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In amongst the clamour and the merry chaos – including the startling sound of booing for Ian Poulter – of the 150th Open's first round today there was also a big and hovering silence.
For the first time in over 60 years the deep, hot chocolate (probably with a wee bit of brandy) tones of Peter Alliss were not to be heard. The silence for some of us is deafening. Peter died in December 2020, his funeral a month later meant only 19 of us could attend because of Covid restrictions. This imbalance of affection for him was wonderfully put right yesterday at his memorial service in a packed university hall in St Andrews.
He would have loved the peals of laughter that embroidered the service, would have wagged a finger at Steve Rider revealing he took the occasional nap behind the microphone and would have been delighted to listen to Jean van de Velde's elegant appreciation of his commentary while the Frenchman imploded horribly at Carnoustie to throw away the Claret Jug.
The BBC put together several video clips of his off the cuff commentary that occasionally upset a few but always had the majority of viewers chortling along with him. He would also have been astonished to see North Street closed to traffic while we followed a piper to the reception afterwards. I suspect he would have asked what the hell we were 'protesting about' ?
More sadly, we'll never know what he would have said about Justin Thomas's jogger trousers, a style that I suspect, certainly hope, is unlikely to catch on even among the young. Whatever the truth of that though, it was a fun as well as emotional farewell to the man who was to so many around the world known simply as The Voice of Golf. If I listen hard, I do believe I can still hear him chortling away somewhere.
Bill has been part of the Golf Monthly woodwork for many years. A very respected Golf Journalist he has attended over 40 Open Championships. Bill was the Observer's golf correspondent. He spent 26 years as a sports writer for Express Newspapers and is a former Magazine Sportswriter of the Year. After 40 years on 'Fleet Street' starting with the Daily Express and finishing on The Observer and Guardian in 2010. Now semi-retired but still Editor at Large of Golf Monthly Magazine and regular broadcaster for BBC and Sky. Author of several golf-related books and a former chairman of the Association of Golf Writers. Experienced after dinner speaker.
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