NEW GOLF TITLES CROWD ONTO FAIRWAY: 'SI,' NYTIMES AND PETERSEN WOO AUTO, TRAVEL AND REAL ESTATE BUSINESS

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Magazine publishers are teeing up a host of new golf titles that will slice the crowded special-interest category into even thinner segments.

Petersen Publishing Co. is suspending publication of its Petersen's Golfing and repositioning the magazine for a May relaunch aimed at younger, daily-fee golfers. The monthly's rate base will be reduced 11% to 200,000.

"There's been a whole new class of player coming into the market and we don't think they are being served by the current books," said Petersen's Golfing's new publisher, James "Max" Lane, formerly general manager of Los Angeles-based JSA Publishing.

MORE NICHE TITLES

Established industry players, meanwhile, from Time Inc.'s Sports Illustrated to The New York Times Co. Magazine Group, are developing niche titles to reach the affluent golf marketplace.

The hunt is also on to develop golf magazines that can attract ad dollars in the auto, travel, real estate and financial services categories, as well as recapture lost dollars from golf-equipment marketers, which in recent years have shifted more money to TV.

The activity comes as the largest titles in the field have struggled on the ad front. The New York Times Co.'s monthly Golf Digest saw pages drop 4.2% in 1996, to 1,252.5, while Times Mirror Magazines' monthly Golf Magazine was down 3.4% to 1,472.9 ad pages.

Still, many smaller niche titles are thriving. Meredith Magazines' monthly Golf for Women saw its ad pages jump 9.1% to 372.9 last year, while Weider Publications' saw ad pages jump 30% to 340 for Senior Golfer, published nine times a year.

PLANS FOR 'GOLF PLUS'

Time Inc. has seen success with a special demographic insert in Sports Illustrated called SI Golf Plus. Last year, it attracted 500 ad pages, up 8.7% from 1995.

This week, the demographic edition-already running 40 times a year in SI with a 440,000 rate base-will unveil a standalone custom-published "Season Preview." American Brands is the sole sponsor with 12 ad pages.

Polybagged to SI subscribers identified as avid golfers, the custom edition is viewed as a test of a standalone Golf Plus magazine, Time Inc. insiders said. SI is aggressively developing the brand name. It begins airing on Feb. 2 a 1-hour "Golf Plus" radio show syndicated by the Olympia Network, and already has a Golf Plus books venture with Simon & Schuster.

Sibling Time is copying the strategy, teaming with golf/travel magazine Links to produce three special golf sections this year. Ten-year-old Links, published 10 times a year, saw ad pages climb last year some 6% to 499.9.

NEW FROM TURNSTILE

Turnstile Publishing is slated in March to launch Golf & Travel, an upscale quarterly. It will be distributed to 150,000 subscribers to flagship Golf Week. Turnstile is independently owned by Rance Crain, president of Advertising Age parent Crain Communications Inc.

And Golf Digest this month unveiled Golf Course Living, a lifestyle magazine sent to 400,000 of its most affluent subscribers. The title will publish two issues in 1997, upping frequency to six to eight times in 1998. Its 45 ad pages were dominated by advertisers outside the golf industry, including real estate developers, Chrysler Corp., MasterCard International and Mercedes-Benz of North America.

"There are a lot of new ways to market golf equipment," acknowledges New York Times Co. Magazine Group President Jay Fitzgerald. He said established titles are pushing into everything from instructional videos to point-of-purchase

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