by Jeff Skinner
The LPGA has announced that another tournament will be added to the 2014 schedule with a return to Alabama at the Alabama LPGA Classic. That will once again give the LPGA two tournaments in the Heart of Dixie.
That’s good news for the hard working commissioner of the LPGA, Mike Whan and even better news for Stacy Lewis as she won both Alabama tournaments in 2012 on her way to the LPGA Player of the Year.
This week the ladies tee it up at The Mobile Bay LPGA Classic and start a string of four consecutive events culminating with their second major at the Wegman’s LPGA Championship in June.
One of the former fixtures on The Golf Channel and NBC’s Golf coverage won’t be there. Dottie Pepper has moved on to other things when she opted not to renew her contracts for golf coverage with the networks.
She has accepted a voluntary position with the PGA of America and spends most of her days at home in Saratoga Springs, New York. She wanted a break from the 35 weeks a year of travel and a chance to make a difference in the game she loves so much.
Executive Director of Golf World Magazine, Ron Sirak profiles Pepper in this weeks’ Golf World. “Why did I walk away from TV to take a non-paying position on the board of the PGA of America?” she asks with a laugh that punctuates many of her sentences. “The problem was merely the number of weeks I was being asked to work. I couldn’t do what I wanted to do for the game long-term being in a suitcase for 32 weeks a year. I can’t do that. I don’t want to do that. I don’t need to do that. I loved what I did. I miss the guys terribly that I worked with. But that offers no life other than calling golf shots. That’s not really how I’m wired.”
Pepper had simply had enough of life on the road and wanted to re-plant her passion and give it a new focus.”
Pepper was quite an athlete and was a good skier during those winter months when she grew up in Saratoga. But it was golf where she made her name with 14 LPGA wins including two majors.
But it was her remarks about the U.S. Solheim Cup Team that cast a huge shadow on her after her retirement. “At Halmstad, Sweden, in 2007, thinking Golf Channel had gone to commercial, she referred to Laura Diaz, whom she has known since junior golf, and Sherri Steinhauer as “choking freaking dogs.” Pepper apologized, but the damage was done.”
That remark cost her a chance at a Solheim Cup captaincy and the wound has just been recently closed when good friend and Solheim Cup Captain Meg Mallon named Pepper as an assistant captain.
Now, Pepper has forsaken the microphone for the telephone as she spends her days on conference calls working to grow the game that gave her so much. It’s a new Dottie, a more contented, more mellow Dottie. And she has never been happier