Behind the Heritage: Q+A with Dottie Pepper

Today, Dottie Pepper is a CBS golf analyst and reporter who will be in Hilton Head this month covering the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing. This year also marks the launch of a new line of eyewear under her brand, Pepper ProEyes.

Story by Karen Moraghan + Photos by Cliff Lipson

Following a stellar playing career, Dottie Pepper retired from the LPGA Tour in 2004 and pursued a television broadcasting career – first as the lead LPGA analyst for the Golf Channel, then as an on-course announcer and analyst for NBC Sports, covering the LPGA, Champions, the PGA Tour, PGA and USGA events from 2004 to 2012. She was also a regular contributing columnist to Sports Illustrated Golf Plus for seven years.

Today, Pepper is a CBS golf analyst and reporter who will be in Hilton Head this month covering the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing. This year also marks the launch of a new line of eyewear under her brand, Pepper ProEyes.

How much golf do you play these days? [Dottie Pepper] Almost none. Two foot surgeries and an overall worn out body keep me off the course from a playing standpoint, but I still help friends and family with their games.

Growing up in upstate New York, did you travel down South when you were a junior golfer? [DP] My only southern travel was for the PGA Junior Championship. I was a winter sports kid (downhill skiing) long before I discovered golf. My family is still in the ski business.

Having attended Furman, do you feel any special affinity to the southeast and to South Carolina, in particular? [DP] Absolutely. I lived in Greenville for seven years even after college and also owned a condo on Kiawah Island where I lived and played when the weather in the upstate of South Carolina was too harsh for practice.

When did you first “discover” Hilton Head? Do you have any early memories? [DP] It wasn’t until I went to college at Furman that I first came to Hilton Head. I received a sponsor’s invitation to play in the LPGA event at Moss Creek. That was my first visit to the area.

Having been back to Hilton Head for The RBC Heritage have your impressions of the area changed? [DP] No, Hilton Head is everything its ‘laid back’ reputation says it is.

What are your best attributes as a commentator? [DP] Economy of words.

What’s the hardest interview you’ve ever had to do? [DP] Justin Rose after losing the playoff in the 2017 Masters

How hard is TV work? What’s a typical day like when you’re on the air? [DP] The hardest part of TV work is learning the voices that matter, their pacing. For me, a three-hour show is three hours of prep, three hours of live TV. And overall, just living on the road for half of the year is tough. The road life is not glamorous.

What do you do to prepare for the broadcasts? Do you typically play the course? [DP] Rarely do I play the course, although I have played most on our CBS schedule at one point or another. Not Harbour Town Golf Links, though. Typically, I walk the course with a yardage book in hand, talk to players, caddies, agents, and family. And, I also use stats provided by the PGA Tour’s website, monitor social media, study the weather, always watch early round coverage, touch base with rules staff on site as well as GCSAA (Golf Course Superintendents Association of America) postings for golf course set up.

What are your other passions in life? [DP] Gardening, skiing, cooking and World War II history are my passions.

I had a flower garden as a kid (from seeds) and my grandfather had a vegetable garden that fed 6-8 families, including a root cellar for winter veggies. I now have perennial/rose gardens surrounding our entire property. It is my passion and my sanity all wound into one wonderful project. I also compost nearly all of my own fertilizer.

My love of cooking comes from being on the road and in restaurants way too much and also living in a region of the country that is blessed by wonderful farmland. Farm-to-table is my thing – even in the winter with foods I have frozen the previous spring/summer/fall.

My interest in World War II history comes from history being my favorite class in high school and from my grandfather being a WWII vet. He served in the Pacific theater but my specific interest is in the European theater as my family heritage is German, Dutch and English. My paternal grandparents also had German exchange students in our family home through the New York State Grange and maintained contact with the two girls/women throughout their lives.

Q: Does David (husband David Normoyle, a golf historian) share in your interest in WW II history? [DP] David has come to really enjoy WWII history and we even spent a Thanksgiving in Normandy wandering all over the D-Day Beaches. It was a life-changing experience. His specialty, golf history, is much wider ranging than WWII.

Q: Tell me a little bit about Pepper ProEyes? [DP] Pepper ProEyes is my start-up company, in conjunction with my optician, Susan Halstead. We’ll launch sometime mid-2018. We’ll set ourselves apart with American-made lenses made from a material effective from dawn to dusk and with a lens design that allows progressive prescription wearers to don a pair of sunglasses that don’t compromise your head at the position of address of a golf ball. Pepper ProEyes allow the wearer to also follow the golf ball though the air, see a cell phone and/or flight monitor. We will offer non-prescription options, all in super-light wrap sport frames. Dress sunglasses are also on our future radar. (PepperProEyes.com)

Q: You are very connected to Saratoga Springs, your hometown. What is your latest charitable initiative there? [DP] I’ve supported the maintenance and celebration of our 9/11 memorial in Saratoga Springs, Tempered by Memory, since 2013. We are blessed to have a memorial made from the steel beams of the fallen World Trade Center Towers and it had become forgotten and neglected. Through gifts from our first responders, we were able to finish the landscaping surrounding the memorial and through other gifts and volunteer hours, which I help coordinate, we continually beautify and expand the area so that we will literally “never forget” the way life changed on Sept. 11, 2001.

Dot’s details

Born: Aug. 17, 1965
Residence:
Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
LPGA career victories:
17 including, two major championships (also one victory on JLPGA Tour)
Career low round:
63
Career earnings:
$6,827,284
Rank:
34
Education:
Furman University