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Peter Alliss, the Voice of Golf, Dies at 89

By: | Mon 07 Dec 2020 | Comments

Peter Alliss, the voice of golf to millions of people around the world, has died at the age of 89.

A fine player, he won 31 tournaments and played in eight Ryder Cup matches but it was as a commentator and analyst that he became a household name. Having first appeared on the BBC in 1961, he was made lead golf commentator in 1978 after retiring as a player. His playing career was brought to an end when he was afflicted by the yips.

"It is with great sadness we announce the passing of golfing and broadcast legend Peter Alliss," said Alliss' family.

They described his death as "unexpected but peaceful” and said: "Peter was a devoted husband, father and grandfather and his family ask for privacy at this difficult time."

Despite his failing health, he commentated at November's Masters and planned to finally retire after next year’s Ryder Cup.

"Peter was the voice of golf. He was an absolute master of his craft with a unique ability to capture a moment with a magical turn of phrase that no one else could match," said Barbara Slater, director of BBC Sport.

In 2012, he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in the Lifetime Achievement category.

After retiring from playing golf - in a professional sense, at least - Alliss moved into the commentary booth, where his descriptive and dead-pan style became the soundtrack to the BBC's coverage of major golf events.

"His inimitable tone, humour and command of the microphone will be sorely missed. His often legendary commentaries will be long remembered," said the BBC.

Alliss' first experience behind the microphone came at the 1961 Open Championship, remarkably, in the same tournament he was challenging Arnold Palmer on the course.

In 1978 he was appointed the BBC's chief golf commentator following the death of his co-host and great friend Henry Longhurst. "I'm there as an old player, a lover of the game and a good weaver of stories," is how Alliss once described his television role.

To the majority of British golf fans - and many more across the world - his voice became synonymous as the audio accompaniment to the likes of Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods winning the sport's biggest prizes.

"After six decades behind the microphone, he was just a month ago at the incredible age of 89 doing what he loved - commentating for the BBC on the Masters Golf," said Slater. "He transcended his sport as one of the greatest broadcasters of his generation.”

Here are just a few of his most memorable lines:

"What on earth are you doing? He's gone ga-ga. To attempt to hit the ball out of there is pure madness." - his description of Frenchman Jean van de Velde throwing away a three-shot lead on the final hole of the 1999 Open Championship at Carnoustie.

"It's like turning up to hear Pavarotti sing and finding out he has laryngitis." - reflecting on Tiger Woods shooting a third-round 81 at the 2002 Open.

"Looks a bit like Jurassic Park in there." - describing the rough on the 14th at Royal St George's, which hosted the 2003 Open.

"One of the good things about rain in Scotland is that most of it ends up as scotch." - on poor weather conditions during a tournament in Scotland.

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