European Tour stars bid fond farewell to tee-time tones of Ivor Robson

It’s not just the members of the European Tour but the thousands of fans who follow the exploits of Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry, Justin Rose and all the other stars who will miss official starter Ivor Robson, who hung up the microphone for the last time in Dubai on Sunday.

European Tour stars bid fond farewell to tee-time tones of Ivor Robson

Robson’s distinctive tone has been described as “a cultured Scottish brogue”, and he has been doing the job since 1975 and completed his 41st stint at the Open Championship at St Andrews last July.

Given that he insisted on staying on the first tee in the Open from when the first ball was struck from shortly before 7am until the last match went off at 4.30pm, he was often asked how this was physically possible!

“This job requires total and complete concentration,” he explained. “For that reason, I don’t touch a drop of liquid after 7 o’clock the night before. That makes it easier to eschew the loo all day. I would have a sandwich and a glass of mineral water and nothing more until the following night at 7pm and would lose about a stone in weight at each Open.” The 75-year-old Robson loved his golf from an early age, and first made his appearance on the European Tour selling shafts on the practice range before each tournament. He took over the job of announcer in 1975 and over the next 40 years, enjoyed the friendship of the game’s greatest.

“There have been a number of highlights,” he says. “Nicklaus, Palmer, Player, Bobby Locke, Sam Snead, Roberto De Vincenzo — all these players I’ve announced. You can’t help but mention the great Seve of course — without him we wouldn’t be in as fortunate position on the European Tour as we are today, because he did so much for golf.”

The distinct rise in pitch as he pronounced each player’s name was discernible and a major part of his attraction — and for a couple of Irish journalists teeing off in the Dunhill Cup pro-am at St Andrews back in the 90s became hugely amusing. The first fairway at the Old Course is 100 yards wide and so it should be virtually impossible to go out of bounds. That was the case until Colm Smith of the Irish Independent swung into action that fateful day.

“On the tee from Ireland, Colm Smith,” Robson intoned in that inimitable style of his.

A half minute or so elapsed as we watched the ball slice uncontrollably out to sea. And then Ivor announced: “Still on the tee from Ireland, Colm Smith.” The Indo man saw the funny side as much as anyone else and dined out on the incident for many years.

Sweden’s Henrik Stenson led the weekend tributes to Robson during the season-closing World Tour Championship in Dubai, expressing the hope they might see him outside the ropes at the odd tournament. The man himself simply declared with a familiar smile: “I’m going to have a gap year.”

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