Home » Ebonie Cox to play in select event honouring golf’s first US Black professional
Global News Golf Golf News News Sports

Ebonie Cox to play in select event honouring golf’s first US Black professional

Golfer Ebonie Cox is competing among a select field of 12 top professional and amateur Black female golfers this week.

Cox is taking part in the John Shippen National Invitational, a 36-hole event at Blythefield Country Club in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with the tournament created to give opportunities in golf for Black men and women.

The event starts today and Cox’s rivals include former LPGA Tour player Shasta Averyhardt, last year’s winner Paige Crawford and Kendall Jackson, who was named the No 1 golfer in the NCAA in December 2023.

The winner of the tournament will get exemptions into two LPGA Tour events this month, the Meijer LPGA Classic and the Dow Championship. She will also take home $13,200 from a $22,000 purse. Second place will earn $6,600, while $2,200 will go to the third-place finisher.

The tournament is named after Shippen, who played in the second US Open at Shinnecock Hills in 1896 when club members, said to include the Rothchilds, the Mellons and the Carnegies, paid his entry fees for the tournament.

In the week of the Open, other professional entrants (all foreign-born) sent a petition in which they objected to “Coloured boys meeting them on equal terms”.

They held a meeting in protest on Thursday prior to the Open and threatened to withdraw if Shippen was allowed to compete.

USGA president Theodore Havemeyer is said to have declared: “Gentlemen, you can leave or stay as you please. We are going to play this tournament tomorrow, with them and with or without you.”

All entrants showed up the next morning for play. Shippen finished fifth and was awarded $10 in prize money, which officially secured his place in history as the first US-born golf professional and the first Black golf professional.

No other Black golfer would play in the US Open again until Ted Rhodes in 1948.

In 2009, the PGA of America bestowed John Shippen with his PGA membership card posthumously, and he is now recognised by the USGA as America’s first golf professional. In 2018, he was inducted into the New Jersey Golf Association Hall of Fame’s inaugural class.

Source: The Royal Gazette