O'Donnell: From tees and greens to Ol' Blue Eyes, former club pro set to showcase his Sinatra '19 tribute


It's a look they'd love if only Hoboken or Weehawken (N.J.) had a country club.

In the North and Northwest suburbs, he looks like he could be a PGA club pro, which he has been.

In a tuxedo, he certainly looks like he could be a Frank Sinatra tribute artist, which he will be once again at 7 p.m. Friday in the 300-seat John and Nancy Hughes Theater at The Gorton Community Center in Lake Forest.

That's when Pantle and the 17-piece Shout Section Big Band will pay homage to The Man Himself when they recreate the classic 1966 album "Sinatra at The Sands."

"That's the first live Sinatra album and in my opinion, the greatest," said Pantle, 54, who held a PGA, Illinois Division, card for close to 20 years.

"He had Count Basie and his orchestra behind him and a young Quincy Jones had taken the string arrangements from his hits and energized many by substituting horns. He was 50 years old, with that fabulously rich, mature baritone voice and a wink-wink stage presence that was so hip and personal."

As hip and personal as being on the pro staff at such local golden tees as Twin Orchard, Ravinia Green and Glen Flora?

"Well, trying to do Mr. Sinatra or teaching or playing golf both require diligence and practice," the Highland Park native said. "I loved my golf years, but frankly, the industry took a downturn and too many clubs were closing. Long ago, my one run at the (PGA) Tour came up empty so I eventually read the handwriting and moved into home and general contracting."

One night at a "Sing With A Live Band" contest at Viper Alley in Lincolnshire, Pantle took a deep breath, grabbed the microphone and did it his way.

"A very small step, but the beginning," he said. "I eventually hooked up with some great musicians who were heavily into Mr. Sinatra. I also started studying him, mainly on YouTube, learned how to read charts and just practiced, practiced, practiced."

His first paying gig as The Man was three years ago. Since then, with his own excellent voice and engaging stage demeanor he's moved into community concerts, private soirees and now Friday's "Main Event."

"We open with 'Come Fly With Me' and that's the way I hope the evening goes," Pantle said. "We'll all get up there, where the air is rarefied and we'll just glide … starry-eyed."

Tickets are $17 and remain available through or at the box office, 400 E. Illinois Road.

ASSORTED BRIC-A-BRAC from the NBA draft lottery: The Bulls had no positive identity going in and have none coming out. … Rachel Nichols must have really loaded up on the Kathie Lee Gifford juice before the telecast. Her constant pandering toward Zion Williamson could have made James Corden drop his "Carpool Karaoke" mic.

More: Given the certainties of modern technology, the entire ESPN production was notably ragged, like a "Wheel of Fortune" with only three vowels. … The presence of Jay Bilas on the "analysts" panel proved that if all of this smarmy Duke swill doesn't have an organic shelf life, Congress - or James Spader of "The Blacklist" - should step in.

And a good guy finally won when new New Orleans veep/hoops David Griffin landed the No. 1 choice. Now how long until he has respected chum LeBron James - with whom he won a championship in Cleveland three years ago - dumping salary and finagling his way out of listless L.A. to join the sharpie party Way Down Yonder?

GIVEN THE RULES OF THE GAME, that federal lawsuit filed this week by Gary and Mary West - owners of DQed Kentucky Derby "best horse" Maximum Security - against the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission would appear to lack sustainability.

But it could certainly shake up the carnies and ferret out exactly what Churchill Downs Incorporated CEO Bill Carstanjen knew and when he knew it during the stewards 22-minute review.

The gamesters don't like light or lawsuits.

STREET-BEATIN': Joe Maddon now has official license to change his 2019 Cubs slogan from "Own It Now" to "What, Me Worry?"… To the south, after getting through a rough first quarter only a handful of games out of an AL playoff spot, the White Sox and GM Rick Hahn have to dock the B.S. Rebuild (and S.S. Minnow) and adopt Theo Epstein's "If not now, when?"; Future-is-now moves would begin with the call-up of Dylan Cease and signing a quality reliever. (Next game: vs. Toronto, 7:10 p.m. Thursday, NBCSCH+). … Why will back sniff about Jimmy deCastro eyeballing the exit door at Entercom/Chicago - which includes WSCR-AM (670) - not go away?; "The Score" remains more Cub-dependent than an 80-year-old peanut vendor at the corner of Grace and North Kenmore. … With proper staff, Porter Moser is an outstanding pick to replace John Beilein at Michigan. The blocker could be that maize-grown LaVall Jordan of Butler has credentialed Ann Arbor roots. … George Ofman - the man who discovered David Schuster among the weeds at Southern Illinois - drops a retro on the 40th anniversary of Philadelphia's 23-22 Tilt-a-Whirl over the Cubs (May 17, 1979) via Thursday night; Among those interviewed are Larry Bowa and body-shamed Barry Foote, whose home run tied the game at 22-22. (Mike Schmidt hit the gusty game winner in the top of the 10th.). … Dire-straiting management at Arlington Park pulled a filled race prior to releasing its Mother's Day card, saving purse money and meaning attendees paid $18 for an abbreviated eight-race matinee; Some might call it, "a funereal move."… And if Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips does wind up as the next commissioner of The Big Ten, purple-raining love poet Teddy Greenstein should be in line to become the league's director of unbridled bromantics. His one-man banding makes Karl Rove look like an unimaginative precinct captain.

Bill Pantle left the golf business and is now doing Frank Sinatra tribute songs, here at a casino night in 2017 at Fields BMW in Northfield. COURTESY of Richard OLEFF
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