Dottie Pepper was as fierce a competitor as they come during her 16-year LPGA Tour career and she has never been afraid to tell it as she sees it with the headset on as a TV broadcaster. So it was something of a surprise to learn that the winner of 17 tour events and two major titles was the victim of bullies in her younger days.
"It’s certainly something that I dealt with as a kid. I had my bicycle stolen by the bullies, a bully’s dog ... killed my sister’s rabbit," Pepper, 48, told SBNation during a recent wide-ranging phone interview. "I guess I was the geeky kid who played golf so this is a pretty personal story."
While it’s difficult to imagine anyone ever daring to intimidate and harass the straightforward daughter of former Detroit Tigers slugger Don Pepper, bullying can happen anywhere, to anyone. Her experiences, as well as those of the son of her children’s book co-author Scott Fuller, were the catalysts for the second volume in their "Bogey Tees Off" series.
"Bogey Tees Off Vol. 2 - A Lesson About Bullying" features the books’ title character, Bogey Balton, who goes to Best Ball School to try to earn his tour card. Because he is just a range ball, Bogey becomes the target of a group of higher-end balls until his "bully-busting gal pal Daisy" rescues him and gets other students to stand up to the ruffians.
(Graphic: Scooter Pines Publishing)
"In the storyline, Bogey’s scooter gets stolen; well, that was my bicycle," said Pepper, who, like other children picked on by kids who are often older, bigger, or perhaps better off economically, believe she did not deal with her bullying issue all that well.
"I kind of went into a shell," she said. "A lot of kids did."
The book is slated to hit the shelves in mid-August -- just as kids are getting back to school. The "Tee Box" section at the end offers statistics and information about physical, social, emotional, and cyber bullying -- and how it can affect children. It also helps parents and educators recognize and act on warning signs that kids may be the victims of intimidation, like changes in appetite and withdrawal from normally enjoyable activities.
With the introduction of a female character in Daisy and the support of the LPGA Tour, Pepper will formally release her newest work during the August 14-August 17 Wegmans LPGA Championship in Pittsford, N.Y. She and Fuller will donate a portion of proceeds from the sale of the book to the LPGA Foundation, which supports girls and women through developmental and humanitarian golf initiatives.
To promote literacy and boost the tournament, Pepper will also distribute 150 autographed copies of the well-received first "Bogey Tees Off" volume throughout the Rochester area.
The day my son finished reading The 1st Bogey Balton book he started asking when he could read the next 1. Happy I can tell him: now #greats— Jimmy Roberts (@JimmyRobertsNBC) October 16, 2013
"Bogey Tees Off Vol. 2 - A Lesson About Bullying" will be available in August at Amazon.com and various golf retailers for $16.99. Pepper and Fuller have penned two other books, "Bogey Tees Off," and "Bogey Balton’s Night Before Christmas."
Pepper, by the way, chuckled when she mused about how she was easing into retirement as a part-time analyst for ESPN (after eight years with NBC, Pepper now tells it like it is at the majors only), a volunteer board member with the PGA of America with the mission to grow golf among women and juniors, co-captain of last year's U.S. Solheim Cup team, and co-author of the "Bogey Tees Off" children’s books.
"It’s been nutty," she said. "Yeah, retirement. Yup."
Look for Pepper as part of the ESPN team that will be all over Pinehurst covering the first two days of both the men’s U.S. Open and the U.S. Women’s Open, which will take place back-to-back between June 12-June 15 and June 19-June 22, respectively.