Dottie Pepper, a major championship-winning professional golfer, as well as a respected television commentator and author, has joined ESPN’s golf coverage team and will make her debut at next month’s U.S. Open. She will work as an analyst, anchor and on-course reporter and write for ESPN.com.
Front Row caught up with Pepper to talk about her new role.
How did joining ESPN come about?
Basically it was my desire to really do the best events in golf, and that’s what ESPN does. As [ESPN VP, Production] Mike McQuade said, there’s not even playoffs, we play the World Series every time we go on the air, and that was very appealing to me. And because of the fewer number of events that ESPN covers, I’ll still be able to do the things that I want to do with the PGA of America, with junior golf, with growing the game in general, and frankly being home and having a more normal life while still being able to be at all the best in golf.
Judy Rankin has been a golf analyst for ESPN since 1984. How big a part of your career has she been?
The very first event I ever did in television was with ESPN — the 1999 U.S. Women’s Amateur. Judy had recommended me, she actually stayed at my house. We commuted back and forth to Asheville, N.C., and I was just asking question after question after question all week long. She just laid everything out there for me.
Part of the lead-up to me joining the ESPN team was the clarification that I wasn’t going to replace Judy, I was going to work with Judy, and that was first and foremost at the top of every list we spoke about with whomever I spoke with. She’s been so valuable to me — not only as my Solheim Cup captain twice, but more so as a friend and a mentor.
You received an ESPY for Best Female Golfer in 1993. What do you remember about that night?
I remember I wore a very bad dress. Then actually when they did the 10-year anniversary, the producer came back and took my dress for the shot. I still had it in the closet and they came and got the dress. If you look back over the footage, it wasn’t just me that wore that dress — Dennis Miller wore that dress by the end of the night [in 1993]. It was the very first ESPYs, it was Fred Couples and myself for golf, and [the ESPY trophy] still sits very proudly in my office. I regularly get out the silver polish and do the top.