Peter Alliss: Voice of The Open
Peter Alliss is probably the best known commentator of The Open, recognised for his charismatic and unique style of commentary, often displaying a witty demeanour.
Since the death of Henry Longhurst, he has been regarded by many as the current “Voice of (British) Golf”, along with long time commentating partner Alex Hay.
His reputation and style were officially recognised recently when he become the first broadcaster to be inducted into golf’s World Hall of Fame. His acceptance speech left the room rolling in laughter in what normally is a serious affair.
“The Hall of Fame is a very big deal in the US and it’s quite remarkable to think I’m going to be part of it,” said Alliss.
“My playing days ended in 1974 and a lot of people have no idea I played golf at the highest level. But I had a good run for 25 years with ABC television in America. I think what helped is I never changed my style.”
Alliss left school at the age of 14 and began his career as a professional golfer in 1947, at the age of 16.
In his 27 years of professional competition, he won three British PGA Championships, and was semi-finalist in the British PGA Matchplay Championship and played on eight Ryder Cup teams.
He had five top-10 finishes in the Open Championship, coming closest in 1954 at Royal Birkdale when he finished just four shots behind our own Peter Thomson.
Alliss began working for the BBC in 1960, leaving him on the firmest of grounds to offer opinions, with his perfect symmetry of a fine playing record and peerless broadcasting experience.
“I remember the producer Terry Jastrow saying to me, ‘The day I understand what you’re saying is the day you’re fired’. So I bumbled on.”
The 81-year-old turned down an OBE in 2002 and has few regrets with what he’s done – although he would have love to have won The Open Championship.
Later this year Alliss will embark on another tour of one-man shows giving his perspective of life and the game of golf.
Some see his views as ‘old school’, others appreciate Alliss’ deep and personal knowledge of the game and sense of wit.
Yes, he’s not everybody’s cup of tea. But for the great majority who follow golf, he remains nothing less than the Voice of The Open.