The European Tour has announced that golf commentator and former player Peter Alliss has died at the age of 89.
Before becoming known as an analyst and later as the “voice of golf.” Alliss, a former player himself, won over 20 tournaments.
The 89-year-old died unexpectedly and peacefully at his home in Surrey on Saturday night.
The passing of eight-time Ryder Cup player, 31-time winner and ‘Heart of Golf’ Peter Alliss saddens the Tour.
Our thoughts at this time are with his family and friends.
– European Tour 6 December 2020 (@EuropeanTour)
Before becoming a popular golf analyst, he represented Europe on the Ryder Cup teams.
Born in Berlin, Germany, on Feb. 28, 1931, Alliss played eight times in the Ryder Cup.
Alliss was overheard talking to a friend on a flight back from a tournament in Ireland in 1960 and drew the attention of another passenger.
Alliss remembers, “I was chattering away, as one does, and about 10 days later there was a letter on the mat from a guy named Ray Lakeland from the BBC,”
“Apparently he had been listening to our stories from the back court and asked me if I would like to be a commentator at next year’s Open.”
Alliss did as he was told and paired the Royal Birkdale commentary stints with an eighth-place finish behind Arnold Palmer, raising his profile to the point that he was picked to give Sean Connery golf lessons before the actor played James Bond in the 1964 movie “Goldfinger.”
The movie featured a famous scene in which Bond plays golf against the eponymous villain, Auric Goldfinger, who was shot at Buckinghamshire’s Stoke Park Golf Club.
After retiring from professional golf in 1969, Alliss became a regular analyst on the BBC. Since succumbing to the dreaded “yips” he had made this decision – an affliction he humorously labelled on his Bentley with the PUT 3 license plate.
From 1978, following the death of Henry Longhurst, he was the BBC’s chief commentator, and his languid style was much liked.
One of his trademarks, evidently said off the cuff when an angry player hurled his putter to the ground, was “He oozes charm from every pore and hurls his putter to the ground,”
Everyone in Ryder Cup Europe is saddened by the passing of Peter Alliss, an eight-time Ryder Cup player. Our thoughts at this time are with his family and friends.
– European Ryder Cup (@RyderCupEurope) December 6, 2020
Alliss told Golf Today in 2014 about his “Statistics don’t really interest me. I come in with a magazine that I’ve scribbled some notes on. Something no one else understands, like ‘dog and chicken,’ which relates to some story.” commentary style. I come in with a magazine on which I have scribbled some notes. Nobody else understands something, such as ‘dog and chicken,’ which relates to some story.
But though Alliss was inducted into the Hall of Fame of golf in the Lifetime Achievement category in 2012, in a series of controversial events, his remarks proved to be no laughing matter.
Alliss remarked in 2015, when Zach Johnson won the St. Andrews Open Championship and the camera was on the wife of the American, “She’s probably thinking, ‘If that goes in, I’m getting a new kitchen.'”
The BBC eventually apologised, but as recently as 2017, Alliss said in an interview with Newsweek that if he had said, “A new coat, or a new car, or that we can move into this big house. That’s just nonsense.” he didn’t think the response would have been the same.
A year earlier, Alliss had caused debate when he said that women who wanted to become members of the Edinburgh Golfers Honorable Business – which owns Muirfield, the venue for the Open Championship – “had better marry someone who is a member.”
On BBC Radio Five Live, he said, “I want to join the WVS (Women’s Voluntary Service), but unless I get a few bits and pieces done away with on my body, I won’t be able to get in.”
In the lifetime achievement category, Alliss was inducted into golf’s Hall of Fame in 2012. As a golf course layout, he had a good stint and was responsible for The Belfry Ryder Cup venue, along with Dave Thomas.
He also hosted seven “A Round with Alliss,” series, in which he played a few golf holes and chatted with a number of prominent individuals in Britain.
From 1953 on, Alliss was married to Joan McGuinness. They had two kids, Carol and Gary. Alliss married his second wife, Jackie, in 1972 and had two daughters, Sara and Victoria, and two sons, Henry and Simon.