Golfers test their skills on downtown course

Monday, June 25, 2007
Ralph Maxton of Cape Girardeau prepared to hit a Birdieball Sunday below the River Campus during the first-ever Second Annual Louis J. Lorimier Memorial World-Famous Downtown Golf Tournament. The tournament raises money for the Red House Interpretive Center. (Fred Lynch ~

Watch downtown golf

Four men coming down an alley with golf clubs would normally make a woman clutch her purse a little tighter; 80-year-old Patsy Johnson just laughed.

The men were attempting to make the fifth hole in the first-ever Second Annual Louis J. Lorimier Memorial World-Famous Downtown Golf Tournament, which had golfers whacking Birdieballs around buildings and down alleys Sunday afternoon and then culminated with an all-you-can-eat catfish buffet at the Common Pleas Courthouse.

Johnson was one of 20 volunteers for the tournament, which benefits the Red House Interpretive Center.

The proceeds from the tournament go toward a building fund the Red House started four years ago. They are trying to raise $100,000 so the interpretive center can simply operate off the interest from the account, said Jane Randol Jackson, chairwoman of the Red House Interpretive Center Board.

The account has $38,000 so far and last year's downtown tournament added roughly $1,000. Donations, entry fees and a $5 chip shot game promised to bring slightly more than $1,500 this year.

The money didn't matter to most of the golfers who turned out to play Sunday. According to some, actually being a golfer didn't matter either.

"The deal was to come out here and have fun," Matt Hopkins said. Hopkins' final score was a 50 for the nine-hole urban course, but he said he enjoyed himself.

The original course spans five blocks of downtown stretching from Broadway to Merriwether Street. The course included one hole on the river side of the floodwall -- arguably the hardest hole.

"If you slice it, you're bouncing into the river," said Darryl Morgan, town crier for Cape Girardeau. "And I'm not going into the river after the ball."

Hole five, in an alley off of Main Street, also proved slightly tricky, forcing one golfer to climb onto a roof to find his ball and sink the shot.

Golfers used Birdieballs to minimize damage to pedestrians and downtown structures. It's a plastic substitute for a golf ball shaped like a big napkin ring. They're only allowed to carry one golf club -- either a five or a six iron -- and they teed off from carpet squares.

This year, a second nine-hole course was mapped out at the Southeast Missouri State University River Campus.

"It was a lot cooler, playing on the River Campus," Tom Meyer said. This was Meyer's first-ever second time to play in the downtown tournament. He scored a 36, par for the River Campus course.

He claimed the catfish buffet is why he came back, but then added that helping the Red House was a bonus and urban golf is an interesting experience.

"It's just quirky enough for a Sunday afternoon," Meyer said. "It doesn't compare to regular golf."

"And it draws people downtown to the river, which is where the city starts," he said.

The Red House was built in 2003 to commemorate the history and the founder of Cape Girardeau, Louis J. Lorimier, a trader who settled somewhere near Main and Merriwether streets.

"It shows people what our history is," Jackson said. "It shows how we got our start."

The Red House runs on donations and entry fees to the museum. It opens from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Saturday and on special occasions, like the downtown tournament.

First place for the river campus course went to Don Jung, who shot 1-under par Sunday. Jung also got his first-ever second annual hole-in-one. He shot a hole-in-one last year, too.

Darryl Morgan, Bob Pastrick and Pete Hirtz tied for the original course with a score of 31.

335-6611, extension 246

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