The first will always be remembered.
This weekend, 13 women and 21 men will vie for the chance to become the first winners of The John Shippen National Invitational Tournament. The inaugural event, honoring the legacy of America’s first native-born golf professional, will be held at Detroit Country Club on June 26 and 27.
The course whose head professional was once two-time Masters winner Horton Smith, and considered Henry Ford one of its early members, will serve as the backdrop for the growth of the game.
The John Shippen invited nearly three dozen of the best Black golfers to Michigan as part of a week-long series of events, seminars and tournament play all designed to shine a spotlight on the need for more diversity in the game.
The men’s field will be a 36-hole stroke play event with the winner receiving an exemption to the Rocket Mortgage Classic that will be held on the same course July 1-4.
The Women’s Division will be a team competition where the winners will earn an exemption into the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational. That tournament, which will take place from July 14-17 at Midland Country Club, features the largest purse for any non-major on the LPGA Tour.
Leading the Women’s Division will be Symetra Tour competitor Sierra Sims. The 25-year-old Wake Forest alumna has made eight appearances on the tour that is one step away from the LPGA Tour. Also competing will be 16-year-old Californian Amari Avery, who qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open this year and finished three strokes away from missing the cut in her major championship debut.
Zoe Slaughter will be competing in her second tournament of the summer. The University of Houston golfer was named the American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year in May after posting a 73.33 scoring average in 18 rounds. Her appearance at the Southwestern Women’s Amateur in Scottsdale, Ariz. earlier this month were her first competitive rounds since the end of the collegiate golf season.
The men’s side also features an amalgamation of collegiate and professional contestants.
Leading the field is Howard University junior Gregory Odom Jr., who won the PGA Works Collegiate Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach by five strokes. Odom beat a 44-person field that featured Ethan Mangum and Mulbe Dillard – two fellow competitors at The John Shippen.
That trio of college-aged talent will stare down more than a dozen professionals who have navigated, and won, on minitours like the Advocates Pro Golf Association Tour (Kamaiu Johnson) and PGA Tour Latino America (Tim O’Neal).
Meanwhile former Division I golfers like Michigan State alumnus Andrew Walker and Cal alumnus Sebastian Crampton will try to play their way into their biggest tournament of their lives with a win at The John Shippen.
No one has to remind the 34 golfers teeing off this weekend that an opportunity like the one in front of the field does not arise often.
“Intersport is proud to announce that we have been attracting highly talented Black golfers from around the country to play in our inaugural event,” said Intersport Executive Vice President and Executive Director of the Rocket Mortgage Classic Jason Langwell in a statement. “We believe that The John Shippen provides a platform on which these deserving players will compete, in order to impact the unbalance of access, opportunities and equity for Black golfers that has long-existed in the golf industry.”
John Shippen Invitational Entrants
The Women’s Field will Play for Exemptions into the LPGA’s Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational.
The Men’s Field Will Compete for an Exemption into the PGA TOUR’s Rocket Mortgage Classic.
Greg Odom Jr.
Troy Taylor II
Wyatt Worthington II