| 5°C Belfast

Ex-Royal Portrush official pays tribute to BBC golf commentator Peter Alliss after death aged 89

Ex-Royal Portrush official remembers 'gentleman' Alliss after death at 89


Legendary golf commentator Peter Alliss, pictured at Portrush, loved visiting Northern Ireland’s courses

Legendary golf commentator Peter Alliss, pictured at Portrush, loved visiting Northern Ireland’s courses

Legendary golf commentator Peter Alliss, pictured at Portrush, loved visiting Northern Ireland’s courses

A former official at Royal Portrush has paid tribute to Peter Alliss, known as the "voice of golf", who has died at the age of 89.

Mr Alliss, who won more than 20 tournaments during his playing career and competed on eight Ryder Cup teams, passed away on Saturday evening at his home in Surrey.

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

Stars from the world of golf paid tribute last night.

US Ryder Cup star Phil Mickelson referred to the "joy and entertainment he brought to so many people."

Irish golfer Padraig Harrington said he was "a true icon of the game".

Mr Alliss was a regular visitor to Northern Ireland, both during his playing career, and in later years as a TV commentator.

He was fondly remembered by Wilma Erskine, former secretary manager at the Royal Portrush Golf Club.

"He was an absolute gentleman," Wilma said. "I knew Peter very well. He was a very impressive man.

"He was very fond of Northern Ireland, and actually played in the 1951 Open which was held here.

"He was quite proud of the fact that he didn't do very well then, because he and a fellow competitor had met two local girls and headed for the cinema. 'That was the end of my good score,' he said.

"The last time he came into Royal Portrush I was sitting in the Dunluce Room, and he boomed: 'Where is Wilma? Wilma! Where are you?'

"He was always a character, full of life, and an absolute gentleman. I think golf will miss him terribly."

News of his passing was released in a family 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."

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. 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."

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-10 finishes in the event.

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. However, 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.

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

BBC presenter Gary Lineker tweeted: "A wonderfully witty and truly brilliant commentator. Golf will never be the same."

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."

Belfast Telegraph

Top Videos