Saturday December 29, 2012

The 2012 high school golf season couldn't have ended up much better for Hoosac Valley's Chad Alibozek.

"It was awesome, for how bad I was playing in the summer, to put it all together," said the All-Eagle golf most valuable player. "I even played bad the first half of the season.

"In eight matches, I think I was 22-over par. To come back in the last eight matches 4-under par combined and it turned out great."

For the season, he averaged 36.1 strokes, and had 17 consecutive medalist rounds.

Alibozek's resume is more than just pretty solid.

A two-time All-Eagle MVP, the Hoosac senior won the Berkshire Classic for the third time in four years. From there, he finished second in the Western Massachusetts Division II golf tournament, shooting a 75 at the Stockbridge Golf Club and finishing one stroke behind eventual champion Matt Iczkowski of Granby. He went on to the state Division II tournament and shot a 77, finishing in a four-way tie for eighth.

"If you told me I would have finished second at Western Mass., and [eighth] in states, I would have called it a good year," said Alibozek in an Eagle article after the state tournament.

The Hoosac golfer was his team's medalist in all 16 of the Hurricanes' matches.

"The MVP is in the back of your head to repeat it," said Alibozek. "I knew if I played well, I knew I'd at least be in the running. If I had a good end of the season, there'd be a good chance I'd get [the award] again."

Jay Sniezek has been Alibozek's coach for all four years at Hoosac. The veteran coach said he knew he'd have a special player from the start.

"He's been special for four years," said Sniezek. "It's a combination of everything. He's the best kid I've ever had talent-wise.

"When he has confidence with his putter, you really can't beat him."

Good golfers can correct their issues during the season and during a match, and Alibozek is no exception. After starting slowly, he had to correct things on the fly.

"Once I started playing bad, I didn't practice nine holes. It was range practice, chipping, putting, which really helped," he said. "I wasn't as tired on the course, [especially] after school. I found something on the range one day, and just kept with it the rest of the season."

When you play high school golf, you have to concern yourself with league matches, as the top four golfer scores determine wins and losses. Then there are the individual matches like the Berkshire Classic or Western Mass. tournament, if your team isn't there.

Alibozek said it's a bit of a different mindset for him.

"A nine-hole match, I take more risks. That's just me. I don't take many risks in general, but I will take one in a nine-hole match," he said. "When it comes to Western Mass., you just play golf. You know one bad hole can screw up your whole round."

Alibozek was nearly as valuable to his team off the course as he was on the course. The Hurricanes were in a rebuilding mode this year and Alibozek was the only true veteran playing.

"He had to be" mature, said Sniezek. "We lost five seniors. He knew he had to be a team leader. He stepped up, almost like a coach."

Golf being such an individual sport, it is usually about how a particular player is handling the nine holes during a league match. With so many young players and with his game starting slowly, stepping into that role may not have come easily for Alibozek. But he did embrace it.

"I like to help the kids in practice," he said. "When it comes to the matches, I'm focusing on my shots. You have to focus on you.

"If they ask you for help, you can help them. I gave them tips all season on the putting green."

To reach Howard Herman:
hherman@berkshireeagle.com,
(413) 496-6253.
On Twitter: @howardherman.