Ivor Robson, beloved Open Championship announcer, dead at 83
One of golf’s most iconic voices has gone quiet.
Ivor Robson, the famed voice of the Open Championship’s first tee box for more than four decades, has died at 83. The R&A announced the news on Tuesday morning, welcoming in a rush of support from golf fans and golfers who have recognized his dulcet tones as the soundtrack of Open Championships past.
Robson leaves behind a legacy as perhaps the greatest first-tee announcer in the sport’s history, his 41-year run at the Open endearing him to golf fans several generations over for his unique inflection and taciturn self-seriousness.
“We are deeply saddened to hear of Ivor’s passing,” Martin Slumbers, the CEO of the R&A, said in a release. “As official starter at the Open for over 40 years, his voice was instantly recognizable and synonymous with the Championship for players and millions of golf fans worldwide.”
Those who knew him best, including players and long-time R&A staffers, remember a man who never missed a second of work — not one — at Opens beginning in 1975 and ending in 2015. In a sign of his dedication to the event and his job, Robson famously did not eat or drink an ounce of sustenance during play, opting instead for a sandwich and a glass of mineral water upon the completion of play each day so as to not be distracted by bathroom breaks. As Rick Reilly wrote in a 1999 Sports Illustrated piece, Robson regularly lost “about a stone,” or roughly 14 pounds, during Open play.
“This is the greatest job in the world, and I give it the ultimate respect,” Robson told SI then.
Robson, a longtime resident of Moffat, Scotland, was maniacal about all aspects of the job — which required he work for roughly 10 hours each tournament day without sitting, taking a break, eating or using the bathroom — but no element was more important than the art of the pronunciation. As a first-tee announcer, Ivor was tasked with presenting each of the Open’s 156 competitors, a job that often meant working with competitors in those critical few minutes before their tee times to ensure he had mastered the proper pronunciation. As golfers more than a generation over can attest, Robson commanded an unwavering presence and impressive precision from the lectern, no matter how difficult the name.
Robson retired from his Open post in 2015, the 144th at St. Andrews also serving as his final championship in front of the microphone.
“To the professionals, it has been great fun being here with you,” he said from the Old Course then. “We have had lots of banter and it has been wonderful. You are a credit to the professional game.”
Asked for his secret to four decades of excellence, Robson answered simply.
“I love this job,” he said. “I absolutely love it.”