EMAP is to close “Golf Weekly” at the end of March. The magazine first appeared in 1890. It is certainly the oldest magazine in the world of golf and, possibly, the whole of sports publishing.
The title will not be sold, however, despite interest from other publishers and the receipt of a firm offer, thought to be in the region of £250,000, from one company. Apparently EMAP prefers to retain ownership of the magazine’s name and heritage at least while it considers a plan to re-launch the title as an on-line publication.
For the time being both subscribers and advertisers are being transferred to “Golf World” and Peter Masters, the editor, will become deputy editor of “Golf World” at the end of March. “It’s a really sad day,” he said. “The magazine’s long-term future has been in doubt over several years but I certainly didn‘t want to be the one holding the baton when it closed.”
Other sources were full of praise for the way in which Masters had carried out his duties under very difficult circumstances. “He did a great job,” said one. “You only have to look at the incredible loyalty of the magazine’s readers, with well over 90% of subscribers renewing every year, to realise that there wasn‘t much wrong with the product.”
For many years the magazine, known variously as “Golf Illustrated”, “Golf Illustrated Weekly” and then “Golf Weekly”, has been the favourite magazine of the golf business, with almost half the subscribers being golf club managers, secretaries, club professionals and officials from governing bodies or associations. The in-depth tournament statistics (amateur as well as professional) and background information attracted many readers, along with the magazine’s excellent coverage of topical trade news and the best situations vacant section in the game.
The magazine was sold mostly through subscription or by special orders placed with newsagents. “We printed 10,000 copies every week,” said one insider, “and we got rid of most of them.”
In recent times there has been little or no promotion of the title, although a copy can usually be found in the lounges and bars of most golf clubs. It is many years since the great days when the magazine’s banner flew proudly atop the giant marquee, which housed the annual ‘Grand Public Golf Exhibition‘ sponsored by “Golf Illustrated” in association with the R&A and held at The Open Championship every year and visited by golf fans in their thousands.
There remains one item of unfinished business: the future of the Golf Illustrated Gold Vase, the event for amateur golfers famously won by Bobby Jones in his ‘Grand Slam Year‘, is not yet known.