Far Hills, N.J. – The United States Golf Association (USGA) today announced the selection of Taizo “Tai” Kawata of Tokyo, Japan, a true international ambassador for the game and a fixture at USGA national championships for 30 years, as the recipient of the 2013 Joe Dey Award. Kawata, 68, is the first non-American to receive the annual award, which recognizes volunteer service to the game of golf.
“Winning this award is a huge honor for me, considering who the award is named after and all the past recipients who served the game of golf with such distinction and dedication,” said Kawata. “I am humbled by the USGA’s recognition, and will use it as a reminder and motivation to continue my passionate service to the game around the world.”
Kawata’s association with the USGA has been continuous since 1981 when he served as a color commentator for Japanese television’s broadcast of the U.S. Open. In 2001, Kawata became a member of the USGA Rules Committee, and he has served as a Rules official for the U.S. Open and U.S. Senior Open for the better part of the last decade. In addition, he has worked tirelessly as a USGA international ambassador, advancing the Association’s interests throughout Asia. He was a driving force behind the effort to establish and stage U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying in Japan, which began in 2005.
Beyond his dedication to the United States Golf Association, Kawata has provided extraordinary volunteer service to many USGA partners throughout the world. He helped to establish the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, an event founded in 2009 by the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation, the Masters Tournament and The R&A. He also continues to play leadership roles across the Japanese golf community, serving as managing director and international committee chair for the Japan Golf Association and executive board member of the Japan Olympic Committee. Kawata has been a member of The R&A since 1990 and is a long-time member of The Open Rules Committee, having served as a Rules official for 19 Open Championships.
“Tai Kawata personifies spirit, integrity and commitment; all the attributes of a passionate golfer and dedicated volunteer,” said Glen D. Nager, president of the USGA. “It’s an honor to present the Joe Dey Award to Tai for his lasting service to the USGA and in recognition of the impact that his devotion continues to have on a game that is growing around the world.”
Kawata will receive the award at the USGA’s Annual Meeting on Feb. 2 in San Diego. The Joe Dey Award, which has been given since 1996, recognizes an individual’s meritorious service to the game as a volunteer. The award is named for Joseph C. Dey Jr., who served as the USGA’s executive director for 35 years, from 1934 to 1969, then served as the first commissioner of the PGA Tour.
Tai Kawata began playing golf at the age of 20, and has competed in the Japan Open Golf Championship, the Japan Amateur Golf Championship and other competitive events. He has been a member of the Kasumigaseki Country Club since 1964, and he is a five-time club champion.
Kawata attended Ohio State University, where he played baseball. He earned a degree in political science at Rikkyo University in Tokyo.