Peter Alliss, the ‘Voice of Golf’, has passed away at the age of 89 leaving his army of fans and admirers devastated.
A unique, unmistakable and inimitable voice, Alliss was a part of the BBC’s golf coverage for close to 60 years and the lead commentator for 42 of them.
He applied his own distinctive style to covering the game, becoming the king of the withering one-liner and pithy remark in the process, so much so that he even spawned his own Twitter parody account – the ultimate seal of approval.
Back in 2010, bunkered’s Michael McEwan interviewed the Alliss for a feature in the magazine and, by jove, it was entertaining.
What was originally scheduled to be a 30-minute chat turned into an hour-long blether full of fantastically witty, informed insights.
We’ve gone back through the transcript to pull out some of the best bits.
On appearance fees
“If some silly bugger wants to spend $3million getting Tiger Woods down to Australia then so be it.”
On Tiger Woods
“He has been a giant in a land of pygmies. If you go back to the days of Johnnie Miller and Nicklaus and Palmer and Trevino and Norman and so on, you had maybe 25 players who could all challenge him to win.”
On Tiger’s sex scandal
“Everyone can get very holier than thou about these things but I’ve seen it myself over the years that, when you’re famous, in a glamorous profession and you’ve got money in your pocket, women will throw themselves at you and it’s hard to say no. People are frail and can fall by the wayside… It’s hard to look after someone who doesn’t want to be looked after and whose brains have dropped into his Y-fronts.”
On being un-PC in a PC world
“With things being so politically correct these days, you have to be mindful of what you come away with. You might say, ‘That’s put the cat amongst the pigeons’ and, before you know it, cat lovers and bird lovers will start writing in saying: ‘How cruel of you to say that!’”
On hanging up the mic
“I think that I will know when it’s time for me to call it a day before anybody else does. I think my brain still works sharp enough... Rest assured I will go before I’m pushed.”
On his commentary style
“I have my own style. I’m not a statistician. People criticise me because they don’t think I know who all of the young guys are and the rest of it. That’s for Ewen Murray to do. He knows everything about everything. I’m just an observer of people and things and history. I take people on a ramble when we watch the golf and try to give them a bit of information.”
On the game’s greatest players
“The most skilful players, by far, to have played the game were those who played between 1900 and 1930. You’ve only got to look at the tools they had. The balls weren’t round, the courses weren’t in the best condition, and they were going round championship courses, with bunkers that were never raked and before cylindrical mowers came in, and they were shooting 73 or 74 with hickory-shafted clubs. They were geniuses.”
On young players and the money they’re making
“I’m not too sure that they all appreciate it. My old grandmother would have said, ‘They’ve never had to save up to buy a bicycle.”
“You can just imagine the adverts: ‘Play the ball Tiger would love to but isn’t allowed’. I think it could work. I mean, it not like car manufacturers sell the cars that they race in Formula 1, so would it really be that big a deal for professional golfer to have their own ball?”
On slow play
“Too many people bugger about and it’s pathetic to watch. I mean, how can you possibly take a minute-and-a-half to line up a putt from 18 inches?”
“It’s a great game, a wonderful game. It’s a great leveller and it’s there to be enjoyed as long as people don’t fiddle with it.”