Moving way south of the border has paid enormous dividends for Canadian Jack Matthews.
The unassuming London, Ontario native, founding partner of Matthews Southwest (MSW), moved to the Dallas area in 1994 after doing business in North Texas since 1988. MSW has built, or is in the process of developing, more than 8 million square feet of office, residential and mixed-use developments throughout North America.
Dallas’ golf landscape has also benefited from Matthews’ Midas touch. His initial contribution to golf is The Tribute, a 1,500-acre master-planned resort community north of Dallas on Lake Lewisville, which includes the Tribute Golf Links and the Old American Golf Club. The Tribute, designed in 2000 by architect Tripp Davis, honors specific famous holes on many of Scotland’s legendary links courses. It also features a 33,000-square-foot English Tudor clubhouse, complete with a Scottish pub and eight guest suites. Adjacent Old American, designed by Davis and PGA Tour star Justin Leonard in 2010, has natural, rough-hewn bunkers, native grasses and strategic holes.
Matthews and his wife, Laura, have four children and live in Argyle, Texas.
Was golf part of your initial vision for The Tribute or an afterthought?
Golf was actually the very first thing we did there. We looked at golf because the city was looking for a course. We talked to many golf architects and golf companies and we thought there were two guys — architect Tripp Davis and American Golf management consultant Ken James — that could do what we wanted. We were intrigued that both of them had the same idea to do a tribute to Scottish golf.
Had creating a Scottish “tribute” course ever crossed your mind prior to that?
Since Ken and Tripp came to me with the same idea of a Scottish tribute course at different times we really looked at it closely and loved the idea. Tripp visited Scotland for an extended period to study various courses and holes. We didn’t actually measure specific holes or do aerial shots for exact duplicates because we wanted our course to be a tribute to, not a copy of, Scotland’s famous holes and I think we’ve succeeded.
Was building guest suites in the Tribute’s clubhouse part of your original plan?
No. It just so happened that during clubhouse construction I was up in the building, when it was still basically just a wood frame, and when I got to the second level the view overlooking the course was incredible. I couldn’t believe it. I immediately told the crew we needed to build a deck and guest rooms up there, so that’s what we did. We just couldn’t ignore the amazing view.
How do The Tribute and Old American experiences differ?
The average golfer probably enjoys The Tribute more since it’s much more forgiving, with wider fairways, than Old American. Old American is generally more difficult, although it’s a fair course for those who play off the tees appropriate to their handicap. The great thing is the two courses are about as different from one another as you can get. The Tribute relates to the high-end person playing tournaments and regular golfers who want to enjoy a special round on a course offering a Scottish golf experience, which includes the guest rooms and the Scottish pub in the clubhouse. The Tribute’s clubhouse also does a lot of weddings, functions, etc., more geared to the general public. With Old American we wanted the clubhouse to be a homey gathering place that’s part of the community, where parents and kids from the neighborhood could gather and relax.
How did Davis and Justin Leonard work together when they co-designed Old American?
Tripp did a great job with the Tribute, and he had matured as a designer by the time he designed Old American, which opened 10 years after the Tribute. With Old American, we wanted to make a statement so it felt as though it was built by one of the Golden Age architects from the early 20th century. What I initially didn’t recognize was how passionate and detailed Tripp was. Justin was very involved and understood what he was doing. He has a quiet way about him and I was very impressed with how much time he spent with Tripp on the project.
Do you have any plans to add another course or courses to the Tribute community, or building additional golf communities or standalone courses?
No, as far as the community is concerned. Right now we’re finishing up a nature trail that takes people down to the south beach portion of the peninsula, and within a year or a little longer we should have a school on property — the first STEM elementary school in the Dallas Metroplex — so we’re very proud of that. As far as other potential opportunities in the area, we’ve looked at some, but haven’t pulled the pin on any of them.