Golf commentator and former player Peter Alliss has died aged 89, the European Tour has announced.

Alliss, a former professional himself won more than 20 tournaments before commentating and later becoming known as the ‘voice of golf’.

The 89-year-old died suddenly and peacefully on Saturday evening at his home in Surrey.

He represented Europe in the Ryder Cup teams before making a successful move into golf commentary.

Born on February 28, 1931 in Berlin – Alliss went on to make eight appearances in the Ryder Cup. 


Flying back from a tournament in Ireland in 1960, Alliss was overheard talking to a friend and caught the attention of another passenger.

“I was nattering away, as you do, and about 10 days later a letter plopped on to the mat from a fella called Ray Lakeland at the BBC,” Alliss recalled.

“Apparently, he’d been listening to our stories from the seat behind and he asked me if I’d like to come along and do some commentary at the following year’s Open.”

Alliss did as requested and combined commentary stints 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’.

The film featured a famous scene in which Bond plays golf against the eponymous villain Auric Goldfinger, which was shot at Stoke Park Golf Club in Buckinghamshire.

Alliss became a regular commentator at the BBC after quitting full-time professional golf in 1969, a decision taken after succumbing to the dreaded ‘yips’ – an affliction he marked with customary humour via the PUT 3 number plate on his Bentley.

By 1978 he was the BBC’s chief golf commentator, following the death of Henry Longhurst, and his languid style was hugely popular.

“Oozing charm from every pore, he hurled his putter to the floor,” was one of his trademark quips, apparently delivered off the cuff when a furious player hurled his putter to the ground.

Speaking about his commentary style, Alliss told Golf Today in 2014: “Statistics don’t really interest me. I’ll come in with a magazine which I’ve scrawled some notes on. Something nobody else understands, like, ‘dog and chicken’, referring to some story or other.”

However, while Alliss was inducted into golf’s Hall of Fame in 2012 in the Lifetime Achievement Category, his commentary began to prove no laughing matter in a number of controversial incidents.

In 2015, as Zach Johnson closed in on the Open Championship at St Andrews, and the camera focused on the American’s wife, Alliss remarked: “She is probably thinking, ‘If this goes in, I get a new kitchen.'”

The BBC subsequently apologised, but it was not until a 2017 interview with Newsweek that Alliss said he did not believe the reaction would have been the same if he had said “a new coat, or a new car, or we’d be able to move into that grand house. It’s just nonsense.”

A year earlier, Alliss had provoked controversy by saying women who wanted to be members of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers – which owns Open Championship venue Muirfield – had “better get married to somebody who’s a member”.

He added on BBC Radio Five Live: “I want to join the WVS (Women’s Voluntary Service) but unless I have a few bits and pieces nipped away on my body I’m not going to be able to get in.”

Alliss was inducted into golf’s Hall of Fame in 2012 in the Lifetime Achievement Category, and enjoyed a successful spell as a course designer and was responsible, along with Dave Thomas, for Ryder Cup venue The Belfry.

He also hosted seven series of ‘A Round with Alliss’ in which he played a few holes of golf and chatted with a variety of famous people around the UK.

Alliss was first married in 1953 to Joan McGuinness. They had two children, Gary and Carol. In 1972, Alliss married his second wife, Jackie, and had two daughters, Sara and Victoria, and two sons, Simon and Henry.