Jump to content
John Reitman

By John Reitman

From the tour to TV, Pepper named '24 Old Tom recipient

Former LPGA Tour professional and tour TV broadcaster Dottie Pepper has been named the recipient of the GCSAA's 2024 Old Tom Morris Award.

The Old Tom Morris Award is presented to an individual who, through a continuing lifetime commitment to the game of golf, has helped to mold the welfare of the game in a manner and style exemplified by Old Tom Morris. Old Tom Morris was a four-time British Open winner and the legendary greenkeeper at St. Andrews in Scotland.

Pepper was a 17-time LPGA tour winner whose victories included two majors (1992, 1999 Nabisco Dinah Shore). She competed in six Solheim Cup events, finished atop the LPGA money list in 1992 and finished in the top 10 ten times. She is the seventh female to win the Old Tom award, joining Patty Berg (1986), Dinah Shore (1993), Nancy Lopez (2000), Judy Ranking (2010), Annika Sorenstam (2014) and Renee Powell, who, along with her family, was the 2019 recipient.

"When you put me in a group with Judy and Dinah and those others in the same sentence, it's significant," Pepper said in a news release. "This is the pinnacle, you know, like Mount Everest, for a garden geek and dirt nerd like me."

She will be recognized on Jan. 31 at the 2024 GCSAA Conference and Trade Show in Phoenix.

"Dottie Pepper has had a standout career as both a major champion and a golf reporter," GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans said in a news release. "But she also has a deep appreciation for what all goes into making the game happen and the work that superintendents do, which is why Dottie Pepper is an ideal recipient of the Old Tom Morris Award."

Pepper's first career win was a playoff victory over Beth Daniel in the 1989 Oldsmobile LPGA Classic at Stonebridge Golf and Country Club in Boca Raton, Florida. Her final win came in the season-ending ADT Championship in 2000 at Trump International in West Palm Beach.

She moved off the golf course and behind the microphone in 2004. In 2020 she was the first-ever walking reporter during the Masters.

A native of Saratoga Springs, New York, Pepper comes from an athletic family. Her father, Don Pepper, was a professional baseball player who had a short stint in the Majors with the Detroit Tigers. She took up the game at an early age, and her father built a practice range on the family farm in New York to keep her interested. It was there that she also learned an appreciation for maintaining fine cut turf.

111523 dottie.jpg

Dottie Pepper is a 17-time LPGA Tour winner and an accomplished TV analyst. She will be recognized in January as the 2024 Old Tom Morris Award recipient. Furman University photo

"It had well-manicured greens. I was never allowed to mow the greens, but I certainly mowed the fairways on the tractor in my youth," Pepper said in the release. "I knew when it was time to aerate and put things to bed properly for the winter."

When she was 14, Pepper turned to PGA professional George Pulver as her coach. She wrote about the impact Pulver had on her life in her book "Letters to a Future Champion: My Time with Mr. Pulver" (Mission Point, 2021, 195 pages).

She thrived as Pulver's student. At 15 she won the 1981 New York State Amateur and was the low amateur in the U.S. Women's Open in 1984. At Furman University, Pepper was a three-time All-American and graduated in 1987 with a bachelor's degree in health sciences. She joined the LPGA Tour in 1988.

After a 16-year professional career that included two major wins, a 13-5-2 career record in the Solheim Cup and being named Player of the Year in 1992, Pepper retired from the Tour in 2004 for the next phase in her career.

"When she came to us, she immediately raised our broadcasts to a new level," said Jim Nantz, Pepper's CBS colleague and 2021 Old Tom recipient. "She executes to perfection."

Pepper's preparation for telecasts often relies on superintendents. 

"I try to speak with the superintendent on a regular basis," she said, "especially those superintendents who have gone through a restoration or renovation because they're the ones who are hands-on the whole time."

Old Tom Morris Award recipients

2023 — Johnny Morris
2022 — Vince Gill
2021 — Jim Nantz
2020 — Gary Player
2019 — The Powell Family
2018 — Ernie Els
2017 — Paul R. Latshaw
2016 — Herb Kohler
2015 — Dan Jenkins
2014 — Annika Sorenstam
2013 — Mike Hurdzan, Ph.D.
2012 — Peter Jacobsen
2011 — Nick Price
2010 — Judy Rankin
2009 — Col. John Morley
2008 — Greg Norman
2007 — Charles Sifford
2006 — Joseph M. Duich, Ph.D
2005 — Jack Nicklaus
2004 — Rees Jones
2003 — Pete Dye
2002 — Walter Woods, Esq.
2001 — Timothy W. Finchem
2000 — Nancy Lopez
1999 — Jaime Ortiz-Patiño
1998 — Ken Venturi
1997 — Ben Crenshaw
1996 — Tom Fazio
1995 — Dr. James R. Watson
1994 — Byron Nelson
1993 — Dinah Shore
1992 — Tom Watson
1991 — William C. Campbell
1990 — Sherwood A. Moore, CGCS
1989 — Juan "Chi Chi" Rodriguez
1988 — Gene Sarazen
1987 — Robert Trent Jones Sr.
1986 — Patty Berg
1985 — Gerald Ford
1984 — Bob Hope
1983 — Arnold Palmer

  • Create New...