Media Perspective: A youth magazine for golfers may be a bit handicapped

It had to happen sometime, but I'd managed to resist the urge until now. The urge to write an entire column about golf.

Surely the favourite pastime among media men and a high proportion of media women. But equally a pursuit that attracts derision and sheer bafflement among non-converts. Mainly for the types of wardrobe malfunction that would put even Janet Jackson to shame.

The idea was partly inspired by Simon Marquis, the chairman of ZenithOptimedia, who once wrote an entire piece in another magazine about the Big Bertha golf club. And he managed to be entertaining even for a hacker like me who has never had the privilege of holding such an elegant shaft.

But the main reason for my foray into the world of jumper-based sport is the launch of a magazine called Golf Punk, by the new publisher Keep Yourself Nice Publishing.

Launched by former IPC journalists, including the former Loaded editor and co-founder Tim Southwell, the publisher is backed by Chris Ingram's investment company Genesis Investments, which has raised £1.25 million to back Golf Punk and other launches.

Golf Punk targets golfers aged between 15 and 34 who are not catered for by existing titles. It hopes to capitalise on a perception that golf is fashionable and played by an increasingly young crowd.

To be honest, this has been obvious for anybody to see for a decade.

I was shocked in the early 90s when Nicky Wire, the bass player in the Manic Street Preachers and one of the more fiery participants in music, confessed his undying love for the game and for fellow Welshman and US Masters winner Ian Woosnam.

But can such a niche title survive?

Ingram says he has identified a "different commercial model in the consumer publishing arena: one focused on finding niches in existing markets that consequently do not require the huge marketing budgets often employed by major publishing groups."

Fair enough, but it's hardly a different commercial model - Dennis Publishing has already tried the same trick with its men's gambling title, Inside Edge. And more than a year ago, Sibella Publishing brought us Jaunt, a title aimed at a micro-sector of well-heeled women's magazine readers fascinated by travel.

Jaunt has already closed and so far this idea of launching consumer titles for niche audiences hasn't worked. It would be great if Keep Yourself Nice, or Inside Edge, could reverse this trend but the newsstand environment works massively in favour of larger publishers wanting to blow this type of launch out of the water.

All this means I've failed in my attempt to stick to the subject of golf. I just don't have the patience for it.


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