Slim Whitman Invitational
2010 Champ - Gary Iocco
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I cannot believe it was just last June that changed my golf life forever, but let me start from the Slim beginning.

It was June of 1995 that I first experienced the "EVENT" first hand, when the only, now, five time Champ, Rabs, invited me to play in the hallowed event. I remember driving in to the Fireside Resort and Convention Center, pulling up and the valet unloaded my luggage.

My first experience meeting all, Da Boys, was at the Washington Inn where we sat down and broke bread together. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Bullet; he made me feel as if I was his long time friend. That evening everyone treated me as if I was a member of the family. That is what makes this event so great, the people.

There are many, many great memories from all the Slim events I have been grateful to be a part of, these are just a few. Besides golfing with Rabs, my sponsor, I had the pleasure of golfing with Mel. Mel was probably in his late 70's when I first met him and you would be hard pressed to find a more kind and gentle person. He always hit it straight and down the middle.
Then there was the Bullet, my cart partner and first Slim mentor. Boy did I learn what the Slim was all about…FUN….not winning, just FUN! That year I was lucky to play well enough to make the final foursome, it was my first Jonsey experience. It was HOT and not a cloud in the sky. I was nervous and it showed in my playing ability, or lack of ability. I learned a valuable lesson that day; don't take the game and winning too serious. This tournament is not about winning, but it is all about the friendships and people. I remember it as if it was yesterday, we were on the old ninth hole waiting to tee off and Jonsey zips open his bag and pulls out a long sleeve dress shirt that was compressed so small it could fit into a sandwich bag and put away wet. He slowly pulled apart one sleeve, then the other. I thought he was going to clean his clubs; I was wrong, he put it on and turned to me and said this was his lucky shirt. Guess it didn't help him too much, neither of us won.
That year was also the year my cart partner, the Bullet and I coined the term, "Dust Off", which means we just helped each other clean the dirt off our golf balls.

Once in awhile at the Slim some will have an adult beverage, as a matter of fact one of the traditions is the mixing of the Mules before we tee off for the first hole of the event. The one and only Mulemiester is large and in charge of this most sacred task. Everyone brings their little thermos and fills up on the aiming fluid; this as I am told was the nectar of the ancient Greek golfing gods. I am sure Eric can verify for us.

I only had the pleasure of playing with Bill Booth once, and the Sportsmanship Award named after him is very appropriate. What a gentleman and just all around nice guy. That brings my memory to another fallen Slim Brother, Big Bruce. Big Bruce was always thinking of his fellow Slimers, if he was in your foursome, he would walk ahead of the group and always try and let you know where your ball was. It was also enjoyable playing in the group behind Big Bruce as he would leave little presents in the cup.

Geno was a Slimer that unfortunately, I never had a chance to meet, but he says hello to me almost every time on the fourth hole when he reaches out of the pond and grabs my ball.

These fallen Slimers will always be remembered and missed. Rest in Peace boys and God Bless you all.

One of the Slim traditions is to invite new folks to join us, Rookies as they are called. I made a very large mistake my second year and invite a ROOKIE. This is someone that I had played golf with many times and is a nice guy. Every Wednesday night of the Slim after dinner we would stroll down to Bob's Lakeview Inn, have an after dinner diet coke, pick teams and have the Handicap Committee set handicaps for Rookies and readjust returning players handicaps.

As the sponsor for a rookie you report on the playing ability of your rookie to the committee. I reported as best I could and his handicap was set. He then went out and played the best 54 holes of his life. Of course he won everything, and guess who was not held harmless???? Well that is why the Rookie Rule was put into effect; no rookie will ever win the Slim again, because his handicap can be readjusted after every round.

No Slim would be that same for me without brothers from the homeland, the Windy City, the home of the soon to be Super Bowl Champs, my boys from Chicago. What other group of guys would bring up their own gyros spit and cookout? These boys bring many laughs and also a few Slim Champions, Lil Bruce and E Man, to Cecil every year.

Winning is NOT everything, I have been lucky enough to finish second at the Slim so many times, some were calling me the Brides Maid. The most fun finishing second was the year Big G, Gregger, and I tied for first. Unfortunately the playoff was only between Big G and myself. Seems Gregger didn't wait around for the final score tabulation. After a long day of golf and much adult hydration Big G and I loaded up our carts with the Boys in tow for a sudden death playoff.

Rabs offered to be my caddie and coach, I was excited, after all, the only soon- to- be five time Slim Champion offered to be my coach, this was something that I just couldn't believe. I awaited his sage advice before we were to tee off. The tee box was packed with a gallery of Slimers, and I went over to my coach, my mentor, my friend for his advice. His advice to help me get through the nerves, the anxiety, "There is no shame in finishing second"……guess who won the championship…Big G. Not because of the advice, but due to the fact I shot an eight.

Memories abound, sometimes too many to remember, other you can't forget. Rubber Chicken, Stump bringing his Captain Steve's Beer Can Chicken Roasters and the staff not following Stumpers directions on cooking. How about the Nurse that bandaged a brother. Sometimes when it rains really hard the culverts fill with water and folks find out that it is not good practice to be on a cell phone and have the wind blow you over into the water filled culver, yawning in technicolor seems to be a staple of the event.

As you can see, it is not about winning for me, if it was I would have stopped coming to Cecil many years ago. For this guy it is about the friends both old and new. Guys that would do anything for you, bail you out of jail, walk back arm and arm from the Golden Sands to the Fireside Resort and Convention Center because it would not be a good idea to drive, or order you a strawberry, chocolate and banana malt at the Cecil Diner so that you won't be late for your tee time. Or even the generosity of some that don't feel well at dinner, leave the restaurant early, and leave their credit card to treat the boys.

How can I forget the words of wisdom and Slim history from Ove, or the explanation of the rules from Scout, or Smurfs ironing skills? Not to mention Big Dan twirling Bobby around like a pinwheel above his head, or me telling a story from the day of golf about a new rookie, who I couldn't remember due to a memory lapse from the sun and mules. Turned out he was sitting at the same dinner table with me, sorry Rick.

Then there is the fabulous staff at the Golden Sands, our buddy Linc and his pin locations, or Jim and how he always has a knack for beating me on his little closest to the pin games. They make the Slim boys feel as if we are family. They are truly ambassadors for Cecil and know how to treat guests.

So many more to thank, and please know that I am very grateful for the original flounders way back in 1979 when they started the Slim Whitman Invitational. In the past the Champs letter has always been done by Christmas. It seems that the excitement then died down until spring, I tried to keep the excitement alive and "stir the pot" a little with the purposeful delay of my letter.

It would not be right to end this letter without us remembering our fallen Slimers, Mel, Bill, Jonsey, Big Bruce and all of our hero's that have fallen fighting for our freedom and allowing us to continue playing in the Invitational each weekend before Father's Day in beautiful Cecil, Wisconsin. God Bless each of you and your families and God Bless America.

Thank you all for allowing me to be part of the Invitational!

Remember as Big Bruce would say ….Slime it up Boys!

See you all in Cecil this June, if I get an invite.


Gary Lab Boy Iocco
Slim Champ 2010