Spotlight on Stand-by Golf

By Shane Sharp, Contributor

PHOENIX, Ariz. - Maybe you are in Phoenix on business, and you need to grab a last minute tee time at a top shelf course for a reasonable rate, but you don't know the area golf scene.

Or, perhaps you want to plan a solo golf trip to the desert, despite the fact that no golf course will give you an advance tee time as a single player.

Stand-by Golf is helping hundreds of golfers deal with these and other last second golf dilemmas, and in the process, the Phoenix based company is saving players lots of money.

The concept is not unlike that of the popular, which sells unsold hotel rooms, flights, and rental cars to travelers on 24 hours notice at a deep discount.

According to Steve Case, President of Stand-by Golf's Arizona operations, the concept is easily applicable to the golf business.

Players cancel tee times due to illness, emergencies, or sheer laziness, says Case, and golf courses simply don't sell out seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. By the end of a typical workday, most courses will have a number of unsold tee times.

Case has agreements with courses in Phoenix and Tucson, and they simply call or fax him at the end of the day with available tee times for the next day. Case then turns around and sells these tee times to his clients at a discount.

"Typically, we are talking up to a 30 percent discount," Case says. "We work with 35 courses in the Valley and about 10 in Tucson, and I tell the customer that if they have the ability to get around the area, we'll have something available. If they have some flexibility, we can find them golf."

Ninety-five percent of Case's customers are travelers who are either in town on business, or just aren't familiar with Phoenix and Tucson golf courses. Case says that golfers typically learn of his service via the Internet, or by way of cards placed at area hotels and resorts.

"We don't do much local business because locals are either members or they know where the specials are," Case says. "Most of the business comes from people who are staying in hotels and find our card in the hotel lobby and they don't know the golf market."

While Case deserves all the credit for the success of the Arizona arm of Stand-by Golf, Inc., he can't credit for the original idea. While working at a golf course in Palm Springs, Calif., Case would sell unsold tee times to an Englishman named William Bartfield.

Bartfield had started a discount tee time business as a way to keep his wife busy during the winter golf season in Palm Springs. He borrowed the concept from the English Theatre companies that would peddle unsold tickets for discounts on the day of the performance.

"The idea is simple, but it was often overlooked," Case says. "If a golf course hasn't sold the tee times by the end of the day, chances are they are not going to sell them at all. They would rather get something for them than just eat them."

And because Case's business has come to benefit area courses, any initial skepticism about potential revenue losses has gone by the wayside.

"At first, the courses were cautious because they thought they might still be able to get full price from people on the same day," Case says. "But that is just not the case and now they realize that. I have some courses that give me all their unsold tee times, and others that just give me a few. But there is just no way I can sell every tee time at one particular golf course within a few working hours."

In fact, most of Case's customers don't even know that the courses they end up playing on exist. Instead of undercutting the courses' business, Case is actually putting local golf courses in touch with market segment that would otherwise go untapped.

Over the past couple of years, single golfers and twosomes have also begun to take advantage of Case's services. Most golf courses will not give guaranteed tee times to singles, and even working in the docket as a twosome is a difficult task in the peak winter season in southern Arizona.

Case's repeat business has become the crux of his operation. Golfers are enamored with the savings they can realize at some of the area's most expensive venues, and they are impressed with Case's working knowledge of the local golf scene.

"Part of the allure is that you get to talk to a person, and not a computer, and that person know a lot about these golf courses," Case says.

During the summer months, when business is slow, Case typically plays three different golf courses every week, just to refresh his memory about the layout and the course conditions. During the peak season, he only gets out once a week, but he has dozens of sources around the region that keep him informed about course conditions.

"It is a win-win deal for the golf courses," Case says. "If they don't fill those tee times, it just goes down the drain. I like to think we are providing a service for the golfer, and the golf course."

In addition to Arizona, Stand-by Golf has offices in Palm Springs, Florida, Las Vegas and Hawaii. For more information, call 1-800-655-5345 or visit them on the web at

Shane SharpShane Sharp, Contributor

Shane Sharp is vice president of Buffalo Communications, a golf and lifestyle media agency. He was a writer, senior writer and managing editor of from 1997 to 2003.

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