In December of 2012, I wrote, “Dottie Pepper: Goodbye to a Master,” an homage to one of the best on-course golf commentators ever. There was just a way that she used words sparingly that conveyed the situation completely and, given her unquestioned playing accomplishments on the LPGA Tour, authoritatively. I mention a memorable instance in that post.
I also wrote about coming across her during a match I was following at the Accenture Match Play Championship. It was an understandably frosty encounter.
I had a much better experience at the 2013 RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup in Phoenix. Meg Mallon, this year’s Solheim Cup captain, was in town with her previously named assistant captain, Dottie Pepper. The purpose was to name the second assistant captain, Laura Diaz. With the “brain trust” sitting on the dais, I asked Dottie what she had learned as an analyst with the PGA Tour that would be helpful in her job as an assistant captain.
I can’t find a transcript anywhere, but I remember her fixing me with her blazing blue eyes and giving me a thoughtful, unhurried, extensive summation of how her work covering the Ryder Cup was directly applicable. She didn’t stop looking at me until she could see that her answer had satisfied me.
And there was a link at the bottom of my post to the AP’s Doug Ferguson’s story behind her retirement from NBC, her time there and her intention to take a position at the PGA of America designing programs to bring kids into the game.
In the last couple of years, I remember discovering that she had moved from Florida back to her hometown of Saratoga Springs, New York. I was puzzled. As a former New Yorker who once migrated to Florida, I couldn’t imagine enduring another northern winter if I didn’t have to.
Prolific golf writer and Executive Editor at Golf World Magazine, Ron Sirak, wrote a lovely article, “Dottie Pepper: A Sense of Place,” that finally took all of the mystery out of her decision for me. It was all about home and family and being at peace. It’s a meaty, 2½ pages that is a delightful profile of someone who has worked hard to find her center.