 5-6 month golf season and popular clubs have long waiting lists, many people opt for a membership with the Independent Swiss Golfer's Association (ASGI).

Swiss golf enthusiast Pascal Germanier helped to found the ASGI in 1998, specifically for golfers who weren't members of golf clubs but wanted some of the benefits of membership. Here, he talks to us about all things golf: the advantages of golf as a sport, what you need to do to play, and what the ASGI offers its members.

Kati Clinton, Swiss News: You are the Secretary General of the ASGI. What is the purpose of the Independent Swiss Golfer's Association?

Pascal Germanier: The purpose is to bring together golfers who do not hold club memberships and to give them the opportunity to play at the vast majority of clubs in Switzerland.

How did you discover golf?

I discovered golf at the age of 13 as caddie at the Golf Club Lausanne. I really enjoyed the exciting atmosphere.

In your opinion, what is the biggest advantage of golf as a sport?

Golf is a sport for everyone--individuals, families or companies--and doesn't have an age limit. Golf's mental and physical training suits everyone, and helps people to maintain physical fitness and good health. And, it is a great way to exercise in the open air.

What are the most common mistakes that people make when approaching this sport?

Well, first, people tend to overlook the idea of training with a professional. Golf is indeed a technical sport that requires specific training to acquire the basics.

Other times, people become tense and nervous because they put too much pressure on themselves to perform well. And sometimes, people forget that golf is a game that requires many years in order to master the basics.

Why is it difficult for the 'average person' to play on golf courses in Switzerland?

Switzerland has many private golf clubs, each with a high number of members. Members come first, especially on the weekends. Also, club mentalities can be slow to change and become more open-minded.

Do you believe that it should be easier for non-club-members to play where they like?

Yes, absolutely. The Swiss Golf Network is currently constructing an online reservation platform, which will list club availabilities and the varying rates.

Do golfers need to have a handicap, or is it enough to know the rules and respect the course?

At most of the clubs, the minimum required to play golf is the 'Swiss Playing Permission' (Autorisation de Parcours/ Platzreife), which is granted by a Swiss Pro.

The 'playing permission' includes a practical exam (nine holes) and a theory exam covering the rules and etiquette.

What are the benefits for an expat of joining the ASGI?

Members receive the ASGI license, which includes: HCP [handicap] management, insurance, and the opportunity to play and train in the clubs. The ASGI also organises numerous tournaments, activities and workshops.

What does an expat need to do to join the ASGI?

People who are interested in joining need to live in Switzerland. They can find our membership form online under the 'member' section, fill it out, and send it in with a passport-size picture and a copy of their handicap level or of their 'playing permission', should they have one.

In the case where someone doesn't have a 'playing permission', most golf courses offer the test to be taken with a Swiss Pro.

Our annual membership fee is SFr 365 for adults, SFr 150 for juniors (14-21 years old) and SFr 50 for children up to 13 years of age.

Can expats with an ASGI card play on all courses? If not, which ones are open to ASGI members and at what cost?

The ASGI has done a new classification of the Swiss Golf Association's (ASG) clubs. There are three categories:

ASGI Partners (30)--clubs with whom ASGI has signed an agreement. These clubs organise activities and charge ASGI and ASG members identical 'green fees'.

ASGI Welcome (50)--visitors are welcome, but there is no agreement. These clubs are free to define their green fees policy.

ASGI Private (13, of which two do not grant access to ASGI members)--these clubs are exclusive and favour the comfort of their members. They define their guests and green fees policy. (See sidebar for a detailed list.)

For more information: www.asgi.ch and www.swissgolfnetwork.ch
ASGI-Partners (30)

Name Club

Golf Public Aaretal
Golf Club Appenzell
Golf Club Arosa
Golf Club Bubikon
Golf Club Domaine du Bresil
Golf Club Fluhli-Sorenberg
Golf Club Gams-Werdenberg *
Golf Club Gotthard Realp
Golf de La Gruyere
Golf Club Klosters
Golf Club Lavaux
Golf Club Les Bois
Golf Club Leuk
Golf Club Limpachtal
Golf Club Losone Gerre
Golf Club Matterhorn
Golf Club Nuolen
Golf Club Oberburg
Golf Club Payerne
Golf Club Rastenmoos
Golf Club Rheinfelden
Golf Club Sedrun
Golf Club Sion
Golf Club Source du Rhone
Golf Club Verbier
Golf Club Villars
Golf Club Vuissens
Golf & Country Club Wallenried
Golf Club Weid Hauenstein
Golf Club Winterberg

Private Clubs (13)

Name Club

Golf & Country Club Blumisberg *
Club de Bonmont
Golf & Country Club Bossey
Golf club Breitenloo
Golf Club Dolder *
Golf Club Domaine Imperial
Golf Club Geneve
Golf & Country Club Hittnau
Golf Club Lucerne
Golf & Country Club Maison Blanche *
Golf Club OSGC
Golf & Country ClubSchonenberg *
Golf & Country Club Zurich-Zumikon *

ASGI--Welcome (50)

Name Club

Golf Club Alvaneu Bad
Golf Club Patriziale Ascona
Golfplatz Axenstein *
Golf Club Bad Ragaz
Golf & Country Club Basel
Golfpark Bern
Golf Club Bodensee
 Weissensberg
Golf Club Brigels
Golf Club Burgenstock
Golf Club Crans-sur-Sierre
Golf Club Davos
Golf Club Domat/Ems
Golf Club Engadine-Samedan
Golf Club Engadine-Zuoz
Golf Club Engelberg-Titlis
Golf Club Ennetsee
Golf Club Entfelden
Golf & Country Club Erlen
Golf Club Esery
Golf Club Gstaad
Golf Club Heidental
Golf Club Heidiland
Golf Club Interlaken
Golf Club Kandern
Golf Club Kussnacht
Golf Club Kyburg
Golf Club Lagern
Golf & Country Club La Largue
Golf Club Lausanne
Golf Club Lenzerheide
Golf Club Les Coullaux
Golf Club Lipperswil
Golf Club Lugano
Golf Club Montreux
Golf & Country Club Neuchatel
Golf park Oberkirch
Golf Club Obere Alp
Golf Club Rheinblick
Golf Club Riederalp
Golf Club Schinznach Bad
Golf Club Schloss Goldenberg
Golf Club Sempachersee
Golf Club Sierre
Golfpark Signal de Bougy
Golf Club Thunersee
Golf Club Unterengstringen
Golf Club Vulpera
Golfpark Waldkirch *
Golf Club Wylihof
Golf Club Ybrig

* Guests may be charged up to 150%
of the normal green fee
COPYRIGHT 2007 Swiss News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:GOLF SPECIAL
Author:Clinton, Kati
Publication:Swiss News
Article Type:Interview
Date:Apr 1, 2007
Words:1323
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