Liam Murphy finds Peter Alliss, a man synonymous with The Open, in optimistic mood about this year’s return to Wirral
Daily Post – HE IS to millions of people around the world simply "the voice of golf ". And the BBC’s Peter Alliss last night said he was in no doubt that Hoylake would provide an excellent venue for the 135th Open Championship.
Alliss, whose commentary has for many years accompanied major golf tournaments across the world, described the Royal Liverpool as a "very formidable golf course".
In fact, he believes he played his best-ever round of golf at Hoylake – but more on that later.
A successful golfer himself before he retired, the 75-year-old has also been involved in the design of more than 70 golf courses across the world including The Belfry, which is now the home of the British Professional Golfers’ Association.
And Alliss dismissed the criticisms of Ron Whitten, the golf architecture editor of the world’s biggest selling golf magazine Golf Digest, that the Royal Liverpool Golf Club course was not up to the modern game.
The magazine caused a furore when it published the article by Whitten, one of its senior writers, who claimed the course was not up to the standard needed for modern professional golfers.
Mr Whitten later told the Daily Post: "I do not feel it’s worthy any longer of being host to the Open.
"I’m not saying it’s a bad golf course, but I’m saying it’s not a course which in my opinion should be hosting the Open."
He added: "For its history, it’s a great old club, and for everyday members I’m sure it’s a delightful place to play, but there is a different standard for the best golfers in the world."
But Alliss, who said he had not seen the original article, said: "We will just wait and see.
"If the wind blows we will see if this man knows anything about the game.
"It’s a wonderful course, and all our links championship courses are made by the wind conditions. If there is a wind, it’s a very formidable golf course."
Alliss pointed out that the main reason the Open had not returned to Hoylake for almost 40 years was to do with providing facilities for the many thousands of people needed for the modern championship, as well as the massive number of spectators.
He said: "It was a bit tight on acreage, and there were questions about the infrastructure, and traffic.
"But then most of the other championship courses are also a bit tight and cramped, with the possible exception of Turnberry."
But he also warned that people might find it a bit difficult to get to for the first couple of days "until the police see how the traffic is moving".
Peter Alliss is no stranger to the Royal Liverpool, having accompanied his father, the famous British professional Percy Alliss to the tournament in 1947 when he was just 16 years old and had become a professional himself.
Today he remains fulsome in his praise for the history and grandeur of the club.
He said: "The old clubhouse, which I believe was designed by the same architect who designed Royal Lytham and Formby, I just like the feel of it.
"There is a sense of the old gentlemen of years ago who were members there, and the history it contains."
Alliss made several trips back to the Royal Liverpool, including playing a round there while he was doing National Service in 1949 and had been based at West Kirby for a couple of months.
He describes the round he played there on a hot July day wearing his Air Force uniform as "probably the best round of golf I ever played in my life".
But in his contribution to the 2006 Yearbook for the Open at Hoylake he also added that the Royal Liverpool course "will test the very finest of golfers".
After National Service, Alliss returned for the Open tournaments at Hoylake in 1956 and 1967, having to retire injured from the latter, as well as taking part in numerous other tournaments there.
During his career he won three British PGA Championships, played on eight Ryder Cup teams, played on 10 teams representing England in the World Cup and won 23 major tournaments.
After he retired as a professional, he presented 140 Pro Celebrity Golf television programmes made by the BBC between 1974 and 1988, as well as commentating for the BBC in Europe and ABC in America.