In the words of its new editor, Golf Course News International has been given “a rock & roll re-launch with a raunchy cover, ‘birdie babes’ features and tabloid news that players should have more sex for better golf”.
Golf Magazines Ltd., publishers of GCNI, has hired Sir Paul McCartney’s controversial former PR manager, ex-Daily Star showbiz editor Geoff Baker, to give the bi-monthly “a tabloid tee-up”.
They are hoping that “the vamped-up re-vamp” will have a greater appeal to GCNI’s core readership which they describe as being “greenkeepers and driving range ground staff”. They are banking on attracting advertisers by making the magazine an industry talking point. “The changes to GCNI may be seen as controversial in some traditional quarters but we believe that the new GCNI now has a much wider appeal,” said a publishers’ spokesman.
“GCNI aims to put some fun back into the game of golf,” said Baker, who adds that he has never edited a magazine nor worked in sports journalism before, “Fun and games are meant to go together. Golf is not the new rock & roll, but golf and sex and rock and roll is in with a chance.”
Baker’s shake-up includes:
- Dumping front-page pix of fairways in favour of a near-naked model with a golf ball in her cleavage.
- Pin-ups of professional women players – dubbed “birdie babes” – stripped to bikinis and G-strings.
- A ‘world exclusive’ report revealing medical claims that having more sex helps golfers play better.
- Instituting a ‘racy’ gossip column to reveal the tittle tattle that does not make the headlines.
- Hiring a woman’s editor to champion women’s role in golf.
“GCNI is still reporting on all aspects on the golf industry, including seminal stories on the latest organic fertilizer”, said Baker, “But now we’re also adding a little bit of blue to the green.”
Said Baker, “On first glance, some might think the new GCNI looks rather sexist – but if you read it you’ll see that we are actually championing women’s role in golf. That’s why the first writer I’ve hired is the woman’s editor.
“GCNI intends to give women a much bigger show in the game – birdie babes are set to do for golf what Kournikova did for tennis; the birdies are drawing a new audience to the game and it would be daft to ignore them.”
Emma Dutton, the British glamour model who appears on GCNI’s front cover, caused quite a stir at the PGA Merchandise Show in January, where she was hired by the US range equipment supplier Hollrock Engineering to work as a scantily-clad attraction for customers to its booth and also as the ‘face’ of its 2006 ad campaign.
Show officials apparently instructed Hollrock staff to pull down a 50ft. banner depicting Emma in just a black bra with a golf ball in her cleavage, fearing that the saucy banner could offend golf industry businessmen un-used to such raunchy promotions. A similar picture appears on GCNI’s April cover.
The affair has had a happy ending for Emma, however, as the 25-year-old from Bristol has been appointed special assistant to Hollrock’s owner Craig Treharne, who last year bought out the golf industry supplier.
Treharne is also a major force within GCNI’s publishing company and the man under whose leadership the company which started out as Pareto has become the Seoul Nassau UK group, which last year merged with Amenity Technology. Brands supplied by these two companies are among GCNI’s most prominent and frequent advertisers.
Emma has been signed as Treharne’s personal marketing assistant to help organise promotion for the company’s ‘Auto-Tee’ system.
“I’m delighted that Emma has agreed to leave the modelling business to get into golf instead. The main difference is that now she will be required to wear more clothes at work,” said Treharne at Hollrock’s HQ in Hadley, MA.
“I was very impressed by the way that Emma handled customers at our booth in Orlando; her people skills are especially good and I realised that she would complement the vibrancy of my team,” continued Treharne, “She has a terrific head for business.”