BBC broadcasting legend Peter Alliss - the 'Voice of Golf' - dies aged 89

Peter Alliss, who became the "voice of golf" after a successful playing career, has died at the age of 89, the European Tour has announced.
Peter Alliss. Picture: Phil WilkinsonPeter Alliss. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Peter Alliss. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Alliss, who won more than 20 tournaments during his career and played on eight Ryder Cup teams, died on Saturday evening at his home in Surrey.

European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said: "We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Peter Alliss, truly one of golf's greats.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"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. Our thoughts are with his wife Jackie and the Alliss family."

BBC television presenter and commentator Peter Alliss. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA WireBBC television presenter and commentator Peter Alliss. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA Wire
BBC television presenter and commentator Peter Alliss. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA Wire

A statement released by the BBC on behalf of the Alliss family said: "It’s with great sadness that we announce the passing of golfing and broadcast legend Peter Alliss.

"Peter’s death was unexpected but peaceful. Peter was a devoted husband, father and grandfather and his family ask for privacy at this difficult time.

“Having enjoyed great success as a player, Peter began his legendary broadcasting career with the BBC in 1961, going on to become our lead golf commentator in 1978.

"His knowledge and love of the game, along with his exceptional ability to tell stories, cemented him as one of the best in the business, and he became known as simply ‘The Voice of Golf’.

"His inimitable tone, humour and command of the microphone will be sorely missed, his often legendary commentaries will be long remembered.”

Born on February 28, 1931, in Berlin, where his father Percy worked as a club pro, Alliss followed in his father's footsteps and quit school at the age of 14 to work for him at Ferndown Golf Club in Dorset, before turning professional himself two years later.

After his career was largely put on hold by two years of National Service in the RAF from 1949 to 1951, Alliss soon began to make a name for himself and finished ninth in the 1953 Open, one of five top-ten finishes in the event.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

That performance helped Alliss gain selection for the Ryder Cup in October, making he and Percy the first father and son to play in the biennial contest, but Peter suffered a crucial singles defeat to Jim Turnesa as the home side lost by a point at Wentworth.

His move into broadcasting came about after he was overheard by the BBC's Ray Lakeland talking to a friend on a flight back from a tournament in Ireland in 1960.

Alliss combined commentary stints at the following year's Open Championship at Royal Birkdale with finishing eighth behind Arnold Palmer, helping to raise his profile to such an extent that he was chosen to give Sean Connery golf lessons before the actor played James Bond in the 1964 film 'Goldfinger'.

Alliss became the BBC's lead commentator in 1978 and was due to celebrate his 60th year in broadcasting in 2021. Last month he commentated on the Masters from home due to the coronavirus pandemic and his own failing health.

Director of BBC Sport, Barbara Slater, said: "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.

"He transcended his sport as one of the greatest broadcasters of his generation. He will be terribly missed and our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues at this very sad time."

BBC Director General Tim Davie added: "No one told the story of golf quite like Peter Alliss. He captured golf's drama with insight, wisdom, and humanity. He was a legendary commentator who brought the game to life for millions of us."

Open organisers The R&A tweeted: "All of us at The R&A and The Royal and Ancient Golf Club are deeply saddened to hear that Peter Alliss has passed away.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"He was a wonderful servant to golf over many years and will be greatly missed. Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time."

Europe's Ryder Cup team tweeted: "Everyone at Ryder Cup Europe is saddened to hear of the passing of eight-time Ryder Cup player Peter Alliss. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time."

Gary Lineker, who worked with Alliss when fronting the BBC's coverage of the Open, tweeted: "Deeply saddened to hear that Peter Alliss has passed away.

"A wonderfully witty and truly brilliant commentator. Golf will never be the same."

Actor John Cleese wrote on Twitter: "Sad to hear of Peter Alliss's death. The most sane and comforting voice I ever heard.

"I always thought that I could cope with the ending of the world if only Peter was commentating on it."

Former Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn added to the tributes, writing on Twitter: "What a great man. Great voice and a true friend of our game. Peter was a brilliant broadcaster but an even better player."We will miss him dearly but we should also celebrate a life well lived. Thoughts are with the Alliss family."Five-time major winner Phil Mickelson posted on Twitter about the "joy and entertainment" Alliss brought to many, and reminisced about a memorable speech he gave at his Hall of Fame induction in 2012.The American wrote: "Peter Alliss sadly just passed away and I wanted to say how appreciative I am for the joy and entertainment he brought to so many people.

"His HofF speech is the best I've heard and I say ‘runker baker’ every time I'm in Europe (he messed up once and I can't forget it)."



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.