The John Shippen tournament aims to increase diversity in golf

An invitational for Black golfers will be held this weekend at the Detroit Golf Club ahead of next week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic.

John Shippen, who played in the second U.S. Open in 1896, is believed by many to be the first professional American golfer.

The Detroit Golf Club is hosting The John Shippen men’s golf invitational this weekend. Fourteen Black golfers will play for a spot in next week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic PGA event, held at the same venue.

The 36-hole stroke play competition will be accompanied by a business summit. Tournament lead and co-founder of The John Shippen, Sommer Woods, says high school and college students will get the chance to talk with sports industry professionals at the event.

Listen: Sommer Woods discusses John Shippen and the upcoming event

“Being an $80 billion industry,” says Woods, “representation within that $80 billion industry is very low. People don’t always think about the idea of accountants or finance.”

Woods says the festivities aim to increase diversity in the sport of golf. The tournament bears the name of John Shippen — a man with African American and Native American heritage who competed in several early U.S. Opens around the turn of the 20th century.

Shippen finished fifth place at the second U.S. Open, which was held at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in 1896.

“When we created this series of events,” says Woods, “we wanted to not only elevate Black golfers, but we also wanted to elevate who John Shippen was.”

In addition to offering the winner a spot in the Rocket Mortgage Classic, Woods says The John Shippen supports Black golfers with prize money and travel expenses. She points to current PGA player Tim O’Neal as a past winner of the men’s invitational competing at the top level.

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  • Alex McLenon
    Alex McLenon is a Reporter with 101.9 WDET. McLenon is a graduate of Wayne State University, where he studied Media Arts & Production and Broadcast Journalism.