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Travel & Leisure Golf Closes

tlcoverI was sad to see the news yesterday that Travel and Leisure Golf, where I’ve been a contributing editor for Canada since 2005, has closed its doors as of yesterday, with its current issue being its last.

T&L Golf was always a great publication, mixing interesting travel, features and architecture stories. I wrote several features for the magazine over the years, including one on coastal erosion and seaside courses that captured a lot of attention.

I worked with a number of really good editors at the magazine, including my friend Tom Dunne, who was a senior editor at the publication. He was let go just before Christmas, and I guess I should have seen the end coming at that point with the magazine making significant cutbacks. But the publication was owned by Amex, and who thought a credit card company could have money problems?

The publication also had a feature of mine that was supposed to run soon — they’d been sitting on it since last summer. The feature was on Kelowna/Kamloops golf — and I’m not sure what will happen with it now. Perhaps it will end up here. Who knows?

This is actually part of a bigger concern facing the sport of golf in Canada and the U.S. and that’s the deterioration of the golf media. In Canada, the country’s largest paper — The Toronto Star — has no golf writer, leaving most of it to columnist Dave Perkins, who essentially just covers the majors. The Globe and Mail has Lorne Rubenstein, but the paper’s small sports section limits him to splitting time between the Web and the paper these days. The National Post is in danger of disappearing altogether and owner CanWest made a decision to move away from using Associated Press means its papers — from Vancouver through to Calgary to Montreal — have little to no golf coverage and no budget to include any.

Ontario Golf magazine, where I’ve been a columnist for the past five years, has been through several owners and is under pressure amid declining advertising across the sector.  I think it still offers a fine product though.

But frankly I have no idea how most local or regional golf magazines keep afloat, especially since they are a majority advertorial anyway. Where is the value?

The question is where will Canadians get their golf news? From the PGA Tour site, which is essentially a public relations vehicle for the tour? Gosh I wish the tour had moved to a model like Major League Baseball, with independent writers covering the sport on its website and offering interesting coverage. That doesn’t exist now and I doubt it will in the future either.

The one property that seems to be stepping up is Score Golf. Budgets are tight there this year as well, but they’ve been moving more and more towards a Web-TV approach. Are you watching? The publication has also stepped up with stronger editorial, a trend that appears to be continuing this year, though I could frankly do without all the ridiculous instruction and tips in the magazine, most of which function better online anyway.

Does this mean the appetite for golf media has diminished? It looks that way, but then you see websites, blogs and posting boards garnering significant traffic and it contradicts that assumption.

Anyway, that’s a long way of saying RIP T&L Golf. I’ll miss you.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

6 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I am embarrased to say I didn’t even know this magazine existed and I am a long time amex card holder. Amongst all the amex promos I have received, I don’t remember any of them pointing to this publication.

    Due to time constraints, I generally keep my regular golf reading to this blog, TGN, Golf Digest, TGC, Score, Golf Canada, local papers and Fairways.

    I really don’t think the appetite for golf journalism has decreased, but there is just so much supply at little cost to the user (kind of like everything in golf!). I think I have actually purchased two golf magazines in the past year with the remainder either being free copies or free on-line.

    I am an avid golfer with some ties to the golf industry but, not full time. Most of my golfing friends share a similar list. I actually was surprised how large my list was!

    You can only write so many stories on golfers, golf courses, tournaments, players and travel before it gets repetitive. Wasn’t it Ian Andrew who shut down his blog because he had nothing more to say?

    Just my two and half cents. Always enjoy your comments positive and negative

    cg

  • RT. Media fragmentation is challenging even the biggest players, but have no fear – as long as there’s golf readers, there’ll be golf publications.

  • – As a subscriber to T&L Golf for the past 3 years, I’m disappointed to see it fold.
    – It was always nice to see pictures & articles about all the beautiful golf courses I could only dream about playing.
    – My current sub runs until March 2010, so I guess they’ll send my refund cheque in the mail? 😉

  • I have kept every issue of T&L Golf, so I guess it is superfluous to say that Iike the magazine very much. I particularly enjoyed their early” A round of golf with…” feature. Was sorry that they gave so much space to Faldo towards the end, but still…
    It was a wonderful magazine about golf, not just another 10 tips to cure your slice golf magazine

  • T&L Golf was one of the classiest golf magazines out there. Like Golf for Women, another magazine that stopped publishing recently, it filled a niche. It will be missed.

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