Cycling has Phil Liggett, rugby league Ray Warren and in horse racing it’s Bruce McAvaney.

These are the voices that instantly identify what sport is on the telly and in golf, for the best part of six decades, we had Peter Alliss.

The eight-time Ryder Cupper died overnight Australian time at the age of 89 and the internet today is – rightfully – full of wonderful obituaries about one of the game’s great characters.

Like many others the world over I will spend a good chunk of today reading those pieces because, though I never met him, I felt in some small way as though I knew him.

"Alliss was a natural with a microphone, a rare breed in a business where some devote their entire lives to ‘making it’ but never do."

As with the aforementioned Benaud, Walker and Murray, the sound of Alliss’ voice coming out of the TV was a surer indication that the golf was on than if you saw actual golf being played.

TV commentary is a trickier business than most of us imagine and, not unlike golf, the best make it appear much easier than it actually is.

It requires instinct, intimate knowledge of the subject at hand, the ability to think on one’s feet, an innate understanding of when to say nothing and – for the truly exceptional like Alliss – a comedian’s wit.

It’s testament to how closely intertwined television and sport are that those who call the action are often as well-known as those doing the playing.

As sport obsessed as the world is, these voices become the soundtrack to moments we remember forever.

(Think Verne Lundquist’s “In your life …” or Gary Koch’s “better than most …”)

Few did it as well as Alliss and likely none better though, like Richie Benaud, there are likely whole generations of fans completely unaware of the successful playing career that preceded his time in the commentary booth.

Alliss was a natural with a microphone, a rare breed in a business where some devote their entire lives to ‘making it’ but never do.

The man himself always kept his success in perspective though perhaps revealed the secret during his acceptance speech when inducted into the Golf Hall of Fame in 2012.

“I’ve really done very little in my life,” he said, “just waffled along, loving the game of golf and being observant.

“And things have just always come my way. All these things have just fallen into my lap for some inexplicable reason.”

While likely understating his own role in his success there is no question Alliss had a gift for commentating the game, a gift which we were all lucky enough to share in.

And we’re all now a little worse off for his passing.