Passed/Failed: An education in the life of Peter Alliss, golf commentator

'I was caned with a walking stick'


Peter Alliss, 77, is the BBC's 'voice of golf'. Last week he was covering the Ryder Cup, today he starts commentating on the British Masters at The Belfry. His book, 'Golf: the Cure for a Grumpy Old Man', was published last week

When I was six, I wandered off one day from my kindergarten in Leeds. I followed the tramlines to Roundhay Park and met up with some children on the swings. I came wandering back towards home and watched people dragging the pond. My mother thought I'd been drowned or kidnapped, and had gone to the police.

We moved to Dorset and I can still see Mr Allen, the headmaster of Ferndown Council School (we called them "council schools" in those days) in what was then a tiny village six miles north of Bournemouth. He was tall and straight, 11-and-a-half stone and bald, and he struck quiet fear into us. I remember the respect we had for teachers; children now say "bollocks" to the head and don't even get a clip round the ear.

Then I went to the Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School in Wimborne Minster, Dorset, where one of the teachers was a bully. He was a small, round-faced man who taught maths and Latin. I wasn't good at either, so wasn't a favourite. I think he was a tennis man who didn't like golf, or my father, a famous golf professional!

He enjoyed caning boys and would be put in prison now. I got caned by him when I was accused of copying from another boy in an exam, which wasn't true. The boy sat next-but-one to me, and the desks were two feet apart, but when the results came in they decided I had cheated. When I denied it, they said, "You're a liar". The teacher used a proper walking-stick, and I had big bruises on my buttocks and lower back.

My mother took me away from that school, and at 12, I went to Crosby House, a private, mixed school in Winton, a suburb of Bournemouth. That was delightful. Mrs Violet Weymouth was a marvellous old lady, a disciplinarian, who ran the school with her husband. I fell in love with Iris Baker, Edwina Shannon, and others too numerous to mention. It was innocent: a kiss was really something.

I was very good at geography, not great at history. I passed the exams of the College of Praeceptors, the equivalent of O-levels, in 11 subjects. Mrs Weymouth's last report on me said: "Peter has a good brain when he decides to use it. He seems more interested in golf and flirting with girls, neither of which will bring him any success. I fear for his future." She thought I wouldn't have a trade or profession. I did have the talent to hit a golf ball, and I have, from somewhere, acquired the gift of the gab as a commentator.

I left school when I was 14-and-a-half years old. My real education took place when I began spending time playing golf at the club where my father was the professional. My father said, "You are not going to be a doctor or a surgeon; you'll join me in the club as an unpaid assistant." There wasn't anything else to do: the war was on and Southampton was getting bombed nightly. I played with people who were 45-plus, too old for the war, and listened to them talking about life and business, war and peace. I played in the Boys Championship in Edinburgh at 15, and I played for England in 1946. I was in the Ryder Cup team for the first time in 1953, the second youngest to play in it.

I always think golf is a mirror image of life. People hurry up to the golf course, shattered before they start, because that's how they run their life; their older opponents arrive half an hour early and sit outside smoking their pipes and marvelling at nature – at peace with themselves.

Suggested Topics
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Talent Manager / HR Manager - central London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...

HR Manager (standalone) - London

Up to £40,000: Ashdown Group: Standalone HR Manager role for an SME business b...

HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering