Long-time U.S. Open volunteer Taizo 'Tai' Kawata has been named as the 2013 recipient of the Joe Dey Award, the USGA announced Thursday. Kawata, 68, will be the first non-American to receive the award, which is used to recognize outstanding service to the game of golf as a volunteer.
Kawata will receive the award at the USGA's annual meeting in February, according to a release from the organization. Given annually since 1996, the award is named after Joseph C. Dey, Jr., who served as the USGA's executive director for 35 years before becoming the first commissioner of the PGA Tour in 1969.
'Winning this award is a huge honor for me, considering who the award is named after,' Kawata explained in the release. '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 first worked with the USGA as a color commentator for the Japanese television broadcast of the 1981 U.S. Open. He joined the USGA Rules Committee in 2001, and has been a fixture at both the U.S. Open and U.S. Senior Open for nearly a decade. As a USGA international ambassador, he also helped to spearhead a movement to create a U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying site in Japan, which came to fruition in 2005.