Golf commentator Peter Alliss, 79, left school at 14 and became the assistant to his golf professional father, Percy Alliss. He has won three British PGA championships, played in eight Ryder Cup matches and competed 10 times for England in the Canada Cup.
Alliss has been involved in the design and construction of more than 70 golf courses. He has written 22 books – the latest is Golf, the Cure for a Grumpy Old Man.
He lives in Surrey with his second wife, Jackie. They have three children. He also has two children from his first marriage.
Did you think you would get to where you are?
No. When I started, my philosophy was very simple: to make a living. I won my first major professional tournament in 1954.
I retired from professional golf aged 39. My earnings then were £12,000-£15,000 a year.
When you realised that you were wealthy, did you want to slow down?
I was worth more than £1m on paper about 10 years ago, but I didn’t think much about it. I’ve never had lots of shares or money in the bank. I don’t spend much on myself, although my children have been expensively educated.
I was nearly talked into joining Lloyd’s 35 years. My father, a Yorkshireman, said: “Thou never gets owt for nowt.” Then came the decline in Lloyd’s fortunes. Many sporting icons lost pretty well everything.
What is the secret of your success?
I don’t know. I have never planned anything. I went into golf through my father, who was one of the top professionals of the day. In the 1950s and 1960s, there were very few, if any, golf professionals with the ambition to become “the world’s No. 1”. That wasn’t the way it was back then.
What is your basic business philosophy?
Give value for money. I believe in a good day’s pay for a good day’s work.
Do you want to carry on till you drop?
Yes, if they’ll have me! My main work is commentating on golf for various networks. My c ontracts with the BBC and ABC run out in 2010. Will they renew? I don’t know.
People seem to enjoy my style. I don’t pretend to be a statistician – just an observer watching the golfing world go by.
What was your most prudent investment?
My house. It’s quite beautiful and sits in about six acres. I bought it for £112,000 in 1980.
Have you had time for personal financial planning?
My now business partner, Roy Cooper, who was my accountant, has advised me for years. He was a tremendous help when I became involved in the golf course design and construction business.
Have you made any pension provision?
I took out my first pension more than 50 years ago. A couple of them have already matured – that helped pay off my mortgages. For the last few years, I have had a very good pension from ABC Television. I do not have a pension from the BBC.
Have you taken steps to pass on your wealth?
Yes, I’ve done my best. Inheritance tax annoys me enormously. You live in the UK, work and pay your taxes and when you die, even if you’ve been frugal, the government wants more! Disgraceful.
Do you allow yourself the odd indulgence?
Yes, motor cars. I drive a 2004 Bentley Arnage. It’s extravagant but quite beautiful. It only does 16 or 17 miles to the gallon so I don’t use it for “frivolous” trips or pottering around the village! We also have a runabout and a rather ancient estate car.
Picasso or Art Deco as an investment?
When I first married in 1953, I bought some Victorian oil paintings, mainly landscapes and seascapes. They were the only pictures I could afford! After my divorce, I kept the paintings – the most I paid for any of them was £50. I’m delighted to say they have increased greatly in value.
Do you have a commitment to charity?
I support the Red Cross, The Wildlife Trust, Lifeboats, Salvation Army and the Professional Golfers Association. Along with my wife Jackie, I support GUTS (Guildford Undetected Tumour Screening).
What is the most you have ever paid for a bottle of champagne or fine wine?
About £70, which was far too much, particularly as the palate had already been tainted by a couple of gin and tonics!
What advice would you give to save money in the recession?
Take a long look at what you spend. Books, magazines, flowers, newspapers – are they necessary? Use electricity/gas frugally; buy a bicycle, walk; and don’t waste food.
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