PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Golf Digest senior writer Jaime Diaz, whose passion for golf as a youth evolved into a career of advancing the public's appreciation of the game, has been named the recipient of the 2012 PGA Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism.
Diaz, 58, a native of San Francisco, will be honored April 4, at the 40th Golf Writers Association of America Annual Spring Dinner and Awards ceremony at Savannah Rapids Pavilion in Augusta, Ga.
"Jaime Diaz has a gift in providing us with many of the finest, thought-provoking profiles of our industry," said PGA of America President Allen Wronowski. "We may think that we know all that there is to know about golf's top performers, until Jaime opens another door that causes us to pause and reflect upon the demands of this wonderful game. For Jaime's limitless passion for golf, for his talent to call our attention to the story-behind-the-story that is a great service to golf, we are very proud to present him this award."
Diaz is the 23rd recipient of the PGA Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism. Beginning with the 1985 U.S. Open, Diaz has covered more than 100 major championships. He has been awarded first place six times in the Golf Writers Association of America's Annual Writing Contest.
"I am extremely honored and very humbled, because I've had a lot of help," said Diaz. "I've probably been the luckiest golf writer in terms of where I've had the opportunity to work and who I've worked with. I've been especially fortunate at Golf Digest, where Jerry Tarde and his fellow editors are so supportive in allowing me to write in-depth articles about the important figures and issues in the game."
Diaz grew up admiring Bay Area superstars Willie Mays, John Brodie and Rick Barry, but eventually, the combination of accompanying his father to the local municipal course on weekend mornings, seeing Arnold Palmer play in person, and discovering the work of Herbert Warren Wind and Dan Jenkins led him to golf. He was a four-year member of the University of San Francisco men's golf team before graduating with a Bachelor's degree in English in 1975.
He began his professional career that year at the Oakland Tribune as a "copy boy," an entry position that offered a gritty, ground-level view of journalism. From 1978 to 1983, Diaz was a city-side reporter for the Sacramento Bee. He was then hired at Sports Illustrated, where he covered many sports including boxing, tennis and golf.
In 1989, Diaz moved to Golf Digest and soon after to the magazine's owner at the time, the New York Times, where he was the golf writer until 1993. He then returned to Sports Illustrated to help launch the magazine's Golf Plus section. He returned to Golf Digest in 2001, where he has remained a senior writer for the world's largest golf publication, as well as its sister publication, Golf World.
As much as Diaz appreciates the privilege of interviewing great performers, the part of the job he most enjoys are the ongoing conversations with fellow writers, commentators and editors. Diaz remembers his early days at Golf Digest, when Tarde (the 2011 PGA Lifetime Achievement Award recipient) invited giants of the profession like Wind, Jenkins, Charles Price, Peter Dobereiner, Dave Anderson, Tom Callahan and others to lively evening gatherings at The Magazine's rented home in Augusta during the Masters.
"It was amazing to experience so much humor, knowledge, wisdom and fellowship in one place," said Diaz. "Those nights and others like them remain a big part of my education in the game and in the craft. All those writers loved what they did, knew they were extremely fortunate to get paid to do it, and gave everything they had to do it well. Their example has stayed with me."
Diaz's books include teaming with Raymond Floyd in 1998 on "The Elements of Scoring," and with Jack Nicklaus and artist Linda Hartough for "Hallowed Ground: Golf's Greatest Places" in 1999. Diaz also wrote "An Enduring Passion: The Legends and Lore of Golf" in 2002. He recently assisted 1993 PGA Teacher of the Year Hank Haney with "The Big Miss: My Years Coaching Tiger Woods," scheduled for release in March.
Diaz and his wife, Stephanie, live in Carthage, N.C.
PGA Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism Recipients:
1991 Dick Taylor
1992 Herbert Warren Wind
1993 Jim Murray
1994 Frank Chirkinian/Bob Green
1995 Dan Jenkins
1996 Furman Bisher
1997 Jack Whitaker
1998 Dave Anderson
1999 Ken Venturi
2000 Jim McKay
2001 Kaye Kessler
2002 Nick Seitz
2003 Renton Laidlaw
2004 Bob Verdi
2005 Al Barkow
2006 Ron Green Sr.
2007 Jack Berry
2008 Marino Parascenzo
2009 Art Spander
2010 Dave Kindred
2011 Jerry Tarde
2012 Jaime Diaz
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Since its founding in 1916, The PGA of America has maintained a twofold mission: to establish and elevate the standards of the profession and to grow interest and participation in the game of golf. By establishing and elevating the standards of the golf profession through world-class education, career services, marketing and research programs, The PGA enables its professionals to maximize their performance in their respective career paths and showcases them as experts in the game and in the multi-billion dollar golf industry. By creating and delivering world-class championships and innovative programs, The PGA of America elevates the public's interest in the game, the desire to play more golf, and ensures accessibility to the game for everyone, everywhere. As The PGA nears its centennial, the PGA brand represents the very best in golf.