Commemorative or Heritage US Postal Stamp: John Matthew Shippen, Jr.

Commemorative or Heritage US Postal Stamp: John Matthew Shippen, Jr.

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Thurman & Ruby Simmons started this petition to PGA and

John Matthew Shippen, Jr., was the first American-born golf professional and the first African American golf professional.    . Scotsman Willie Dunn star pupils was John Shippen, who under the watchful eye of Dunn became a fine caddy and an accomplished golfer. 

At the age of 16, in 1896, John Shippen’s golfing ability was so evident that he was encouraged to enter the second U.S. Open played at Shinnecock along with the English and Scottish golf professionals.   Shippen shot a 78 to become the first American and the first African American to lead that tournament. Shippen did not win as he lost strokes in a sand trap on the 11th hole.     He played in the U.S. Open six times, ending in 1913. His best finish was in 1902 where he again, finished fifth, solidifying his place in golf history as the first American born and the first African American golf professional. He returned to New Jersey in 1924 to become the golf pro and greenskeeper at The Shady Rest Golf and Country Club, the first African American Golf and Country Club located in Scotch Plains, NJ. He remained at Shady Rest until his retirement in 1960.  He died in 1968 in a nursing home in Newark, NJ. 

The history of African American golfers attempting to compete at the highest level is perhaps the saddest chapter in the game of golf.    The “Caucasians-only clause” was finally eliminated from the Professional Golf Association’s (PGA) bylaws.  During the 93rd PGA Annual Meeting in New Orleans, The PGA of America bestowed posthumous membership along with three African American golf pioneers.   A U.S. Heritage Postal Stamp and/or Commemorative Stamp to honor John Matthew Shippen, Jr. would be an inspiration to students, educators, and the golf community throughout the world. W petition the Stamp Advisory Committee to consider and approve a stamp to honor this great African American golf professional.

 Thurman P. Simmons, Sr. Chairman/Ruby L. Simmons, Co-Chair

The John Shippen Memorial Golf Foundation

 

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