Paulina Gretzky’s fetching pose on the cover of Golf Digest magazine’s fitness issue is causing such an uproar that the publisher’s hand must be awfully blistered from all the high fives.
Frowners are terribly upset that the slick golf magazine didn’t instead feature a female golfer from the LPGA. How dare the magazine betray its sport, the profession, and its own duty to support and promote the wounded game of golf?
Maybe it is just me, but I didn’t realize Golf Digest is a journalistic publication whose job is to preach to the choir and only the choir. The magazine is a commercial powerhouse. Golf is hurting, make no mistake, which means subscriptions may be hurting, as well (my guess). What better way to spread the word than reaching outside of your readership to fresh blood?
The true genius of this cover is Paulina’s connection to hockey and all their fans, who already have the start of darn good golf swings. “Step off the ice and go green this spring!” is the subliminal message. “Put down your stick and pick up some steel and let’s do this!” Genius, I tell you.
Paulina’s engagement to pro golfer Dustin Johnson is another tie that rationalizes the cover. I can see how featuring them both on the fitness issue might have been a choice they considered. But they didn’t chicken out, they opted for the full monty controversy AKA publicity.
Anyone who has read any golf magazine over the years realizes that commercialism has taken over. No longer can you find cartoons, a humor page, or fiction by whimsical and sharp-witted writers. Equipment, ads, tips, ads, advertorial, ads, features, ads. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, but I miss the old days, too.
I believe this move by Golf Digest to open up its readership is a positive step in growing the game. That’s how you do it.
What if, for instance, they had featured Tony Romo on the cover, who also has a strong connection to golf and to fitness? Would the PGA Tour be whining that the magazine didn’t feature Jason Dufner instead?
And just as a side note: I still think the LPGA needs to get its marketing act together. Some of their ads are much better, but if you’re excited by their ads and then tune in to a telecast, well, welcome to Snoozeville. I’ve said for years on this blog that the LPGA needs to hire a storyteller and build some drama, personas, and rivalries. No one on the LPGA even spits or bends a putter shaft over their head. Who wants to watch that?
I just don’t see a down side to this. Everyone wins, everyone is getting attention, the magazine is getting read, and golf is in the headlines. Rock on.
One little cautionary message, however. Back in the late 1980s, Golf Illustrated magazine featured me with Hank Haney on its cover. Hank’s doing all right today, the magazine went through some therapy and is on its way back, I think, but look what’s happened to me. Just sayin’.