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Different Strokes


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Columbus North golf coach, Doug Bieker, chips a shot onto the green Saturday morning during the Columbus city tournament, held at Greenbelt golf course. (Greg Jones, For The Republic)
Columbus North golf coach, Doug Bieker, chips a shot onto the green Saturday morning during the Columbus city tournament, held at Greenbelt golf course. (Greg Jones, For The Republic)

Columbus East golf coach, Tom LaBarbera, putts Saturday morning during the Columbus city golf tournament, held at Greenbelt golf course. (Greg Jones, For The Republic)
Columbus East golf coach, Tom LaBarbera, putts Saturday morning during the Columbus city golf tournament, held at Greenbelt golf course. (Greg Jones, For The Republic)


While a high school football coach might not have to run the ball off tackle in live drills, golf coaches aren’t always so fortunate.

Columbus North coach Doug Bieker and Columbus East coach Tom LaBarbera spend most of their golfing lives giving instructions to young players.

On Saturday, though, in the opening round of the Men’s City Golf Championship, both had their own skills in full view of their players, and everyone else in town.

“Hey, I want to do well,” said the 48-year-old LaBarbera, who shot a 76 at Greenbelt Golf Course. “I know my name is going to be in the paper, and I’ve shot some high rounds before.”

Bieker shot 75 at Greenbelt using a set of clubs that is probably older than most of his high school players.

“This is not real serious business,” said Bieker, 43. “It’s really more fun for me.

“There used to be a time when I was more competitive, but these players are too good now.”

Both high school coaches said they play just one competitive tournament a year, the Men’s City Golf Championship.

Bieker said his players and former players don’t tease him much.

“I think they try to encourage me more than anything,” Bieker said. “And they probably feel sorry for me. They are that good.”

Bieker had current North player Michael VanDeventer in his group along with former players Matt Herron and Kevin Sasena.

“I can’t coach,” Bieker said. “So I have to watch what I say more.”

LaBarbera said it’s just good for him to get his competitive juices flowing once a year to experience what his players feel every time they compete.

“This tournament is good for old guys like us to get nervous,” he said. “There are not a lot of chances for us to feel pressure.”

Sometimes, LaBarbera will present a Coke to one of his players who shoots a better score than him. He made it tough on them with a solid round on Saturday.

Both coaches admitted they make some of the mistakes they try to instruct their players to avoid. LaBarbera said his decision making was pretty good on Saturday, but he struggled with some short putts.

Jeff Cowall, the 2005 champion, didn’t struggle with any aspect of his game as he shot 69 at Greenbelt to lead defending champion Coleman Glick by a stroke after first-round play. Glick also played at Greenbelt. Craig Rice shot the best round of the day at Harrison Lake with a 73 while former city champ Jim Turner had the next best round at Harrison Lake with a 74.

Those who played Greenbelt on Saturday will tackle Harrison Lake today. The 24 golfers who played Harrison Lake on Saturday move to Greenbelt today.

After today’s round, the top 20 finishers and ties will compete in the championship flight next Sunday at Otter Creek. The rest of the field will compete in flight competition.

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