After three years of playing varsity golf and playing in tournaments around Berkshire County, there aren’t too many people Chad Alibozek hasn’t beaten.
The Hoosac Valley senior added his high school coach to that list, edging out Jay Sniezek to claim the Forest Park Country Club Championship in late August.
"It was fun, we have a lot of fun playing together," Alibozek said of his victory. "It was just a fun few rounds of golf."
MIAA rules prohibit coaches from coaching their players during the off season, but allow players and coaches to interact. It’s something that can’t be avoided in golf. Most players belong to the country club their school teams play at during the fall, as do their coaches.
Sniezek says there was no coaching going on at the club championship.
"No way. I wasn’t trying to coach him, I was trying to beat him," Sniezek chuckled. "I wasn’t going to help him in any way."
During the tournament the duo played two of the three days together.
"That’s the first time I played with him all summer," Sniezek said. "He beat me by five, but he was actually ahead by nine to start the final day. I made it close."
Alibozek said it was one of the most competitive rounds he’s played. He is hoping the late-August tournament will act as a springboard into the high school season. He feels he is peaking at the right time.
"I need more
"I putted well, which was the difference. At the beginning of the spring, I was missing everything. So I’ve been working hard at my game and spending a lot of time on the range and on the greens."
Coaches can’t coach their players, but many of them play at the same courses during the summer.
"I see them [at Forest Park] a lot. I don’t really get a chance to play with them, but I do see them," Sniezek said of his interactions with players during the summer. "I play here, so I see the guys around. I can kind of see from a distance how they’re hitting the ball, but I don’t really interact with them."
The coach enters his 15th year at the helm of the Hoosac Valley program and has always kept his distance from his players to ensure that he does not violate the offseason rule. He would rather play it safe than have to worry about a potential violation.
McCann Tech’s Matt Barlin doesn’t fret about potential rule violations. Running into his players on the course in the offseason isn’t a problem, since he lives in Pownal, Vt. The first-year coach says he’d like to have a chance to see his players in the summer and make sure they are playing, but noted not having to worry is a good thing.
Several coaches say they aren’t exactly sure what the rule means. Many coaches aren’t sure if it means they aren’t supposed to play with their players or if it means they also can’t watch them play. Most assume interacting on the course is OK as long as they aren’t holding practices or providing too much on-course advice.
Luke Polidoro spent the last five season’s coaching at Pittsfield High, but this year he moves to Mount Greylock. At PHS, he kept in touch with his players over the summer. He says he plans to do the same at Greylock.
"I will keep in touch with them and make sure they’re playing," the new Mounties coach said. "I try to stay in touch and advise them to play in tournaments. I can’t go coach them, but I certainly can give them advice over the phone."
He also knows that his players will sign up for the same tournaments that he will.
"Golf is a little different," he said. "If you’re playing in a tournament with them, you could be paired with them. You have to play with them, that’s not against the law."
It’s not often, but occasionally a player and his coach get matched up in tournaments. Occasionally, the player comes out on top.
To reach Sam Monroe, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @NAT_DigitalSam