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The 67-year-old Golf World magazine is closing its print edition and shifting entirely to digital media, where it will be part of the Golf Digest website, the magazine said Wednesday. A spokeswoman for the magazine said nearly 10 employees were laid off as a result of the move, which combines Golf World and Golf Digest into a single news division.
"We recognize this is a big change from how we have operated and delivered the printed Golf World magazine in the past," the magazine said in a blog post Wednesday. "But this evolution allows us to increase frequency, improve delivery time, and add video reporting to better meet the expectations of today's readers."
Instead of publishing a print magazine 31 times a year, Golf World, which Conde Nast bought from The New York Times Company in 2001, now becomes a weekly email newsletter sent to subscribers 50 times a year on Mondays at 7 a.m. ET. Golf World's website will also include daily updates. And print subscribers of Golf World will start receiving Golf Digest, which is published 12 times a year.
The changes take effect next week.
Golf World Editor-in-Chief Jaime Diaz will keep his title and lead the combined news-division team, continuing to report to Golf Digest Editor-in-Chief Jerry Tarde. Dan Robertson remains the publisher of Golf Digest and Golf World.
Golf World averaged paid and verified circulation of 213,387 during the last six months of 2013, according to its filing with the Alliance for Audited Media, down slightly from nearly 215,000 a year earlier.
Print ad pages were off 28.5% through its July 21 edition, according to Media Industry Newsletter.
The changes come as Conde Nast has sought to inject new life into Golf Digest amid waning interest in the game of golf. Bloomberg Businessweek reported last month that the number of golfers in the U.S. has declined 24% from its peak in 2002, according to the consulting firm Pellucid. Against this backdrop, Golf Digest has introduced a video channel, as well as a redesign of its website and print magazine.
Golf Digest also drew criticism for putting Paulina Gretzky on the cover of its May issue. Ms. Gretzky is the fiancée of pro golfer Dustin Johnson and daughter of hockey great Wayne Gretzky. By putting her on the cover, the magazine was overlooking professional female golfers, according to critics.
In a statement at the time, Mr. Tarde said, "Paulina ranks at the high end of the golf celebrity scene today, and she has a compelling story to tell. She also might get some new people interested in the game."
Golf Digest's circulation was about 1.6 million through the last six months of 2013, roughly the same as a year earlier. Print ad pages were off 10.5% through its August issue.
In a separate announcement Wednesday, Conde Nast also made a series of staff changes at its executive level, including the departure of its editorial director, Tom Wallace.