During her 17-victory LPGA career, Dottie Pepper seldom hid her feelings. Her obvious talent, fiery demeanor and outspoken nature made her one of the LPGA's most entertaining attractions.
Pepper's tell-it-like-it is approach made her move into television a natural one. NBC benefited from both her golf expertise and frankness for eight years before she hung up her microphone last fall.
On Saturday, the Saratoga Springs, N.Y., resident will head east to eduKaytiongolf's "A Date with Dottie Pepper Day" at the Cranwell Resort, Spa and Golf Club. The 47-year-old will take part in an exhibition, offer swing tips, sign children's books she has co-authored and, no doubt, offer a few of her unvarnished opinions between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.
In bringing the two-time major winner and six-time Solheim Cup team member to Lenox, eduKaytiongolf's owner and founder, LPGA Teaching and Club Professional Hall of Famer Kay McMahon, has succeeded again in landing a big draw to kick off the new golf season. Last year, Dr. Bob Winters, a world renowned sports psychologist, visited Cranwell.
"I serve on the board of the Northeast New York PGA section with Kay and she approached me at a meeting to see if I would be interested and if I had the time," Pepper said. "This weekend works out nicely."
McMahon will host the proceedings -- "I'll be Kay's guinea pig," joked Pepper -- that will start with a one-hour clinic and exhibition. After that, the 70 or so who have signed up will be broken into groups and work on their games with McMahon, Pepper, Saratoga Golf & Polo Club head pro Kevin Hughes and eduKaytiongolf's instruction team. That will be followed by a lunch during which Pepper will field questions.
"I have found these events are much better when they are interactive," Pepper said. "So we will have a very active Q-and-A session and I will also bring along some books to sign."
"I'll have Dottie hit some different shots and we'll talk about the golf swing," said McMahon of the one-hour clinic.
"We'll go through some of the things that have worked for me and translate well to the female player," Pepper added.
Two of McMahon's prize students, New Yorker Madison Braman, 14, and St. Joseph High School golfer Danielle Lapierre, 16, will also take part in the exhibition. Braman won the women's club championship at Shaker Ridge Country Club last summer and Lapierre finished second in the Western Mass. Girls High School Championship in the fall.
Given Pepper's passion for junior golf, the pair's inclusion is appropriate. She is focusing on junior initiatives as a member of the PGA Board of Directors and the mission statement for two children's books she has co-authored with Scott Fuller is to promote reading, golf and having fun.
"Out dual goal is to teach life lessons and introduce kids to golf," said Pepper, who credits Fuller with being the brainchild for the books. "Studies show that if you get kids interested by the age of 9, they will stay with it. Our target are those ages 5 to 10."
It's no secret that the number of junior golfers in the United States has dropped significantly in recent years.
"First and foremost, access is the big thing and this country has fallen behind," Pepper said. "If you go to places like Scotland and Ireland, they encourage kids to play with anyone. It's a game they can share with their parents and grandparents. Here, we don't seem to want the kids around. Until we realize they are the future of golf, we're in trouble. There's nothing cooler than a kid who is hooked on the game."
The opportunity to land Pepper is in part a result of her decision to leave NBC. With the network's purchase of the Golf Channel, there are many more tournaments on its schedule.
"Given the number of events they wanted me to do, 32, it wasn't too difficult a decision," Pepper said. "I do miss the guys [on the NBC team] terribly, but there's more to life than televised golf."
And Pepper has been discovering that life this spring.
"I actually got to spend all of March at home for the first time and it was fabulous," she said. "I've been able to do all the things I have wanted to do. I've been helping in a floral shop in town on the apprentice side. It's something I have an interest in down the road."
Saturday, however, she'll trade in her ribbon shears for her 7-iron to the benefit of golfers in the Berkshires.
Spots are still available for Saturday. The cost is $69 for adults and $49 for juniors. Call (518) 669-1551 or go to www.edukaytiongolf.com to sign up.
To contact Richard Lord:
or (413) 496-6236.