The JOHN SHIPPEN National Invitational Golf Tournament Debuts In Detroit June 27-30

The JOHN SHIPPEN National Invitational Golf Tournament Debuts In Detroit June 27-30

The JOHN SHIPPEN National Invitational Golf Tournament Debuts In Detroit June 27-30

Debuting just ahead of the 2021 Rocket Mortgage Classic, THE JOHN SHIPPEN NATIONAL INVITATIONAL GOLF TOURNAMENT will invite top college and professional African American golfers for a two-day competition at Detroit Golf Club’s North and South courses. The winners will receive exemptions into the Rocket Mortgage Classic the following week and into the LGPA’s Great Lakes Bay Invitational later in the summer.

The JOHN SHIPPEN event, which includes an accompanying business summit, is intended to identify historical barriers and expand Black representation in the sport of golf.

THE JOHN SHIPPEN is named for John Shippen, Jr., the first American Born golf professional, as well as the first African American golf professional.

The tournament, on June 27 – 28, will be followed by the JOHN SHIPPEN SPORTS BUSINESS SUMMIT. This virtual event for high school and college students will allow for high school and college students will be held virtually June 29-30. The summit will allow athletes, influencers and business professionals to share their experiences and advice about how to pursue and secure a career within the business of sports. Summit attendees will be given the opportunity to apply for paid internships and scholarships from sponsors, organizations and foundations within and beyond the sports industry. 

CBS will air a one hour special on THE JOHN SHIPPEN events in advance of the PGA TOUR’s Rocket Mortgage Classic.

THE JOHN SHIPPEN aims to address barriers that have prevented talented Black golfers and aspiring business professionals from realizing their dreams of playing professional golf or working in the golf industry. Rocket Mortgage is proud to support this event.

Rocket Mortgage CEO Jay Farner

Golf is an $84 billion industry with more than two million golf-related jobs. However, less than one percent of PGA of America club professionals are African American, and only four current PGA TOUR players are African American. These statistics do not reflect a lack of talented African American golfers, but rather, limited access and resources. Historical barriers for African American golfers include affordable and consistent access to championship courses; quality golf equipment; top-rated swing coaches; sponsorship; and access to capital for housing and travel.

John Shippen. Photo credit John Shippen Memorial Golf Foundation

Shippen first worked in golf as a caddie at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, New York. Impressed by his skills, club members encouraged Shippen to enter the second US Open in 1896. He tied for sixth.

Shippen’s friend, Oscar Bunn, a Native American, finished in 21st place.

Shippen and Bunn’s play was not without controversy, though. English and Scottish professional threatened to withdraw if Shippen and Bun played. USGA Theodore President Theodore Havemeyer vowed that the pair would compete, even if they ended up being the only competitors in the field.

Shippen was hired as the golf professional at the Maidstone Club in East Hampton, New York later that year.

Shippen later worked as a golf professional at Aronimink Golf Club near Philadelphia and spent the majority of his working life at Shady Rest Golf Course in Scotch Plains, New Jersey – the first African-American owned and operated golf club in the United States – where he served from 1924-1960.

Following Shippen’s participation in the 1913 US Open, no African American would compete again until Ted Rhodes in 1948.

Shippen died in 1968. In 2011, the PGA of America bestowed PGA Membership posthumously, with his grandson, Hanno Shippen Smith accepting.

The John Shippen Memorial Golf Foundation was founded in 1995 by Thurman and Ruby Simmons in Scotch Plains. They began studying his legacy in 1988 and have spent more than 30 years elevating Shippen’s name and recognizing his place in American history. In addition to funding paid internship and scholarship opportunities, a portion of the proceeds from THE JOHN SHIPPEN will be donated to The John Shippen Memorial Golf Foundation. 

For updated information on THE JOHN SHIPPEN, visit and follow on Facebook and Instagram (@TheJohnShippen) and on Twitter (@TheJShippen). For information about sponsorship opportunities or how to get involved, email

Rocket Mortgage has signed on as presenting sponsor of THE JOHN SHIPPEN. Trion Solutions, the nation’s largest minority-owned Professional Employer Organization, has agreed to become the first of six national sponsors for the event.

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