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Company Matches Tee Times and Players

September 15, 1997|STEVE KRESAL and MARTIN BECK

When Preferred Tee Times was in its early development stages, it was of little use to golfers who wanted to play primarily in Orange County.

The company was started in 1993 in Anaheim by president Howard Kelly to help out those looking for prime tee times. The cost for the service is about $9.95 a month.

Kelly got the idea after several frustrating mornings of getting up about 6 a.m., calling a course, getting a busy signal, then hitting redial. All just to get a time for the next week.

"You never knew if you were going to get to play," Kelly said. So he had a simple plan that would link players and courses.

In the company's office are computers with electronic versions of the tee sheets of several courses. Players can make requests for tee times as far in advance as they like, but the company must wait until the course opens to take times. But at that moment, the request is electronically sent and the time, or one as close to it as possible, is booked.

Players looking to play popular courses are asked to pick three courses.

Early on, the company struck deals with several Riverside and San Bernardino area courses that don't get as much play as the municipal courses in Orange County.

"The Orange County courses didn't need us," said company vice president Dave Cochrane. "But we just begged them to try us."

The company, which has recently moved to Costa Mesa, has nine Orange County courses on its roster, including Anaheim Hills, Dad Miller, both city-run courses in Costa Mesa, San Clemente and San Juan Hills.

Still, Kelly and Cochrane have been frustrated at times in getting people to understand what the company, which has about 1,000 members, is offering.

Kelly likes to use a travel agent as an example. When a player calls a course to check for an available time, it's like a person calling each airplane looking for a seat, Kelly said.

"We want to take care of that," Cochrane said. "We want to be your golf secretary. We want to be the one that gets up early, to check on times and not the golfers. If everybody did this, then the course would be full and they wouldn't have to answer the phone as much."


More time: Mile Square in Fountain Valley is about to become the next course to be available through Preferred Tee Times.

When it does, it will bring things full circle for Kelly, because that was the course he was calling when he spent so many mornings listening to busy signals.

For a more detailed look at Preferred Tee Times, check their web site at


Perry Parker completed his stint on the Canadian Tour with a flourish early this month. Parker, a former Foothill High and UC Irvine standout, finished second at the Montclair PEI Classic in Woodstock, Prince Edward Island.

It tied Parker's highest finish in nine events this year and netted him $12,500. That pushed his Canadian Tour earnings to $32,012 for 1997, 10th on the tour's Order of Merit.

Parker scrambled on the final day of the tournament, tying the course record at Mill River Golf Course with a seven-under-par 65. He finished two strokes behind winner Mike Grob of Billings, Mont.

"I played really well all summer," said Parker, who since has returned to his home in Dana Point. "I think the worst round I had, besides the U.S. Open, was 73."

Parker, who shot 75-71-77-78 at Congressional in the Open, was sixth on the Canadian Tour with a 70.41 stroke average.

Now, Parker plans to prepare for the PGA Tour qualifying tournament by playing locally in a couple Golden State Tour events. He'll also try to qualify for the Nike Puget Sound Open in Olympia, Wash., late this month.


On the brink: Dan Bateman, a Nike Tour professional from Huntington Beach, has practically wrapped up his 1998 PGA Tour card. With five events, including the Nike Tour Championship, remaining this season, Bateman is seventh on the money list at $96,816.

Bateman won the Nike Carolina Classic in May and has four other top-10 finishes.

The top 15 money winners on the Nike Tour--last year No. 15 won $92,000--qualify for next year's PGA Tour.

Two others with Orange County ties are also having strong seasons on the Nike Tour. Dennis Paulson, a Costa Mesa High graduate who lives in Vista, is 23rd ($67,549) and Costa Mesa resident Esteban Toledo is 25th ($59,508).


Club pro update: Three county PGA professionals received high honors from the Southern California PGA this month. Carrie Jena from Tustin Ranch Golf Club was named teacher of the year, Marty LaRoche from Tustin Ranch was named clubfitter of the year and Kevin McNece of Mesa Verde Country Club was named assistant professional of the year.


Arnold Palmer's golf company has been hired to manage Strawberry Farms Golf Club, which is scheduled to open late next month, Strawberry Farms announced last week. The 6,700-yard upscale public course is being built by a partnership lead by former Angel Doug DeCinces.

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