He maketh me to lie down on the greens ...

Friday, September 14, 2012

Imagine my surprise when I found Louis J. Lorimier's golf diary in my very own backyard. Here's how it happened:I decided to dig a cistern in the hopes that normal rainfall will someday return to Southeast Missouri. With a cistern, I would be able to store water to be used during extended dry spells like the one we are currently enduring.

I had dug down only a couple of feet when my shovel made a clunk that sounded a lot like a poker banging the side of a potbelly stove whilst stoking the fire for the night.

Sure enough, it was a strongbox, somewhat rusted but still in fair shape, considering that it had been buried in my backyard for two centuries.

A little background: When we bought our house 15 years ago, we were given a copy of the title abstract by the previous owner. It informed us that our house was built on land originally granted to Louis Lorimier by the Spanish government before the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory. Why he chose my backyard to bury his strongbox is one of life's mysteries, one likely never to be solved, which makes my story much easier to tell.

Inside the box were a few surprises. No treasure. No pieces of eight. No faded rose blossoms pressed between the pages of the family Bible. None of that. But there was a book with sheets of handwritten entries. My French isn't great, but I was able to determine that what I had discovered was Lorimier's very own golf diary, a compilation of scores, made-up-on-the-spot rules and brief observations about "keep your head down" and "lock that left arm."

Pretty standard golf stuff. But what was amazing was Lorimier's versions of well-known Bible passages, all of them somehow golf-related. Who knew the man was so passionate about golf? Or the Bible?

For example, Lorimier's version of Genesis declares that Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden because they both fudged their golf scores. And St. Paul established golf courses all around the Mediterranean, and churches sprang up nearby to offer absolution to those who broke the rules of golf.

Makes sense to me.

My favorite from Lorimier's golf diary, however, is his version of the 23rd Psalm, which goes something like this:

"The Lord is my caddie, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down on the greens. He maketh my ball to soar over the still waters. He restoreth my swing. He leads me along the paths from tee to tee. Yea, though I walk in the dark valley's rough, I will fear no creeks or woods. Thy driver and putter they comfort me. My cup is filled with just one putt. Surely birdies and pars will follow me on all 18 holes, and I will bask in low scores forever."

Now.

You may or may not be interested in Lorimier's golf diary. But if you have even a spark of golf in you, you should be thinking about signing up for this year's First-Ever Seventh Annual Louis J. Lorimier Memorial World-Famous Downtown Golf Tournament and All-You-Can-Eat Catfish Buffet.

It will start at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 30 at the gazebo in the Common Pleas Courthouse Park followed by the catfish buffet at about 3:30 p.m. at Port Cape Restaurant. The early entry fee is $25, or you can sign up the morning of the tournament for $30. All proceeds go the Red House Interpretive Center, which is a replica of Lorimier's trading post and home. Look for entry forms in the Southeast Missourian, or call the Parks and Recreation Department.

Downtown golf? Yes. It's great fun. Special BirdieBalls are used to prevent serious damage. The sole goal of the tournament is to have fun playing golf along downtown streets, grassy parks and through at least one business.

Come have some fun. Come help the Red House. Come pay tribute to Louis Lorimier, a man who shall be remembered as the founder of our fair city, but who also deserves to be honored for promoting golf in frontier America.

Fore!

Joe Sullivan is the retired editor of the Southeast Missourian.

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