Dottie Pepper: Bio of the Intense LPGA Major Winner

Dottie Pepper during the 1999 Nabisco Dinah Shore tournament
Dottie Pepper was an intense competitor who accomplished a lot before injuries cut short her golf career. Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Dottie Pepper was an intense and major-championship winning LPGA Tour golfer until injuries first derailed her career, and then ended it prematurely. She then entered a successful career as a golf broadcaster.

Dottie Pepper

  • Occupation: Professional golfer, broadcaster
  • Nickname: Hot Pepper
  • Born: August 17, 1965 in Saratoga Springs, New York
  • Key Accomplishments: Winner of two LPGA major championships and 17 LPGA titles overall; winner of five out of six singles matches played in Solheim Cup.
  • Fun Fact: Her father, Don Pepper, appeared on a 1968 Sports Illustrated cover among "Best Rookies of 1968" in Major League Baseball. But he appeared in only four games for the Detroit Tigers.

Pepper's Victories

Dottie Pepper won 17 times on the LPGA Tour, the first in 1989 and the last in 2000. (These wins are listed at the bottom of this article.)

Her biggest wins were two major championship victories, both in the same major: The Nabisco Dinah Shore (now called the ANA Inspiration) in 1992 and 1999.

Awards and Honors for Dottie Pepper

  • LPGA Vare Trophy (low scoring average), 1992
  • LPGA money leader, 1992
  • LPGA Player of the Year, 1992
  • Member, U.S. Solheim Cup team, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000
  • 3-time collegiate All-American

Biography of Dottie Pepper

Dottie Pepper was a fierce competitor, not afraid to let her feelings show on the course. She started out playing as hot as her temperament until her career was prematurely ended by a series of injuries.

Pepper's career began with big amateur victories in her home state of New York, winning the 1981 state amateur and the 1981 and 1983 New York Junior Amateur titles. She was a member of the 1981 Junior World Cup team and low amateur at the 1984 U.S. Women's Open.

She attended Furman University where she was named All-America three times, then turned pro and joined the LPGA Tour in 1987.

Golfer Dottie Pepper plays a stroke during a tournament in 2000.
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Pepper's first victory came at the 1989 Oldsmobile LPGA Classic in a five-hole playoff win over future Hall-of-Famer Beth Daniel.

Early in her career, Pepper's temperament didn't always go over well with other players. She was sometimes viewed as rude or standoffish, someone who was not always polite or politic. Some of her fellow competitors called her "Snottie Dottie" during this time. (She also competed as Dottie Mochrie, her married name, from 1988 through 1995, returning to Pepper following a divorce.)

Her persona mellowed in later years, but this fiery disposition always went over well with fans and produced some great golf. Pepper claimed the first of her two majors — beating another Hall of Famer in a playoff, this time Juli Inkster — at the 1992 Nabisco Dinah Shore (the LPGA major later called the Kraft Nabisco Championship and now the ANA Inspiration).

"I had a weird sensation that it was my tournament to win," Pepper said at the time. "It was strange, because under normal circumstances you feel like throwing up."

She won that event again in 1999 with a record-setting score of 19-under par. That was the first 19-under finish in major championship history, men or women. She shared the record for lowest score in relation to par in a major until Jason Day reached 20-under at the 2015 PGA Championship. Pepper's LPGA record didn't fall until 2016.

Pepper was a consistent performer throughout the 1990s, leading the tour in wins in 1992 and 1996, in money and scoring in 1992, and finishing no lower than fifth on the money list from 1991-96.

She finished runner-up in the ANA Inspiration three times in addition to her two wins there, and overall posted 17 Top 10 finishes in majors.

Pepper also was one of the top players in the first decade of the Solheim Cup, her intensity serving her well in that setting (although not always going over well with her opponents on the European teams). She compiled an overall record of 13-5-2 in the matches, including five wins in six singles matches.

But a series of injuries began cropping up that eventually forced her into early retirement. Pepper missed six weeks in 1995 with rotator cuff and thoracic back sprains. She missed much of 2000 with wrist and back injuries.

In 2002, she played only once and required shoulder surgery. She retired following the 2004 season.

When her tournament days ended, Pepper turned to broadcasting. She worked for the Golf Channel and for NBC Sports, both in the booth as an analyst and as a reporter on the golf course.

In 2012 she began writing a series of children's books; the series is named Bogey Tees Off and the books use golf characters to teach children values such as honesty.

Pepper's Pro Wins

These are Pepper's 17 LPGA Tour victories:

  • 1989 Oldsmobile LPGA Classic
  • 1990 Crestar Classic
  • 1992 Nabisco Dinah Shore
  • 1992 Sega Women's Championship
  • 1992 Welch's Classic
  • 1992 Sun-Times Challenge
  • 1993 World Championship of Women's Golf
  • 1994 Chrysler-Plymouth Tournament of Champions
  • 1995 PING/Welch's Championship
  • 1995 McCall's LPGA Classic
  • 1996 Rochester International
  • 1996 ShopRite LPGA Classic
  • 1996 Friendly's Classic
  • 1996 Safeway LPGA Golf Championship
  • 1999 Nabisco Dinah Shore
  • 1999 Oldsmobile Classic
  • 2000 Arch Wireless Championship

Pepper also won several times in unofficial-money events, including three wins teamed with Juli Inkster in the Diners Club Matches. She also won once on the LPGA of Japan tour