Face-Off: Golf Mags

Article excerpt

The golfing business faced bright prospects in the late 1990s. Fresh-faced media darling Tiger Woods was attracting a young, diverse fan base. Newly retired baby-boomers were free to tee off at leisure. And of course, splashy dot.com millionaires eagerly splurged on titanium-shaft drivers and sky-high club memberships. But in the new millennium, over-saturation coupled with economic travails put a damper on the sport's explosive growth. According to a July article in Barron's Online, fewer players are playing fewer rounds and the number of new golf-course openings is declining. The golfing magazines are also affected. "More often than not, the golf magazines aren't just looked at for the sport but also as ways to reach business decision-makers," says Steve Greenberger, Zenith Media senior vice president and director of print media. The golfing books often sit alongside business titles in terms of advertiser appeal, Greenberger says. Once the biz books suffer, so do the golf pubs. Also, the advent of local golf magazines, strengthened by endemic advertising and group sales packages, is splintering the category. For now, the big two remain Golf Digest and Golf Magazine and the two primary niche books are T&L Golf and Golf for Women. - Sarah GonserGolf

Digest (Advance Pubs' Golf Digest Companies)

Ad pages through August : 1,053 (+11.8%)

Subs: 1.4 million (-0.2%)

Newsstand: 148,766 (-5.5%)

Total: 1.5 million (-0.7%)

New advertiser: Motorola, Nationwide Insurance, PepsiCo

Advance Publications reportedly spent $435 million in January, 2001, to acquire Golf Digest and its related properties from The New York Times Company. The leader in the category by a close margin, Golf Digest, owns a palette of peripherals, including the Golf Digest Golf Schools and the Golf Digest Pro Shop. Publisher Steven Binder is focused on leveraging the brand through partnerships and alliances. "Being able to inform the reader about business and golf synergies is something we've embarked on with BusinessWeek, for instance," says Binder. "We can inform our readers and also help our advertisers showcase their marketing dollars in effective ways."

On the Competition: "We're the only magazine in the golf category that doesn't negotiate rates." - Steven Binder, senior vice president and publisher

Golf Magazine (Time Inc.'s Time4Media)

Ad pages through August : 978 (+8%)

Subs: 1.3 million (-1.2%)

Newsstand: 110,436 (+4.3%)

Total: 1.4 million (-0.8%)

New advertiser: Discover Card, Royal Bank of Scotland, Wachovia

Golf Magazine publisher Chris Wightman says he's working to clear the clutter. "Golf Magazine and Golf Digest chased each other in the 1990s with peripherals like schools and golf courses," he says. …