By Kent Gray
Golf lost one of its greatest characters with the passing of Peter Alliss overnight, just shy of his 90th birthday.

Alliss is remembered for a distinguished career that included no fewer than eight Ryder Cup appearances and 20 wins worldwide. But it was as the quick-witted, ever honest (sometimes pointedly so) and always informed TV commentator where Alliss carved out his legendary status as the “voice of golf”.

RELATED: Peter Alliss, renowned player and acclaimed commentator, will forever be one of golf’s distinctive characters

In early January six years ago, then Golf Digest Middle East editor Robbie Greenfield enjoyed a private audience with Alliss during a visit to Dubai by the 2012 World Golf Hall of Fame inductee. It resulted in a short, three-part “A conversation with Peter Alliss” series which remains as compelling a watch today as it was in 2014.


On golf’s different era
“I did my first open at Royal Birkdale in 1961 and, ahh, that was amazing. That was the one that Arnold Palmer won. I remember that because I’d never seen anyone as exciting as Arnold Palmer play. He was the first really exciting player I ever saw and then later came Seve Ballesteros who was dashing and exciting and in between that you had Jack Nicklaus who was like a giant tank going forward, irrepressible strength and so on but he didn’t have that, in my eyes, he didn’t have that little magic. He was irrepressible but he just bulldozed everything.”

Alliss’ colourful opening monologue set the scene for a fascinating comparison of golf’s bygone era with today’s big-hitting bullies.

Take a look:

It was a trademark of Alliss’ to find a humorous way to get his point across, as he did in the interview:  “And your athletes of the 1930s, Jesse Owens, winning four or five gold medals, I mean some people, my grannie could run faster than him [now] but he was the fastest man in the world in 1936 or whatever. So comparing then and now is ridiculous. You can’t do it really.”

On Tiger Woods
Some argued Alliss never really warmed to Tiger Woods who was marooned on 14 major wins at the time and going through the fallout from his extra marital affairs.

“He was loved early on because he was such a phenomenal player and he did such amazing things and he was a boy smiling and ‘ooh, golly, isn’t this great’, and now he’s [Alliss looks at camera with a gruff face and grumbles], and he looks sometimes at people that were asking questions as if they are stupid. ‘Fancy asking me a question like that [Alliss says looking down his nose disdainfully], geez’. And it comes over, he doesn’t have a happy face.”

We are sure Alliss would approve of the new and improved Tiger who has certainly been more personable in his public appearances since winning his 15th major title at the 2019 Masters. Then again…

On the Rules of Golf
When the conversation swung to the Rules of Golf, Alliss didn’t hold back, describing some of them “very complicated and draconian”.

“Most mistakes are through ignorance and I think golf professionals are amongst the most ignorant of the rules. I think if you took the whole of the top 100 and said you’ve got to sit an exam to be an adjudicator, five percent might pass…I doubt if five percent would pass.”

Always saying it like it was. We’ll miss that.

RIP, ‘Good Sir’.