Earlier this year I heard about a new golfing publication that caught my eye called The Golfer's Journal. There was a lot of positive buzz about them since they promised to deliver authentic storytelling about the game we love.
Recently, the first issue of the quarterly publication was released. This past weekend I sat down on my couch to read it. As someone who lives almost entirely in the digital world, this was a nice change of pace. Like many of you, I ditched my book collection years ago in favor of a Kindle. I don't read magazines anymore and consume almost all of my words online (while producing them as well).
Simply put, The Golfer's Journal is a refreshing reading experience for a number of reasons.
It sounds completely crazy that someone would launch a print publication in the current publishing climate. However, I think this form of storytelling is going to catch on with golfers who are sick and tired of being spoonfed the same kind of media over and over again.
It Looks Great
When you first pick up the Golfer's Journal you feel like you are holding something significant. While there is only one volume out so far, I suspect many golfers will be lining these up one day in a collection that is on display in their homes. They've done a great job of using high-quality materials, and the overall impression you get after quickly flipping through the pages is that this is a serious publication that cares about the reading experience.
Personally, I am a big fan of photography. That might be my favorite part of the Golfer's Journal (aside from the stories). The photographs in each story are superb. Whether you are reading about a golfing journey through Tijuana or learning about Jimmy Walker's Astrophotography, each story is told just as well visually as it is through words.
Even the advertisements are done tastefully - you don't feel like you are being sold to while you read.
Real Golf Stories
For the first time in a long time, I actually sat down and read something that wasn't on a screen. It felt great.
There is a diverse mixture of stories in the opening issue of the Golfer's Journal. All of them share a common theme - they are meant for golfers who truly love this game and not only care about where it came from but more importantly where it is going.
The editorial style is in direct opposition from what you will see from traditional golf media outlets. There aren't any recycled swing tips, recent PGA Tour news, or fluffed up product reviews.
You'll read about a forgotten Scottish golf course located on a remote island, the real challenges of municipal golf courses, and the birth of the LPGA tour. Each story is unique in its own way, and I found myself looking forward to seeing what was next. To put it simply, everything is entirely authentic - no agendas, just great storytelling.
Maybe The Printed Word Isn't Dead
The printed word is becoming harder and harder to come by. People seem to prefer their content on screens now, and the traditional publishing model is starting to disappear. It is a little sad to think that in the not-too-distance future books, magazines and other forms of print might not be part of our society at all. Watching my children grow up is starting to give me a glimpse into the next generation's relationship with media. My wife and I have probably purchased more than 100 children's books that we try to make sure they are engaged with on a daily basis. However, it's nearly impossible to keep a child completely isolated from those glowing screens they see everywhere.
Golf media is succumbing to the same trend. Major golf publications are seeing their print subscriptions dwindle. Overall, the transition to online media has been rocky for many professional writers and their employers. The last time I looked at one of the major print magazines at an airport I noticed that more than 60% of the pages were advertisements, the content appearing thinner than ever.
The Golfer's Journal is trying to buck this trend by offering what they call "an elevated media experience." The quarterly edition will cost you roughly $20 per issue. For me, it was money well spent. I will certainly be subscribing to future editions because I think they delivered on their promise, and I look forward to seeing what is next.
I am hoping that their model is sustainable. It would be refreshing to see an upstart print publication make it when most people have stuck a fork in the medium.
They're not going to survive without golfers' support though. I encourage you to try out the first edition - you can purchase it on their website here. I think most of you are going to have a similar experience to me, and want to subscribe to future editions.