Kimberly Anderson Kelleher

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The boys at the Augusta National Golf Club got their knickers in a twist over women and golf earlier this year, but if any of them are marketers, they might want to reconsider their position. Nearly 6 million U.S. women play golf, according to the National Golf Foundation. That's 22% of all golfers in the U.S., and that number is on the upswing.

At Golf for Women, Publisher Kimberly Anderson Kelleher and her team are practically giddy over the potential. She says the title's readers are "incredibly passionate" and she's made it her mission to spread that message to the marketing community. Golf Digest Cos., part of Advance Publications, bought the title from Meredith Corp. in May 2001. Before Advance, she says, the magazine "hadn't made it onto the radar much." She adds: "We collectively set our sights on a goal to bring this magazine to as many women as possible and bring those women to advertisers."

Originally the title's advertising director, the 31-year-old executive moved into the top spot in January 2002. "I tapped [her] for the job because it was obvious she was smart, had sound strategic skills and had innate leadership skills," says President-CEO Mitchell Fox. "I knew I would be able to teach her how to be a great publisher with that foundation."

Above all, he says, she's "a good listener. Too often the best sales people become horrible publishers because they always have to hear their own voice. She's willing to listen to new ideas."

Although the publisher's parents own a golf course in Sister Bay, Wis., she's not an always-on-the-links type. "I play the game for fun," Ms. Kelleher says.

came from `mademoiselle'

Before joining Golf for Women, she was the advertising director at Mademoiselle. "I come from outside the golf industry. It's interesting to come in and bring a different context," she says. Her team of sales people isn't full of "lifers in selling golf" either. She admits that, at first, there was some resistance from the industry to her outsider status but adds that "it's much harder to resist when the person you're resisting shows a lot of growth."

Golf for Women ran 313.3 ad pages through August 2003, according to Publishers Information Bureau. That's a 19.3% increase over the same period last year. As of the January/February 2003 issue, the rate base was increased from 420,000 to 500,000.

From the get-go, Ms. Kelleher, Mr. Fox and Editor in Chief Susan Reed decided they needed to redefine what a golf magazine could be to its constituency. "Golf books in general are myopic. They focus on instruction and equipment," says Ms. Kelleher. "We needed to talk about lifestyles in addition to equipment and instruction." Fashion , beauty, health and luxury travel are all part of the mix.

Going beyond the green has helped pull in some serious green from advertisers new to golf. Primarily a luxury fashion title advertiser, Chanel joined the Golf for Women lineup earlier this year. Ms. Kelleher convinced Jean Hoehn Zimmerman, exec VP-sales and marketing for Chanel's Fragrance & Beaute division, that Golf for Women offered the brand non-duplicated reach.

The title's median household income is $82,297. Some 70% belong to country clubs. We have "access to thousands of private clubs across the country," she says. "It's an environment not infiltrated by advertising."

But Mr. Fox makes it clear that the biggest advantage Golf for Women has is the publisher herself: "What Kim has done is accelerate its growth pattern and pushed it ahead no less than two years on the plan."

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