How many times have you been out with your golf group and one of your foursome comes up miserably short on the putting green when someone snickers and says, “Hit it Alice!”
But who is Alice? And what did she do to get immortalized in a golf insult?
Well, it turns out Alice isn’t a she. Alice is a he!
The name is actually spelled Alliss as in Peter Alliss.
He was a famous English golf broadcaster who previously spent years as a professional golfer. He was on the team for BBC’s golf coverage for 60 years and the lead analyst for more than 40. He had a distinctive style and was adored by the audience.
Alliss recently passed away just short of his 90th birthday.
The story of the phrase in question includes the 1963 Ryder Cup. As a member of the European team, Alliss played against Arnold Palmer and “Champagne” Tony Lema. Alliss and Lema halved their match and Alliss beat golf’s king Arnold Palmer.
At some point in that match Alliss, for whom putting was not his strong suit, badly missed a three-foot putt. Someone in the gallery yelled out, “Nice putt, Alliss” and the rest is history.
Alliss explained that the BBC where he did golf commentary played a large part in burning the phrase into public consciousness. He explained, “ I was never renowned for putting, so I was an easy target for all manner of British comedy programs.
Alliss later gave lessons to Sean Connery for his match as James Bond in the movie “Goldfinger.”
So, the next time you utter, “Hit it Alice,” just remember that she…is a he!
Rest in Peace Peter Alliss.
By Frank LaRosa, a popular Northern California radio and television personality and golf writer who has chronicled the game and industry across multiple platforms since 1988. He currently produces and hosts a daily golf radio feature for Sports 1140 KHTK called “Golf to Go.” He has hosted a series of Emmy nominated golf programs for KVIE television called “Tee Time: Golf in Northern California.” He has written about golf for numerous print publications including NCGA magazine and Sacramento Magazine. His work in golf has garnered him numerous accolades including induction into the Sacramento Golf Hall of Fame and California Golf Hall of Fame, Honorary membership into the PGA, and he is a three-time winner of the Northern California PGA Media Person of the Year award.