‘Nice Putt, Alice' Is Not the Diss You Think

You've heard this diss and may have said it to yourself after a weenie putt. You may have thought that this was just a slam on your manhood or possibly something that comedian Jackie Gleason (a big golf fan) might have growled after a ghastly stroke — sort of like his famous line, "To the moon, Alice!" But the origin is Gleason-free and refers to a golfer named Alliss.

Golfers of the world, it's time to apologize to the Alices of the world. See, there's a line that's used after a putrid putt that is usually of version of this: "Nice putt, Alice!" Well, it's wrong in four ways:

  1. It's a putdown, either to yourself or to a playing partner. Golf does a good enough job putting down players all by itself; we don't need to pile on.
  2. It's a putdown of women. They are put down enough, especially in the work place (equal pay), so if we must put down someone on the course, let's at least man up and stick to our own gender.
  3. It's a putdown to golfers named Alice, who, for all we know, can putt as well or better than we can.
  4. It's inaccurate. The putdown was aimed at a guy named Alliss, not a gal named Alice.

Here's the story:

Forget about Jackie Gleason, who played Ralph Kramden in the sitcom "The Honeymooners" while Art Carney played his bud, the character named Ed Norton. In one episode, the two played golf. Alice was Ralph's wife, and Ralph would regularly get exasperated with her and bellow, "To the moon, Alice!" So, it would be a good guess to think that "Nice putt, Alice!" originated from a round of golf with Ralph and Alice.

But the real source is Peter Alliss, the English golf broadcaster we hear with British Open broadcasts. Alliss was a very good touring pro in Britain and Europe, winning 21 times on would eventually become the European Tour and playing on eight Ryder Cup teams.

Putting was not a strength of Aliss, but at the 1963 Ryder Cup in Atlanta, Alliss halved his match against Tony Lema and beat Arnold Palmer and in back-to-back singles matches. In the Palmer match, Alliss missed a 3-foot putt, and a gallery leather lung yelled, "Nice putt, Alliss!"

So, now you know the real story behind the line, and now is the time to say to all the Alices out there: "We're sorry!"

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