When championship golfer Dottie Pepper’s book Letters to a Future Champion: My Time With Mr. Pulver was published early this year, COVID still very much restricted in-person events, making a book tour of any kind impossible. But after months of virtual Q&As and online chats (including with our own Northshire Bookstore), the native Saratogian is hitting the Ballston Spa Public Library this Saturday morning at 11am for a book reading and signing.
In her book, Pepper traces the influence of her mentor, George J. Pulver Sr., on both her golf game and her character.
Pepper’s storied career is one that many locals are familiar with, having rooted on their hometown hero back in the ’90s. The CBS Sports reporter and analyst won an impressive 17 LPGA tour events during her career, including a pair of major championships in 1992 and 1999. After she retired in 2004, she kicked off a second career in television, covering every major in men’s golf and nearly every one in women’s golf. She was even the first woman to announce live golf at The Masters beginning in 2016, and in 2020 became the first walking reporter to cover that same event.
Ahead of her Ballston Spa appearance, Pepper tells Saratoga Living about her recent book—and the thrill of meeting local fans in person after so many virtual events.
Your book came out during COVID. Are you making up for lost time now?
I am doing a combination of virtual, in-person, private, club membership and public signings, speaking engagements and Q&A sessions based on the book, my career in golf as a competitor and as a commentator. Northshire Bookstore has been an amazing brick-and-mortar supporter from day one, and I’ve done other events in Albany, at the Wilton YMCA, Clifton Park and Waynesboro, VA in the last six weeks. Next up is the book signing and chat at the Ballston Spa Public Library Saturday morning, followed by a member function at McGregor Links Country Club in Wilton Sunday and in Atlanta with the Evergreen Golf Society next Wednesday. I will also be at The Villages Barnes and Noble in Florida in early March.
That’s a busy schedule! What do you like most about meeting fans in person?
Face-to-face is so important because much of that personal connection with people and sports was a void during the COVID lockdowns. People need to share their stories and journeys in golf and in life. This book allows that to happen freely. Mentorship, a key part of this book, is so much more meaningful if shared in person.
What will your fans, both new ones and die-hards, learn from your book?
I believe fans will understand the humble beginnings from which my career launched and why I am still today such a dogged competitor, even in the work of sports television. It doesn’t matter whether you are in competition as a golfer or as a commentator—doing the very best you can always matters. This book is a great read because it shows respect for those who helped us achieve goals while allowing us to also appreciate the past, but at the same time pushing for better results in the future.
Does your hometown make a lot of appearances?
Saratoga is all over and through this book—from Mr. Pulver’s birth in Downtown Saratoga Springs in 1898 and his time caddying as a young man, to letters I received in my mail box from his family in 2021. (Yes, over 100 years of connections.) This book is all Saratoga! Mr. Pulver and I are both Saratoga Springs High School graduates (a scholarship for both boys and girls is awarded in his name annually), Mr. Pulver is buried in St. Peters Cemetery, and there is significant mention of both Saratoga Golf and Polo Club (the Saratoga Golf Club then), McGregor and even The Saratogian, where he was a cub reporter. You cannot escape our great city in this book!
How did you come up with the idea for this book?
The idea had been brewing for about 10 years—all of the letters Mr. Pulver wrote me during our student/teacher time from the early 80’s to 1986 had been in a three-ring binder either with me or in my office since his passing. It was time to share them, especially given the time created during the COVID lockdowns and time of very limited human interaction when CBS resumed its golf coverage in June 2020. This book was part of my commitment to do something positive, become healthier on many levels, and share evergreen moments and thoughts that will last a lifetime.
Mr. Pulver sounds like a special mentor. What else can you tell us?
Mr. Pulver was a WWI veteran who returned home, but was injured while serving alongside the British Army. Because of his commitment to his country, 10 percent of all proceeds from Letters to a Future Champion go directly to the Saratoga WarHorse, which provides programming to all soldiers with PTSD therapy and recovery needs. Programming is centered around off-track Thoroughbreds and their relationships with those soldiers, all free of charge, including travel.