The question of what makes a golf commentator the best in the business is often dependent on personal taste – you either like their style or you don’t! However, their success can depend on a number of factors, such as their knowledge of the sport, how well they perform their role and how entertaining they are for the viewers or listeners.
Former golfer, Peter Alliss made his broadcasting debut in 1961 at the Open Championship at Birkdale. Golf Digest proclaimed he was the “greatest golf commentator” in history. However, the veteran commentator modestly replied he was simply an old player who loved the game and was a “good weaver of stories”. He won 21 professional golf tournaments between 1954 and 1969, including three British PGA championships. As well as being a commentator, he also presented 140 episodes of the long-running BBC television series, Pro Celebrity Golf, from 1974 to 1988.
Nick Faldo was ranked world number one on the Official World Golf Ranking for 97 weeks, with 40 professional wins; including three Open Championships in 1987, 1990 and 1992; 30 European Tour victories; and three Masters in 1989, 1990 and 1996. He became a golf analyst on CBS in 2006 and in 2012, he commentated for the BBC’s coverage of the Open Championship. He has been praised for his clear, calm voice and for his sense of humour, although he strikes the right balance within his commentary by employing a more serious tone when required.
This retired professional golfer was described by Men’s Journal as the “last unscripted man on TV” because of his witty and seemingly spontaneous commentary. During his playing career, he achieved 10 worldwide victories and was on the 1991 European Ryder Cup team. On retiring from professional golf in 1996, he became a commentator in 1996. He joined the Golf Channel in 2011 and was nominated for an Emmy in 2014 for Outstanding Sports Personality. He’s been described as quick-witted, with his style likening him to “presenting like a stand-up comedian” but Feherty’s commentary is also undeniable proof that he knows his stuff.
He never played golf professionally – yet the journalist, writer and television commentator was the voice of golf for more than 40 years. He was even honoured with an invitation to join the World Golf Hall of Fame following his lifelong interest in the sport. After writing for golfing magazine Tee Topics, he was head-hunted to become golf correspondent for the Sunday Times. His column ran for 40 years. His charming personality, popularity and great knowledge of the game saw him become the BBC’s first golf commentator from the 1950s, until his death in 1978.
Sam Torrance OBE is a legendary Scottish golfer who went on to design golf courses and become a television commentator. He won 21 European tour titles between 1976 and 1998; 11 European senior tour titles between 2004 and 2009; and he was on the winning Ryder Cup team ten times, including one tie when Europe retained the trophy. He has worked as a commentator for BBC Sport and provided commentary on Tiger Woods’ 2009 PGA Tour. A respected commentator, he was awarded an MBE in 1996 for his captaincy of the Ryder Cup team and an OBE in 2003 for his outstanding contribution to golf.
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