St. Joseph will have a team representing Berkshire County at the Western Massachusetts Division III golf tournament at Hickory Ridge in Amherst.
St. Joseph will have a team representing Berkshire County at the Western Massachusetts Division III golf tournament at Hickory Ridge in Amherst. (Berkshire Eagle File)

Golf teams and individuals from across Berkshire County are hitting the links for the Western Massachusetts tournaments today.

Familiarity which each course varies by division, so overall experience could be a big factor for each team.

Ryan Grande and the Pittsfield golf team kick off the Division I at Crestview Country Club Monday in Agawam.

Pittsfield coach Chris Polidoro said his players navigated the course well during their practice rounds, and the course was a little less challenging then they expected.

He said that Crestview has some similarities to their home course at the Country Club of Pittsfield. The course is not particularly long so accuracy off the tee will be important.

"They felt [the course] was wide open. They felt it was easier to punch out of the trees and find balls then they expected," Polodoro said. "There are a lot of holes were you don't need a driver. You need to position yourself so they had to hit a lot of shots."

Taconic will send a deep group of golfers to Agawam. The Braves are led by Mitch Omelenchuk, while T-Bone Lingenbach, Matt Ferris, Brett Murphy and John Keegan are all capable of shooting low rounds for Taconic.

After the team's practice round, Pittsfield's coach said he reminded his players to ignore outside factors and make the best shot possible. That's advice all the golfers can use.

"When we're out there just have fun and relax. Take your time and go out there and enjoy yourself," Polidoro said.


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"Don't worry about what you're opponents are doing, you're playing the course not them."

In Division 2 Drury enters Western Mass. as the winners of the North Division.

Coach Don Dagnoli said this trip to the tournament is special because of the progress his team has made over the last several years.

"We're very excited. It's a great opportunity for a young team to play in this atmosphere," Dagnoli said. "Our seniors class 4 years ago was 0-12. To be 13-2 this year is exciting. We're going to compete. ...Giving ourselves a chance -- that's all we can ask for."

Dagnoli described the course as "challenging with severe greens." Putting is going to be a challenge, but Dagnoli said the course plays short so accurate drives will be crucial.

Dagnoli said senior Matt Lawrence deserves a lot of credit for the team's turnaround.

"Matt Lawrence is a great golfer. He gives senior leadership and sets a good example for the rest of the guys," Dagnoli said.

Monument Mountain coach Tom Kinne said Owen Hunter and TJ Shumsky have really set the tone his team throughout the year. Today is the third time the pair has qualified for Western Mass. play. Kinne said their tournament experience will help them at Wilbraham.

Division 3 represents the largest group of Berkshire County schools as team will tee of at Hickory Ridge Country Club in Amherst.

Lenox's Kris Vahle is competing as an individual, finishing seventh last year. Coach Dick Salinetti said he's not sure what to expect from Vahle but he told him not too over think while he's on the course.

"You try not to do too much because golf is so psychological. Over-coaching is worse than under-coaching," Salinetti said.

St. Joseph, Lee and Mount Everett make up the rest of the Berkshire County participants at the tournament. St. Joe is led by Danielle Lapierre, while Lee's Jared Fadding and Devin Olds could also be in the title hunt. Everett coach Fred Finkle said if Devin Farnum, who won the Berkshire Classic, remains collected and patience of the course, qualifying for state is a possibility.

To reach Akeem Glaspie:

aglaspie@berkshireeagle.com

or (413) 496-6252.

On Twitter: @THEAkeemGlaspie