Alliss in Wonderland
Golf commentary is a difficult art. A major professional tournament may be on air, live, for more than eight hours a day, and in between shots there are long periods of inactivity which need to be filled with words, even after allowing for the "brilliant flashes of silence" made famous by the great Henry Longhurst.|
Most golf commentators fall into two categories. The former professional turned technical analyst, who is rarely critical of his fellow player (he has been there, and knows how hard it is) and the sports journalist, less technically aware, but more adept at setting the scene. It is rare to find someone who has both an intimate knowledge of the golf swing, able to describe its intricacies in layman's language, and the inquisitive eye and ear of a journalist. Rarer still if that person is a masterful raconteur with a sharp, wry sense of humour.
That rare bird is Peter Alliss. At Anyone for Tee we believe that he is a national treasure, whose gems of commentating wit and wisdom must be preserved before he decides to hang up his microphone.
In this collection we have tried to gather some of his finest on-air moments, from the sublime to the ridiculous. (We have called it 'Alliss in Wonderland' from his habit of prefacing a cheeky comment with the words "I wonder if...".) We hope it may also spur on some of the up and coming generation of commentators to aspire to the same heights of wit, irony, savoir faire and regular complete deviation from the subject to which Alliss has accustomed us. So if you hear a good one, remember to share it with us.
You can also find out more about Peter and his career both on and off the course, as well as read his musings on golf and life in general, by visiting his personal website here.
Looking for a particular commentator? Go straight there by clicking on the name:|
It's a funny old game...
One good thing about rain in Scotland - most of it ends up as scotch.
He's got to go in for a hernia operation, but when he gets over that he'll be back in harness again.
5-5-5-4-7. It's like the dialing code for Tierra del Fuego. (Describing Duffy Waldorf's first five holes in the 2nd round of the 2002 Open Championship)
There he stands with his legs akimbo. (Of Seve Ballesteros)
Brian Barnes -
"the complete professional golfer"
You couldn't really find two more completely different personalities than these two men, Tom Watson and Brian Barnes; one the complete golf professional and the other the complete professional golfer.
In technical terms, he's making a real pig's ear of this hole.
Cor blimey O'Reilly...
If you can imagine a clock face, the wind is coming from about half past two.
Gosh, what an enormous one for such a little chap! (Of a drive by Jose Rivero)
And now to hole 8 which is in fact the eighth hole.
Peter Alliss: What do you think of the climax of this tournament?
Peter Thomson: I'm speechless.
Peter Alliss: That says it all.
Oh.., I'm not sure this is the right move. (Of Jean Van de Velde taking out his driver on the eighteenth tee in the last round of the 1999 Open at Carnoustie)
If he gets that ball out, I'm retiring. (Of Jean Van de Velde in the Barry Burn, Carnoustie, 1999 Open Champinoship)
He's the youngest player on both sides.
On the golf course, if you can't be a shining sun, please don't be a dismal cloud.
Look at that! Right smack in the edge of the rough!
Although it's a narrow green, it's a wide green.
It's like turning up to hear Pavarotti sing and finding out he has laryngitis. (Of Tiger Woods' 81 in the 3rd round of the 2002 Open Championship)
Not in those trousers, sir. Not at this club. Try the municipal course.
He used to be fairly indecisive, but now he's not so certain.
A little premature, my cock-a-leekie. (Of Tiger Woods missing a putt)
Look at that. Faldo looks a young man again, and poor old Greg, well he looks ready for his bus pass. (As the players walked the final holes of 1996 Masters, when Greg Norman spectacularly lost a huge lead and the title.)
Golf is very stupid on occasions...it's painful. (Of Tiger Woods missing short putts on two successive greens)
Oh, he's here again. Chloroform, nurse please. (On hearing a spectator shout "Get in the hole!
The game lends itself to fantasies about our abilities.
It is not a matter of life and death. It is not that important. But it is a reflection of life, and so the game is an enigma wrapped in a mystery impaled on a conundrum.
Have at thee, Sir Percy! (After Sergio Garcia drove the 10th during the 2002 Ryder Cup)
Well, that'll spoil their supper tonight. (After Westwood and Garcia went on to lose their match at the 18th to Woods and Love)
I like a bit of rough -- who doesn’t?
It's coming up to 4 hours which, by modern standards, is almost Linford Christie stuff. (On slow play during the 2002 Ryder Cup)
That'll be the the towel and the dusting powder and let's move on. (Of Jim Furyk, who played an unsuccessful shot standing in a lake at the Belfry)
I can remember, before you found all sorts around the Open, when the only thing you could buy was a doughnut from a tea-shop.
A tournament goes on for days. It is played at a dangerously high mental pressure. Golf makes its demands on the mind. A golfer is terribly exposed in almost every way. The responsibility is his and there is no way to camouflage this, no hope of jettisoning it.
He's at that dangerous age - mid to late forties - when things start to happen to the human body. (Of Ian Woosnam's unfortunate finish in the 3rd round of the Volvo PGA)
That's not a million miles away.
He hasn't got any good points to his swing that a bit of tuition couldn't ruin. (Of Ricky Barnes, leading Amateur, during the 2003 Masters - thanks to Phil & Carol Hardyman)
Like the poor, always with us! (Of Alex Hay's return to the commentary box - thanks to Denis Day)
There's Sergio, animal lover. In my day we would have taken it home and built it a house! (Of Sergio Garcia decapitating an insect with his club during the Open Championship - thanks to A. Dewhurst)
This is the 12th, the green is like a plateau with the top shaved off.
Pinero has missed the putt, I wonder what he's thinking in Spanish.
He certainly didn't appear as cool as he looked.
Paul Azinger is wearing an all black outfit: black jumper, blue trousers, white shoes and a pink tea-cosy hat.
