Media Analysis: New wave of golf titles add attitude

A clutch of publications are bridging the gap between the world of men's magazines and golf. Adam Hill asks what makes Golf Punk and its peers tick, and discovers their interests extend beyond the game itself.

Golf's image as a rather staid weekend pastime for men of a certain age is beginning to change. Last year, two magazines were launched for younger readers.

While not exactly putting a brick through the clubhouse windows of The Royal & Ancient, IPC Media's Total Golf (which has just been redesigned for the new season) and KYN's Golf Punk (which doubled frequency to go monthly from last week) have attracted a new crowd rather than taking readers from existing titles. With an editorial irreverence largely missing from the market beforehand, both have forged links between men's magazines and golf, with features such as Golf Punk's Bunker Babes - swimsuit-wearing models with drivers and putters.

Market revolution

While it is probably going a bit far to suggest, as its deputy editor does, that the advent of Golf Punk 'rocked the world of golf to its very foundations', the year-old title has certainly made an impact. Neil Gray, director of PR agency GMS, says: 'Golf Punk has raised the bar in terms of production, photography and even journalism. It doesn't have the physical clout of an Emap publication but it has forced the others to look more closely at what they're doing.'

Emap Active's market-leading monthly Today's Golfer, whose circulation nudges the 100,000 mark, has evidently taken note - its relaunch this month was intended to give it more 'attitude'.

Outside of the obvious areas such as equipment and clothing, travel and property are potentially fertile ground for PROs. Anneli Lort, MD of Renaissance PR, which handles Nike and Nick Faldo, says: 'We've always enjoyed the support of golf publications, both for golf-based clients and leisure and lifestyle items more generally.'

But the game remains fundamentally conservative. IPC's Golf Monthly (the second-biggest seller with a circulation of 77,766) and Women & Golf, along with Emap's other golf title Golf World - and the array of smaller titles - have yet to embrace such radicalism.

TODAY'S GOLFER

Editor: Andy Calton

Circulation: 95,632

Contact: 01733 237111

Why relaunch?

We launched in 1988 so we're now trying to be more attitudinal, to have more character and be a bit different.

What would be a good story for you?

We want great ideas rather than 'here's a new club'. One that worked well was a competition where a reader and 19 of his mates won a day with Lee Westwood.

We also jumped on the TailorMade tour bus from Basingstoke to Benfica for a week to write about what life on tour (for professional golfers) is really like.

What are your editorial staples?

Instruction and gear are the biggest things and we get loads of press releases on these. The Nike Platinum is the ball Tiger Woods used to win the US Masters - it costs £5,which makes it the most expensive mass-produced ball ever. So we are going to cut it in half and take a look at it in a future issue.

TOTAL GOLF

Editor: Mike Harris

Circulation: 25,000 (estimate)

Contact: 020 7261 5000

What's your publishing schedule?

Last year we put out four issues that were well received by the target audience of 20 to 35-year-old men, and we will have seven issues this year for the golf season from April to October.

What's your editorial ethos?

To make golf more enjoyable, it's supposed to be fun. We want readers to max their game, to look good and have the best kit. We want something that will make them laugh, to make them think 'that might happen to me', or let them in on a new gadget or new tip. We also want to feature courses.

What's the difference between you and IPC stablemate Golf Monthly?

Golf Monthly is much more for 'traditional' golfers. Total Golf readers are probably not club members - they tend to be young, city readers. And we are not interested in oodles of technical jargon. Clothing and hardware need to look sexy.

GOLF PUNK

Deputy editor: Iestyn George

Circulation: 20,000 (estimate)

Contact: 01273 704400

Is the magazine just about clubs and clothes for your readers?

No, we also have much greater aspirational content, such as travel to Brazil and great photography and so on. We aim to bridge the gap between the men's lifestyle market and golf magazines, not cream off readers from other publications.

Are there any PROs you would particularly like to hear from?

PROs have been quite perceptive about who we are, and many of them 'got' us quite quickly. But I'm keen on developing more relationships with travel companies, and property development is also a big element.

So is it a case of 'anything goes' in the magazine?

If you call your title Golf Punk, it draws attention by virtue of the name alone. But we're suburban, rather than urban, golfers. I have no desire to walk down Shoreditch High Street looking for my golf ball under a Lada.

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