There was general hilarity in the offices of the U.S. Golf Association recently when it was suggested that Joe Dey, who for years has run amateur golf so well, might accept a post with the battleworn PGA. No way, his aides said, or something like that, for Dey was, after all, the striped-tie, conservative, august boss of an organization eminently suited to him.
But in a move that should mean much to golf, Dey surprised both friends and associates last week by accepting the PGA's newly created post of commissioner of professional golf. His reason was simple. The USGA no longer needed his guidance, but the pro tour seemed to need somebody's help—and firm direction.
Dey is one of the few men who could bring order to the tour. He has enormous prestige within the game and a personality that combines the autocratic inclinations of a Judge Landis with the practicality of a Pete Rozelle. His feeling about the traditions of golf border on the zealous—and yet he moves against tradition when he feels he must. It was Dey who, primarily because of TV and its revenue, changed the 36-hole U.S. Open final to two 18-hole days, a move that outraged purists and has indeed diminished the Open, but which has had practical advantages for golf as a whole.
For years the touring pros have said, as they squabbled with the PGA: "If only we could get a man like Joe Dey to run our tour." They never felt they had a chance. Indeed, when a few PGA representatives met with Dey two weeks ago, it was to ask his guidance on what a new commissioner should do. Dey gave them his ideas, along with a list of people the PGA might consider for the job. Somebody said, almost rhetorically, "How about you, Joe?" The startling reply was a maybe that eventually became a yes.
There will still be strained times ahead among the touring pros, the PGA and Dey. But the strain now will be for the best, especially if the players remember how long they have been saying, "If only we could get Joe Dey...."
LIFE FOLLOWS ART
In Broadway's hot musical, Promises, Promises, the heroine shows off her knowledge of basketball by declaring flatly to the hero: " Oscar Robertson led the NBA last year with a 29.7 average."
"That's right." he cries in delight. "Even the .7 is right." In the audience, though, there are disgruntled murmurs among those who know that it was Dave Bing who led the NBA last year.
Despite much criticism, the NBA has always awarded its scoring title to the player who scored the most points—not the player with the highest average. Last year Bing scored 2,142 in 79 games while Robertson, who was injured, scored 1,896 in 65 games. Robertson had the higher average, but Bing was declared the official scoring champion.