The sad news of the death of Peter Alliss over the weekend has taken our resident pro Nigel Burch on a sweet journey down memory lane.
“I first met Peter Alliss just after I finished college in the United States. It was the summer of 1979 and I was looking for a job. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, whether to turn pro golfer or use my Bachelor of Arts in journalism and broadcasting from the University of Iowa.
I thought I’d keep my options open and went for an audition with the BBC. So I trundled along to what was then the PGA Martini tournament at Wentworth and I auditioned with Peter Alliss who was one of the commentators.
There wasn’t a booth so I was sat next to Peter Alliss who cued me to start commentating. To cut a long story short the job was given to Bruce Critchley who only retired a year or so ago.
Peter Alliss kindly took me to one side afterwards and gave me some encouraging advice. He said I was very good but had to get rid of the American twang I’d developed after four years in the States.
I was then offered a job at BBC West in Bristol on the outside sports broadcast team there. It was a brilliant opportunity, but I didn’t take it because I decided to take up my other option and played amateur golf the rest of that summer and then went to turn pro in October 1979.
Three decades later I was in France running a corporate golf clinic at Les Bordes in the Loire. Peter Alliss happened to be there to give an after dinner speech.
He came to watch me run the clinic on the practice range. I was a little bit on edge as he was obviously a very well respected player and coach. He came up to me afterwards and said that was one of the best clinics he had ever seen and complimented me on my knowledge of the game.
Even though I say it myself I have always been very proud of my teaching ability, even though I didn’t have the greatest career on the tour.
That evening we enjoyed a glass of wine together, when in between listening to his wonderful tales, I reminded him of our first meeting at Wentworth in 1979.”
Sweet memories indeed.
Peter Alliss also designed some well known resort courses working with Dave Thomas and later Clive Clark. Working with Dave Thomas, Peter Alliss was the original designer of the first 18 holes at La Baule in Brittany back in the late 1970s. Fifteen years later Michael Gayon divided the course into two and created another 18 to form the two very popular Red and Blue courses at La Baule.
Can you spot the famous faces in this photo of the England Youth Team 1975 at Pannal Golf Club, Harrogate?
Mark James, Sandy Lyle and Nick Faldo are in the front row.