During the 1960s, the hey days of Las Vegas, the highlight of each Vegas vacation (in addition to gaming, booze and girls) were the elaborate dinner shows. These dinner shows featured wealthy Hollywood entertainers who got even richer doing two shows each night. Before Cirque du Soleil, Celine Dion or The Blue Man Group, the “Rat Pack” perfected the art of the live dinner show. The Rat Pack, that included Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Frank Sinatra and Joey Bishop, became notorious for the never-ending “Party.” Hollywood starlets and Vegas show girls moved through the revolving doors of the Party, where mere mortals begged for an invite. Marilyn Monroe, Angie Dickinson, Juliet Prowse and Shirley MacLaine, were the “Rat Pack Mascots;” they spent their free time in Vegas.
During the daylight hours, when they were not sleeping (or at least in bed), the Rat Pack loved to play golf for, and as you can imagine, big money. Dean Martin, in addition to being a wonderful entertainer, was an excellent golfer. He carried a single digit handicap and he REALLY loved the action.
The Golf Course at The Sands was the home the big action. Golf hustlers hung around looking for that “easy mark,” some guy from the mid-western who had a marginal game and deep pockets. Pros, caddies and caddie masters got their palms greased for pointing out these “pigeons” to the vultures that made their living hustling golf.
Word got to Martin that there was a young player in town who had been kicked off the UCLA golf team for hustling members at Riviera Country Club, UCLA’s home course. The caddie master told Martin that the “kid” could really play! Martin’s response “Set up the game.”
Two days later Martin and the kid teed it up at The Sands. It was just after lunch, the kid was waiting on the first tee dressed in a pair of baggy khakis and a yellow Izod shirt with a UCLA cap cocked on the back of his head. Martin was escorted to the tee by a well-endowed red head on one arm and a shapely blond on the other. He was dressed in a pair of black, shark-fire iridescent slacks and a crisp soft plum shirt. The locker room attendant had buffed his black, matching baby alligator, golf shoes to a magical shine. Of course, Martin had his signature cocktail in one hand and a cigarette in the other.
“Hi Pete, what’s the game?” Martin said as he shifted his cocktail to his left hand as he shook hands with his right.
“Gosh, Mr. Martin, how about $100 Nassau?” Pete said as he looked down at his well-worn FootJoys.
“Pete, I did not get out of bed with these two beautiful women to win a couple of hundred bucks from some college kid. What do you think you will shoot today, kid?” smiled Martin.
Pete replied after a few seconds, “If I make a few putts, one or two under.”
Martin took a deep pull from the cigarette in his left hand and said, “My goal is always to shoot even par-72. You think you can beat me by two so lets start with a Do-Don’t for $500. Your score is 70 mine is 72. Then if you give me those two shots, we’ll play a $500 Nassau; we can press whenever we are pissed.”
Pete’s responded, “those shots fall on #3 and #18. I’m not giving you a shot on the last hole where you can press and get even on one hole. The 4th handicap hole is #15, you get your back-nine shot there.”
Four hours later, as they walked off the 18th green toward the clubhouse, Pete said in a low voice, “gosh, Mr. Martin, I did not mean to beat you out of $20,500 today.”
Martin, put his hand on Pet’s shoulder and turned him around. Then Dean Martin, the king of both Hollywood and Las Vegas, placed a hand on each of Pete’s shoulders and looked him dead in the eye. Without blinking and that classic smile spread across his face Martin said: “Don’t worry about it son, always remember, I can make it faster than you can win it from me. Here, I just made a note on the scorecard, take it to the casino cashier and get your money. I need to go get ready for my early show.”