SPOTLIGHT 

Golfing magazines

Millions of people in the UK watch golf, play golf and spend their money on equipment, tuition and travel. There are publications devoted to all aspects of the sport, as Alan Geere finds out.

By Alan Geere

Golfing magazines
Photograph: Peter Drew on Unsplash.

Golf Monthly

What’s it about: ‘The UK's No1 golf media brand, established in 1911’ – explainer on Twitter page.

Vital statistics: March 2022 issue: 124 pages of 285mm x 210mm. Matt paper, heavyweight gloss cover, perfect bound. £5.50 cover price. Last ABC (Jan-Dec 2019) of 32,882. Now re-registered with ABC and “working towards certification”. Published 13 times per year by Future in Winnersh Triangle, Berkshire.

Cover: Big picture of Sergio Garcia swinging a big club. Smaller picture of some golf gear, eight coverlines, many linked to the biggest headline you ever did see, proclaiming ‘Recharge your game’.

Content: Full illustrated contents on page six taking in ‘The Game’, ‘Opinion’, ‘Instruction’ and ‘Courses’ among the goodies. ‘The Game’ is a pictorial guide to the month in golf followed by detailed backgrounders on Garcia and the Korda sisters. Contributions from big names include a Q&A with Stuart Cink and columns by Sky sports presenter Sarah Stirk and ‘tour insider’ Bernhard Langer. Plenty of content for the stay-at-home golfer including how to help greenkeepers in winter, rebuilding after injury, a comprehensive instruction section, rules, new gear and courses.

Digital: Golfmonthly.com, promoted on the spine, is a newsy website with tons of complementary content. Links to Twitter (132k followers), Facebook (151k likes), Instagram (162k followers) and a YouTube channel with 119k subscribers ably demonstrating the commitment to social media channels.

What they say: “Before you submit an idea, please make sure you have read some recent editions of Golf Monthly as well as the website” – sage advice to wannabe freelancers from ‘How To Pitch Us An Idea’ on the website.

Verdict: Golf Monthly has been proudly doing its stuff since two-time Open Championship winner Harold Hilton was the first editor in 1911. Manages to pull off the trick of giving readers enough insight into the pro world as well as the more pressing issues closer to their own game.

Golf News

What’s it about: ‘The UK’s No. 1 golf newspaper’ – tagline above masthead.

Vital statistics: Winter 2022 issue: 40 pages of 400mm x 280mm. Quality gloss paper, self-cover, stitched. 53,500 copies delivered to 620 golf clubs, resorts, driving ranges and high street golf shops. Published eight times a year by Golf News in Hove, East Sussex.

Cover: Big cut-out of top golfer Tommy Fleetwood who ‘reflects on 10 years on tour’. Seven other coverlines including more interviews and a competition.

Content: Editor’s letter followed by ‘InBrief’ and news all the way back to page 14. MD Matt Nicholson gets to review a top new course in France, complete with private plane trip over the Channel. That Fleetwood interview is an extended Q&A heralding more news from the pro circuits. Equipment News has gear galore and also features a neat insight into what the tour winners have in their bags. ‘Travel & Breaks’ takes readers to Mallorca and follows record-breaking jump jockey turned golfer AP McCoy in ‘Me & My Travels’.

Digital: Bright and breezy website at golfnews.co.uk with link to lively Twitter page (18.2k followers) that features up-to-the-minute videos. Opportunity to read latest publication online via issuu.

What they say: “The revamped @bbc #QuestionOfSport is a bag of shite. It’s turned into Saturday night game show. Zero chemistry, zero humour and the host has no interest or idea about the subject matter. No likey, no watchy!” – editor Nick Bayly auditioning for a new role as TV reviewer on Twitter.

Verdict: This big, bold tabloid has a remarkable distribution network and pick-up rate at golfing establishments across the country. Not only is there plenty to flick through when enjoying well-earned refreshment at the 19th hole, but also some meaty journalism to enjoy when back home.

National Club Golfer

What’s it about: ‘Britain’s No 1…always the leader in the clubhouse’ – small print under the masthead.

Vital statistics: Winter 2022 issue: 84 pages of 295mm x 210mm. Gloss paper, heavyweight cover, perfect bound. £4 cover price, but free to pick up in 1,000 golf clubs across the UK. Published eight times a year by Sports Publications Ltd in Leeds

Cover: Full bleed aerial picture of a coastal golf course introducing the single topic issue ‘The best courses in England’. Clean, stand-out masthead.

Content: Editor’s comment on page six, followed by a ‘welcome’ from another editor. After explaining the methodology and meeting the selection panel, it’s into the countdown, starting at No 100. Each course has factual information, plus an opinionated verdict from one of the judges. Some entries have a full-bleed picture and every one has at least a thumbnail image. Some FAQs – Q: How much commercial influence has there been. A: None – plus Chairman’s View, My first year on the panel, My best discovery and a neat map showing the position of each course all add up to make this more than a directory.

Digital: Website at nationalclubgolfer.com covers all the bases from kit to courses. Find them on Twitter with 64.5k followers, 73.6k likes on Facebook, 23.6k subscribers to a YouTube channel and some innovative podcasts. Also read the magazine via PageSuite.

What they say: “I joined NCG from ESPN, where my claim to fame was being called a ‘tw*t’ by Liverpool legend John Aldridge” – editor Alex Perry poses behind an asterisk on the NCG website.

Verdict: With nearly 10 million views of their YouTube channel, this feisty player in the golf publishing market is ahead of the game in the digital arena. The magazine looks good with plenty of full-page ads to complement the editorial and enough to keep the enthusiast turning the page for more.

