The last time that England’s Peter Alliss made the trip across the pond was in May 2019 to accept a journalism award presented at the Memorial in Columbus, Ohio.
“I’m afraid there’s been some terrible mistake made today,” he said. “A journalistic award to me, someone who has no idea how to do short hand, can’t type and is bloody awful at spelling, but I’m here.”
He looked frail and required a cane but friends looked after him, pushing him in a wheelchair.
“They almost bathed me and fed me and tucked me into bed at night,” he said. “I can do it myself but I quite enjoy it.”
There it was, the droll, understated style of the man known as “The Voice of Golf,” who spent more than 50 years in the broadcast booth for BBC in his inimitable style that he once described as being “the cheeky chap who went where angels feared to tread.”
Alliss, who died at age 89, regaled those in attendance at the outdoor ceremony with stories of a life well lived in the game, following in the footsteps of his father, Percy, a three-time Ryder Cupper, including the tale of how he quit school and turned pro at the tender age of 15 to work for his old man at Ferndown Golf Club.
“I played my first big golfing event in 1946. I was 15 years of age and played in the Boys’ championship on the west side of Edinburgh. My father was one of the best players of his day and he took me up on the train from the south coast of England all the way to Edinburgh and I made it to the semifinals and was installed as the favorite,” he recalled. “I was up against a young lad named Donald Dunsdone. He was about 5 foot 3 and had very oily, greasy hair and a face covered in pimples. You don’t see many people with pimples these days, I suppose. It’s because they bathe more than once a month now. If I do say so myself, although I was only 15, I was dashingly beautiful. Handsome, six feet tall, not an ounce of spare flesh. This poor lad was just cannon fodder, really.
“We started out and I was 2 up after 4 and the crowds were running – there must have been about a dozen of them – and we got to 16 and we shook hands and he beat me 3 and 2. On the way back on the train my father let me know where I had gone wrong and what I could’ve and should’ve done. He said, I guess there isn’t any need for you to do any further education; you’re not going to be a doctor, lawyer, accountant, but you do have a little talent at golf and if you practice and use your brains there is a chance you’ll do something in the world of golf. Who knows, you might make a Ryder Cup team and that would afford you the opportunity to put your name forth for a bigger club job. You’ll be OK. You’ll be able to make a living. That’s what we thought about in those days. You can be my assistant and we’ll take it from there. I did. I started working for him. I had no idea that those few words you can be my assistant and enter the world of golf would have such a tremendous impact on my life.”
For the next 70 years, Alliss traveled the globe, circumnavigated it a half-dozen times by his own estimation “always at somebody else’s expense, I hasten to add,” he noted, meeting all sorts of people – businessmen, actors, politicians – playing golf at the most wonderful courses and against the best players in the world.
While Alliss downplayed his abilities as a golfer, he continued the family tradition, winning 23 tournaments worldwide during a professional career that lasted until 1974.
He represented England 10 times in World Cup competitions and played on eight Great Britain & Ireland Ryder Cup teams between 1953 and 1969.
Everyone at Ryder Cup Europe is saddened to hear of the passing of eight-time Ryder Cup player Peter Alliss. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.
— Ryder Cup Europe (@RyderCupEurope) December 6, 2020
“And then after a period entering the world of television, first in Britain and then in South Africa, Asia, Japan, Australia, Canada, and eventually the U.S., where I spent 30 wondrous years working with some delightful people. Some of them are even here,” Alliss said. “Some I haven’t seen in 25 years or more. I suddenly had the most horrid thought, what if I still owe them money? That’s why they turned up. Get the old bugger before he dies. But anyway, it has been a wonderful journey.”
Indeed, it was. In an introductory video, Clive Clark, his fellow Englishman and commentator, shared a bit of classic Alliss dry humor, which seems a most fitting way to end this tribute:
“I remember someone asking Peter, ‘What’s the finest shot you’ve ever seen?’ He immediately replied, ‘I was playing in the Ryder Cup at Eldorado in Indian Wells in 1959 and I was 1 down playing the 18th hole in a singles match against Jay Hebert. The last hole is a par 5 with a frightening amount of water down the right side and guarding the green. I blistered a 3 wood to within six yards of the pin.’ An observer asked Peter, ‘So, is that the finest golf shot you’ve ever seen?’ To which Peter replied, ‘No, Jay was a few yards ahead of me and proceeded to hit a fat 2-iron into the lake. That was the finest golf shot I’ve ever seen!’”
original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2020/12/06/remembering-peter-alliss-the-voice-of-golf/