Jerry Matthews, ‘Johnny Appleseed’ dies in Michigan for golf course design


Jack Perry, the legendary Michigan golf writer, had a nickname for famous engineer Jerry Matthews.

He was nicknamed “Johnny Appleseed” in our state. After all, Matthews spread the seeds of golf course design throughout the upper and lower peninsulas, and built courses in more than half of Michigan’s 83 counties, especially during the golf boom of the 1990s.

Matthews, who has designed or renovated more than 200 courses and opened at least 90 courses in Michigan, died Thursday shortly after being honored for his lifetime working in the industry during a party at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.

Jerry Matthews opened or renovated more than 200 golf courses in his career as a famous architect.

Michigan Golf Live’s Bill Hobson posted the news of Matthews’ death on social media. Matthews was 88 years old.

In announcing Matthews’ death, Hobson wrote, “If you played golf in Michigan, you would probably have played one of the wonderful courses designed by this distinguished, humble, and wonderful man.”

“Thank you, Matthews family, for sharing Jerry with us for so long.”

Born in Grand Rapids in 1934, Matthews, the son of golf course engineer Bruce Matthews, got his first taste of golf at the age of 12 when he worked at his father’s Green Ridge Country Club, which was sold out in the 1980s. It became what is now the Valley of Egypt.


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