Golf USA Links Regional Titles

Article excerpt

There's a saying in golf that "you drive for show and putt for dough." But in publishing, a slice isn't necessarily a bad thing. Golf USA, a new monthly supplement scheduled to appear in September and November in nearly 60 regional golf publications around the country, is driving hard for the green--and a piece of the lucrative golf market.

The 16- to 24-page insert is expected to boast an initial distribution of 1.7 million, which would surpass the ratebases of The New York Times Sports/Leisure Magazines' Golf Digest (1.45 million) and Times Mirror's Golf Magazine (1.25 million). "This program will offer advertisers the most reach," claims Golf USA editor and publisher Charlie Mandel.

The question is whether that will be enough in a category that is not as easy to master as it might seem. Although interest in the sport has soared, there are still only so many ad pages to go around. "People continue to feel the growth and while excitement in golf is a sure-fire way to make money, it's difficult to find the right niche," says Bob Maxon, publisher of the 135,000-circulation Golf World, an NYT Sports/Leisure title that focuses primarily on tour events. "Golf manufacturers' dollars are spread very thin right now."

Another potential downside--one that has previously hindered similar ventures in other markets--may be the difficulty of verifying the circulations of the participating regionals, many of which are controlled circulation and range in distribution from 3,000 to 135,000. "You're buying a circulation that you can't really evaluate," says Rick Boyce, vice president/associate media director at Hal Riney & Partners in San Francisco.

At the same time, though, Boyce notes that a title like Golf USA could attract interest by providing "simplified buying for national advertisers that would never know about these smaller magazines."

And there's no question about the venture's attractiveness to local golf titles. Pennsylvania Golfer editor and publisher Fred Koerber says that for his black-and-white, newsprint publication, the addition of a four-color glossy insert can only help. "Pennsylvania Golfer is a free |17,000 distribution~ publication, and it goes like hot cakes. …