Longtime golf course architect Jerry Matthews dies at 88

Longtime golf course architect Jerry Matthews dies at 88

The ASGCA past president started working in the industry as a 12-year-old crew member under his father and later designed or renovated more than 200 courses.

September 16, 2022

ASGCA past president Gerald (Jerry) Matthews, ASGCA Fellow, died September 15 in Mackinac Island, Michigan. He was age 88.

Part of multiple generations of Matthews who have positively impacted golf in Michigan — including his father, Bruce, and nephew, W. Bruce — he designed or renovated more than 200 golf courses. He started in the golf industry when he was 12, working for his father on the maintenance crew at Green Ridge Country Club.

At Michigan State University, Matthews earned bachelor’s degrees in landscape architecture and urban planning. He then teamed with his father in 1960 to form the golf course architecture firm of W. Bruce Matthews & Son. He took over as president of Matthews & Associates in 1979.

Building on the history and tradition set forth by his father, Matthews gained recognition for such Michigan courses as The Lakes Course at Michaywe in Gaylord, Timber Ridge Golf Course in East Lansing, St. Ives Golf Club in Stanwood, Timberstone Golf Course in Iron Mountain, and Bucks Run Golf Club in Mount Pleasant.

As his architecture career wound down, Matthews returned to the classroom as an instructor, teaching Golf Course Design and Construction Techniques in the turfgrass program at Michigan State.

“The Matthews family is known as the ‘Johnny Appleseed’ of golf in Michigan, bringing the game and golf course architecture to so many people across the state,” ASGCA president Jason Straka said. “Jerry’s legacy of course design and the impact of his service to the ASGCA will carry on. And his commitment to teaching the next generation of golf industry professionals showed the value he placed on paying it forward.”

Matthews served as ASGCA president in 1993-94. He became an ASGCA member in 1970 and earned Fellow status in 2005.