Start-up golf title seeks niche with younger attitude

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News Corp. will take another swing at the magazine business with a $20 million-plus launch of Maximum Golf, a golf and lifestyle magazine for 25-to-44-year-old men.

The 10-times-a-year title, with an initial rate base of 300,000, seems to be on par with advertisers' target of "younger, smarter and richer," said Publisher Terry Russell. "As soon as you add golf to any demographic, everything goes up," including income, education and professional level, he explained.

Mr. Russell believes there's plenty of room for a new player. But Tom Brown, publisher of category leader Golf Digest, thinks the newcomer will face a challenge. "I don't know how much room there is for more people to enter the market," he said. "It's a very crowded room."

Competitors in the golf space include the New York Times' monthly Golf Digest and its weekly Golf World; Times Mirror Magazines' monthly Golf Magazine, No. 2 in the category, and Senior Golfer; and Turnstile Publishing's Golfweek (Turnstile Chairman Rance Crain is also president of Crain Communications, parent of Advertising Age); and five-times-a-year Golf & Travel. Another newcomer is Travel & Leisure Golf, launched last year by American Express Publishing's Travel & Leisure.

The News Corp. title hits newstands May 16, bearing a cover price of $3.99. A one-year subscription is $19, and the publisher expects a subscriber base of about 200,000.

The target median reader age of 33, compared with the other big players in the category that skew towards baby boomers, was a major selling point for marketers.

"We think it's going to be a young, hip magazine that fills a gap," said Joanne Sunde, director of planning communications at MediaVest, Detroit, which placed an ad for General Motors Corp.'s Pontiac Grand Prix in the June premiere issue.

"Psychographically, there's always been this kind of golfer," said Michael Caruso, editor and founder, who pitched the magazine idea to News Corp. last year after leaving his position as editor of Details. "They're guys that just get out there and whack it around with their friends," he said, adding that, for the first time, more golfers are under than over age 40.

Maximum Golf's editorial mix includes lifestyle content such as articles on fashion, celebrities, food, cars and music, as well as golf-related articles. With that mix, News Corp. executives have positioned the newcomer against men's books such as Wenner Media's Men's Journal and Rolling Stone, Rodale's Men's Health, and Time Inc.'s Sports Illustrated.

The start-up will make use of its parent company to create a buzz. It will run TV spots on News Corp.-owned Fox and Fox Sports, as well as its minority-owned Golf Channel. In addition, maximumgolf.com will become the golf link from Fox Sports Online.

Heightened interest in the sport, brought about by the Tiger Woods phenomenon, helped bring both endemic and non-endemic advertisers on board, Mr. Russell said. Ad categories in the premiere issue include golf equipment and apparel as well as automotive, dot-coms, beer and liquor, tobacco and financial services. The first issue has 40 ad and 100 edit pages, with a page rate of $28,500 and a CPM of $95.

FootJoy, a maker of golf shoes, gloves and apparel, placed ads and a 16-page insert in Maximum Golf's first issue because the magazine takes a "lighter look at the [golf] industry than has traditionally been taken," said Steve Dow, associate media director at FootJoy's agency, Arnold Communications, Boston. The marketer will continue to advertise in other golf books, since Maximum Golf "talks to a very different [golf] audience. I don't think it'll compete head-to-head with other golf magazines," Mr. Dow said.

50 YEARS OF `GOLF DIGEST'

While News Corp. prepares to take to the course, Golf Digest readies its 50th anniversary celebration, which will include a special July issue and TV special highlighting the 50 greatest golfers of all time. A sweepstakes invites readers to guess the top three golfers of those selected by the magazine; the winner, to be announced during the TV show, will receive a grand prize of a golf getaway to Scotland.

The TV program, "Golf Digest's Greatest Players, Greatest Lessons," will air on CBS June 3 prior to the Kemper Open. Lead sponsor for the show is Taylor-Made/Adidas. Other sponsors include Mercedes-Benz USA, British Airways, insurance company St. Paul Cos., GolfWarehouse.com and golf equipment maker PRGR.

Print ads promoting the TV special, the July issue and GolfDigest.com will run in Golf Digest and siblings Golf World and The New York Times. The ads are from Total Picture Co., New York.

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