BROOKFIELD, Wis. – Ron Kirby, ASGCA Fellow, died Aug. 17, 2023, in Copenhagen, Denmark. He was age 90.
A native of Beverly, Massachusetts, Kirby was a caddie, caddie master and maintenance crew member who later became one of the most widely traveled architects of his time. His golf course portfolio includes designs in the United States, Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan and South Africa.
At the University of Massachusetts-Stockbridge, Kirby earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture. He began working as a design associate for Dick Wilson, then served under ASGCA Founding Member Robert Trent Jones, Sr., designing courses in the United States, Europe and the Caribbean.
Kirby parlayed his golf course architecture and construction experience into founding his own design firm in 1970, with consulting partner Gary Player. Eventually, Kirby sold the firm to Golden Bear, Inc., and joined Nicklaus Design Services and Jack Nicklaus, ASGCA Fellow, as overseer of all European projects.
“Ron Kirby was one of a kind, or perhaps I should say Ron and Sally Kirby were two of a kind,” said ASGCA President Brit Stenson. “His positive impact on golf course architecture in countries around the world will serve as a professional legacy, but it was Ron’s enduring relationship with Sally that many of us will long remember.”
Kirby’s course portfolio is extensive, including London Golf Club International Course, London; Dolphin Head Golf Course, Hilton Head, South Carolina; Sun City Golf Course, Bophutatswana, South Africa; Old Head Golf Links, Kinsale, Republic of Ireland; and La Moraleja Golf Club, Madrid, Spain.
Throughout his career, he was accompanied by his wife, Sally. Their travels together set the tone for Kirby’s autobiography, “We Spent Half Our Lives on the Wrong Side of the Road,” published in 2020. Sally died in 2021. He is survived by his children Faye, Ron Jr., and Beverly.
Kirby became an ASGCA member in 1983 and earned Fellow status in 2003.
A private family memorial to be held at a future date. Donations in his memory can be sent to the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund, at 300 Arnold Palmer Blvd. Norton, MA 02766, or a charity of your choice. To plant trees in memory, please visit the Sympathy Store.