For 26 years, Alex Hay, who has died of pancreatic cancer aged 78, was one of the voices of BBC Television's golf coverage. He formed a formidable partnership with Peter Alliss, the latter providing most of the anecdotes and witticisms, while Hay would complement him with his expert analyses of the players and their techniques. He wrote several books on the art of the golf swing and one, The Handbook of Golf (1985), became a bestseller. Hay seldom appeared in front of the camera and once was harangued by a burly fellow Scot with: "You sound taller than that Peter Alliss, and you're just a midget."
Born in Edinburgh and educated at Musselburgh grammar school, Hay first picked up a golf club at the age of 15, not to strike a ball, but to clear weeds from around the Anderson shelter in his garden. His natural ability was developed on a golf course, however, and he was soon set on a career as a professional. After a stint in the Edinburgh stock exchange and national service with the RAF, he trained as an apprentice club-maker at the Ben Sayers factory in North Berwick.
In 1954, he became an assistant professional at Potters Bar golf club in Hertfordshire under Bill Shankland and after completing his training became the professional at East Herts golf club. Here he entered his first tournament but soon concluded that he was more suited to teaching than to tournament golf. After a spell at Dunham Forest, Cheshire, in 1965 he became the pro at the prestigious Ashridge golf club in Hertfordshire.
After 12 years, Hay moved to the Duke of Bedford's new Woburn golf club where he improved the club's standing by designing the Marquess' course and improving the club's facilities and finances. Soon he was attracting world-class players such as Greg Norman, Gary Player and Seve Ballesteros. Woburn staged many of the Around with Alliss television programmes and became the venue for the Dunlop and then Dunhill British Masters. In 1986, at Woburn, Hay became the first pro to be appointed managing director of a golf club. He also served as a referee and observer for the Ryder Cup from 1973 to 1977.
Hay was also a gifted artist and from 1973 had begun both writing and illustrating his teaching theories for Golf Illustrated magazine. He even had a column in Medical News and, as he wrote in his 1989 collection of anecdotes, Ripening Hay: "I was the only golf pro to give a cure for a slice between a cure for haemorrhoids and another for athlete's foot, all published on the same page."
Having earned a reputation as a public raconteur, he impressed the commentator David Coleman while speaking at a gymkhana attended by Coleman's daughter. Coleman arranged for a BBC audition and Hay made his broadcasting debut at the Open at St Andrews in 1978, won by Jack Nicklaus. The mailbag attested to his popularity, though his main critics were Scots who disliked the anglicisation of his accent. He became famous for his conversational style, his technical insight and his humour. His one effort as fairway commentator did not go so well. He spoke too loudly and caused Sam Torrance to abort a shot in mid-swing, and he forced a cameraman to follow him under a rope with the result that his portable mast caught inside a woman's dress with unfortunate consequences for the lady concerned, less so for male viewers.
In 2004 the BBC, anxious to introduce younger blood into the commentary team, let Hay go, despite attempts by Alliss to reverse the decision. Hay felt no bitterness and told his friend shortly before he died that: "I've had a wonderful life. I've been round the world three or four times without ever having to put my hand in pocket, I've met vagabonds and princes, now I'm not going to lose my hair and my good looks."
He is survived by his wife, Ann, and his two sons, David and Graeme.
• Alex Galloway Hay, golf professional and broadcaster, born 10 May 1933; died 11 July 2011