Eddie Pepperell stays candid when it comes to golf and his good fortune

Eddie Pepperell Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY Sports

Eddie Pepperell stays candid when it comes to golf and his good fortune

PGA Tour

Eddie Pepperell stays candid when it comes to golf and his good fortune

Erin, Wis. – Eddie Pepperell has a blog. That alone does not make the young British pro unique. But the content does. Take this excerpt from the entry titled “A Man’s Search For Form.”

I love South Africa. I love its natural beauty and the red meat. We drove through some pretty tough neighbourhoods last week, one of which was a place called Hillbrow. As a European Tour golfer, I would estimate I experience a dozen courtesy car drives a year that remind me of how lucky I am. Driving through Agadir or Rabat in Morocco usually provides a moment of reflection and perspective, just like Hillbrow did. Wasting shots on a golf course is still better than wasting away on the street. Even though sometimes the pain of this game feels enormous, at least it’s a game.  – eddiepepperell.wordpress.com Feb. 28, 2017

The blog also serves as an escape from the pressures of golf. Three months ago Pepperell might not have broken 80 at Erin Hills. He had lost all confidence in his driver, a recipe for disaster on the longest track in U.S. Open history, where dreams go to die in merciless fescue.

Swinging down to move up

But a change in equipment – and a bit of an education – changed everything for the 26-year-old Englishman. After missing six of his first seven cuts in 2017, Pepperell learned the high launch and low spin of most modern drivers actually works against his natural tendencies.

“My tendency is to hit down,” Pepperell said, “and I’m very comfortable trying to shape it and squeeze it with the driver, and I had a setup that was not allowing me to do it.”

It’s amazing how Pepperell’s insightful blog entry makes this technical explanation for his top-20 finish in this, his second U.S. Open, so much more interesting.

The blog makes it feel like we know him.

Pepperell, who quit school at age 16, even wrote a blog post on the subject last December. He had recently sat down with Sunday Times journalist David Walsh for an interview but couldn’t understand why Walsh would want to spend time with a winless pro who had lost his tour card. That is, until he realized Walsh had come to talk about the blog.

… we as a society, are searching to find new, more interesting stories. The monotony of even great golf, or great football, will not fill our desires to be inspired or remain interested. It has to be something more. – Dec. 18

Reading led to writing

Toward the end of 2012, Pepperell, for the first time in his life, found himself doing a fair bit of reading, and as a result, a fair bit of thinking. He decided he should begin writing things down.

“I feel like I’m just voicing what a lot of players are probably experiencing in their own minds anyway,” he said. “I’m not afraid to open up in that way.”

Pepperell’s older brother Joe, who works as a teaching pro at Oxford Golf Club in Oxfordshire, spoke for many when he called his brother’s honest posts “refreshing for a sportsman.”

His father, Ron, affectionately known as “Pep,” who works at Drayton Park Golf Club in Abingdon, introduced Eddie to the game. At age 13, Pepperell moved to nearby Frilford Heath Golf Club, where the members raised funds to help the rising English star get his start. While Pepperell hasn’t exactly struck it rich, he already has learned the value of giving back.

The Frilford Heath Junior Academy supported by Eddie Pepperell helped 52 junior golfers with coaching in 2016. This year the money went into local primary schools to help introduce youngsters to the game that has given his family so much.

‘Pepper Army’ stands out in crowd

The “Pepper Army,” as it’s called, was understandably on the small side at Erin Hills, though Matt Gazza did his part to stand out. It was too hot for Gazza’s full Union Jack suit, but he wore the vest and replaced the pants with replica shorts. Even his bowling shoes sported the U.K. flag. The red bowler hat left him positively boiling, but he was committed the cause.

Gazza travels to eight to 10 events a year to support Pepperell. Recently at the Nordea Masters in Sweden, where Pepperell tied for eighth, Gazza said a caddie approached Ron and told him how much players on the European Tour enjoy playing with his son – he’s a real gentleman.

That, of course, meant everything to Ron.

The title of Pepperell’s blog – “Who says Golf is everything?” – sums up the draw of this reinvigorated player, whose introspective musings leave us wanting for more.

(This story appeared in the June 19, 2017 issue of Golfweek.)

Latest

More Golfweek
Home