Industry News

Intersport announces the first players committed to compete in ‘The John Shippen National Golf Invitational’

The John Shippen National Invitational invites the nation’s top black male and female professional & amateur golfers to compete June 27-28 at the Detroit Golf Club; The men’s field will compete for an exemption into the PGA Tour’s Rocket Mortgage Classic while the women’s field will play for exemptions into the LPGA’s Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational; ‘The John Shippen’ event, including the national invitational for black golfers and the sports business summit for students of color was established by Intersport to identify historical barriers to, and expand upon black representation in golf and to create awareness, access and opportunities for persons of color in the business of sports; The John Shippen CBS special to air in advance of the PGA Tour’s Rocket Mortgage Classic television coverage on July 4; The John Shippen event named in honor of John Shippen, Jr., the first American-born golf professional and the first black golf professional; John Shippen, Jr., the original trailblazer for blacks in golf, played in five U.S. Opens from 1896-1913

DETROIT (June 1, 2021) – Intersport announced today the first round of players committed to compete in THE JOHN SHIPPEN National Invitational presented by Rocket Mortgage. The nation’s top amateur and professional Black golfers are invited to play June 27-28, at the historic Detroit Golf Club in THE JOHN SHIPPEN National Invitational, designed specifically to provide heightened opportunities and recognition to Black golfers. A one-hour TV special about THE JOHN SHIPPEN will air on CBS leading into final-round coverage of the Rocket Mortgage Classic on Sunday, July 4.

THE JOHN SHIPPEN, designed to showcase Black collegiate and professional golfers, is named after John Shippen, Jr., who was the first American-born golf professional and also the country’s first Black golf professional. Shippen was bestowed PGA of America membership posthumously in 2009.

The Women’s Division will feature a 36-hole competition with a two-player team format. The winning duo will earn an exemption into the LPGA’s Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational (July 14–17), which is also played as a team event.

The Men’s Division will compete in a 36-hole individual stroke play event, with the winner receiving an exemption into the PGA TOUR’s Rocket Mortgage Classic (July 1-4).

To ensure that any financial barriers are removed, THE JOHN SHIPPEN will cover all travel costs (airfare and hotel) for participating players.

“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 Jason Langwell, Executive Vice President of Intersport and Executive Director of the Rocket Mortgage Classic. “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.”


(Players Listed in Alphabetical Order)

- Mackenzie Tour card earned through Q-School

Name / Age / Status / College

AMARI AVERY (16) – Amateur (Southern California)
- 2021 U.S. Women’s Open Qualifier
- 2021 Drive, Chip & Putt Qualifier
- 2019 California Women’s Amateur Winner
- USGA Girls Jr. Championship Runner-Up

SHASTA AVERYHARDT (32) – Professional (Jackson State)
- Current LPGA Symetra Tour Player
- Five Professional Wins
- 2011, 2013 LPGA Player

ALEXIS BELTON (27) – Professional (Texas Wesleyan)
- 2019 Played in 8 events on Symetra Tour
- 2015 LWGA Four-Ball Champion with teammate
- World Long Drive competitor

CHRISTYN CARR (20) – Amateur (North Carolina A&T)
- 2021 Symetra Classic Exemption Winner
- 2019 Georgia Women’s Amateur Runner-Up
- SSU Tiger Invitational Women’s Individual Champion

SIERRA SIMS (25) – Professional (Wake Forest)
- 2019 Symetra Tour Championship (6th Place)
- 2019 Symetra Valley Forge Invitational (7th Place)
- 2015 & 2017 NCAA All-American

ZOE SLAUGHTER (19) – Amateur (Houston)
- 2021 AAC Conference Freshman of the Year
- 2021 All-American Athletic Conference Team
- Rolex Junior All-American

AMARI SMITH (20) – Amateur (Dallas Baptist)
- 2018 Won Lanny Wadkins Championship
- 2019 USGA U.S. Girls Junior Championship qualifier
- 2019 Top 5 finish at Collegiate Golfweek Invitational

ANITA UWADIA (23) – Professional (South Carolina)
- Symetra Tour Rookie
- Junior British Open African Trophy Winner representing Nigeria
- African Youth Games Gold Medal winner in Botswana

Name / Age / Status / College

SEBASTIAN CRAMPTON (24) – Professional (UC Berkeley)                                                          
- Three-Time All-PAC 12 Team selection                                               
- 2019 Mackenzie Tour season made 8 of 10 cuts                                              
- 16 Top-10 finishes in college tournaments                                                      

MULBE DILLARD (22) – Amateur (Florida A&M)                                                 
- Ranked #1 on APGA Tour Collegiate                                                   
- 2020 APGA Tour summer circuit                                 
- Two collegiate wins in junior year                              

KAMAIU JOHNSON (27) – Professional (N/A)                                                     
- Two-time winner – APGA Tour
- 11 mini tour wins                                                                                          
- PGA TOUR starts at Honda Classic and AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am      

NYASHA MAUCHAZA (33) – Professional (Towson)                                                        
- 2016 Korn Ferry Tour conditional member
- Wyndham Championship, Sanderson Farms Qualifier
- RBC Canadian Open, 3M Open Qualifier                                                          

GREG ODOM (22) – Amateur (Howard)                                                 
- PGA Works tournament winner
- 2019 AAC All-Academic Team
- Played at Memphis University Prior to Howard

TIM O’NEAL (47) – Professional (Jackson State)                                                 
- Six-time APGA Tour winner
- Two-time PGA TOUR Latino America winner
- 2016 U.S. Open Qualifier (Chambers Bay)                                           

TREY VALENTINE (28) – Professional (South Florida)                                                      
- FSU Seminole Intercollegiate winner                                                  
- Two-year PGA TOUR Latinoamerica & Mackenzie Tour member
- 2011 AJGA Standout Ranked Top 50 in U.S.

