Jerry Matthews opened or renovated more than 200 golf courses in his career as an acclaimed course architect.

Jerry Matthews, Michigan’s ‘Johnny Appleseed’ of golf-course design, dies

Jack Berry, legendary Michigan golf writer, had a nickname for famous architect Jerry Matthews.

He called him our state’s “Johnny Appleseed.” Matthews, after all, spread his seeds of golf-course design all over the upper and lower peninsulas, building courses in more than half of Michigan’s 83 counties, particularly during the golf boom of the 1990s.

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

Bill Hobson of Michigan Golf Live posted about Matthews’ death on social media. Matthews was 88.

“If you’ve played golf in Michigan, you’ve likely played one of the great courses designed by this special, humble, brilliant man,” Hobson wrote in announcing Matthews’ death.

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

Matthews, son of golf-course architect Bruce Matthews, was born in Grand Rapids in 1934, and got his first taste of the golf business at the age of 12 working at his father’s Green Ridge Country Club, which in the 1980s was sold off and became what now is Egypt Valley.

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