A native of Hastings, Matthews graduated from Michigan State University in 1925 with a degree in landscape architecture and a career plan to design golf courses.
He joined the golf design firm of Stiles and Van Kleek and designed his first golf course. The Great Depression of the 1930s forced him to take a job as superintendent and general manager at Green Ridge Country Club in Grand Rapids, and it wasn’t until 1959 that Matthews returned to golf course design full time. He formed Matthews & Associates with son Jerry and until his retirement in 1979, team Matthews created 47 courses. His son carried on the family legacy designing dozens more.
Matthews was elected into American Society of Golf Course Architects as a member in 1970. He became a Fellow in 1981 and served as a member for 30 years until his death in 2000.
In 1991, he received a Distinguished Service Award from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. The Michigan Golf Course Association started a lifetime achievement award and presented it to him as the first winner and in 1997. The group also named the award in his honor.
In retirement, Matthews lived on Grand Haven Golf Club, which the family owned, designed and operated. The course was a regular on Golf Digest’s list of top public courses in America after it opened in 1965.
Jerry joined him in the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame in 2005. They were the first father-son combination to share election.