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Golf Illustrated Article – 2nd February 1967
A Tribute to Percy Alliss
By Tom Scott


So Percy Alliss is to go into retirement at the age of 70 he deserves it, His departure from the active golf scene brings back many memories. Just look at the names of the leaders in the 1928 Open championship played that year at Sandwich : Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen, Archie Compston, Percy Alliss, Fred Robson, Jose Jurado, Audbrey Boomer, Jim Barnes, and the names of the leaders at Muirfield the following year : Walter Hagen, Johnny Farrell, Leo Diegel, Abe Mitchell, Percy Alliss, Bobby Cruikshank, Jim Barnes, Al Watrous, Gene Sarazen, Tommy Armour. In 1931 in what was one of the finest of championships, Percy finished third behind Armour and Jurado. The following year he was to finish joint fourth and in 1936 he was to finish fourth again, a truly remarkable record. 

It was strange that although he won the Welsh Professional championship in 1920 at the age of 23, and subsequently scored a good many tournament successes, eight years were to lapse before he made an impact on the Open championship. If ever a man deserved to win it Percy Alliss did, but it was not to be. True successes were to be his, but I fancy he would have forgone them all if he could have won the Open title. 

Not that it was easy to win in those days for it was one of the golden eras of golf, for in addition to those I have just mentioned, Robert Jones was also in the picture and the young Cottom was beginning to make his presence felt. 

I cannot remember the first time I saw Percy Alliss play, probably in the 1927 championship at St Andrews, which Jones won. I cannot remember that he finished particularly high up in the prize list, but my first impression of him, at St Andrews, was a lasting one of a good looking, very dark, swartly dressed man in grey or fawn trousers – it may have been plus fours- and a grey or fawn pullover. He stood out from most of the others because he was so much better groomed than most, and I also remember standing in awe as I watched him play his wooden clubs. Those were the days when spectators could get up close to the gladiators. It did not strike me then, but how wonderfully calm those players of 30 odd years ago were. 

I certainly cannot remember the looks and petulant actions one sees occasionally today. True characters like Hagen and Compston were not against declaiming on this and that, but it was all so very good natured, or so it seems to me now. 

Percy Alliss was always a good natured man, and I cannot ever think of any scene in which he was involved. I say “was a good natured man” He still is. When I am in the Bournemouth area I am fond of calling at Ferndown and having a chat about old times, always to be greeted with a smile. And Percy has a splendid memory. He can give you a chapter and verse of events which happened years ago. 

I think one of the most interesting and most amazing conversations I have ever heard was with Percy and George Duncan in the clubhouse at Lindrick after the memorable Ryder Cup win. The wine – or something – flowed, the tongues became loosened and stories of the past the men they had met and played against flew thick and fast. 

It has been said that Percy Alliss would have been even more successful if he had not been such a nice man, meaning I suppose that he could have done with a little mote devil, more of a win at all costs type of outlook, But then that would not have been him. He was not that kind of bloke. 

He is a Yorshireman by the way, having been born at Sheffield, and he has moved around quite a bit in his time. He has been at Clyne, Wanstead, Beaconsfield, Templenewsome and of course, Ferndown in this country as well as having been for several years at Wannsee the fashionable Berlin club of which we hear little these days. I believe it is in East Berlin. It was in Berlin that Peter Alliss was born. 

Until a year or two ago he was a regular at the Tencher Senior tournaments and as always when he attended a golf event he was surrounded by old friends anxious to renew old acquaintance-ships and also be those to whom he was just a name. And often he had many good things in say about golfing methods for he was an excellent teacher of the game, as benefits a man of his wide and varied experience. 

His hair has grown white these days but it is remarkable how little change there was in his face the last time I saw him. His chest though has been playing up a bit and generally he has not quite been 100 per cent. This is the reason he has decided to call it a day, and after all, after you have been in golf for almost 60 years it is time to call a halt and do what you want to do for a change and not have to be on tap at a golf club every day. 

But Ferndown won’t be the same place for a long, long time. You can’t be at a golf club for 28 years and not be missed. 

All his friends will wish him a happy retirement, coupled with the wish that we shall see him around from time to time.