Last Thursday saw the publication of a posthumous autobiography (of sorts) by Peter Alliss, the wonderful broadcaster who in one capacity or another had commentated on golf for the BBC since the 1960s. He passed away in December 2020, less than a month after working on the covid-affected Masters which the pandemic had caused to be delayed until the November.
Written in collaboration with the journalist Bill Elliott, Reflections on a Life Well Lived is a hugely enjoyable read, not least because Elliott has done a good job of conveying a sense that ‘the Voice of Golf’ is indeed talking directly to you about the game he loved. And in which he was so steeped. As Elliott notes: “Peter remembered coming home from school one day to find his mum and dad [Percy, like Peter, was a fine professional golfer] taking tea in the kitchen with no fewer than four Open champions: Alf Perry (1935), Alf Padgham (1936), Reggie Whitcombe (1938) and Dick Burton (1939).”
Peter obviously didn’t know he would not live to see the book’s publication but he did know it would likely be his last one. Its final words belong to his wife, Jackie. Her epilogue to ‘My Peter’ includes this sentence: “I really don’t think there was ever a day when he didn’t make me laugh” – a lovely personal epitaph. The book is published by Lennard Publishing and priced at £25.
Entirely coincidentally, on the very same day that book was being unveiled at Coombe Hill Golf Club in Surrey, the DP [European] World Tour schedule for 2023 was released, boasting an overall prize fund of $144.2 million (yes, in dollars) and the introduction of the ‘Earnings Assurance Programme’, a guaranteed $150,000 annual payment for most tour members. I guess they could have called it ‘The LIV Golf Dissuasion Strategy’ (albeit the money involved is substantially more modest than the sums handed out by the Saudis) but that would have been too blatant.
You may be aware of a recent interview given by Martin Slumbers, CEO of the R&A, to John Huggan for Golf Digest. On the matter of LIV golfers and the Open Championship, Slumbers said: “We’re not banning anyone. We are not going to betray 150 years of history and have the Open not be open. I’m looking forward to seeing [defending champion] Cam Smith tee-up around 9.40 am on the first day of the Open next year…we stay true to our principle, which is to have the best players in the world competing.”
All of which means that the Open – and I’m figuring the other three major championships, too – will be the only times next year when you will be able to watch, say, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas competing in the same field as Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson and Cameron Smith. The PGA Tour is set to elevate the status of some of its tournaments (which will have the inevitable effect of devaluing others) but nevertheless the Players Championship just got downgraded. In terms of status, the PGA Tour’s events will look further away from the majors than they have ever been.
I am pretty confident Peter Alliss would have agreed with me about that.
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