News & Opinion

Peter Alliss, known as 'Voice of Golf,' dies at age 89

Peter Alliss
Peter Alliss, known to generations of fans worldwide as the 'Voice of Golf,’ dies Dec. 5 at age 89.

Renowned BBC commentator, whose voice had become synonymous with the British Open, also played in 8 Ryder Cups

Peter Alliss, known worldwide as the "Voice of Golf,” died “suddenly and unexpectedly” Dec. 5 at his home in Hindhead, England, according to his family. He was 89.

Alliss won 31 times as a touring professional before the European Tour was founded, and he played on eight Ryder Cup teams for Great Britain in the 1950s and ’60s. He had become one of the game’s most popular figures as a commentator for the British Broadcasting Corp., earning induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2012.

Alliss had five top-10 finishes in 24 consecutive appearances from 1951 to 1974 in the British Open.

His father, Percy, was a prominent touring professional in the 1920s and 1930s, playing on four Ryder Cup teams. The younger Alliss turned professional at age 16 and became an assistant to his father at Ferndown Golf Club in southern England. Shortly after two years of service in the Royal Air Force, Alliss started winning professional titles in the U.K. By the late 1950s, he had established himself as one of England’s top professionals. In 1958, he won three national opens: Italian, Spanish and Portugal.

Three years later, near the height of his competitive career, he made his debut with the BBC, helping to broadcast the 1961 Open at Royal Birkdale in which he competed, tying for eighth. He retired from professional golf in 1978 and became the BBC’s lead announcer, after the death of Henry Longhurst.

In the ensuing four-plus decades, Alliss became what many observers regarded as the game’s pre-eminent voice. His work included coverage for other broadcasting outlets worldwide, including ESPN, ABC Sports, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. and the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. He was renowned for his deep knowledge of the game and his humorous, often self-deprecating tales from his days as a player and announcer.

As recently as last month, Alliss commentated on the Masters and Dustin Johnson’s record-setting victory at Augusta National. It would prove to be Alliss’ final tournament.

Martin Slumbers, the R&A’s chief executive, said: “Golf commentary will never be the same again after the passing of Peter Alliss. He was a tremendous supporter of golf, and his experience, understanding and love of the game shone through in all that he did. Peter made a huge contribution to golf as a player and commentator, and his voice was part of so many of the great moments in the sport’s history.”

Keith Pelley, the European Tour’s chief executive, called Alliss “truly one of golf’s greats.”

“Peter made an indelible mark on everything he did in our game, but especially as a player and a broadcaster, and he leaves a remarkable legacy.”

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