Industry News

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

Cognizant to provide an additional LPGA exemption for competitors, through ‘The John Shippen Shoot-Out presented by Cognizant’; Players from the second- and third-placing women’s teams from The John Shippen National Golf Invitational will face off in the three-hole ‘The John Shippen Shoot-Out’ to win a sponsor exemption to the LPGA Tour’s ‘Cognizant Founders Cup’ on October 4-10 in New Jersey; The John Shippen National Invitational invites the nation’s top black male and female professional & amateur golfers to compete on June 27-28 at 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 and was bestowed PGA of America membership posthumously in 2009

DETROIT (June 15, 2021) – Intersport announced today additional 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 showcase and 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 is named after John Shippen, Jr., who was the first American-born golf professional and also the country’s first Black golf professional. Shippen tied for fifth place in the second U.S. Open in 1896 and was bestowed PGA of America membership posthumously in 2009.

THE JOHN SHIPPEN National Golf Invitational Competition:

  • 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).

THE JOHN SHIPPEN Shoot-Out Presented by Cognizant is a three-hole individual competition that will award one additional LPGA Tour exemption to the women’s field. The Shoot-Out will take place on the South Course at Detroit Golf Club on Monday, June 28, directly following THE JOHN SHIPPEN National Invitational final round play. The winner will be awarded with a sponsor exemption into the LPGA’s Cognizant Founders Cup taking place October 4-10 in West Caldwell, N.J., marking a continuation of Cognizant’s commitment to supporting equal opportunity and diversity in the game of golf and beyond.

“We’re incredibly honored to be part of the THE JOHN SHIPPEN Shoot-Out at its inauguration,” said Shameka Young, Global Head, Diversity & Inclusion at Cognizant. “This influential event promises to raise recognition for Black female golfers and provide an additional on-ramp to qualifying for an LPGA tournament. Cognizant is committed to furthering inclusivity and building on our sponsorship of the Cognizant Founders Cup. This partnership marks another milestone in our journey. We can’t wait for June 28!”

“We are excited that a talented player from THE JOHN SHIPPEN Shoot-Out will earn a berth in the 2021 Cognizant Founders Cup and compete against the best professional golfers in the world from the LPGA,” said Scott Wood, Tournament Director, Cognizant Founders Cup. “This historic tournament is a celebration of LPGA’s founders who paved the way for girls and women to succeed in the game of golf, while also serving as an important platform to change the face of golf by making the sport more accessible and inclusive.”

THE JOHN SHIPPEN Shoot-Out Competition:

  • The four players from the second- and third-place women’s teams will face off head-to-head in individual play.
  • The three-hole competition will be held on the South Course, on the Par-4 11th Hole, the Par-3 12th Hole and the Par-4 13th Hole.
  • The player with the lowest individual score among the four competitors will win the sponsor exemption.
  • In the case of a tie, participants will replay the 12th Hole (Par-3) until there is one winner.

“We at Intersport are thrilled that our friends at Cognizant have committed a new sponsor exemption to their LPGA Cognizant Founders Cup through THE JOHN SHIPPEN Shoot-Out,” said Jason Langwell, Executive Vice President of Intersport and Executive Director of the Rocket Mortgage Classic. “This new addition represents the fourth TOUR exemption we are able to offer through THE JOHN SHIPPEN National Invitational, which furthers our efforts to bolster access and opportunities for talented Black golfers.”

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


(Players Listed in Alphabetical Order / Subject to Change)

Note: The players below have been added to the field and will play alongside the players announced earlier this month.

Full player fields available at


Name / Age / Status / College

BAILEY DAVIS (18) - Amateur (Tennessee)
- 2020 Maryland State Girls Amateur Champion
- 2020 North South Junior Girls Championship (3rd Place)
- Three-time State High School Champion

BREANNE JONES (25) - Professional (UC Irvine)
- 2019 Symetra Tour player
- 2017 Fresno State Classic (9th Place)
- Played in every round in Junior and Senior years

TIANA JONES (29) - Professional (South Carolina St./Maryland Eastern Shore
- Seventh Black female PGA Professional
- Five-time National Champion in college
- 2009 High School State Championship (Ohio)

AMBER KUYKENDALL (24) - Professional (Texas Southern)
- Led team to NCAA Regionals after Conference Championship win - first in School history

