Lawsonia is named after Victor Lawson, a wealthy publishing tycoon from Chicago. In the late 1800's his wife fell in love with Green Lake, the deepest lake in Wisconsin and after a boat ride on it, she sheltered in a cove during a thunderstorm. She chose this spot to build a summer place complete with golf course. At the time the land belonged to dairy farmers, but once they sold their farms, the Lawsons let the place go natural. Some parts are heavily forested and others are wildflower meadows. During prohibition the Chicago mob also fell in love with this secluded spot and the golf course we know today was built with their ill gotten funds. The Lawson property is huge and the non-golf course parts are owned today by the the American Baptist Association. There are a variety of houses to rent and the property also has a hotel as well as more dorm-like facilities. Huge groups of Baptists come to Lawsonia to commune with nature, meditate and contemplate their faith. A central facility has meeting rooms and a cafeteria than can feel hundreds at a time. The Baptists have an uneasy relationship with the golf course where men come to smoke cigars, drink alcohol, and have a testosterone filled great time. The golf course makes a profit and pays taxes; the rest of the complex is non-profit and pays none.
Road Scholar offers programs that mix fun and learning all over the world. We have been to the Road Scholar at Lawsonia twice before, shortly after we began trying to play golf. We were challenged by the two courses at Lawsonia. One is a links course similar to the Scottish courses where golf began. The Woodlands course goes through the forest and has numerous water hazards and a long hole over a stone quarry. We have never lost as many golf balls as we have playing here. In between play on the course we had numerous sessions with patient and helpful pros who watched our swings and putts and offered gentle suggestions and constructive criticism. Last time we were here, it was all so new it was hard to remember all they said, but after four years of play, it was a little easier to take it all in. I would not have come again, but our sister and brother-in-law are golf aficionados and after hearing about our experiences here, wanted to give it a try. It felt like failure to me to be coming for a third time, but we found that many of our fellow Road Scholars had been here even more often than we had. They seemed less interested in the instruction than I was, but looked forward to hours of golf on courses that would cost twice as much in metro Chicago. The weather was spectacular the entire week we were here and it's always a pleasure to leave the cooking to someone else.
During golf breaks, Ken had a chance to fly his quadcopter and take photos and videos of the course. The sand traps and obstacles that seemed so daunting while we were standing on the ground looked inconsequential from the lofty views. The bright blue waters of Green Lake where often within view, something we did not realize when we were on the ground. He gave many of the photos and videos to the course manager, who let him pick out a golf shirt from the pro shop. I believe it is the most expensive shirt he has ever owned. Golf, especially on this level, is not a sport for penny pinchers or folks on a budget. If Lawsonia where closer to major metro areas, it could easily host major PGA events. But here on the shore of Green Lake and the rolling hills of Wisconsin, it feels like an undiscovered gem, a hideaway, just like the Chicago mobsters liked it.