Donegan was born on 13 July 1961 in Stirling, and educated at St Modan's High School in Stirling and at the University of Glasgow, where his musical career began. He was the bassist in The Bluebells, whose biggest hit was "Young at Heart", and Lloyd Cole and the Commotions. After the latter group split, Donegan became a journalist and an author. Between these roles, he worked as the House of Commons assistant to Brian Wilson MP. Whilst in that role, he was part of a one-off band called the Stop Its that recorded an anti-poll tax song of a similar name. The band also included David Hill, later press spokesman for Tony Blair. and Tim Luckhurst, who later became editor of The Scotsman newspaper, and is Professor of Journalism at the University of Kent. In the late 1980s, Donegan made a number of appearances with South London football team Belair Casuals FC. He is now a golf journalist for The Guardian, having previously worked at The Scotsman. He has held a post with the former publication since 2004, although he has been at the newspaper since 1994, as a general reporter and then as the Scotland correspondent from 1997 to 2004. During the 2010 Winter Olympics, Donegan gained notoriety for his overly critical reviews of the games. Journalists believed that his harsh reviews and similar critiques coming from the British media were made as an attempt to make the games look bad as the following Olympics would be held in London. In 2012, The Guardian made a tongue-in-cheek reference to the severe criticism of the prior Games by inviting a Canadian journalist to similarly critique the Summer Olympics in London as the 'worst ever'.
Donegan has written non-fiction books:
- Four Iron in the Soul (Penguin, 1998) – the story of his year caddying for Ross Drummond, the 438th-best golfer in the world at the time, also published as Maybe It Should Have Been A 3-Iron in North America.
- California Dreaming: A Smooth-running, Low-mileage, Cut-price American Adventure (Washington Square Press, 1999) - about the time he spent as a used-car salesman in the United States.
- No News at Throat Lake (Penguin, 2000) - about working for a bi-weekly newspaper in the small County Donegal village of Creeslough in the west of Ulster.
- Quiet Please (Yellow Jersey Press, 2004) - about his experiences as a Ryder Cup steward.
- Shergar: The Final Word (HarperCollins, 2009) – the story of the kidnapping of world-famous racehorse Shergar.
- Lawrence Donegan, The Guardian
- Celtic Underground Podcast 97 - Golf, Politics and Rock & Roll, 9 July 2010, accessed 11 July 2010
- Pendennis Spin those discs, 14 September 2003, accessed 13 January 2008
- Huffington Post Why Britain’s Media are Failing at The Vancouver Olympic Games, 22 April 2010, accessed 22 August 2016
- The Guardian The worst Olympics ever, 29 July 2012, accessed 22 August 2016