40-plus years of golf expertise come to AU

Gene Grabiec named head coach of women’s golf



Grabiec poses for a picture in front of the recreation center

Paul Murray, Reporter

Gene Grabiec sits on the porch at Silver Lake Country Club, untucks his polo and spreads himself out in a chair. He pulls a half smoked cigar out of his bag and lights it up, the first toke is a long one.

It was an extensive day out on the course, from the rampant humidity of the July afternoon to the endless lessons he handed out, he was worked to the bone. Hard work was the norm for Grabiec.

The first time he ever held a golf club was after hours of work. Seven-year-old Grabiec walked over to the neighborhood country club and asked if he could play, only to be pummeled with laughs.

“Young man, if you want to play golf here you better learn how to clean clubs and shine shoes,”
the owners said.

Grabiec took this to heart and showed up to work there everyday that summer and stayed after to play golf. Shining shoes and hitting nine irons payed off.

Fast forward 61 years, and Grabiec now possesses a lifetime of golf skill and experience under his belt.

The door opens and a few of Gene’s buddies join him on the porch. They do the same as him, take out a moist cigar and settle into a chair. They all begin cracking jokes and trading stories in between each puff of smoke.

“Aye Gene, what about Ashland?” one of them asks.

“Well, what about it?” Gene said. He didn’t know what they meant by that.

“I heard they got a job opening, maybe give you something better to do other than wipe the floor with us on the course!”

As Grabiec leans back in his chair, letting out a boisterous howl of a laugh, a lightbulb goes off in his head. He had always been competitive. Born and raised that way.

Grabiec’s mother was an Olympic runner and had instilled this in him from a young age. Coaching at Ashland would give him a chance to yet again prove himself, go out there and compete again.

He had not truly competed since he won the Golf and Shoot tournament on ESPN in 2007, but that was over a decade ago. This would truly give him an opportunity to partake in one of his favorite hobbies, winning.

Gene flipped and flopped the idea over in his mind like a buttermilk pancake on a hot skillet, carefully making sure he checked all the details and all the edges. And when that thought finally flipped up golden brown, his mind was set. He wanted the job.

On July 8, 2019 Gene reached out to the Ashland University athletic office… it did not take long from there. Two days later Ashland University officially announced that Grabiec would be taking over as the Head Women’s Golf coach.

The position was previously being filled by Dennis North, who coaches the men’s program but acted as interim head coach for the past year. The quick decision should not come as a surprise, as Grabiec bring with him a ton of passion, commitment, and U-Haul trailer full of experience.

Gene was a PGA member, at one point directing the largest indoor golf school in the country. He competed in numerous nationally televised golf events while also touring the country giving golf lessons to business professionals.

Grabiec has also been an active recruiter for young golfers trying to receive college scholarships. He has taught the likes of Bob Hope, Bob Evans, Dan Carlisle, and Jackie Presser. All the while Gene was refining his coaching abilities.

“When I first started teaching I was overly technical. Now I do my best to simplify the game. It’s all about set up, balance, and alignment,” Grabiec said. “We tend to overthink on the course. A lot of people rigamortis themselves out there, that’s what I try to fix. I try to make it easier mentally for the golfer.”

One of Gene’s favorite things is to use other sports as a way to get the golfer out of their own head.

“I try to get to know my players on a personal level, learn what other sports they have played in the past. Learn of the success that they have had in other sports, and tell them to hone in on that feeling. Focus on how it felt. From there we try to recreate that successful attitude” Grabiec said.

When Grabiec was hired, his recruiting instincts immediately kicked back in. He searched for players who he had connected with in the past, hoping that one might find their way to Ashland. Someone with the same mentality and shared the same vision that he had.
He found exactly that in Megan Pollock.

Pollock spent three seasons at Division I Dayton, averaging a score of 86.27. She opted out of her senior season, maintaining one season of eligibility.

Gene quickly jumped on this opportunity and reached out to the Pollock family. After a few discussions, Pollack decided to finish out her eligibility and obtain her masters at Ashland.

“Gene called me and told me what he was looking for in a player, and I could tell he was passionate and had a love for the game. I knew from those first two meetings that he had tremendous experience and he was someone I can trust.” Pollock said.

As the first couple practices have gone underway, Megan and the others are sharpening their skills for the upcoming season; working on their short game, practicing smashing drives and sinking crucial putts.

The girls are locked in and looking to improve on their ninth place finish in the GLIAC last season. They will be working vigorously at the driving range, just like they had in years past, only this year will be slightly different.

Grabiec will be doing everything he can this season to help the women’s team in anyway possible, with his passionate love for the game and a half smoked cigar in his mouth.