STOCKBRIDGE - All season long the county's golf coaches have been able to offer advice to their young golfers until they reached the green.
When the postseason started Sunday at Stockbridge Golf Club, the teaching ceased all together.
Each coach was a rules official for a group at the Berkshire County Classic, and it was set up so each group did not feature one of his own golfers.
This format will continue for the rest of the postseason, including Oct. 22's Western Massachusetts Division II tournament, being held at Stockbridge where the Drury team and Hoosac Valley's Chad Alibozek will compete. "The only thing as far as the coaching goes, the only disadvantage would be course management," Hoosac coach Jay Sniezek said. "In a regular match, you could come out and say I think you should play it over here, hit this here. You can't do that [in the postseason]."
The Berkshire County League made an amendment to the MIAA rule that does not allow "coaching to take place during a match or tournament" (rule 70.1.2 in the handbook). Rule 70.1.3 allows leagues to "modify a rule, provided such a modification is not a sunstantive change to MIAA rules. ..."
When asked why Berkshire County coaches were able to coach throughout the regular season, MIAA Assistant Director Ned Doyle, who also serves as the golf liaison said they may need to consider clarifying rule 70.1.3 in the future.
It's not as if the entire sport of golf is against allowing players to receive
So why take coaches out of the equation at the most critical part of the season for these young athletes.
Every other sport sanctioned by the MIAA allows coaches to coach their athletes all season long from the beginning of the match until it concludes - including the postseason. Even wrestling, which may be the closest comparative sport, allows coaches to instruct their athletes on how to succeed. Heck, they can yell as loud as they like.
The MIAA has even given timeouts to soccer coaches, which goes against the sport as a whole. Football coaches have five timeouts per half. Basketball coaches were give five full, 60-second timeouts last year.
Golf coaches have none of this once the postseason begins, and if the county followed the MIAA's rule 70.1.2, not at all.
Mount Greylock coach Luke Polidoro and Drury coach Don Dagnoli say their in favor of the MIAA rule that prevents coaching. But even Polidoro sees the benefits of being able to communicate with his athletes mid-match.
"Sometimes they'll be like 'Coach, I don't know what I'm doing,' " he said. "I can say really quickly, 'You're standing too close to it.' " Tips such as that can prevent a kid from having his round drop off a cliff, maybe even help him win.
Sniezek can understand why the rule might exist in the postseason, citing the sheer number of foursomes on the course at one time for a Western Mass. tournament. Having coaches trying to run around to all of their different athletes would create havoc on the course. But he offers a reason why it should be allowed.
"You could stand on this hole, which is a crazy hole," Sziezek said referring to Stockbridge's dog-legged 17th. "So if you could just stand [at the 17th tee] during one of these matches and say, 'Look, here's where you're going to hit the ball. You're going to hit your 3-wood. That could save a kid strokes, a lot of strokes."