Jeff Sluman still remembers his first visit to Oak Hill. His dad brought him to the 1968 US Open.
“I said, ‘Dad, these fairways are better than the greens we play on,’ Sluman recalls. “And it just made such an impression and then walking up and seeing this beautiful Tudor Clubhouse. I can remember saying, maybe someday I could play a round of golf here.”
He sure has done that. This week, Sluman will play in his fourth major at Oak Hill. His first was in 1989. Even though he was already major championship winner, he was still motivated by a fear of failure.
“I guess you could say it was the impostor syndrome,” said Sluman. “I always every year said, I’ve got to get better, I’ve got to work on different things, my game’s got to improve or somebody’s going to find out I’m really not any good.”
Sluman has played in nearly 1,000 events since turning pro in 1980. All that golf has changed his mentality.
“I’m pretty comfortable in my shoes. That’s the difference now. I couldn’t have had a 39-year lucky streak.”
Jeff Sluman’s career includes one major championship win, six wins on the PGA Tour, and six more on the Champions Tour, but he’ll always be known for being from Rochester.
He says, “I always got a lot of, ‘Hey, we’re from Rochester, we’re from Greece, we’re from Gates Chili,’ and stuff like that. A lot of my playing partners, they’d kind of look up because they wouldn’t get those reactions. And I’d tell them Rochester is an unbelievable golf town.”
Sluman will turn 62 in September. He intends to play the rest of this year, then take a look at the future. For now, he’s going to take it all in. “Realistically, this is my last time to play competitively here in Rochester. So I’m going to soak it up. I’m going to have a good time and just enjoy.”
51 years after his first trip to Oak Hill, it’s still special to Jeff Sluman.