The firm of Littler & Laine, Inc. is limited to a four-day operation once a year, but even in that short span the partnership's profits grow and grow and grow. Gene Littler is a professional golfer. Frankie Laine is a professional singer. Littler cannot sing a note and Laine's golf is terrible—but there is a deep understanding between these two. In three successive years at the Tournament of Champions in Las Vegas, mecca of the fast buck, the firm has made almost a quarter of a million dollars, the largest golf-gamble bonanza in history.
Littler won his third straight Tournament of Champions title on Sunday, April 21. Laine—who "purchased" Littler in the Calcutta pool on the night before each of these tournaments—this year collected a staggering $80,134 net. Thus, Laine's net income from Littler's victories in three years has reached $193,654. Littler earned the $10,000 first prize money from each of his tournament victories, so together Laine and Littler have taken $223,654 from the Tournament of Champions in three years. However, Littler's total share came to $54,000, since Laine, who really owed him nothing but gratitude, gave him "bonuses" of $7,500, $7,000 and $9,500 for winning in 1955, '56 and '57.
In the past three years at Las Vegas Littler has played 12 rounds of Tournament of Champions golf. That figures out to 14 hours per tournament, or a total of 42 hours of work on the Desert Inn course. Thus, total earnings of Littler & Laine, Inc. are about $5,325 per hour, which for professional singers—to say nothing of golfers—is not bad.
Littler struggles along the professional golf tour, playing tolerably but hardly sensationally. He did not win a tournament between the 1956 and 1957 Las Vegas tournaments. In the argot of the profession, he was "off his stick" until last week. Littler automatically qualified for the 1958 Tournament of Champions by winning this year. So the firm is assured of another year of operation. And where does Frankie get the money to buy golfers? Why, from his royalties from such recording hits as Moonlight Gambler.