Questions: Dottie Pepper

The major champion-turned-TV analyst has many favorites—from restaurants to golf courses—and doesn’t let a Hall of Fame omission get her down

Dottie Pepper
(Photo by Getty Images)

How much time do you spend in Saratoga Springs as opposed to on the road? I don’t travel much other than being on the road for 20-plus weeks each year for televised golf. Day trips for skiing, trips to France chasing WWII history, and to the UK (Rye and Gullane, specifically), but I’m basically a homebody who loves gardening.

We hear you’re a foodie, as well as an avid cook. Do you have a specialty? Whatever is fresh in our local markets—generally, a protein (love fish!) and two-veggie meal. I blanch/freeze fruits and vegetables for winter use, filling the freezer to the gills.

What are your favorite restaurants on the road? Flying Fish Grill in Carmel, Calif., is a usual stop, as well as Mezzo in Dublin, Ohio, and Ronnie Grisanti’s in Memphis.

Who would be your ideal PGA Tour three-ball to cover as a foot soldier and why? It would be a two-ball because it moves faster: Webb Simpson and Tiger. Great relationships with both of them and both will always grind it out to the end.

What is the most enjoyable course you’ve covered as an on-course reporter? And the most difficult? Hands down, my favorite walk in golf is Muirfield in Scotland. Most difficult from an on-course perspective is Muirfield Village. Way hillier than people realize, long rough, steep inclines, and very tough to get a vantage point out of a player’s sight and sound.

What’s your favorite golf course? If I had one round to play, it would be Salem Country Club in Peabody, Mass. I played my first U.S. Women’s Open there in 1984 and I’m a huge Donald Ross fan. My favorite course on the PGA Tour is another Ross, Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C.

What’s your fondest memory from your playing career? Winning the 1995 McCall’s LPGA Classic at Stratton Mountain, Vt.— the only tournament my family saw me play in person. It was an epic battle with Pat Bradley and her nearby Boston clan, while mine was from 90 minutes in the other direction. The host club professional, Dave Rihm, was also my club’s assistant pro growing up, so it was a doubly meaningful victory. The trophy was filled with adult beverages and passed around multiple times!

What do you think of the notion of the PGA Tour taking over the LPGA? I don’t see it as a takeover, I see it as a partnership with great benefi t for both parties. I actually proposed this in the late ’80s/early ’90s and was nearly run out of a player meeting, but sometimes things take a bit longer to germinate.

How do you feel the LPGA has dealt with the surge of elite players from Asia? How can Americans catch up? Mike Whan has done an outstanding job as commissioner, one that many other leaders in sports have looked to for guidance. Mike quickly and wisely realized he had an international product and put the LPGA in markets where women’s golf was huge while continuing to build resilient and strong relationships back home. The Americans will catch up by working as hard as their competitors from Asia. And it can be done!

You were a finalist this year for the World Golf Hall of Fame but didn’t make the list. To what degree does the thought of getting into the hall dance in your head? While it is nice to be recognized by your peers, it would in no way make my life better. When I left the LPGA in 2004, I knew I was short of the criteria that I had always focused on. My life has been extraordinarily full and I love what I do now