How can you love Las Vegas and not love golf? The 26th Frank Sinatra Starkey Hearing Technologies Celebrity Invitational golf tournament is just around the corner and that got me thinking about the Rat Pack’s storied connection with the sport.
Frank and Barbara started “Franks little party in the desert” in 1988 as a fundraiser for the Barbara Sinatra Center for Abused Children and the event has proved a valuable source for funds for the important cause of breaking the cycle of child abuse and helping those affected by it.
Golf, Las Vegas and the Rat Pack have all have long, historic connections. Just like the Rat Pack, golf has been important in the making of a world-class city. The Las Vegas National Golf Club opened in 1961 and quickly became a favorite destination for Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop, entertaining the club’s patrons after their match. The club sports the aptly named, Rat Pack Bar and Grill.
Golf Digest light heartedly dubbed a photograph of Frank and Dean in a golf cart as possibly the greatest golf photo of all-time, recognizing the connection between the Pack and golf. From 1972 to 1975 the Tucson Open was named the Dean Martin Tucson Open and from 1973 through 1988 PGA players competed at the Sammy Davis Jr. Greater Hartford Open for what is now the Travelers Championship. Just last year the Sammy Davis, Jr. Golf Classis started up to raise money for the Sammy Davis, Jr. Foundation and Communities in Schools, a local charity.
Frank Sinatra lent his name to celebrity pro-am events in the Palm Springs area, but never really became as good a golfer as he was at singing or acting. Dean Martin and Peter Lawford were considered the best of the Pack. As well as possessing a single-digit handicap, Dean even had his own profitable line of golf balls. It should be noted that even Martin’s children refer to him by stating, “mostly dad was just a golfer.” When asked for his golf handicap, Sammy quipped, “My handicap? Man, I am a one-eyed black Jew! That’s my handicap!”
I like to play when I have the opportunity, so I guess that’s my way of adding to the tradition. Hmm, anyone know if Joey Bishop Golf Carts is in reference to the Joey Bishop? Maybe if they know I’ve played him in Las Vegas shows, they’ll comp me one of my own!