Character Number Fifteen

And then there was Peter Allis.

It was in 1945 when I drove Dr. Hunt to Bournemouth to get a golf lesson from the well-known golfer and teacher, Percy Allis at Ferndown Golf Club. Percy Allis played in five Ryder Cups and had won numerous tournaments in England and on the European Continent.  This was in the twenties and thirties, a time before organized leagues such as the PGA and European Tour otherwise Allis would have been a bigger champion.  Dr. Hunt had his lesson and was very pleased with it and he asked Percy to give me a few pointers.  I remember him trying to get me to hit down on the ball to make it rise and he had me stand close to a high fence and chip balls over it.  After our lessons he suggested that I should play nine holes with his 14 year old son Peter who had just got off the school bus.  I did and I was amazed how far Peter could hit a ball.  He shot even par, missing several birdie putts.

Allis’ career was similar to that of his fathers, winning tournaments all over. He represented England in ten World Cups and eight Ryder Cups, not quite winning the really big ones like the Open.  He said that he was disappointed that the Allis name never got on big prizes because they were born too early.  In 1958, he won the Italian, Spanish and Portuguese Opens in three successive weeks.  He was well known for practical jokes  on the golf course and one of his tricks was to put a condom in the head cover of his opponent’s driver so that it fell out on the tee in front of spectators.  He started broadcasting for the BBC in the 1961 Open and eventually became a top commentator.

It was in this role that our paths crossed again.  Peter was the commentator for the  last of the four Tour Championships that were held at the Champions Club in Houston where I played.  While he was in the tower broadcasting I was able to get a note to him with my phone number on it.  In a broad-casting break he called me and I told him I had played with him in 1945 and we enjoyed a long talk.  Doris and I were invited to the tower but when we got there they were on the air so we went home and listened on the TV.  Peter made a short reference to it in his aired comments.  I think it was interesting that fate brought us together twice.  I know Peter would be happy to kow he was a “Character”  in my Blog.

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