Peter Alliss: Legendary BBC golf commentator dies at 89

Peter Alliss smiling

Peter Alliss: Legendary BBC golf commentator dies at 89

Peter Alliss, the legendary BBC golf commentator, has died at the age of 89.

Alliss, known as ‘the voice of golf’ to fans around the world, has been synonymous with the BBC’s golf coverage for more than half a century.

Having first appeared on the BBC in 1961, he was made lead golf commentator in 1978 after retiring as a player.

“It is with great sadness we announce the passing of golfing and broadcast legend Peter Alliss,” said Alliss’ family.

In a statement, they described his death as “unexpected but peaceful”.

They added: “Peter was a devoted husband, father and grandfather and his family ask for privacy at this difficult time.”

Alliss provided the soundtrack to many of golf’s most memorable moments, with November’s Masters the last tournament he covered.

“Peter was the voice of golf. He was an absolute master of his craft with a unique ability to capture a moment with a magical turn of phrase that no one else could match,” said Barbara Slater, director of BBC Sport.

As a player, Alliss won 31 tournaments and he and his father Percy were the first father-son duo to compete in the Ryder Cup, when it was a contest between Great Britain and the United States.

In 2012, he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in the Lifetime Achievement category.

Peter Alliss in red jacket

One of the greatest broadcasters of his generation

After retiring from playing golf – in a professional sense, at least – Alliss moved into the commentary booth, where his descriptive and dead-pan style became the soundtrack to the BBC’s coverage of major golf events.

“His inimitable tone, humour and command of the microphone will be sorely missed. His often-legendary commentaries will be long remembered,” said the BBC.

Alliss’ first experience behind the microphone came at the 1961 Open Championship, remarkably, in the same tournament he was challenging Arnold Palmer on the course.

Between trying to stop the American great claiming victory, with Alliss eventually finishing seven shots adrift of Palmer, the Englishman also cut his teeth analysing his fellow competitors.

In 1978 he was appointed the BBC’s chief golf commentator following the death of his co-host and great friend Henry Longhurst.

“I’m there as an old player, a lover of the game and a good weaver of stories,” is how Alliss once described his television role.

To most British golf fans – and many more across the world – his soothing voice became synonymous as the audio accompaniment to the likes of Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods winning the sport’s biggest prizes.

Only a few weeks ago, Alliss described the moment when world number one Dustin Johnson won the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club.

“After six decades behind the microphone, he was just a month ago at the incredible age of 89 doing what he loved – commentating for the BBC on the Masters,” said Slater.

“He transcended his sport as one of the greatest broadcasters of his generation.”

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