So he goes from 3 under to 3 over, all in one foul sweep.
Ballesteros felt much better today after a 69. (At the Masters)
Notices are appearing at courses telling golfers not to lick their balls on the green. (At the 1989 British Masters at Woburn)
Some weeks Nick likes to use Fanny, other weeks he prefers to do it by himself. (On Nick Faldo and his caddy Fanny Sunneson lining up shots at the Scottish Open)
Another iron raining down on the flag.
Bit of a catbox expert, Peter. (To Peter Alliss, about Bernhard Langer)
Birdies wherever you look. They're coming down like hailstones. (During the 2002 Ryder Cup)
Those cheers round the golf course - like a nightingale song. (During the Ryder Cup)
Look at them, everywhere, like ants. (Of the Ryder Cup crowds)
Difficult couple of holes here. 15, 16 and 17... (Of Mount Juliet, Co. Kilkenny)
Amazingly 38 out of the top 40 players are under par. Only one is even par. (During the American Express World Golf Championship 2002, 2nd round)
David Toms' putt, as they say, is slightly straight.
These greens are so fast they must bikini wax them. (On watching a putt speed by the hole on the 17th at Augusta National in 1994)
Oh no, not there. That's where they keep the body bags. (On seeing Jose-Maria Olazabal's ball go down a steep slope behind the 17th green in 1994)
[These two remarks got McCord banned from the CBS commentary team at the Masters on the insistence of the Club. The ban remains in force to this day. - Ed.]
This is almost a concession - ooh! (Of Phil Mickelson's 2 foot putt against Philip Price in the 2002 Ryder Cup - Mickelson missed)
It looks like a bungalow on a stick.(Of the Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball putter)
Steve Beddow: How long do you think for Westwood's putt - at least 25 yards?
Richard Boxall: Yes......75 feet.
That's on the dance floor. (As Niclas Fasth hits a green)
It doesn't matter, now, if it's uphill... if you know what I mean......I don't know what I mean either, so.....
This really is the full Monty. (Of the crowd's applause for Colin Montgomery on 1st tee at the 2002 Ryder Cup)
Just about equidistant - both players.
He eventually weared down his opponent down. (Of Bernhard Langer defeating Hal Sutton)
These golfers don't mind a little rain as long as it's not raining at the same time.
It's something I hadn't thought of, and I'm always impressed when that happens.
All square in every sense of the word. (Of Woods/Love vs. Garcia/Westwood coming onto the 18th green at the 2002 Ryder Cup)
What a thrust! (On Darren Clarke chipping in)
They have vacated the bishop's chair. (Of Woods and Love laying up on the 10th in the 2002 Ryder Cup, after Westwood and Garcia both drove the green)
Two putts for a 67 - a real chart-climber.
He's got stick-ability and get-up-and-down-ability. (Of Sergio Garcia)
Trying to get to the greasy pole at nine under.
This race can be a little impatient when they've got four tyres and wheel in their possession. (Of the French, on hearing cars horns blowing at the Trophée Lancôme)
Amazingly, 38 out of the top 40 players are under par. Only one is even par.
It's not like something from Ireland or Scotland. It's like something from Mars. (On the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island)
That's the trouble with Nick. The only time he opens his mouth is to change feet. (On Faldo's tendency to controversial remarks)
Worst haircut I've ever seen in my life. And I've had a few bad ones. It looks like he has a divot over each ear. (Of John Daly)
The world's No. 1 tennis player spends 90 percent of his time winning, while the world's No. 1 golfer spends 90 percent of his time losing. Golfers are great losers.
The course [Crooked Stick] is so long I had to take the curvature of the Earth into consideration.
Playing Augusta is like playing a Salvador Dali landscape. I expected a clock to fall out of the trees and hit me in the face.
It's hard to tell who's going to win this week, but it probably won't be a big, fat guy. (On the heat and high humidity at Atlanta Athletic Club, Georgia during the 2001 US PGA)
Colin Montgomerie is a few French fries short of a Happy Meal.
He's landed that like a sack of shellfish. (Of Jay Williamson)
That ball was travelling end over end towards the hole...
I don't think television work has screwed up my golf. I've pretty much taken care of that on my own.
His driving is unbelievable. I don't go that far on my holidays. (Of John Daly)
The great white shark [Greg Norman] could be a dark horse.
There's meat left on that bone, son. (Of Sergio Garica chipping well past the hole)
Just hitting an iron off the tee, for safety......Oh Darren! (Of Darren Clarke driving into the lake on the 6th at the Belfry)
It's gut check time. (On the Fasth/Parnevik pairing at the 2002 Ryder Cup, after losing a three hole lead to Calcavecchia/Duval)
And, on the eve of the Bob Hope Classic, an interview with the man himself, Gerry Ford.
Nick Faldo has shown himself to be a worthy world no. 1 by finishing second here today.
One of the reasons Arnie [Arnold Palmer] is playing so well is that, before each tee-shot, his wife takes out his balls and kisses them......Oh my God, what have I just said?
Sky Sports Commentator: "We've got John out on the course. John, how did you stay dry during that storm?"
John: "Well, a very nice man from an American chemical company offered me some refuse under his umbrella."
A double bagel. (US journalist, of Tiger Woods scoring no points out of two possible on Day 1 of the 2002 Ryder Cup)
Mmm... that's a little on the heavy side. A little less than perfect. A bit like Kate Winslet really. (Thanks to Monica Berry)
If you've just heard a beauty, share it with us...
We invite you to e-mail us your own favourite phrases by Peter Alliss or any other golf commentator around the world. We will give them a good home in Wonderland, and every two months an award will be given to the best example.
You will also find our second collection of golf commentary gems by clicking here.
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