I 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.