In Australia, Queenslanders would know it better than anyone. With public opinion geographically divided, the state has fought a bitter feud over time, literally.
The myths and controversies surrounding daylight saving time (DST) are plentiful, and the opinions are vastly diverse. While most people believe that daylight saving time was designed to benefit farmers or school children, those theories contain little to no truth.
And with anti-DST lobbyists now debunking the long withstanding notion that biennial clock-tampering would result in energy savings, one is left to wonder: what are the actual benefits of that extra afternoon hour of daylight?
Ask the golf industry and no one seems to really know!
Michael Downing, a Tufts professor and the author of “Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time, has said that thanks to the extended hours of sunlight during an extra month of DST – resulting in more time on the links – golf courses in the US are believed to make an additional US$400 million in annual revenue.
And that was the industry estimate 30 years ago.
The numbers were part of lobbyists’ attempt to urge lawmakers in 1986 to extend daylight saving from six to seven months, which ended up becoming the norm. So, did the golf industry alone support the false myths about farmers and school kids to grow their game?
Not quite. The larger business community also helped push the initiative.
The rational is that by shifting an hour of sunlight from the ungodly early morning hours to the evening, people are able to better utilise the time at the end of the workday rather than at dawn – whether it’s going to the park, cooking up a barbecue, or perfecting your golf game.
When I worked in California, our courses had a very good afternoon trade of golfers, range users and restaurant clients. People got off work at 4-5pm and came over for a quick hit. We even had company “leagues” that played each week over a 12-week period. This added up to some very good revenue each summer.
Queensland is unfortunately missing out on all these opportunities at our golf courses when the additional revenue would be in great need.
For South East Queensland especially as a tourist destination, the simple advent of daylight savings each year could add up to great revenue across all the tourism sectors. It would be good to get the quantitative research done for this to see once and for all how much benefit it would be for our golfing industry.
Steve Mona, CEO of the World Golf Foundation emphasised how important the golf industry and its growth is from an economical standpoint in the US, with almost $70 billion in registered annual revenue and almost 2 million employees throughout the entire sector.
“For people who don’t play golf, they should care a lot about the fact that daylight saving time creates additional opportunities for people to play golf,” he said.
“The reason it (DST) is good for golf is because it creates more daylight when people are likely to play.”
“It could be going out to play nine holes or even just spending 30 minutes on the putting green. We believe any activity is good whether it leads to increased revenue or increased engagement in the game.”
One could only assume that in any of the five current Australian DST-states (NSW, ACT, VIC, TAS and SA), golfers make use of the extra sunlight the same way Americans do – making the Aussie golf industry the undisputed winner. By squeezing in that extra evening round after work, you’re not only helping your own game, but also the economy.
There are some differences with time of year that we have Summer, which here is over the Christmas family period, so the impact may not be as strong, but it looks that it potentially would still be very favourable.
CEO of Golf NSW Stuart Fraser said he was unaware of any specific details surrounding DST vis-à-vis participation rates in the state, but stated however that, “if you provide another hour of golfing time to each day, you could comfortably assume an increase in participation.”
“But to what extent, I can’t say.”
I was unable to get any official comments from Golf Queensland, Golf Victoria or Golf Australia, mainly because there is no available research. To me, this seems like very valuable research that needs to be undertaken and soon!
Many clubs around Australia are taking advantage of the time switch every year, offering up discounted memberships in the afternoons or cheaper ‘Daylight Saving Rates’, indicating a demand in the market for later rounds.
Despite the obvious benefits of boosted revenue to certain industries in the US, the concept is not nationally acclaimed, with both Hawaii and Arizona sticking to standard time. Recent polls confirm that a growing number of people strongly oppose the century-old tradition. This year alone, a dozen US states have attempted to cease the time switching, citing health and safety concerns.
However, in August this year, a San Jose (USA) legislator’s efforts to abandon DST was shut down by the Senate, with legislators worried about the impact the change could have on the tourism industry and how out of sync the state of California would be.
Much like Queensland, largely out of sync and hampering tourism dollars, some would argue.
The tradition of springing an hour forward every year was first implemented 1916 in Germany during the First World War in order to conserve energy and advance factory production. It was soon after observed by most of Europe as well as all Australian states.
Today, daylight saving in Australia is a matter for the individual state or territory. The country is currently divided into three time zones, which becomes five during the daylight saving period when New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia leap their clocks forward in October every year.
In Queensland, the clocks go nowhere, year round.
The sunshine state voted to abandoned daylight saving time in 1972, but has similar to Western Australia, observed DST over the past 40 years from time to time on trial bases.
Economist and Associate Professor Uwe Dulleck of the Queensland University of Technology has shone some light on the vexed debate, suggesting – much like Downing and Mona – that adopting daylight saving time would keep the economic stimulus going in retail industries and benefit the sports industry in particular.
“Community sports clubs’ membership would go up as people realised they had more time after work to join a team and get in a game,” Dulleck said. “Playing sport or an extra hour on the beach makes us happier as well as healthier and happy people are more productive. Healthy ones save the public health system.
Professor Dulleck urged Queenslanders to not rule out DST for the state when there are indirect economic benefits to be considered by the decision makers.
“Perhaps it’s time we trialed daylight saving for Queensland so we could start quantifying the potential economic benefits,” he said.
Easier said than done?
Despite a recent petition signed by more than 21,000 people, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has ruled out conducting a formal poll on the issue of DST. However, before last year’s election, The Queensland Greens proposed the state to undertake a two-year trial followed by a referendum, citing recreational activity and children’s health as incentives.
“By introducing more daylight hours after school we will be giving the children of Queensland a much greater opportunity for recreation and to play and socialise, which we know is so important for their development and their good health,” Greens’ Moggill candidate Charles Worringham said.
Could the implementation of Daylight Saving Time in Queensland be a saving grace for our industry?
I’d love to hear your feedback.