The International Golfing Fellowship of Rotarians
In 1963, Gavin Reekie, as Governor Nominee for district 101, attended the World Assembly at Lake Placid in New York State and at the final banquet was seated along with his wife Connie, at the table of the incoming World President Carl Miller. Carl’s theme for the year ahead was “Meeting Rotary’s Challenge in the Space Age” and promoted the idea of Matched Districts.
Gavin related the wonderful golfing liaison between District 101 and District 728 and the Jackson Christy Porridge Bowl Trophy, and suggested, to further the World theme ‘matched districts’, that Carl should develop this golfing fellowship on a WORLD basis.
Carl responded: “Gavin, I want you good people in Scotland to organize a similar competition between Districts on World basis and I will provide you with a suitable trophy. I will be in Scotland in two months time.
Let me have your ideas and we will finalize the details then.”
This meeting took place at Gleneagles hotel, Scotland, on the 17th August 1963.
Carl was then the World President of Rotary International and Gavin was District Governor of District 101. Also present at the meeting where William Carter, President of R.I.B.I. and Willie Mc Aslam, Governor of District 102, the only other District in Scotland at that time. Based on Carl Miller’s team “Meeting Rotary’s Challenge in the Space Age” and after much discussion the well known Jewellers, A & C. Cairns-Cross, Perth, Scotland, produced a suitable design.
The Carl Miller Trophy continues to be the centerpiece of the many trophies and awards which have grown through the years. The Trophy cost 256 English pounds in 1964, which was paid by President Carl and continues today as the most coveted of the IGFR trophies both for its intrinsic value as well as its meaning to fellow golfing rotarians.
Gavin Reekie presented the runner-up trophy and it continues today. Both are emblematic of the Space Age team of President Carl.
The rules and the number of participants have changed considerably since the first world tournament was held at St. Andrews, Scotland. There were 47 entrants and 10 countries represented. In 1998 there were over 500 Rotarians and guests, with more than 400 golfers in Pinehurst from 28 countries.
At the 1997 meeting of the Board of Directors, a decision was made to incorporate the stableford system to determine winners of many different groups and the 1998 Pinehurst venue was the first occasion to use this scoring system. Nowadays the Championships are played between Rotarian golfers (men and ladies) and three handicap divisions were introduced.
From all the founder members of IGFR, only Gaston Barras is still with us, and very active in Rotary golf.
He was the founder President of GFR Europe in 1975. There are now over 20 national golf fellowship groups.
GFR Europe 45 years of History (1975- 2019)
A shorter story, but already 45 European Rotary Golf Championships organised!
At the 1974 World Championship in St. Andrews, IGFR founder member Gaston F. Barras (Switzerland) met his two friends Armand Delvaux (Luxemburg) and Francesco Folonari (Italy), and at his suggestion they decided to create the European Rotary Golf Championships. The first of these took place at Crans-sur-Sierre (CH) in 1975.
In 2014, after more than 40 years having lead the GFR Europe, Romano Motta from Italy became his successor.
“My sincere thanks go to our founder President, Gaston Barras, and to my predecessor the great Romano Motta. Throughout the years, both have built and expanded our fellowship into a notable association.
GFR Europe has become the most powerful Rotary Golfing Fellowship within IGFR.
We must be proud of that and continue our efforts to further strengthen this precious fellowship on our continent!
It is a great honor for me, and also a pleasure, that I can chair GFR Europe for the coming 3 years and preserve the legacy of this wonderful work”. Luc Salens – GFR Europe president 2018-2020.