Jay Sniezek heard the rumblings. For three years, he heard about a young golfer that would instantly become his team's top player.
Turns out the rumors were true.
It didn't take long for Chad Alibozek to show how valuable he would be to the Hoosac Valley golf team over the next four seasons. This season, he was better than ever on his way to the All-Transcript MVP.
"I first heard about him when he was in the sixth grade," Sniezek said. "It was hard to believe. When he joined the team as a freshman he was good right away. He contributed to the team right away."
Alibozek quickly proved he was deserving of the hype. Just a few weeks into his freshman season he claimed the No. 1 spot on the team and never let go.
This year he completed one of the more impressive seasons in recent memory. The Hoosac Valley senior went unbeaten in Berkshire County. He was the medalist in all 16 of his team's matches and took home his third Berkshire County Classic title.
He was the only senior on a rebuilding Hurricanes squad and led the team to a 7-9 record, just one win shy of qualifying as a team for the Western Mass. tournament. A remarkable feat for a team that had five brand new starters this year.
He finished second in the Western Massachusetts Division II individual tournament and was eighth in the Division II State tournament. The Western Mass. title eluded him by just one stroke.
The secret to his success this season?
"Putting. My putting was unbelievable this year," Alibozek said. "I think I had two three-putts [in the regular season]. I felt like everything was falling, I was hitting putts from anywhere inside of 20 feet."
His putting is helped by the thought he puts into each and every shot. Anytime his shot lands within walking distance of the putting green, he takes a walk to the hole in an effort to figure out the distance. He likes to know how far each shot is before he takes it. He is also very particular about the putting green. He'll spend as much time as he needs brushing away leaves or whatever other debris may lay between his ball and the hole.
"I don't like any distractions when I'm looking down the green," he said. "I'm very cautious, that stuff can get really distracting. I mean what if a leaf is laying next to the ball and blows over it or in the path, then you're hitting a leaf and the ball."
For Berkshire County teams facing the Hurricanes, it was really about surviving. No one was able to beat Alibozek, so the key was beating the rest of the team.
It didn't matter, however. Even opposing coaches became fond of the Hurricanes' top golfer.
"Chad is a great player," Drury coach Don Dagnoli said. "I think you need someone like that. You have to have someone setting the standard so everyone else can go after it. It was great having a kid like Chad in the county."
One thing that makes Alibozek stand out above the rest is his work ethic. It's hard to find someone who puts in as much work as he does to become a better golfer. During the summer, he is on the course almost every day, and in the winter takes a trip south to play a few rounds.
He doesn't play any other sports and dedicates himself to improving his golf game. It certainly has paid off as he is heading to at Keiser University College of Golf to play next season.
"He lives at Forest Park [Country Club] and he lives a Taconic [Golf Club]," Sniezek said. "He just lives at the golf course and tries to make himself better and better. Most kids aren't that dedicated to the sport. They play other sports and some don't pick up the clubs until Day One of the season. Chad always has his clubs in his hands."
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