Pitchcare

What’s it about: ‘Serving greenkeepers & groundsmen’ – strapline along foot of the cover.

Vital statistics: December / January 2022 issue: 138 pages of 298mm x 213mm. Quality matt paper, heavyweight gloss cover, perfect bound. £5.95 cover price. Media information from 2020 states a ‘controlled circulation of 7,000’. Published bi-monthly by pitchcare.com in Telford, Shropshire.

Cover: Big picture of a groundsman with complementary coverline, some images of covers from down the years to help commemorate the magazine’s 100th issue and a clean, modern masthead that was updated in 2018.

Content: Editor Kerry has a page of ‘Foreword’, followed by two pages of illustrated contents, including the happy smiling faces of the contributors. Eight pages of news before the insightful golf content: seven pages on a country estate in Northern Ireland with two 18-hole golf courses, inside track on an ambitious golf course project in Kent, a comprehensive low-down on Hull Golf Club courtesy of an interview with the course manager, why a Merseyside course is worrying about climate change and the preparations needed to be an Open qualifying course. Other sections on football, educational establishments, technical and some fun at the back with ‘offside’.

Digital: Website at pitchcare.com has a comprehensive section on ‘News & Media’, plus options to view the magazine via issuu or download as a pdf. Links to 5.1k likes on Facebook, 11.9k followers on Twitter as well as LinkedIn and Instagram.

What they say: “Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go. They merely determine where you start” – philosophical musings to entertain those greenkeepers who are avid readers of the magazine spine.

Verdict: ‘Spotlight unearths another gem’ reads the headline in Spotlight News as the magazine publishing industry provides one more unsung hero. Knowledgeably, yet inclusively written, lavishly illustrated and with complementary run-of-paper advertising and healthy classified section standing testament to its effectiveness.

Today’s Golfer

What’s it about: ‘Britain’s No 1 golf magazine’ – nestling in the masthead.

Vital statistics: March 2022 issue: 132 pages of 295mm x 210mm. Matt paper, heavyweight gloss cover, perfect bound. £5.25 cover price. ABC of 36,898 (Jan-Dec 2020). Published monthly by Bauer in Peterborough.

Cover: Big picture of two serious looking men with some golf equipment, three smaller images, eight coverlines, including the must-read “Have I seen cheating? Hell yeah!”

Content: Distinguished looking contents on page six, divided into ‘Features’, ‘Play better’ and ‘Equipment’, plus an aerial shot of a mountainous golf course, which we later learn is Wolf Creek, Nevada, courtesy of ‘America’s 100 greatest courses’. Newsy ‘Front nine’ is easy to dip into, followed by a page of letters and a session with those two guys on the cover who are online coaches. A full range of material including Q&A interviews with Ireland’s Leona Maguire and old-hand Ernie Els, the world’s weirdest golf courses, an anonymous caddie survey and an ‘undercover’ review of a course in Hertfordshire. Play Better is a series of coaching tips and Equipment lets readers try the latest gear from the comfort of the sofa. All beautifully put together with plenty of pictures and product information.

Digital: Website at todaysgolfer.co.uk has lots of familiar content (equipment reviews, top courses etc) links to Facebook, which has had no posts since it was created in 2008, a well-populated Twitter feed with 52.6k followers and 23.3k subscribers to a YouTube channel.

What they say: “Soho Pro Heavy is the font used in the Today’s Golfer logo. This font is designed by Sebastian Lester and published by Monotype. You can purchase this font from the link below” – one for the golfing typographers at graphical resources website Hyperpix.

Verdict: With expert commentary on the pro game, plus enough tips to keep the amateurs coming back for more, this entertaining and approachable magazine is another solid effort from the Bauer stable.

UK Club Golfer

What’s it about: ‘No 1 newspaper in the UK for club golfers’ – spelling it out under the masthead.

Vital statistics: Issue No 16 (undated, viewed February 2022): 44 pages of 432mm x 279mm. Gloss paper, self-cover, stitched. Distributes free copies to golf clubs in the UK. Last ABC (Jan-Dec 2019) of 51,369. Published five times a year by PSP Media Group in Glasgow.

Cover: Atmospheric silhouetted picture of golfers beneath the coverline ‘Major rules changes set to shake up amateur golf’. Three other illustrated promos and a charitable plug for Prostate Cancer UK.

Content: Compact ‘What’s Inside’ on page two is just that and also points to the website. The whole publication is devoted to neatly-presented news interspersed by regionally-based pages. Also a change of pace with new gear, which has both equipment and clothing, inside a new app ‘that’s transforming English golf’, travel and a generous women’s section.

Digital: Website at ukclubgolfer.co.uk has offers, news, videos and travel plus opportunities to receive an email newsletter and view the newspaper via PageSuite. A Facebook page with 1.2k likes. No official Twitter, but editor Bryce Ritchie (2k followers) is doing his personal bit for social media presence.

What they say: “I never aspired to be a sportsperson when I was a wee lad; all I wanted to be was a sportswriter. Tomorrow, my second book officially goes on-sale and I couldn't be more chuffed. Dreams do come true.” – an ahhh moment from assistant editor Michael McEwan in Twitter.

Verdict: A newsy companion for club golfers everywhere with a good deal of relevant advertising and promotional links to sister publication, the Scottish-based bunkered, which earlier this year launched a new brand identity to complement its expansion in the digital media landscape. Appeals to the heartland of amateur golf with a non-nonsense approach to developments in the game and some alluring opportunities to play golf in venues as diverse as Mauritius and Maidstone.


This article was first published in InPublishing magazine. If you would like to be added to the free mailing list, please register here.