ALLYN STEPHENS (16) - Amateur (High School Senior)
- Notah Begay National Championship winner
- Drive, Chip and Putt National Finalist
- Won 90+ tournaments


Name / Age / Status / College

RYAN ALFORD (24) - Professional (Louisiana Tech)
- APGA back-to-back winner
- 2016 CUSA conference champs

AARON BEVERLY (26) - Professional (Cal State Sacramento)
- 2019 Mackenzie Tour competitor
- 2017 All Ping West Coast
- Holds three collegiate wins and six school records

XAVIER BIGHAUS (18) - Amateur (Colorado Christian)
- 2021 Mack Champ Invitational – T2
- 2020-21 All-Honor Team – N. Texas HS Golf Coaches Assn.

MARCUS BYRD (23) - Professional (Middle Tennessee St)
- 2020 US Amateur Championship
- 2020 Western Amateur Championship
- Eight Top 5 finishes in college

KEVIN HALL (38) - Professional (Ohio State)
- 2016 APGA Player of the Year
- First deaf golfer to earn Korn Ferry Tour card
- Competed in seven PGA Tour and 11 Korn Ferry Tour events
- 2004 Big Ten Championship winner by 11 shots

MICHAEL HERRERA (23) - Professional (Riverside City College)
- 2021 APGA tour winner - The Crossings at Carlsbad
- 2020 Jamaica Open - 6th place

JOSEPH HOOKS (28) - Professional (Wayne State)
- GAM Tournament of Champions champion
- APGA four-time top five finisher - seven-time top ten
- 2018 Michigan Players Tour three-time winner
- Detroit Golf Club three-time champion

ETHAN MAGNUM (22) - Amateur (Florida A&M)
- 2021 Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference Champion
- 2019 Florida A&M Inv. champion
- 2018 African American Hall of Fame
- 2017 William "Bill" Dickey champion

CAMIKO SMITH (35) - Professional (N/A)
- 2020 Bermuda PGA Stroke Play Champ winner
- 2020 PGA TOUR Bermuda Champ qualifier
- US Open Sectionals two-time qualifier

TROY TAYLOR II (21) - Amateur (Michigan State)
- 2021 US Open qualifier medalist at Muskegon CC
- Git-R-Done Husker Invitational - T2
- 2018 Mr. Ohio Golf - ranked number 1 junior golfer

J.P. THORNTON (36) - Professional (Texas Southern)
- 2020 APGA at TPC Sugarloaf Champion
- 2020 APGA Lexus Cup Order of Men - third place

WYATT WORTHINGTON II (34) - Professional (Methodist U.)
- 2019 Korn Ferry Q-School - second stage
- 2016 PGA Champ qualifier
- PGA Tournament series event winner

ROVANTA YOUNG (26) - Professional (Alabama A&M)
- 2021 APGA St. Augustine winner
- 2018 Alabama State University Spring Invitational winner
- 2018 Morehouse Classic winner

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, the PGA TOUR, the LPGA, 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 National Golf Invitational was created by Intersport, in partnership with Rocket Mortgage and in collaboration with Woods and Watts Effect, to identify historical barriers and expand Black representation in the sport of golf. The event will invite the nation’s top amateur and professional Black golfers to provide a platform for heightened opportunities and recognition within the sport. The inaugural National Invitational will be held at Detroit Golf Club June 27-28, with a one-hour TV special about THE JOHN SHIPPEN airing on CBS leading into final-round coverage of the Rocket Mortgage Classic on Sunday, July 4.

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.”

Registration for THE JOHN SHIPPEN Sports Business Summit is FREE, and available now at

Students can apply for paid internships and scholarships from partners, organizations and foundations within and beyond the sports industry. Scholarship applications are currently being accepted at

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. For more information and company news visit

Cognizant (Nasdaq-100: CTSH) is one of the world's leading professional services companies, transforming clients' business, operating, and technology models for the digital era. Our unique industry-based, consultative approach helps clients envision, build, and run more innovative and efficient businesses. Headquartered in the U.S., Cognizant is ranked 194 on the Fortune 500 and is consistently listed among the most admired companies in the world. Cognizant works to advance diversity and inclusion in its business and beyond, including its partnership with the LPGA Tour which aims to make sports more inclusive at all levels, across the globe. Learn how Cognizant helps clients lead with digital at or follow us @Cognizant.