In Boone Schweitzer’s Trashmasters, Trouble Is Good
What in the world is a Trashmaster? Hold on to your seats and we will explain.
A Trashmaster, as defined by Boone Schweitzer, founder of the Trashmasters Golf Tournament of Aspen, Colo., is a golfer who relishes the art of bouncing shots off trees and rocks and cart paths, gleefully skipping additional balls over ponds and other obstacles.
Which brings us to the Masters in Augusta, Ga. There is a kinder, gentler side to the Masters, and nobody knows this more than Schweitzer and his friends at the Trashmasters.
Back in 1998, it looked like the Augusta Masters might grind the Aspen Trashmasters to smithereens in a court case revolving around ownership of the name. What happened? The Masters decided to allow the Trashmasters to keep the name for generating charitable contributions.
Bravo for the Masters, which has turned into a genuine philanthropic juggernaut in golf. The Masters supports all sorts of worthy causes, including the national kids-only Drive, Chip and Putt competition.
And for more than 20 years, money from the original Trashmasters tournament has been distributed to youngsters who are headed to college but need financial help. All in the name of trash golf.
Schweitzer, a veteran ski instructor and real estate executive, is a fanatical senior golfer. His reputation precedes him as he aims his golf shots at trees, ponds, cart paths and a variety of additional hazards. The crookeder the better. Hitting unusual targets is the essence of any Trashmasters tournament.
Schweitzer invokes a series of fanciful names for his favorite shots – skippie, stiffie, rockie, barkie, polie, billie, willie, jerrie, drinkie, watson and otis among them. These names fill up a Schweitzer scorecard.
Schweitzer views himself as something of an amateur philosopher and has a multitude of homespun platitudes at his command, such as, “Golf is not a matter of life and death. It’s more important than that.”
“Do you solemnly swear to play the Trash, the whole Trash and nothing but the Trash, so help you golf?” — Boone Schweitzer, ‘swearing in’ Trashmasters competitors
He may be best known for taking golf’s time-honored vocabulary and turning it on its head. But the Masters standoff earned him some big-time recognition as well.
As a footnote in the history of major championship golf, Schweitzer was more or less accused of bringing Trash to Magnolia Lane. It all ended well, though.
“It may seem a little strange,” said former U.S. Open champion Scott Simpson. “But there are tour players who play Trash golf when given the opportunity. It’s fun.”
Reflected Schweitzer: “All I wanted to do was help a bunch of good kids make it through college. We’ve always been a nonprofit.”
The inaugural Trashmasters tournament hosted 24 golfers and awarded only one $500 college scholarship. Today, the same event hosts 140 players and distributes more than $75,000 annually in college scholarship funding. Additional charity tournaments in the western United States, all under the banner of the Trashmasters organization, which is directed by an eight-person executive board, also have become part of the annual schedule.
Before every gathering, Schweitzer dresses in a long black robe and flowing snow-white wig to “swear in” the players. His speech begins like this: “Do you solemnly swear to play the Trash, the whole Trash and nothing but the Trash, so help you golf?”
The idea is to collect as many points as possible. To earn a single point or multiple points on any hole, a golfer must score a net par or better (using full handicap). This ensures that skilled golf remains part of the Trashmasters equation. Following are some – but certainly not all – of Schweitzer’s favorite Trashmaster names:
Skippie (3 points): A player scores a skippie by skipping the ball through a water hazard. The stroke following the Skippie may be played from within the hazard.
Stiffie (3 points): A player earns a stiffie by striking a shot that travels more than 100 yards and finishes within a conventional putter length of the hole (this putt must be holed).
Rockie (2 points): A player earns a rockie if his ball strikes a rock of at least baseball size. Only one rockie may be scored per stroke.
Barkie (1 point): Suggested by actor Robert Wagner, a player earns a barkie if the ball strikes a tree, bush or shrub. Only one barkie may be scored per stroke.
Polie (1 point): A polie is earned if a player holes his first stroke with a putter, whether from on or off the putting surface. The distance of the putt must be longer than the flagstick.
Billie (2 points): Suggested by vice president Dan Quayle for President Bill Clinton, a Billie comes into play when a competitor is forced to declare an unplayable lie.
Willie (2 points): “On the road again” by Willie Nelson, a Willie is earned when a player’s ball hits a cart path or road.
Jerrie (1 point): Named after President Gerald Ford, a Jerrie occurs when a player’s ball strikes another human, an animal, an automobile or various other objects specified in the rules.
Drinkie (3 points): A drinkie is earned by a player for each shot played that incurs a penalty stroke for being in a water hazard.
Watson: (3 points): Inspired by Tom Watson’s chip-in on the 71st hole of the 1982 U.S. Open, a Watson is earned by a player who holes out from off the putting surface using any lofted club.
Otis (1 point): Like the elevator, an otis is awarded to those who get up and down from off the green in two shots.
Looking back, Schweitzer realizes the enduring role that Trash has played in his life.
“I’ve spent most of my adult life playing Trash golf,” he concluded. “The rest I have just wasted.”
Trashmasters founder Boone Schweitzer ‘swearing in’ tournament competitors. Photo: Trashmasters
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