Given since 1996, the Joe Dey Award recognizes an individuals meritorious service to the game of golf as a volunteer. Hooper will receive the award at the USGAs Annual Meeting Feb. 4 in Atlanta. The award is named in honor of the late Joe Dey, who served as USGA executive director for 35 years, from 1934 to 1969, and was later commissioner of the PGA Tour.
Mr. Dey was a good friend and to be associated with an award that has his name attached to it is beyond comprehension, said Hooper. Its just truly humbling to have my name associated with his. Its just amazing.
The 72-year-old Hooper was overwhelmed when informed by USGA Executive Committee member James Hyler at the 2005 U.S. Mid-Amateur that he was receiving the award.
It was a very emotional time for me, said Hooper. Over the years, I received about a dozen letters from Joe and he always offered fantastically sage advice.
Hoopers interest in the Rules of Golf came about after losing the Newark (Del.) Country Club mens club championship because he didnt know a Rule that would have won him the title. That led Hooper to attend USGA workshops on the games Rules and his success caught the attention of officials within the organization.
A retired dentist, he worked the inaugural U.S. Mid-Amateur in 1981 and then the 1982 U.S. Open and U.S. Senior Open. He has worked as a Rules official at every Open since. He has also done 22 Senior Opens, along with a number of U.S. Amateurs, including the 2005 championship at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa. In all, Hooper has worked 83 USGA championships as a Rules official.
In 2002, Hooper and his wife, Carolyn, also a longtime USGA volunteer, were involved in a unique situation with the USGA. Bob officiated the morning 18 of the 36-hole U.S. Mid-Amateur final at The Stanwich Club in Greenwich, Conn., while that same day Carolyn officiated the final of the U.S. Womens Mid-Amateur at Eugene (Ore.) Country Club.
Carolyn joined the USGA as a volunteer in 1989 as a member of the newly formed Womens Regional Affairs Committee. She served on the Womens Mid-Amateur Committee from 1992-97 before being asked to join the USGA Womens Committee in 1998, a capacity she still holds. This year, Carolyn and Bob each worked as Rules officials at the U.S. Mid-Amateur at The Honors Course in Chattanooga, Tenn.
She has consistently scored higher on the [USGA Rules] tests than me, said Bob Hooper with a laugh. Ill have friends call and tell me that theyve had a ruling problem, and theyll ask if Carolyn is available.
Hooper has watched the U.S. Mid-Amateur grow since its birth 24 years ago. The first event at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis drew 1,638 entries and had 150 competitors at the championship proper. Today, the Mid-Amateur routinely receives more than 4,000 entries and comprises a field of 264 contestants, making it the second-largest USGA championship behind the U.S. Amateurs 312 competitors.
I remember back at Cherry Hills [in 1983] when we couldnt have any walking [Rules] officials until the semifinals because it was just me and Frank Parr, said Hooper. Weve come a long way since then.
Previous winners of the Joe Dey Award include: Charles Eckstein (1996), John Staver (1997), Joe King (1998), Frank Anglim (1999), Jack Emich (2000), Bill Dickey (2001), Clyde Luther (2002), John Hanna (2003), Adele Lebow (2004) and Pearl Carey (2005).