The Couple that Golfs Together Stays Together
Five husband-and-wife teams on — and off — the course
Photographs by John Fortunato
Want to test your marriage? See how your spouse reacts when you miss that three-footer for the club team championship. These husband-and-wife teams have found golf a great way to enrich their relationships.
Judy Myers and Ira Schwartz
Live: Larchmont Play: Bonnie Briar Country Club
They may be relative newcomers to the game, but former County Legislator Judy Myers and her husband, retired ad executive Ira Schwartz, have made golf a big part of their lives — even though they approach it very differently. “I don’t take the game seriously, but Judy does,” explains Ira. “I like being out here having fun, but if I miss a putt, it doesn’t matter to me. It matters to Judy, though. She likes to hear the sound of the ball hitting the cup.” His “unofficial” handicap is in the 20s. Judy records her scores religiously and carries an index of 27.8.
Ira started playing about seven years ago when they joined Bonnie Briar. Judy was a tennis player, but Ira gave her a set of golf clubs and some lessons for Christmas one year and things took off from there. Both learned the game from the pros at the club, although Judy — being the more serious golfer of the two — has also been to the Annika Sorenstam golf school. Judy plays Wednesday mornings with the ladies’ group at the club, and takes a lesson every week; in 2012, she was named the Most Improved Golfer at Bonnie Briar.
The couple play together more frequently than with anyone else, often coming out to squeeze in nine holes on a Sunday afternoon. “I love being outdoors, the beauty of it,” Judy says. “I also love the feeling of hitting the ball. Watching a good player is like watching ballet.”
Fran and Richard Mast
Live: Rye Brook Play: Willow Ridge Country Club
In a bit of a reversal, it was the wife who led the husband to golf when Richard Mast saw Fran excelling at Willow Ridge Country Club. “Early on, I realized it was going to be a struggle for me,” Richard says. “I took up the game to spend time with her.” Today, his index is 24; hers is 14. In 2012, the couple not only won the Fourth of July club doubles tournament, but Fran actually won closest to the pin, longest drive, and straightest drive — which the club promptly dubbed a “Fran Slam.”
The couple plays almost every weekend, enjoying the respite from their busy professional lives. Richard, 64, is senior VP and GM of Bloomingdale’s flagship store in Manhattan; while Fran, 57, is senior VP of marketing at Source Marketing in Connecticut. The Masts enjoy Broadway, the movies, and dining out, but they cherish quiet time at home, too.
Four years ago, Fran made a hole in one. “I’m still working on that,” Richard says. “I just try to keep up with Fran’s score on each hole. When I do manage to do that, I make sure to point it out.”
Nancy and Todd Manister
Live: Eastchester Play: Saxon Woods Golf Club
As busy as they are with their careers, Todd and Nancy Manister tee it up together nearly every Friday at one of the Westchester County-owned courses. “I like getting out there and being active,” Nancy says, “and playing with my husband is great.”
Todd, 55, has been playing the game for well over 30 years and also plays regularly at Bethpage with a group of guys. Nancy, 57, took up golf about 10 years ago. A typical round? He shoots an 81; she shoots 120. She took some lessons in the beginning, but Todd also has given her some tips along the way. “I’ve been too busy to practice, though,” she explains. Last year, she finished her doctorate and currently holds down two jobs, one as an assistant professor at Fairfield University and the other as a nurse practitioner at CVS Minute Clinics. Todd is an attorney.
How serious are they about the game? They built a putting green in their backyard, installing the artificial surface for a four-hole green themselves in a project that took three weekends. Todd is a member of the American Fern Society, so the green is surrounded by a collection of ferns.
Susan and Geoff Kalish
Live: Bedford Corners Play: Brynwood Golf & Country Club
Geoff Kalish didn’t really have time for golf until he retired as a physician in 2002. Now, it’s a big part of his life with wife Susan, whom he persuaded to try it not long after he started. The couple were charter members at Brynwood, where they play with others on weekends and together — religiously — three times a week.
“We get along great on the golf course,” Susan points out. “We wouldn’t keep doing it if we didn’t.” They coach each other with their games, too. “Geoff is helpful. When I play with other people, my mistakes are my mistakes. When I play with him, he’ll help. And he gives me a mulligan from time to time, too!” According to Geoff, she reciprocates. “Sometimes, I ask her to go with me to the driving range and watch my swing,” he says. “Sometimes, I get to swinging a little fast, and she points that out.”
Geoff won Brynwood’s Blackout tournament last spring just two months after having open-heart surgery. Susan was the runner-up in both the women’s stroke play and match play tournaments in 2013. They also mix things up just to keep the game interesting. “We’ll play a little two-person scramble just to see how low we can shoot,” Geoff says. “Other days, we play matches against each other with handicaps.” His is 12.5; Susan’s is 26.
Joan and Ron Silverman
Live: Scarsdale Play: Metropolis Country Club
The Silvermans take their golf seriously. They play together at least three times a week, and play a match every time. “Our standard wager is a thousand-dollar Nassau,” Ron says, “but nobody ever pays.” However, he says, “We both keep very careful handicaps. There are no four-foot gimmes, no mulligans. We enter all our scores.” Her index is 18.3; his, 14.
Joan is a trust and estates attorney in White Plains and New York City; Ron is chief of neurology at Lawrence Hospital and WESTMED Medical Group. But they make time in their busy lives for golf, often playing Wednesday afternoons with others, then on both Saturday and Sunday — either with another couple or as a twosome. Joan was the club champion in 2012; she often plays on Tuesday mornings with other female club members and also takes part in inter-club matches.
The couple, both 65, joined Metropolis in 1978; Joan’s parents were also members of the club. The Silvermans won the husband/wife net Pinehurst at Metropolis twice. “It’s an alternate shot,” Ron explains, “so we make a pact that there will be no comments or criticism. Whatever happens, we just deal with it.” They also take their game on the road: They’ve taken golf vacations to Jamaica, Scotland, Ireland, La Quinta, San Diego, Pebble Beach, Whistling Straits, and Sea Island.