Golf for Women Magazine Shuts Down - What it Means

By: Nancy Berkley

After 20 years of publication, Golf for Women magazine announced on July 8 that the current issue would be its last. Public explanations for the folding of the magazine are the loss of its editor Susan Reed to Hearst along with the significant recent loss of ad revenue.

As a contributing editor to the magazine - both under its former publisher and its current Conde-Nast ownership, I have another observation to offer -women golfers serious enough to buy and read about the game are still too much of a niche market for a publishing empire that tries to reach broader markets.

One observer mentioned that Conde-Nast should have been able to cross-market with its other publications: Golf Digest and Golfworld. But cross-marketing is extremely difficult. So long as there are separate corporate silos managing different brands and publications, cross-marketing just doesn't work. As an aside, Golfworld does a great job of covering the women's professional golf.

The bottom line from my perspective is that the death of Golf for Women is a very sad day for women golfers. Susan Reed had an important seat at the table at all industry gatherings. Who will fill that seat now?

Actually, this could be the perfect time for that question to be answered since the industry needs women golfers to help it grow. So long as Reed and Golf for Women were around reaching out to the rank-and-file recreational golfers, other organizations like the PGA and LPGA could sit back. The Play Golf America program is off to good start. But it still hasn't figured out how to reach an audience beyond the current golfers who know about it.

Golf is an unusual sport since it cannot be played without passing through an admission gate. Unlike soccer or basketball, for instance, where you can just play at some community field, there is always a gate to pass through with golf. And the gatekeepers in this industry of over 16,000 courses in the U.S. are 99 percent male. The industry needs to fix that. There are many ways to find that fix.

I will be watching and offering more of my thoughts on the subject. Stay tuned.

Nancy Berkley, President of Berkley Consulting, is an expert on women's golf. Her book, "Women Welcome Here! A Guide to Growing Women's Golf," published by the National Golf Foundation, is an industry reference on marketing golf to women. She is a contributor to Golf for Women magazine and Chair of the Advisory Board for Golfer Girl Magazine where she writes a special series on careers in the golf industry. She chaired a panel at the World Scientific Congress of Golf in Phoenix in March 2008 and was a guest speaker at the Northern California Business Women's Conference held at Poppyridge Golf Course in Livermore, Calif., in June 2008. Nancy also consults with golf facilities on how to attract more women golfers. She is a resource for golf-industry trends and marketing advice on her website Nancy also offers a Quick Question-Free Help Line on her website. After a career as a lawyer and business executive, Nancy founded Berkley Golf Consulting and The Woman's Only Guide® to Golf to share her long-time passion for golf and to help grow the game. Nancy describes herself as a bogey golfer who is too busy to play enough golf. Contact Nancy at or on