In 2001, Tom Slater—at age 56—was Low Amateur and won a playoff to qualify for the USGA Senior Open at Salem, MA. During the first round of play, his score was -2 under par and he was leading the tournament. It was a thrill for him to see his name at the top with Tom Watson, Ray Floyd, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. It was a difficult course and Bruce Fleisher eventually won at even par.
Slater has triumphed in dozens of golf championships, but he perhaps has saved his most rewarding victories for the cancer treatment rooms of the Cleveland Clinic.
Slater, a life-long amateur golfer, has twice defeated lymphoma. These days, he spends time helping others deal with the disease so they can move forward with a positive lifestyle.
He practices what he preaches. In 2011, after a two-year battle with cancer, Slater parlayed conquering the disease with winning the inaugural Florida State Super Senior Championship.
Born in Warwick, R.I., he was attracted to the competitiveness of sports at a very young age. He started playing golf and baseball at five and hockey at six. He played all three sports through college, but golf emerged as his love.
Slater won his first tournament at 12 and went on to win the Rhode Island championship for 21 and under when he was 16, defeating the captain of the University of Rhode Island team. In college, he was part of the Yale team that won the Ivy League Championship.
In 1970, after completing college and three years military service, Slater moved to Cleveland where he began his business career and started his family.
He soon became part of the local golf scene, dominating play and winning 22 club championships. In 1992, Slater decided to play in national level competitions. He found success, qualifying for a United States Golf Association Mid Amateur, a USGA Senior Amateur, A USGA Senior Open and finally, two USGA Senior Amateurs. He was Medalist or low scorer in 4 of these qualifiers.
In 2008, Slater was selected to be a playing member on the United States Senior Golf Association International Team. He was Team Captain in 2013 and led his squad to victory over Great Britain and Canada at Prestwick, Scotland. His International record is 15-6-6.
Slater and his wife live in Cleveland. They have eight children and 12 grandchildren.