There’s commentators and then there’s the rest
Henry Longhurst was the first golf commentator I ever listened to and enjoyed in spite of his plummy Pommie accent which sometimes upsets us Scots. And so when reading about Henry Longhurst it struck me that many people reading this may never have heard of Henry. And the question became who would they relate to? And I came up with Peter Alliss.
Connell Barrett in Golf Magazine’s interview with Peter Alliss writes, “They don't make golf announcers today like 80-year-old Peter Alliss, the droll Englishman who balances a biting wit with a keen eye and bold confidence. Fifty years after he launched his broadcasting career, the BBC's "Voice of Golf" is still going strong,” but alas the same can’t be said of Henry who died in 1978.
Longhurst the Great
Connell asks, “You (Alliss) began your TV career in 1961 and eventually teamed up with BBC golf broadcasting legend Henry Longhurst. Did you two get along at first?
To which Peter replies, “Henry was wary of new people. He thought they were after his job. I was about the age of his son and his son-in-law. They were both killed in tragic circumstances his son died in a car smashup. Henry was drawn to me and I to him. I was the cheeky chap who went where angels feared to tread, and he was Longhurst the Great.”
Getting high on the high tower
Legend has it after Henry’s working day was done the floor in the camera/commentating tower had a least one empty bottle of Scotch but maybe I heard wrong. Maybe it was two and not just scotch.
Connell questions Alliss, “You had a drink or two during broadcasts, right? And Alliss admits, “Yes, we liked to lubricate the tonsils with a bit of Bollinger [champagne], but only in a medicinal way. With a dry biscuit, it's absolutely lovely.”
Later on there’s the question of, “Did that cause any on-air gaffes? And Connell writes of Peter’s reply, “Henry liked to say that the only thing he was worried about was confusing things when [Bernard] Hunt and [Neil] Coles were playing. [Laughs].
Silence says it all about greats and the not so good
Connell Barrett: “What did Longhurst teach you about broadcasting?”
Peter Alliss: “Let the golf tell the story. There's a story about someone making a big putt it might have been Nicklaus at the Masters and Henry said nothing for five seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds. [CBS golf producer Frank] Chirkinian is waiting for him to talk. "Henry? Henry?" Finally, Henry simply says, "Well, well, well..." And that was it! Perfect. Unless you can add something, say nothing.”
Here’s the link to Connell Barrett
Quote of the Day
“There, but for the grace of God...” – Henry Longhurst’s words on watching Doug Sanders miss a short putt to win the 1970 Open Championship