Peter Alliss Bio

Peter Alliss
Long after his playing days ended, Peter Alliss remained a very influential figure in golf through, among other things, books, broadcasting and course design. David Cannon/Getty Images

Peter Alliss was one of the top golfers in Europe in the 1950s and 1960s, then entered a long career as one of the most highly regarded golf commentators on television. The putting green insult, "Nice putt, Alice!" actually refers to Peter Alliss, who was a weak putter.

Bio

Later in his life, Peter Alliss became one of best-known and most popular golf broadcasters in the world. Before that, he was one of the top golfers in Europe.

And throughout his adult life, Alliss was one of the most influential figures in British golf.

Alliss was born in Berlin, Germany, where his English father, Percy Alliss, worked as a club pro. Percy was one of the best British golfers of the 1920s and 1930s, and he later became head pro at Ferndown Golf Club in Dorset, England. Peter quit school at the age of 14 and went to work for his father at Ferndown as an unpaid assistant.

In 1947, at age 16, Alliss turned pro. He started playing tournaments on the British PGA circuit, the precursor to the European Tour, shortly after. Eventually, Alliss branched out and played in other parts of the world, too, although - save for a 6-week stint in 1954 and two appearances in The Masters - he never played the USPGA.

But from 1954 through his retirement from full-time touring in 1969, Alliss was one of the most successful golfers in Europe. He won 21 tournaments during that span, including three wins in the British PGA Championship.

During one three-week stretch in 1958, Alliss won the Italian, Spanish and Portuguese national championships back-to-back-to-back.

Alliss never won a major championship, perhaps held back by his main weakness: Putting. The putting green insult, "Nice putt, Alice!" or "Hit it, Alice!" when a golfer leaves a putt short actually traces back to Peter Alliss' putting woes.

Then there was the issue of travel costs that prevented many European golfers of the time from traveling to America (and many American golfers traveling to Europe). Alliss did post five Top 10 finishes in the British Open.

He also was a stalwart on the British Ryder Cup team, playing in the event eight times. In an era of American Ryder Cup domination, Alliss compiled a 10-15-1 overall record but a 5-4-3 mark in singles.

Alliss retired from full-time tour golf at age 38 and made his final tournament appearance in 1975. He was well into his second career by then, as a golf commentator. Alliss' first television work was for the BBC at the 1961 British Open. He worked full-time in TV after his retirement as a player, and in 1978 became the lead BBC golf commentator.

International audiences got to know Alliss' knowledge, passion and cheeky humor when he worked with ABC in America, the CBC in Canada and on Australian networks, too. He became one of the most respected and most popular voices on television, earning the title "the voice of golf" in Britain. Golf Digest once called Alliss the best TV golf analyst ever.

Along the way, Alliss branched out into golf course architecture, working with partners to design more than 75 courses.

Among them are two of the three courses at The Belfry, home of the British PGA and a Ryder Cup host site; and The Seve Club in Japan.

He has twice been captain of the British PGA; served as president of the British Greenkeepers' Association, and was the first president of the European Women's Professional Golfers Association (which later developed in the Ladies European Tour).

Alliss' media work extends to authoring more than a dozen books on golf (view titles/compare prices) and hosting Pro-Celebrity Golf on the BBC, a 140-episode series than ran from 1974 through 1988. He has also hosted a golf talk show and a golf travel show on the BBC.

Awards and Honors

  • Member, World Golf Hall of Fame
  • Winner of (points-based) Vardon Trophy on the British PGA circuit (precursor to the European Tour), 1964, 1966
  • Member, Great Britain Ryder Cup team, 1953, 1957, 1959, 1961, 1963, 1965, 1967, 1969