PHOENIX – Scott Yates is a Denver-based entrepreneur and writer. He’s also one of a select few people around the country who can be described as a “Daylight Saving Time activist.”
Yates has been invited before countless state legislatures, which he’s exhorted to end the biannual switch between Standard Time and Daylight Time, or as he puts it, to “lock the clock.” His goal is to prevent the disruption in circadian rhythms that results from springing forward and falling back, which causes a slew of maladies: “car accidents and workplace accidents and strokes and all the rest,” he said.
Arizona avoids these hazards, as one of just two states with the clock already locked (in its case, on Standard Time). Yates said this makes it a “role model.” And while his movement is gaining ground – 18 states have passed measures locking the clock on Daylight Time, pending federal action – it’s still not exactly receiving mainstream attention.
But Yates does see one particular group show up to support these bills again and again.
“A lot of the states, when I testify,” he said, “the only other ones that show up are the golf people.”
The golf industry has historically promoted the expansion of Daylight Saving Time. One of the earliest advocates for setting the clocks ahead in the summer was an English builder named William Willett who wanted to be able to golf later in the day. And after the U.S. standardized Daylight Saving Time (DST) with the Uniform Time Act of 1966, the golf lobby was right there to push for an extra month of DST in the 1980s, which they said would garner an additional $400 million in revenue for their industry.
The thinking goes that extra daylight after work should entice more people to spend their spare time on the golf course.
“I think that most of us spend more leisure time in the afternoon,” said Calvin Schermerhorn, a history professor at ASU who once spoke about DST before the National Conference of State Legislatures. “So yeah, you may want to get out to the links early and have a nice early tee time, but the real sweet spot is in that afternoon.”
But what about in Arizona? It’s a top-10 state for golf economic output, according to advocacy group We Are Golf, yet it eschews DST.