ANDREW WALKER (22) – Amateur (Michigan State)                                                      
- 2021 U.S. Open Sectionals Qualifier                           
- Srixon/Cleveland College Golf All-America Scholar

Additional men’s and women’s players are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Intersport collaborated with Woods and Watts Effect to design THE JOHN SHIPPEN as a vehicle to fundamentally increase diversity in golf and to create opportunities for young men and women of color in sports on a national scale.

A National Invitational committee was formed to help lead the recruitment and evaluation of players. The committee consists of more than a dozen leaders who support the advancement of Black golfers and includes coaches from HBCU schools, leaders from golf governing bodies and from men’s and women’s national golf events. The National Invitational committee is responsible for recruiting the top Black professional and amateur golfers and recommending that group to the Selection Committee, which includes representatives from Intersport, PGA TOUR, LPGA TOUR, Woods & Watts Effect, Rocket Mortgage and DOW.

“We are excited for the women and men who have been invited and have accepted our invitation, to participate in the inaugural THE JOHN SHIPPEN National Golf Invitational,” said Sommer Woods, Co-Founder of Woods and Watts Effect, Tournament Lead for THE JOHN SHIPPEN and Volunteer Vice Chair of the Rocket Mortgage Classic. “Our hope is that THE JOHN SHIPPEN provides them with an opportunity to advance their golf careers in a way that has previously not existed for them.”

The sport of 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 Black, and only four current PGA TOUR players are Black. These statistics do not reflect a lack of talented Black golfers, but rather, they reflect limited access and resources.

Historical barriers for Black 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.

Rocket Mortgage is the presenting partner of THE JOHN SHIPPEN. National partners include: Trion Solutions, the nation’s largest minority-owned professional employer organization; DOW; The Children’s Foundation; Cooper Tires; CDW; Optum and MasterCard.

ABOUT ‘THE JOHN SHIPPEN’ Intersport, in partnership with Rocket Mortgage and in collaboration with Woods and Watts Effect, announced earlier this year the launch of a new national golf event: ‘THE JOHN SHIPPEN’ to identify historical barriers and expand Black representation in golf. The event was also created to address the lack of Black representation in business and leadership roles in golf and across professional sports.

THE JOHN SHIPPEN Sports Business Summit was established by Intersport to create awareness of opportunities within the sports industry for high school and college students of color. On June 29 and 30, students from across the country will be able to hear from and engage with sports and business executives, athletes and influencers using a state-of-the-art virtual platform. Invited speakers will share their experiences and advice about how to pursue and secure a career within the multi-faceted sports industry. THE JOHN SHIPPEN Sports Business Summit will cover a wide variety of topics ranging from “How to Land Your First Sports Internship” and “The Business of Sneakers” to “Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Within Sports” and “The World of Global Sponsorship.” Students can apply for paid internships and scholarships from partners, organizations and foundations within and beyond the sports industry. Registration is free, and scholarship applications are currently being accepted at

The event, designed to showcase Black collegiate and professional golfers, is named after John Shippen, Jr., who was the first American-born golf professional and also the country’s first Black golf professional. Shippen was bestowed PGA of America membership posthumously in 2009.

John Shippen, Jr. first worked in golf as a caddie at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, New York, and after playing in his first of six U.S. Opens in 1896, 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.

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. 

Since 1985, Intersport has been an award-winning innovator and leader in the creation of sports, lifestyle, culinary and entertainment-based marketing platforms. With expertise in Sponsorship Consulting, Experiential Marketing, Hospitality, Customer Engagement, Content Marketing, Productions and Sports Properties, this Chicago-based Marketing & Media Solutions Company helps their clients to create ideas, content and experiences that attract and engage passionate audiences. To learn more about Intersport, visit, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

Woods & Watts Effect is an equity and inclusion consulting firm of transformation engineers, co-founded by Sommer Woods and Michele Lewis Watts, Ph.D. They are a solutions-driven team that adeptly designs programs that assess a company’s strengths and areas for improvement relative to inclusion and social equity. Woods & Watts Effect is innovative in their thinking, their engagement and their execution. Through a bold, non-traditional and engaging approach, they produce viable and actionable solutions for sustainable change. More information is available at

Detroit-based Rocket Mortgage, the nation’s largest home mortgage lender, enables the American Dream of homeownership and financial freedom through its obsession with an industry-leading, digital-driven client experience. Rocket Mortgage closed $320 billion dollars of mortgage volume across all 50 states in 2020. In late 2015, it introduced the first fully digital, completely online mortgage experience. Currently, 99% of all home loans originated by the company utilize Rocket Mortgage technology.

Rocket Mortgage moved its headquarters to downtown Detroit in 2010. Today, Rocket Mortgage and Rocket Companies employ 24,000 full-time team members nationwide. The company generates loan production from web centers located in Detroit, Cleveland and Phoenix and operates a centralized loan processing facility in Detroit. Rocket Mortgage ranked highest in the country for customer satisfaction for primary mortgage origination by J.D. Power for the past 11 consecutive years, 2010 – 2020, and also ranked highest in the country for customer satisfaction among all mortgage servicers the past seven straight years, 2014 – 2020.

Rocket Companies, Rocket Mortgage’s parent company, ranked #5 on Fortune’s list of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” in 2021 and has placed in the top third of the list for 18 consecutive years.

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