- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 11, 2006


Peter Alliss has been the voice of golf for two decades, charming audiences around the world with his frisky wit and uber-dignified delivery. Most American golf fans are privy to on-air Alliss only once a year (the British Open), but that’s all the opening he needs to make his mark.

For instance, at the 1999 Open at Carnoustine, when Alliss responded to the tired exhortation of “You Da Man” from a gallery goon with the following gem: “Oh, dear, he’s here again. Chloroform, nurse, please.”

Though Alliss’ true gift is for the microphone, he’s a modest success as a scribe in “Alliss’ 19th Hole,” with Rab MacWilliam, Da Capo Press, $18, 164 pages), the first U.S. release of a book originally published last year in the UK. As the subtitle (“Trivial Delights from the World of Golf”) claims, the book is little more than a collection of quick bursts from Alliss on everything from his favorite holes to golf’s most frenzied tempers. (See: “When Good Golfers Go Bad — Parts 1-3.”)

There are a few pits in the fruit here: Alliss refers to Billy Casper as “Caspar” for an entire segment and incredibly fails to mention Tiger’s titanic 1997 in his list of memorable Masters (a list that hails Mike Weir’s 2003 victory at Augusta National).

But there is also some vintage Alliss. His bit titled “Beatlemania,” a clever comparison of Golf’s Fab Four to the Liverpool gang, is almost worth the price of the book. And every other page or so, a reader will stumble across a quality nugget, though rarely (and oddly, given the author) of the comical variety.

To put it rather indelicately, this is an absolutely perfect compendium for a golfer’s loo. Both its easily digestible style and format make it such. And, we dare say, Alliss himself would approve of such an exclusive destination.

Barker Davis

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