In 1932, at age twelve, Dot Kirby entered the Georgia State Women’s Golf Championship as the youngest golfer to compete for a championship. She advanced to the semifinals, and the next year she became the youngest female golfer to win a state championship. She was Georgia women’s golf champion five times during her career.
Mary Dorothy Kirby was born in West Point, in Troup County, on January 15, 1920, and moved to Atlanta when she was ten. Her new home on Piedmont Road was situated near a miniature golf course, where she first became interested in golf. Neither of her parents played, but by the time Kirby was in the sixth grade she was playing nine holes before school and a full eighteen after school.
Entering the Washington Seminary in Atlanta, Kirby polished her golf with the help of Howard “Pop” Beckett at the Brookhaven Golf Club. Kirby never turned pro, saying that she played golf for fun and that the men who played for a living did not appear to be having fun. Her amateur career, however, was spectacular. Besides winning the Georgia State Women’s Championship five consecutive times, she made more Curtis Cup appearances than any other U.S. team member, with a total of four (1948, 1950, 1952, and 1954). She also won two consecutive National Titleholders Championships (1941 and 1942) and one North-South Tournament. Her most memorable win was sinking an eight-foot putt to capture the 1951 U.S. Amateur Championship by one stroke. Returning from that championship, she was welcomed home by the legendary golfer Bobby Jones, Governor Herman Talmadge, Atlanta mayor William B. Hartsfield, and hundreds of fans at City Hall, where the mayor proclaimed it Dorothy Kirby Day.
Kirby was known for her good nature. Some observers doubted that she would ever be a champion because she lacked the “killer instinct.” She treated her opponents as friends, leaving any hard feelings behind. Kirby retired from tournament play in the mid-1950s; in 1974 she was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, and in 1989 she was inducted into the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame. In 1971 the Atlanta Country Club established the Dorothy Kirby Invitational Tournament. Her portrait, presented by Bobby Jones, is displayed in the Capital City Club.
Kirby worked for WSB-TV and WSB Radio as a sportscaster and sales representative for thirty-five years. She then entered the real estate business, where the persistence she learned on the golf course often qualified her for the Million Dollar Club. She died on December 12, 2000, in Atlanta.