Dottie Pepper leaves NBC Sports after 8 years

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 18, 2012 at 2:58 pm •  Published: December 18, 2012
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She was never lacking in intensity and honesty, sometimes to a fault. She once was criticized for shouting, "Yes!" when her opponent missed a putt in the Solheim Cup. Roy laughed when recalling her early years with NBC. "Everyone on the NBC golf team was scared to death of her from when she was a player," he said.

That intensity, however, led to her lowest moment in broadcasting.

Pepper was working the Solheim Cup for Golf Channel in 2007 when the Americans kept missing one pivotal putt after another. They had gone to a commercial break, but someone forgot to hit the switch. Thinking they were off the air, Pepper said, "Choking, freakin' dogs!"

Only they weren't off the air, and her commentary got back to the Americans. Pepper didn't remember saying it and she didn't even find out about it until six hours later, when the telecast was over and a producer closed the door behind him and said, "We've got a problem."

"An enormously sick feeling," Pepper said. "The thing that still stings about that is that there were people at Golf Channel who had already packed my bags. They had issued my resignation. And (senior programming director) Don McGuire said, 'No, that won't be the case. That was our fault.' I'll always be appreciative of him for that."

Her sin wasn't being honest, rather it was being a cheerleader.

"That's what hurt the most," she said. "I was bleeding with them, and as a broadcaster, you can't do that. You call your sport."

Pepper wasn't sure she would recover from that, and there are still a few American players who won't speak to her. Once a shoo-in as a Solheim Cup captain, Pepper quickly became an afterthought except in the booth. That changed this year when Meg Mallon chose Pepper as one of her assistant captains for the 2013 matches in Colorado.

Will she be a captain someday?

"Only if I'm wanted," she said. "People have to want you to be a captain."

But she says her decision to leave broadcasting was in no way related to her future in the Solheim Cup.

It was simply time to move on to something else, which in this case is developing young American players at an early age. She has created a mascot called "Bogey," a big range ball who is tired of his dead-end job and wants to be a player. Pepper is bringing "Bogey" to the PGA show next month. She describes him as "a bridge so that golf isn't so scary to kids."

Pepper has no idea how long her stint with the PGA of America will last, but odds are she'll get out when she's ready and not a moment too late.