Mary Rabb: Developing a strong drive on and off the green
By Janelle Morrison | Photos by JJ Kaplan
I believe that the discipline of golf can be easily applied to many of life’s challenges. The honesty of the sport best represents the spirit in which the game is played. It is something that all golfers develop an innate sense of, regardless of their age, gender or learning challenges. It is inherent to be competitive against others and to challenge ourselves to be the best players that we can be.
I met with a local LPGA golf coach, Mary Rabb, who understands how the game of golf has a positive effect on people like her clients, regardless of their skill levels and backgrounds. She teaches the rules and techniques while applying her own philosophies to give her clients the best experience while under her instruction.
“The competitiveness with golf is within yourself, but there is nothing wrong with wanting to be able to play with someone else, whether it be a family member or co-worker, and just have some fun,” Rabb explained.
Rabb grew up in Zionsville and took her first golf swing on the local Zionsville Golf Course at age 4. Her father was an avid golfer for more than 50 years and would be playing alongside his daughter at age 84 if his health permitted him to. Her family lived near the No. 5 green at the ZGC. Rabb played as often as she could and at age 17, she began teaching golf lessons. She accepted a position as the female assistant pro at the Twin Lakes Golf Club in Carmel, Ind. She joined the LPGA in 1992 and went out on her own in 2004 as an independent golf pro. She teaches on courses and facilities such as the Zionsville and Hickory Bend golf courses and at Golf Solutions, which is located just outside of downtown Zionsville.
She has gained the respect of her clients and has earned the reputation of being someone who can coach anyone, regardless of their skill levels, as long as they have the passion to learn. Her dedication to her profession resonates with her clients and friends. After surviving a serious automobile accident a few years ago that has resulted in several surgeries and foot casts, she continues to press on for the sake of her clients.
Rabb spoke on her teaching philosophy and how she tailors her plans for clients individually based on their strengths and personalities.
“I never teach two people the same. In my opinion, that’s not effective teaching because we’re all different. We learn differently and we have different talents and commitments.
Rabb’s temperament and teaching style have made it possible for children with special needs and learning disabilities to learn the game and enjoy themselves on the golf courses with their families and friends. I was privileged to meet two of her longtime clients and their parents.
Noah Sachs, a 17-year-old junior at Midwest Academy, has been a student of Rabb’s for three years. His parents, Greg and Shelly Sachs, spoke about why they have continued their son’s lessons with Rabb and how they feel he has benefited.
“Three years ago, we were looking for some other sports for Noah to do,” Shelly said. “It was becoming hard for him to keep up with the basketball and baseball with other leagues so we thought golf would be a good solution. It’s a social sport and it’s lifelong. I was hoping that he and Greg could eventually play together. He has ADD and at first we were concerned that he wouldn’t keep up with it, but his focus has improved and he has really improved his game. The discipline of the sport has helped his focus in other areas as well.
Greg Sachs began lessons with Rabb a little over seven months ago so that he can keep up with his son on the course.
“She is very good at figuring out how other people learn,” Sachs explained. “She’s able to adapt what she does to what the individual needs. If Noah’s a little bit quirky and needs a different approach that day, she’s able to figure it out and do and what will work for him. She’s very positive and upbeat. She accepts people for who they are.”
I asked Noah what he enjoyed most about Rabb. “I like working with her,” Noah said. “She’s funny and smart and she makes it fun.”
“The only thing that makes Noah ’different’ is himself. He sets his own limits,” Rabb said.
The same afternoon I met Rabb’s 11-year-old LPGA hopeful, Margo Minnich. At age 5, Margo began her lessons with “Miss Mary.” Today, she is in the sixth grade, on a golf team and competes in tournaments.
“Margo has a very driven attitude about anything that she does,” Rabb said about her professional hopeful. “In the beginning it was about just being on the course and cruising around on the golf cart.”
As Margo grew, her passion for the game and skill level also matured.
“Between her fourth and fifth grade year she became a golfer instead of a little kid just out there whacking the ball,” Rabb reflected. “It has been very enjoyable for me to watch her grow. She once told me that she would like to do what I do. I thought that was quite a compliment, and then I asked her what if she makes it to the LPGA tour. Could I be her caddy? Margo in turn asked, ‘Who else would be my caddy?’”
Rabb informed Margo’s parents, John and Kim Minnich, about the Goldie Bateson Scholarship, funded by the LPGA Foundation. The scholarship awards $250 to junior golfers between the ages of 7 and 17 who have an interest in learning and playing the game of golf. Margo was awarded this scholarship at the end of 2013.
“Mary has been very instrumental in getting Margo where she needs to be,” Kim Minnich said. “We’ve seen her grow a lot over the years. Now she’s on the golf team and competes in tournaments.
John Minnich spoke about Rabb’s patience while instructing their preteen daughter. “Mary does a great job not pressuring Margo to the point that she gets frustrated and wants to give up,” he said. “Mary has been able to overcome her personal obstacles to share her passion for golf and continues to inspire those around her. She has and continues to touch many people’s lives. She is one of a kind.”
When I asked Rabb what drives her to continue teaching after all these years, she replied, “I’ve never had a bad day at work. I’ve never wanted to not go to work. Just as in life, you can go out and have the best game and you’re feeling good and then the next day have the worst game. Yet you go back out and try it again. At the end of the day, it’s all about building relationships and having fun.”
For more information and lessons, contact Rabb at 317-432-4098 or by email [email protected].