Dottie Pepper has been in golf television ever since retiring from her professional playing career in 2004 but this year she finally gets to fulfill a career wish: working on the grounds of Augusta National covering the Masters Tournament.
Pepper, who joined ESPN last summer, will be an analyst on SportsCenter’s extensive Masters coverage, including appearing on SportsCenter at the Masters today (ESPN, 5 p.m. ET) and on reports from the prestigious event during all four days of competition Thursday through Sunday.
“When I started speaking with ESPN about going to work, the Masters was thrown out there,” said Pepper. “I was like ‘Oh my gosh.’ I’m very excited about it.”
After watching the event on television for years, Pepper attended her first Masters in 1987 while still in the midst of her outstanding collegiate golf career at nearby Furman University. She had won a tournament on Saturday and an acquaintance offered the use of two tickets for Sunday’s final round at the Masters.
“I don’t think I slept the night before,” she said. “A, because I had won the tournament, and B, because I was finally going to the Masters.
“It was terrific because I went early enough that I walked the whole Par 3 and then went out to the portions of the golf course that at that time were never shown on television,” she said. “So I got to go out there when there was literally no one on the course and walked it all.”
Pepper has been back to Augusta many times since then, even getting the chance to play the prestigious course in December 2011.
“It was so cold, but it was so worth it,” she said.
Now, she will help golf fans around the country experience the event through her reporting and analysis.
“As a golf fan, it was the week that I pretty much ‘X-ed’ off the calendar,” she said. “If I had things to do, I did them in the morning because when they came on the air, I wanted to be sitting in front of the television. So getting a chance to be part of the ESPN coverage means a lot.”