Photos by John Fortunato
Careers in golf and a passion for the sport brought these Westchester County couples together both on and off the course.
Debbie Doniger, GlenArbor GC
& Kevin Sprecher, Sleepy Hollow CC
Debbie Doniger and Kevin Sprecher met early in life but were so intent on their golf careers at the time that the spark of romance didn’t flare up for nearly a decade. Today, 20 years since they wed, it burns strong. They met through renowned golf instructor Jim McLean. When she was 12, Doniger started taking lessons from him when he was head pro at Quaker Ridge. Sprecher went to work for McLean at Sleepy Hollow after graduation from college. The two first met during Doniger’s senior year at UNC, when she came to Sleepy Hollow for a lesson to get ready to qualify for the LPGA tour.
“Later that winter,” Sprecher recalls, “I was driving to Miami to work for McLean at Doral when I hit a deer near Raleigh, NC. Doniger was the only person I knew living in the area, so she let me sleep on her sofa that night.” Returning the favor, he caddied for her at Q-school. Their paths crossed repeatedly for several years, until finally both ended up as instructors at McClean’s fabled golf school in Miami. They were married in 2001.
Both are now nationally recognized golf instructors with just a bit of friendly rivalry between them. “I’ve been very careful to have my own career and identity,” Doniger says. “Still, we talk about it at the dinner table, because golf is our life. I ask his advice, and he does the same. We run ideas past each other. We also have our own circles of friends. It’s an interesting dynamic, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
The couple lives in Rye Brook. “Where we really come together is with our kids and home life,” Doniger says. “That’s what matters in the end.” They have two kids, Jordan, 17, and Millie, 14. Both kids play a little recreational golf but are nationally ranked squash players. Jordan has committed to play for Fulton & Marshall next year.
Lindsay Paulino, GC of Purchase
& TJ Paulino, Quaker Ridge GC
For Lindsay and TJ Paulino, it was love at first sight for only one of them. It happened (kinda) at UNC, where Lindsay played on the golf team and TJ worked at the course where she practiced. “She’d get her bucket of balls and walk right past me,” he laughs. “She was always totally focused on her game, so I made a point to speak to her every time. I guess you could say I just kept bothering her.”
“He was two years ahead of me,” Lindsay retorts, “and we started dating the last semester of his senior year. He came to Brae Burn when he graduated, and we had a long-distance relationship until I graduated, when I followed him to this area.” Lindsay turned pro after graduation and played on the Symetra Tour for two years while working at the Golf Club of Purchase. After deciding life on tour wasn’t for her, Lindsay became a full-time teaching pro, and the couple was married in 2018, a year after TJ moved to Quaker Ridge.
“It’s a blessing that we’re both in the same industry doing the same type of work,” TJ says. “At home, we keep the shop talk to a minimum, but we do talk about things at the end of the day. Knowing what each other is going through really helps.”
Lindsay agrees. “We both understand what each other faces on a daily basis. On the other hand, we don’t just go home and watch golf videos together. We try to have other interests. We like to hike and travel together and spend a lot of time with family.”
That family got significantly bigger for the White Plains couple on Christmas Day, 2020, when Hudson Reeves Paulino was born. According to TJ, “We’re now really focused on the next stage of our life.”