Trashy golf for a classy cause
SNOWMASS VILLAGE In life, one man’s trash may be another man’s treasure. The same principle holds true for the annual Trashmasters International, where one bad shot in any other round of 18 could be the best of the day.To be rewarded for the regularly undesirable is rare, unabashed fun – and the reason why golfers from all over the country clamor for spots every year in what Trashmasters co-founder Boone Schweitzer calls “the world’s most unique golf tournament.”Make that “unique” as in unorthodox, unpretentious and unlike any other charity scramble out there.The only golf tournament where a “Billie” is just as valuable as a birdie, and a “Super Stiffie” is something to openly brag about to your friends, the Trashmasters’ reputation speaks for itself.Organizers turn away numerous golfers every year, and regularly reserve spots for celebrities; in previous years actors Michael Douglas and Robert Wagner have played in the tournament.
“We go way beyond your sandies and greenies to reward the much more bizarre events,” explained Schweitzer – also known as the Trashmastermind – of his tournament’s appeal.Indeed, who wouldn’t want to be rewarded for hitting into a bunker (“Sandie”), or whacking a tree (“Barkie”) or skipping a Titleist across a cart path?The Trashmasters rule book seemingly has a point value for every event in golf, both good and bad. That includes a “Willie” – think Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again” – or a “Billie,” which, in trash speak, equates to a par on a hole when a player has a lie so bad that it could endanger his or her reputation (an occurrence that former vice president and Trashmasters participant Dan Quayle named in honor of former President Bill Clinton).As for a “Super Stiffie,” that’s a shot from more than 100 yards out that lands so close to the flag that the distance between the ball and the cup is shorter than the length of your putter.This isn’t just fun for fun’s sake, however.
Trashmasters may be a bawdy, good time, but it’s also for a great cause. All of the proceeds go to the Roaring Fork Scholarship Fund, the valley’s largest fundraiser of its type.Fifteen years ago when he started the tournament, Schweitzer said he personally wrote a check to fund a scholarship for a local high school graduate.Now, the tournament raises about $140,000 a year – enough to fund six scholarships for local high school graduates from throughout the Roaring Fork Valley.Twenty-five scholarship recipients have already graduated with their undergraduate degrees, while another 22 are currently in college, Schweitzer said.”That’s something that I’m very proud of,” said Schweitzer, who kicks off the tournament every year by swearing in players with the Trashmasters’ oath – a rousing call for participants to “play the trash, the whole trash and nothing but the trash.” “We’ve been kind of recognized as having a double bottom line,” Schweitzer said. “The event is a hoot, and a lot of fun, but we really have developed over the years what I think is a very legitimate, worthy charity. Last spring we had more than 250 scholarship applications.”
Schweitzer then recounted the story of Shenna Arellano – the daughter of a single mother of five who supported her children by working as a maid in Snowmass Village – to underline his point. A straight-A student at Glenwood Springs High School, Arellano lacked the funds to continue her schooling, so Schweitzer said he stepped in to offer her a Trashmasters scholarship.Arellano later graduated with honors from the University of Denver, then pursued a law degree from the same school, which she also earned with honors.”She took the bar, passed it, and now she’s off to Washington, D.C., to practice immigration law,” Schweitzer said. “One day she’s going to be the attorney general or president. Maybe a senator. She spoke at one of our events and left everyone in tears. She thanked everyone for the opportunity she’d been given. She came from nothing – had no father and lived in a trailer, and now she’s going to be a player.”The fun starts at 5:30 p.m. Thursday with the annual Trashmasters gala at the Snowmass Club’s Black Saddle Restaurant. Wagner will hand out the “Trashmasters Ambassador Extraordinaire Award” to Dow Finsterwald, the 1958 PGA Champion and a good friend of Schweitzer’s.”He was here last summer in Snowmass, and I was invited to play with him,” Schweitzer said of Finsterwald. “He’s an extraordinary gentleman and one of Arnold Palmer’s closest friends. Everyone is starting to acknowledge him – the U.S. Open and Jack Nicklaus at the Memorial – so we’re going to give him all the accolades we can.”Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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