One of the region’s biggest golf casualties in 2020 from COVID-19 was the cancellation of the Allied Association’s annual tournament schedule.
The association’s opening event, the Allied Four-Ball Championship, is annually a sign that the golf season is officially underway in the Berkshires. Not surprisingly, it will be a big field of 80 teams and 160 golfers that tees it up on Saturday at Berkshire Hills Country Club with shotgun starts at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m.
In 2019, ahead of the lost season, the Allied, under the leadership of Berkshire Hills president Jeff Puleri and with the help of longtime tournament director Sam Nykorchuck, had started to modernize the registration and scoring process by employing the GolfGenius website. Registration for events will be done exclusively online going forward, according to Puleri.
In another change, there will be a new tournament on the schedule, the Allied Pro-Am, which will conclude the season on Sept. 30 at the Country Club of Pittsfield. The details are not fleshed out yet, but Puleri says they hope to attract a 28-team field with the pros coming from the county’s courses and perhaps a few from out of the area with Berkshire County ties.
Because virtually every course in the county has increased its membership numbers, some dramatically, as many have turned to golf as a safe outside option during the pandemic, Puleri believes the Allied events will fill up very fast.
Another change, says Puleri, is an effort to “assist and support” the 13 member clubs through the Allied events.
“For every player from a club who competes, their own club will get 10 bucks back,” Puleri said. “For instance, if 25 players from a club are in the field, their club will get a check for $250. We hope that will help all the member clubs.”
As for Saturday’s event, there are a number of strong teams that will try to unseat two-time defending champions Puleri and partner Steve Sykes (2018-19), who shot a 6-under par 66 to win by one shot at Wahconah in their 2019 title defense.
Two of the three teams that finished one shot behind that day — Wahconah’s Tom Czelusniak and Tom Yurko, along with brothers Matt and Tom Keenan Jr. — are in Saturday’s field, as are two Wyantenuck Country Club duos — Mike Schopp and Mike Kina, along with Brian Cunningham and Ben Schopp — who tied for fifth at Wahconah.
Given it is early in the season, picking favorites is a fool’s errand. But here are eight teams that certainly are capable of going low on any given day: Matt Scarafoni-David Bond, Aaron Nackoul-Josh Shepard, Chad Alibozek-Peter Baran, Matt Ortega-Shane Ortega, Randy Driscoll-Ralph Dastoli, Bob Linn-Warren, Matt Gilardi-Paul Gilardi as well as the Chris Shields and Adam Kirby duo.