The rules are the rules.
Even when they stink -- which is the only way to describe the ruling the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) gave to Lunenburg High School junior Emily Nash in the Central Massachusetts Division 3 boys' golf tournament at Blissful Meadows on Tuesday.
Nash, who has been the best player for the Lunenburg boys' team since she arrived in eighth grade, fired an impressive 3-over 75 at Blissful Meadows, which should have been good for a four-stroke victory over runner-up Nico Ciolino of AMSA Charter School.
But it wasn't.
Why? Because of a rule that's so bad it makes a shank look good.
According to MIAA rules, "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."
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.
PGA.com put in a call to Blissful Meadows on Wednesday morning to learn more about the situation.
"It was complete garbage," said Dave Kocur, Pro Shop Manager. "She played the same tees, played under the same conditions and everything."
Kocur said that Nash and her coach were reminded before the round began of the MIAA's rules by Central Mass. Division 3 boys' golf tournament director Kevin Riordan, but the outcome still didn't feel right to anyone -- including Ciolino.
"He felt so bad about it that he actually tried to give the trophy to Nash," Kocur said. "That showed a lot of class. But, she didn't want to take it because she was too disappointed."
According to a story in the Worcester Telegram, it seems even Riordan himself recognized the absurdity of the rule, which will also keep Nash out of next week's state tournament at Wyantenuck CC in Great Barrington as an individual (her team did not qualify based on its combined total at Blissful Meadows).
"We don't make the rules, we just enforce them," Riordan told the Telegram. "Emily is the story of the day."
Riordan also said that he planned to personally purchase a first-place trophy for Nash.
A nice gesture to be sure. But the MIAA needs to get with the times. If they're going to let Nash compete in the first place, she should be allowed any and all of the same perks for an exceptional performance as the boys.
We put in a call to the MIAA to the number provided on its website that went unanswered. We also emailed for comment and will include their statement once they respond.