Bethel Park native Mathews turns putters into art
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Ray Mathews Jr. has merged function with form in the current display at the Sewickley public library.
A series of United States Golf Association approved glass golf putters made by Mathews will be available for public viewing through Aug. 15.
A glass artist living in Connecticut, Mathews still has strong ties to Pittsburgh. His dad, Ray Mathews, was a wide receiver for the Steelers from 1951-1959 and was named to the franchise's 75th anniversary Legends team.
Not only is his dad responsible for his ties to Pittsburgh, he was also the inspiration that led to the creation of Mathews' glass putters.
After retiring, Mathews Sr. spent a lot of his time playing golf, and Mathews Jr. would join him for a week each summer to play. One summer, when his dad called him to plan their golf outing, Mathews didn't know how to break his bad news.
“I said, ‘Dad, I've got a lot of glass to make. I'm not sure if I can make it,' ” Mathews said. “His comment was, ‘It's too bad you can't make a golf club out of glass.' ”
The comment flipped a switch for Mathews. He had been working on paper weights and realized he could use that same basic shape to for the head of a putter. Once he figured out where to insert the shaft, he sent the prototype to his dad in 1999.
“The first putter I sent him was pretty ugly,” Mathews said. “It was just straight clear glass. I put these grooves on the bottom of the putter, and when I submitted that to the United States Golf Association, they said it didn't conform to the rule because you could see through the glass and see the lines on the bottom of the putter.”
Mathews made the necessary adjustments to get his putters approved by the USGA for tournament play, including using a True Temper 90-degree double bent shaft with a USAA hand grip. His dad then suggested he patent his design and begin selling it.
Customized mallet- and blade-style putters are available for purchase at glassputter.com starting at $185.95.
Between his putters and the rest of his glass art, Mathews' work has not allowed him to spend as much time on the green as he would like.
“I love to play, but I just don't have that time if you know what I mean,” Mathews said. “I'm trying to make a living as an artist, but every time I do get out I've got one of my putters in the bag, and I've become a better putter since I started manufacturing them.”
Mathews Sr. now lives in a retirement home in Mercer, which brings his son back to the area a few times each year.
In the display, two of the putters are black and gold as a tribute to Mathews' Pittsburgh roots.
“I still consider Pennsylvania my home,” Mathews said. “You can move me out of Pittsburgh, but I don't think you can get Pittsburgh out of my blood.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers notebook: Opportunity awaits Boykin
- Pirates showing interest in starting pitcher Masterson
- Coal industry’s decline chokes Central Appalachian towns
- NFL notebook: Jeannette’s Pryor reportedly will sign with Browns
- Despite cross-check, Pens’ Crosby expects contact in front of net
- Founder of Z&M Cycle Sales in Hempfield killed in Florida motorcycle crash
- CPR helps revive Heinz Field worker with cardiac arrest
- Steelers’ Roethlisberger remains in concussion protocol
- Judge in ex-Massey Energy CEO’s trial pushes jury to reach verdict
- Starkey: Tomlin lived in his fears
- Monessen lawyer disbarred by state disciplinary board