THE BBC has apologised after veteran golf commentator Peter Alliss provoked a second sexism storm by musing that the Open winner’s wife might want to use the prize money to buy a new kitchen.
Alliss, 84, known as the “BBC’s voice of golf” and famed for his pithy remarks delivered in a mellifluous tone, had already set social media alight on Sunday night with a comment about young Irish amateur Paul Dunne as he was hugged by his mother after he left the course.
“Ah, that must be mum. Perhaps he likes older women. I don’t know but I hope I got the right one,” said Alliss.
But while the outrage was still in full flow, Alliss stirred further controversy on Monday night with remarks directed towards Kim Barclay, wife of US golfer Zach Johnson.
As the camera focused on Ms Barclay moments before the player holed the putt which won him the prized claret jug, Alliss remarked how the couple would spend the £1.1 million prize money.
“She is probably thinking, if this goes in I get a new kitchen.”
Can’t believe that he can say this! Sexist AllissLesley-Ann Wade, golf manager
Lesley-Ann Wade, manager of British golfer-turned-commentator Nick Faldo, said on Twitter: “Can’t believe he can say this! Sexist Alliss.”
She then added: “By comparison to Alliss Zach Johnson calls his wife the CEO!”
Ms Wade’s second comment was in reference to Johnson’s post-game interview in which he paid tribute to his wife, a sociology graduate from Stetson University in Florida, with whom he has three children.
She worked in social services before the couple met and left to help run The Zach Johnson Foundation, helping children and their families in Cedar Rapid, Iowa. “We are a team and she’s the CEO,” he said as he embraced Mrs Johnson.
“I’ve no say – I don’t want to get fired. She’s my rock. She leads and it trickles down to my friends and family. I am ecstatic and in shock.
“I never really thought I’d win one, then you get one and certainly you feel like you want to win more.
“The support I have back home is fantastic and this is certainly a sharing moment.”
Vicki Lank posted: “Peter Alliss on Zach Johnson’s wife. Yay for casual sexism!”
“Old school sexism from Peter Alliss,” posted another fan, David Stevenson.
Alys Mumford, communications and engagement officer at Engender, an equality campaign group in Scotland, said: “Another day, another story of sexism in sport.
“While Peter Alliss’ comments have rightly shocked those who heard them, they represent the worryingly pervasive trend of sexism in sport and sports commentary.
“Whether directed at women players themselves as we have seen throughout Wimbledon or as in this case, at women supporters of male players, prehistoric comments and attitudes like these need to be challenged.”
Chic Brodie, SNP MSP for South Scotland and a member of the cross-party group on golf promoting the game in Scotland, said: “Alliss should realise that life has moved on, not least in golf where women have been making a significant contribution.
“He really has to realise that his comments which might seem humorous are misplaced. The comment on the kitchen was totally misplaced. He needs to go home and think again, as they say.”
A BBC spokesman said: “Peter made a light-hearted comment which was inappropriate and we apologise if anyone was offended.”
Alliss caused outrage in April when he said in a Radio Times interview that thousands of women have given up playing golf as a result of Harriet Harman’s Equality Act, which ended men-only tee times and restrictions on club facilities which female players could use.
Alliss said legislation granting women equality on the golf course had “buggered up” the game because female players cannot afford the fees.
The BBC was also under fire for delaying coverage of the Open’s final round until 1:45pm, six hours after play started.