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Golf: Peter Allis says, “I’ll have to watch what I say on TV”

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Stan Sutherland
Stan Sutherland

Peter Allis thoughts about the forthcoming Master are covered in a Scotsman interview,

"His concern is about the words he utters when the world No1 is framed within the TV cameras at Augusta National. Famed for his flippant remarks, Alliss was going about some business quietly recently when, out of the blue, it dawned on him. Woods won't be the only person in the spotlight at The Masters. A word out of place by commentators, he says, could have disastrous consequences.”

A Scotsman reader, Mr T Hornill, commenting on Allis’ attitude writes, "C'mon Mr Alliss, don't let us down now. Say what you like about Tiger on air. The PC mob can change channels if they are offended...........”

So I thought I’d take this opportunity to plug my book, Life’s Lessons Frae the Links and remind Mr Thornhill and his kind about the consequences.

The year is 1958, the place Augusta National, the event The Masters, the exact spot, midway between the back bunker and the front edge of the green on the ‘toughest par 3 in tournament golf.’

The famous 12th hole so loved by the august members of Augusta who although never having been accused of being draconian, they do have a reputation for being heavy handed. Just ask Robert Townsend the ex-member, famous businessman and author of ‘Up The Organisation.’ Asked to resign because of the book’s title and its inferences even though he wasn’t referring to the organisational capabilities of Augusta National.

And then there was the case of the TV commentators who transgressed during live transmissions of The Masters.
In 1966, CBS commentator Jack Whitaker in all innocence described the huge crowd around the 18th green as “a mob.”
Innocent or not he was found guilty as charged.
One never ever refers to the crowds at The Masters as a mob. Even if they have contravened the prominently displayed signs advising spectators they are not permitted to run on the course
Whitaker was run out of town, well at least Augusta National, and asked never to return.

 Then there was the case of Gary McCord—one funny guy with a wonderful turn of phrase. Someone with a feel for the game and captures the feeling of what it would be like if we were out there playing and not just watching.

Gary described the very fast greens as being so slick they looked like they’d been ‘bikini-waxed.’
Once again an unacceptable choice of image and come next year he’d have the opportunity to be on the beach beside bikini clad babes. Because he’d not be back commentating at crunch time on the back nine of The Masters.
Like Jack Whitaker, Gary was asked (wrong-he was instructed) never to return. 

One simply doesn’t do or say anything to get offside with these august Augusta Nationals—and having said that, there goes any chance I ever had of being invited to play Augusta National."

Now that you’ve got a feel for their culture and thinking you’d need balls of another kind to question a ruling at Augusta.  And some help from ‘Arnie’s army’ to back you up. I ask you, how’s this for courage under fire?

 Leading by one shot at the 12th during the final round of what had been a very wet year at Augusta, Arnie’s tee shot ended up plugged midway between the back bunker and the front edge of the green.
 Arnie advised the official, Arthur Lacey that since wet-weather rules applied he was entitled to a clean and lift without penalty.
 Lacey then shook his head.
 “You don’t do that at Augusta.”
 Arnie reminded Lacey the competitors are playing wet-weather rules as set out in the local rules for the duration of the tournament.
 “No sir. You can’t do that. You’ve got to play it as it lies.”
 Arnie then advised Lacey he intended playing two balls. The plugged ball and a provisional ball and let the rules committee, sort it out.
 “No sir. You can’t do that either.” Came the curt reply.
 Your call Arnie, but remember if you get it wrong you may well not get a call to come to the Masters next year.
Arnie decided to play two balls and finished with a 5 with the plugged ball and a 3 with his provisional ball.

 Cometh the hour cometh the man with common sense and who better than Robert T. Jones Jnr.
 Bobby, who now had to use a cart to get around his ‘dream course’ was spotted by Arnie as he played the 13th.
 At the 15th Arnie was still ‘nervous as hell’ when summoned to meet with Bobby and the rules committee.
 The die is cast and Arnie’s a dead man if proven wrong.
 “Mr Palmer”—Now that sounds kinda serious coming from committee chairman Jonathon Winters.
We would expect to hear “Mr Hogan” but come on everyone calls him Arnie.
 ‘The committee has ruled in your favour. You will have a three at the twelfth hole.’

And as recent as last Saturday morning while flicking through the pages of Golf 365 Days, I came across the actual photograph of Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts seated in a golf cart advising Arnie and his playing partner, Ken Venturi of the committee's decison.

Thought for the day: Robert Sidorsky's Golf 365 Days, isn't long on text (which should appeal to those who like their information in small bytes) but it has 365 fabulous photographs and illustrations



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