A local’s experience at The Masters

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Lawrence Hannigan in Butler Cabin

Of all the people I have come across who love golf, Scottish born Lawrence Hannigan is up at the top.  

Yes, he has walked across the Swilcan Bridge at the Old Course at St. Andrews (he owns a Stewart Clan Kilt), and this week with his golfing wife Kathy, Lawrence enjoyed The Masters experience.  

It has been quite a year for Hannigan, who is on our our staff at Lakewood with the title -as his business card reads – of “Golf Ambassador – Growing Golf in New Orleans”.  

New Orleans has been his home for 18 years and he has fell in love with the city and the people.  He is an avid Saints fan and season ticket holder. He even made the trip to the Super Bowl, where he spent time with Masters and British Open Champion, Sir Nick Faldo.  So you get the picture; he is a colorful person.

Lawrence, who makes friends wherever he goes, was invited earlier this year by CBS. Better yet, when was at Augusta, he was invited to tour the famous Butler Cabin. This is where the ceremonial green jacket is presented to the champion by the previous year’s winner, a tradition that started with Sam Snead in 1949.  

I asked him what he enjoyed the most about what few people ever get to see in person. “Just to have the priviledge to sit where golf greats have sat waiting to receive the green jacket, how can you not think of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and the many great champions who have been there before, the goose bumps are there,” noted Lawrence.

The night before the cabin visit, he had dinner with an executive of CBS. When he went to check on the table, Fuzzy Zoeller, the 1979 Masters Champion, thought he was alone and told Lawrence he was welcome to join his group. Alas, he had to respectfully decline dinner with a Masters Champion.   

This was Lawrence’s second trip to Augusta. He noted one remarkable change. “The old parking lot is now a $30 million dollar driving range. It’s incredible how they could bring in grown trees; it looked at if it had been there forever.”

Naturally, I was curious about how Tiger Woods was received by the people in attendance. “I followed Tiger for five holes until it got too crowded,” recalled Hannigan. “I was impressed how relaxed he looked and how he acknowledged the faithful.  You could tell how appreciative the patrons were to have Tiger back playing again, a memorable experience.”

In the words of our golf ambassador, the experience at Bobby Jones’ homage to St Andrews in Scotland is definitely not overrated.

“If you see Augusta National and The Masters experience, you will have experienced golf at it’s pristine finest. If you love golf, you have to make this trip. I can’t wait to go back.”

As I have mentioned on many occasions, you really have to be there.  Yes, you can actually make that happen by registering for the lottery online at Masters.org. If you are able to go, you can bring your camera on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday (like Lawrence did in a gallery for us to enjoy). You can register for next year beginning in May.  If you don’t receive a reply by September you will have to wait until the following May.  

I hope you do register because you would have many stories to last a lifetime and share with your friends and family.  I hope to see you there in 2011.

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