Tuesday, December 8

Golf Legend Peter Alliss on Why the Ryder Cup 'Mattered Like Hell'

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PHOTO: That's Peter Alliss in back row, second from left.

BRITISH GOLF COMMENTATOR PETER ALLISS died over the weekend. He was 89.

In many tributes, Alliss is lauded as the "Voice of Golf" for his long and exemplary broadcasting career with the BBC. It was a career that earned him a spot in the World Golf Hall of Fame.

But what's easily overlooked is his playing career that produced 23 worldwide titles and eight appearances in the Ryder Cup. I delved into Alliss's playing career during my work on DRAW IN THE DUNES: The 1969 Ryder Cup and the Finish That Shocked the World, which published in September 2014.

Alliss kindly granted my interview and answered all my questions about the 1969 Ryder Cup, where he served double duty at Royal Birkdale. He played on the Great Britain and Ireland team and in afternoons announced on the BBC broadcast team. Imagine that!

Here's an excerpt from DRAW IN THE DUNES (p. 195) on Alliss, including what made him the kind of Ryder Cup player who, among other successes, beat Arnold Palmer, Billy Casper and Ken Venturi in singles:

No player on either team had more Ryder Cup experience than Alliss. The Ryder Cup "mattered like hell," he later said, partly because of family pride. (His father Percy was a Ryder Cup player.) There was more to it than the Alliss name, though. Country, captain, and teammates motivated the Englishman to always bring his best.

"I think it was having the experience of making a mess of it in 1953," Alliss said more than forty years later. "I was in a way so terrified of letting the side down again that my concentration levels went up."

And on Alliss's match-play tactics:

"Many people," Alliss said, "including Bobby Jones, said you play the course. I never did that -- I played the man. If he went out-of-bounds, I made sure that I didn't go out-of-bounds. I always felt that all you had to do in match play was to be one shot less than the other fellow on each hole. It didn't matter if you were around in 76 if you won."

To learn more about Peter Alliss and the 1969 Ryder Cup, see my special offer on DRAW IN THE DUNES.

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