The Open

Obituary – Ivor Robson

The R&A
16 Oct 23
3 mins

Ivor Robson, a man with one of the most distinctive voices in golf, has died at the age of 83.

He was the official starter at The Open for 41 years and his passing has been met with an outpouring of affection from players and golf administrators alike. He also acted for over 40 years as the DP World Tour's official starter, with his ‘on the tee’ message delivered in his cultured brogue at famous golf venues around the globe. Ivor sent the world's best players on their way in a wonderful career – from Jack Nicklaus to Tiger Woods, from Arnold Palmer to Seve Ballesteros, from Tom Watson to Rory McIlroy. Martin Slumbers, CEO of The R&A, said, “We are deeply saddened to hear of Ivor’s passing. As official starter at The Open for over 40 years, his voice was instantly recognisable and synonymous with the Championship for players and millions of golf fans worldwide. “He was popular and well respected among all golfers who played in The Open and I know that they will share in our sadness at this news. On behalf of all of us at The R&A, I would like to convey our heartfelt condolences to his wife of 61 years, Lesley, and the Robson family.” It was in 2015 when he announced his retirement, working at The Open at St Andrews for the final time, before making his emotional final announcements when the curtain came down on the DP World Tour season in Dubai in November 2015. Ivor said at the time, “It has been a wonderful career. It's been a great honour. The way I have been treated by players, officials, sponsors… thank you all very much.” A much-loved resident of Moffat in Dumfries and Galloway, Ivor was born in England in 1940 and began his remarkable career at The Open in 1975 at Carnoustie. He went on to earn the admiration of the best players in the world, sending players off from the 1st tee with his famous words and a hearty grin.
Ivor Robson | 1940-2023
“To the professionals, it has been great fun being here with you,” he added in 2015. “We have had lots of banter and it has been wonderful. You are a credit to the professional game. And to the spectators, thank you for your wonderful support over the years." For 41 stagings of The Open, it was one voice, Ivor’s voice, that marked the time. He didn’t miss a championship or a tee time going back to 1975 and was also well known for avoiding a toilet break as much as he could between matches teeing off. Having worked at his 40th Open at Royal Liverpool (Hoylake) in 2014, The 144th Open the following year was Ivor’s last. When he took to the tee at 6.32am on the opening Thursday over the Old Course it marked the beginning of a final championship for the iconic 1st tee announcer. “I feel you can’t go on forever and if you’re going to step off there’s no better place to do it than here,” he said. “I’ve had some nice ones but this is special, St Andrews. It is just magnificent.” Ivor said he would miss many things about working at The Open, but mostly it was the people. “Being involved, being a part of a team,” he said. “I’ll miss that a lot but it’s time to go.” A fiercely private man who enjoyed playing when he could at his beloved Moffat Golf Club, he was also a proud Rolex Ambassador. Looking back to his Open career, he added, “It is a great honour to be the official starter for the greatest championship in the world. I’m privileged and immensely proud. They were all very special.”