SNOWMASS VILLAGE - The way Boone Schweitzer tells it, Trashmasters began when he was playing a round of golf with Robert Wagner in the late 1980s.
"Trashmasters was born out of boredom," Schweitzer said. "We got tired of playing traditional games on the course."
Schweitzer hit a tree branch with his golf ball, and Wagner told him he'd hit a "barkie." A tournament was developed with a unique set of rules that awards points for trash, or as Schweitzer, the chairman and founder, says, "the strange events that occur in a round of golf." The tournament started in 1993, and since has grown from a group of 24 players to a full field of 144 on the Snowmass Club golf course this year, including the likes of actor Michael Douglas, former Vice President Dan Quayle and numerous other recognizable faces. All the while, it has been funding college scholarships to Roaring Fork Valley students. To date, it has awarded $1.5 million over the past 20 years.
"We give away almost everything we take in every year," Schweitzer said.
Fifty Trashmasters scholarship recipients have graduated from college, and 12 are currently on four-year scholarships. Four new students will be awarded this fall. Applications, reviewed by an outside committee, are considered first based on financial need and then on students' academics, extracurricular activities and finally interviews with the committee. Recipients must maintain a 3.0 grade point average and come back to help with the tournament.
One student is going above and beyond her obligation to help out with Trashmasters. Connor Boyd, an Aspen High graduate, is the Trashmasters media intern this summer, helping with marketing and social media. She will be a sophomore at Augsburg College in Minneapolis in the fall, majoring in film and communication with a minor in fine arts.
"I wanted to go out of state but wanted to be close to family," said Boyd, who has family living near Minneapolis. She said she is able to take classes she might not get to elsewhere and likes going to a smaller school.
Boyd is working while in college to earn some extra money and also earned other scholarships. She said without the Trashmasters scholarship, the largest she received, it wouldn't have been easy for her to attend an out-of-state private school. "I'm taking out smaller loans," Boyd said. "Because of the scholarship, I have a little more spending money."
Event director Matthew Tate said the Trashmasters is also giving Boyd a book stipend this year because of the extra work she's doing. She's also getting experience related to her field of study.
"I'll definitely be putting this on my resume," Boyd said.
"We have so many kids apply for it each year," Schweitzer said. Because there is a lot of wealth in the Aspen area, people don't always perceive the need, "but everyone here has kids endeavoring to go to college that don't have the means to do it."
Tate came on board about seven years ago and helped Schweitzer focus the tournament more on the charity. At that time, Trashmasters recruited a scholarship committee, started the interview process for recipients and developed the tournament's website. Tate also helped develop a second tournament for locals at that time, which takes place in the fall.
This year, the Trashmasters will induct comedian Buddy Hackett into its Hall of Fame. Hackett's son Sandy, also a comedian, will accept the award and also perform an abbreviated version of his Las Vegas act for guests of the Trashmasters party on July 26. The tournament begins at 9 a.m. July 27 with the opening ceremony, in which players swear to "play the trash, the whole trash and nothing but the trash ... so help you Golf."
"It's been a hell of a ride," Schweitzer said. "When I see these kids go off to college, and when (the players) see really where their money is going ... we have kids going out and making bright futures."