Voice of Golf Peter Alliss will forever be associated with Jean van de Velde’s epic Open disaster at Carnoustie in 1999.
The words of Alliss, who died on Saturday at the age of 89, became the stuff of legend.
Van de Velde was in the midst of arguably the most astonishing collapse in the illustrious history of The Open.
Leading by three strokes standing on the 18th tee, Van de Velde needed just a double-bogey six to claim the title and become the first player from France to win The Open since Arnaud Massy in 1907.
The smart play was a long-iron lay-up off the tee, another lay-up and a wedge to attempt to make a par four, or a two-putt bogey.
Instead, he pulled out his driver and hit a wayward shot that came to rest on the 17th hole.
Van de Velde then decided to go for the green with his second shot rather than laying up before the Barry Burn.
His shot drifted right, ricocheted backwards off the railings of the grandstands by the side of the green, landed on top of the stone wall of the Barry Burn and then bounced 50 yards backwards into knee-deep rough.
“His golfing brain stopped about ten minutes ago, I think,” Alliss commented.
On his third shot, van de Velde’s club got tangled in the rough on his downswing, and his ball flew into the Barry Burn.
“This is so, so, so sad and so unnecessary . . . oh Jean, Jean, Jean,” said Alliss, as the French golfer took off his shoes and socks and contemplated taking on a shot out of the burn around the 18th green.
“What are you doing?
“What on earth are you doing?
“Would somebody kindly stop him, give him a large brandy and mop him down?
“This really is beyond a joke now, he’s gone ga-ga.
“To attempt to hit the ball out of there is pure madness.
“He could end up not finishing in the top 20.”
But Van de Velde put his shoes and socks back on and eventually took a drop.
“Thank goodness,” said Alliss.
“Good sense prevails.”
He proceeded to hit his fifth shot into the green side bunker before blasting out to within six feet from the hole.
He made the putt for a triple-bogey seven, dropping him into a three-way play-off with Justin Leonard and Paul Lawrie.
Alliss told viewers that he himself should have been “sitting at home enjoying a glass of malt by now, and waiting for the old lady to bring in a nice steak”, as the shadows lengthened at Carnoustie and Paul Lawrie won the play-off by three strokes.
Alliss caused controversy when he savaged van de Velde for his meltdown and 20 years later he was just as scathing when he took aim at Dundee City Council’s bean counters over the closure of Camperdown Golf Course where he won a £500 tournament in 1961.
Alliss said at the time that he was very disappointed to hear councillors in Dundee had narrowly voted in favour of shutting the iconic golf course to save money.
“I played there in 1961 and I remember it had very spectacular trees and it was a very long course,” he said at the time.
“I’m very disappointed to hear it is closing.
“I would have thought a course of that quality could have kept going.
“I’d be very surprised if it couldn’t pay for itself – Dundee City Council need a new set of accountants.
“One thing about Scotland is you can play golf relatively cheaply and it would be a great pity if it closes down.
“It’s a real shame when public golf courses close and I would support the efforts to save it.”
He broke off from his US Masters preparations to give a final interview to The Courier just a month ago where he told how his friendship with the late Sir Sean Connery was forged on the fairways of Gleneagles.
The commentator gave Sir Sean some tips to look the part before a golf scene in Goldfinger in 1964 and little did the two of them know it was just the start of the James Bond star’s love affair with the game.
Alliss also hosted 140 episodes of BBC series Pro-Celebrity Golf between 1974 and 1988, and Sir Sean was among the celebrities who partnered some of the top players in the game.
Alliss said Sir Sean was a “dear friend” and a “good companion” who “thought going to Gleneagles was fantastic”.
He said: “He did his job remarkably well and he will be there forever on film.
“He was a very interesting character and I shall miss him.”
Now the world of golf has another legend to mourn.
The Man with the Golden Voice.
Tribute from the Golden Bear Jack Nicklaus
Jack Nicklaus, the 18-time major champion, said golf had “lost one of its great players, broadcasters, writers, ambassadors and, most important, one of the game’s true friends”.
“Peter was a dear friend to Barbara and me for probably over 60 years,” the American, founder of the PGA Tour’s Memorial Tournament, wrote on Twitter.
“Peter and I played many matches against each other. Peter was a valued member of our Memorial Tournament Captains Club for 22 years. Just as his voice was distinctive to golf audiences worldwide, Peter’s was a respected voice within the Captains Club.
“Peter had a great wit and was a wonderful storyteller. We were blessed to have him at the Memorial in 2019, when he was honored with the Memorial Golf Journalism Award. It was the first time since 1998 that Peter’s schedule allowed him to be at Muirfield Village in person.
“It was very special to see him again, as Peter entertained us while honoring us with his presence. A really good man and friend. Barbara and I send our most heartfelt thoughts, prayers and condolences to Jackie, his wife of 51 years, his family, and his countless friends.”
Voice of Golf would have celebrated 60 years behind the microphone in 2021
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, 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 with finishing eighth behind Arnold Palmer at Royal Birkdale.
Alliss became the BBC’s lead commentator in 1978.
Working in tandem with partner Dave Thomas he created over 50 courses, including the Lansdowne course at Blairgowrie and the original 18-hole Carnoustie Buddon Course which opened in 1981 on former Ministry of Defence land.
He was an honorary member of Blairgowrie and the 18th hole of the Lansdowne course had previously been named “Alliss Hame” in his honour.
Alliss was due to celebrate his 60th year in broadcasting in 2021.