Roger Marolt: Roger This | AspenTimes.com

Roger Marolt: Roger This

I am addressing my ball on the 17th tee. “How do you do?”

“Whatever I please. (wink) Just watch!”

The demons I must face appear to be contentedly living in the cores of pre-owned golf balls. It makes me think that I should break down and buy a sleeve instead of using whatever strays I find out in the weeds and woods when I’m looking for ones I lost. Surely the balls coming out of the Titleist factory are certified to be gremlin-free and are then subsequently cursed by hackers as they are murderously hooked and sliced out of bounds, dunked in ponds, and banged off houses placed too close to courses by tennis-playing architects.

I take my 6-iron back slowly, mentally drawing the layout of the 180-yard par 3 (Was that the beer cart over there?). I recall every tip I’ve ever been given to improve my swing. I second-guess my alignment at the top. I wonder if Alpine Bank really does have the best interest rates on six-month CDs.

I know that I am not supposed to do this. I need to concentrate solely on making solid contact. But, I can’t help it. I am naturally inclined to think about all things I am not supposed to think about at exactly the time when I should be focused on the task at hand. I don’t know. Maybe everybody does this except good golfers. The secret to hitting straight and long might be purity of mind … or living a life completely void of any other purpose. Who knows?

By the time my club strikes the ball, I am already looking at the flagstick. The ball is heading west, testing the range of my peripheral vision, taking an alternate course, avoiding the well-traveled route forged by balls with fast backspin and perfect loft. It’s a Zen approach – more about the journey than the destination. It occurs to me that this might be why golf is not popular in Nepal.

Recommended Stories For You

Did I mention that I am playing in a tournament and I am potentially “in the money?” Besides the knowledge that my lawn needs mowing, this thought is at the forefront of my mind as I watch my ball bounce off a pine tree and settle into the weeds a stone’s throw (by Ichiro Suzuki) from the green. Great. The next shot is blind. I hit it over a berm and into a bunker apparently designed by the Historical Preservation Committee to replicate a mine shaft. Fabulous. Like a lot of silver around here, I can’t extricate my ball from the pit with the next hack. Wonderful. Finally I get the ball out, but barely, and I’m sitting 30 feet from the hole with a lot of sand in my eyes. Just grand.

Let’s see now: Hit a tree, swing from the weeds, two sand shots, and a long putt for a potential net par with my two-stroke handicap here. According to the rule book, that’s five trash points plus four bonus points. I couldn’t have set this hole up any better! Sink this putt and I’m a legitimate threat to win!

You know instantly when you strike a putt and it’s going in. It’s on line and the speed is just right. The ball slows nicely as it approaches the hole. I pump my fist just as it hits the cup … and lips out. Crap!

Easy come (tears I’m talking about), easy go (not really). That’s the Trashmasters Golf Tournament, where bad is sometimes good and unlucky is oftentimes lucky, and to win you have to be all of the above. But, what is especially interesting about this brand of golf is that there is now indisputable evidence that it is very beneficial to teenagers.

Yep. Who would have thought that bouncing balls off cart paths, ricocheting them off lawn tractors, blasting them through the brush, and generally playing from lies where no person has played before could generate more than $1.2 million in college scholarships for Roaring Fork Valley students? It’s true!

Not that this matters when you are playing the tournament. It’s so much fun that you couldn’t care less about being nice when you’re on (or near) the course. This is essential since nobody should have to pretend that playing golf is doing anything good or worthwhile. That would ruin what duffers around the world have been perfecting for centuries.

This is a tournament that guys like me have a chance at winning … without cheating! It’s like playing a game that somebody you know made up. And if you remember your youth, you know that those are always the most fun to play … unless, of course, you are playing with the person who is making it up. But, they’ve got that covered, too. The mastermind behind this event is too busy to play; he’s perched over the grill on the 12th hole turning the bratwursts, shuffling to the boom box, pouring tequila shots, and making jokes over the loudspeaker during your backswing. Awesome!

The scorecard looks like an SAT test sheet, and the rulebook reads like a comic. There is something for everyone. Unlike the usual round, scorekeeping is half the fun and most of the mental torture. It’s everything you thought golf should be but has been prohibited by the PGA. Good cause, great fun, low key, high drama; what more do you want? Put it on the calendar for next summer’s musts!

However, there is one change I hope the rules committee will consider for next year: I think 10 bonus points should be awarded for bouncing your ball off the sidewalk behind the 9th green, then off the roof of the starter’s shack, past the front door of the club house, and down the stairs into the parking lot. It’s just a thought – not that anybody hit one like that this year.

Roger Marolt’s rescue club is a machete. He’s usually tee’d off at roger@maroltllp.com.