Born in Norfolk, Virginia, Dey grew up in New Orleans and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. A skilled amateur golfer, Dey took an early job as sportswriter for Philadelphia newspapers and magazines, eventually specializing in golf, and covered the final leg of Bobby Jones's Grand Slam at Merion Golf Club in Philadelphia in 1930. Soon afterwards, Dey was approached by the United States Golf Association and offered a job helping to run its New York office. He served as Executive Director of the USGA from 1934 to 1968, during a period of extraordinary growth in the sport. Dey played a key role in meetings between the USGA and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews in the early 1950s, to synchronize the rules of golf around the world.
Following his retirement from the USGA, Dey was asked to serve as the first commissioner of the PGA Tour in January 1969, shortly after the tour players broke away from the PGA of America. During Dey's leadership the tour was known as the Tournament Players Division of the PGA. He held that position for five years, succeeded by tour player Deane Beman in 1974. Dey was the instigator of The Players Championship, first held in 1974.
After retirement, Dey held the honorary position of Captain of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews for 1975. Dey was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1975, its second year of existence.
Since 1996, the USGA has given out the Joe Dey Award in recognition of meritorious service to the game of golf as a volunteer.
- Barkow, Al (1986). Gettin' to the Dance Floor: The Oral History of American Golf. Atheneum Press. ISBN 978-0689115172.
- "Rebel golfers number 205: pros form APG". Eugene Register-Guard. Associated Press. August 20, 1968. p. 3B.
- "Touring golf pros set up own shop". Milwaukee Journal. August 20, 1968. p. 11.
- "Dey named new player commissioner". Lodi News-Sentinel. United Press International. January 23, 1969. p. 10.
- "Beman faces change, challenge in golf". Lakeland Ledger. January 6, 1974. p. 6C.
- Smith, Douglas LaRue (October 1, 2003), The 104th U.S. Amateur Championship
- World Golf Hall of Fame profile
- Fields, Bill (June 7, 2002). "The Gospel according to Joe Dey". Golf World.
|Commissioner of the PGA Tour