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QUICK TAKE: Rule Denies Girl Trophy, Despite Shooting Low Score

Emily Nash
Emily Nash shot the lowest score, but was not awarded the trophy at the Massachusetts Division 3 boys' golf tournament. (Photo Credit: Worcester Telegram & Gazette/Christine Peterson)

UPDATE: Oct. 26 at 2:30 pm (includes statement from MIAA; scroll down for original story)

By Steve Eubanks

After two days of silence regarding the rule that denied high school golfer Emily Nash a first-place trophy in Central Massachusetts Division 3 boys’ golf tournament, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association released the following statement Thursday reaffirming the rule:

The MIAA and its member schools congratulate all golfers on their performance at the recent fall sectional team golf tournament. In particular, the skill of the female golfer from Lunenburg was on display as she represented her personal ability and effort on behalf of the Lunenburg High School Boys Golf Team. The MIAA is proud to have her and her teammates participate and represent the 230,000+ student-athletes in our schools.

The MIAA Golf Committee, with a membership of school representatives from each district in the state, has worked over the years to establish and manage both a boys and girls golf tournament. In the case of golf, these tournaments exist in two different seasons. The boys team and individual tournament has taken place in the fall and the girls team and individual tournament has taken place in the spring. During a sectional tournament round of golf, a golfer’s score is submitted for both an individual and team competition at each location.

To offer an opportunity for team play to all MIAA member school students, female golfers have been welcomed to participate on a boys team in the fall if their school did not sponsor a girls golf team in the spring. Approximately 26 female golfers participated in 2017 fall boys golf tournaments. This opportunity has been met positively by many student-athletes and school programs. Given this team opportunity during the fall tournament season, it has been clear to participants that female golfers playing in the fall boys team tournament are not participating in an individual capacity. The individual tournament opportunity for female golfers takes place during the spring season. As stated in the official MIAA 2017 Fall Golf format, “Girls playing on a fall boys team cannot be entered in the boys fall individual tournament. They can only play in the boys team tournament. If qualified, they can play in the spring Girls Sectional and State Championships.”

We congratulate Lunenburg’s female golfer on her performance and wish her continued success as she participates once again in the MIAA Girls Individual Golf Tournament in the spring of 2018.

Global Golf Post placed a total of seven phone calls to the MIAA on Wednesday and Thursday, once being placed on hold for 25 minutes while being told a representative was on another line. At 12:25 p.m. EDT on Thursday afternoon, Richard Pearson, the MIAA’s associate executive director, called The Post after the above statement was posted on the association’s website. His statements mirrored what the association put in writing.

*Read next Monday’s Issue of Global Golf Post for more insight from Steve Eubanks and interviews with the Nash family and MIAA

ORIGINAL STORY: October 25 at 3:45 pm

A girl who posted the lowest score in a Massachusetts high school boys’ golf championship Tuesday did not receive a first-place trophy because of a rule prohibiting girls from entering the boys’ individual competition – an apparent injustice that drew notice from a two-time U.S. Open champion.  

Emily Nash, a junior competing as part of the boys’ team at Lunenburg High School, shot 75 in the Central Massachusetts Division 3 boys’ golf tournament at Blissful Meadows Golf Club in Uxbridge, Mass. But despite defeating Nico Ciolino by four strokes and playing from the same tees as the boys, Ciolino was awarded the first-place trophy, according to a report in the The Telegram & Gazette of Worcester, Mass. Moreover, Nash will not be invited to next week’s state championship, the report said.

The news prompted a reaction from Curtis Strange, the last man to win consecutive U.S. Opens, who tweeted: “High school golfer not awarded first-place trophy – because she’s a girl … Really?”

According to the report, a Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association rule stipulates: “Girls playing on a fall boys’ team cannot be entered in the Boys Fall Individual Tournament. They can only play in the Boys Team Tournament. If qualified, they can play in the spring Girls Sectional and State Championships.”

Although Nash’s score counted toward her team’s total, the team failed to qualify for the state championship, the report said.

The MIAA did not return calls from Global Golf Post seeking comment Wednesday.  

The tournament director, Kevin Riordan, told the Telegram & Gazette he made Nash and her coach aware of the rule before the tournament began.

“We don’t make the rules, we just enforce them,” he said. “(Emily) is the story of the day.”

Ciolino offered the first-place trophy to Nash, who declined to accept it, the newspaper’s report said.

“It was a classy act,” said Riordan, who added that he plans to purchase a first-place trophy for Nash.

Emily Nash
Left to right: Ben Tammaro, Emily Nash and Nico Ciolino on the 16th hole. (Photo credit: Telegram & Gazette/Christine Peterson)

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