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Eastside Golf Ambassadors at The John Shippen Invitational

Eastside Golf Ambassadors at The John Shippen Invitational

Two of Eastside Golf’s most talented ambassadors showcased their skills at the John Shippen Invitational – Wyatt Worthington II (pictured above) and Matthew Vital.

Now in its fourth year, this event aims to spotlight the most talented minority golfers that few have heard of – but soon will. The John Shippen Invitational seeks to create opportunities in golf for black men and women, ensure Shippen's story is told, and preserve his tremendous legacy.

Shippen (1879-1968) was a pioneering African-American professional golfer and the first black man to compete in the U.S. Open. Born in Washington, D.C., Shippen moved to Shinnecock Hills, Long Island, where his father was a Presbyterian minister to the Shinnecock Indian Nation. Shippen learned golf as a caddie at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club and quickly showed talent for the game.

In 1896, at just 17 years old, Shippen competed in the second U.S. Open, becoming the first African-American golfer to play in the tournament. Despite facing racial discrimination, he tied for sixth place. He went on to compete in five more U.S. Opens. Throughout his career, Shippen worked as a golf professional at several clubs, including the Shady Rest Golf and Country Club in New Jersey, which was the first black-owned and operated golf club in the United States.

John Shippen's legacy is celebrated for breaking racial barriers in golf and paving the way for future generations of African-American golfers. In recognition of his contributions, the PGA of America posthumously granted him membership in 2009.

Returning to this year’s tournament, the strongest finish among Eastside ambassadors came from Worthington, whose 1-over-par performance earned him T5 honors. For those who follow closely, he is not an unfamiliar name, having recently competed in the 2024 PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club, won by Xander Schauflee. It was his fourth overall major championship appearance.

Vital (pictured below), the other competitor waving the Eastside flag, is an amateur and sophomore at Temple University as well as  the 2023 Pennsylvania Boys Junior Champion. In his 2023-24 collegiate season, Vital has competed in seven tournaments and 18 rounds, accumulating a scoring average of 76.2. Over two days at The John Shippen Invitational, he shot 79-71–150 for a total of 6-over par and a T9 finish.

Hosted at Detroit Golf Club the week before the PGA TOUR’s Rocket Mortgage Classic, the winner of the event earned a spot in the TOUR event. This year, that honor belonged to Willie Mack III, who continued his strong play after qualifying for the U.S. Open earlier this month.

Eastside Golf and The John Shippen Invitational share a strong partnership rooted in their commitment to increasing diversity in golf and broadening access to the game. Additionally, the brand has a deeper connection to the event via CEO and co-founder Earl Cooper, who was once an assistant professional at Detroit Golf Club. The Rocket Mortgage Classic also embraced the brand, selling limited edition products in the merchandising tent at the annual TOUR stop.

Prior to the broadcast of the final round today (June 30, 2024), John Shippen will be celebrated in a made-for-TV special on CBS at noon EST. Watch for Eastside Golf’s CBS special on Monday, July 1.

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