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Ivor Robson, the former voice of The Open, has died aged 83.

A legendary and much-loved figure in golf, Robson was the official starter at The Open for 41 years before retiring at St Andrews in 2015.

Robson sent the world’s best players on their way in golf’s oldest major for over four decades – from Jack Nicklaus to Tiger Woods, from Arnold Palmer to Seve Ballesteros and from Tom Watson to Rory McIlroy.

• The Open: Ivor Robson looks back on his time as an official starter

With his soft, soothing tones and calming presence, the iconic announcer introduced almost 20,000 golfers to the galleries.

He was also the formerly known European Tour’s official starter for over 40 years, delivering his famous ‘on the tee’ message that made him one of the most recognised and revered voices in the sport.

Martin Slumbers, CEO of The R&A, said, “We are deeply saddened to hear of Ivor’s passing. As official starter at The Open for over 40 years, his voice was instantly recognisable and synonymous with the Championship for players and millions of golf fans worldwide.

“He was popular and well respected among all golfers who played in The Open and I know that they will share in our sadness at this news. On behalf of all of us at The R&A, I would like to convey our heartfelt condolences to his wife of 61 years, Lesley, and the Robson family.”

bunkered had the privilege of speaking to Ivor in the build-up to the 2023 Open at Royal Liverpool, where he reflected on his time as the tournament’s official starter.

“Nobody told me how to do it,” he said. “I had to work it out for myself when I started in 1975. I thought, ‘What do I do here?’ Just keep it simple, where are they from, the name of the player and let them go.

“You don’t need a biography, the only time you had something different to announce was the defending champion? Years ago, when I went on the Tuesday, I would go out on the Wednesday morning with my starter sheet and walk down to the landing area on the first to see what the rough was like.

“If it was deep and you needed someone to hit a provisional, you can’t have them searching for a ball on the first hole, so it’s all this planning and observation you had to do.”

On his trademark “on the tee” call, he said: “It just came out when I did it, and I thought I’ll stick with that, it’s easy, keep it simple. Rolex sent me all over the world, and I was able to meet all these different players, but I used the same trademark for all players.”

And looking back on his distinguished Open career, Robson added: “It is a great honour to be the official starter for the greatest championship in the world. I’m privileged and immensely proud. They were all very special.”


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Ben Parsons joined bunkered as a Content Producer in 2023 and is the man to come to for all of the latest news, across both the professional and amateur games. Formerly of The Mirror and Press Association, he is a member at Halifax Golf Club and is a long-suffering fan of both Manchester United and the Wales rugby team.

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