Emily Nash was allowed to play. She just wasn’t allowed to win.
Nash, a junior at Lunenburg High School in Lunenburg, Mass., had the lowest score in the Central Mass Division 3 Boys’ Golf Tournament. But the first-place trophy was awarded to a boy who was four strokes behind her, because of the rules of the tournament.
According to the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association, girls can play in the boys’ golf tournament as part of a team, but they aren’t allowed to be entered as individuals.
That means Nash doesn’t get a trophy — or a spot in the state championship.
That was a surprise to her, although her coach was aware of the rule.
“I wasn’t aware that if I won I wouldn’t get the title or the trophy,” she told local TV station WPBF. “I feel like it’s a bit unfair.”
T.J. Auclair, a writer for the PGA, agreed. He called her 3-over-par score “impressive” and wrote that the rule that denied her a trophy is “so bad it makes a shank look good”:
“So, let’s get this straight. Nash’s score which was the best in the field by four strokes, was OK to count toward the team effort, but not OK to count individually?
“And for those wondering, yes, Nash did play from the same tees as the boys, which makes this situation all the more perplexing.
“It’s 2017. This rule sounds like it was created in 1917.”
One volunteer rules official who helped with the tournament told the Worcester Telegram & Gazette the situation is a “real injustice.”
Lunenberg High School doesn’t have a girls’ golf team, WPBF reports. And the boys’ team, despite the boost from Nash’s performance, didn’t qualify for a spot at states.
Nash’s father told the TV station, “It is what it is. Those are the rules of golf, and she plays by the rules.”
But pro golfer Brittany Altomare — who is from central Massachusetts, and played in the boys’ state tournament when she was in high school — said the rules should be changed, in this case.
Meanwhile, the male athlete who was awarded first place offered to give his trophy to Nash, saying she had earned it.
She declined, but said she appreciated the gesture.
“He came over and said he didn’t win the tournament, that I did,” she told WPBF. “It was really nice of him and respectful.”