March Madness may be the big news in sports at the moment, but for golf fans across the country, it’s all about April—and the Masters. The tournament, which takes place at the Augusta National Golf Club from April 5 to 8, is the official kickoff for the golf season, and the sport’s top publications are busy getting fans excited for the big event.
“The Masters is like Christmas morning for our golf editors, so we want to get inside the excitement they have,” Sports Illustrated Golf Group publisher Dick Raskopf told Adweek. To gear up for the season ahead, SIGG (which includes Golf.com, Golf Magazine and the Sports Illustrated supplement Golf+) is introducing a new “supervertical” called Sports Illustrated at the Majors that will give fans a way of experiencing the tournaments on multiple platforms.
The April 2012 Masters Preview issue of Golf Magazine is the publication’s largest issue since July 2008, with pages up 15 percent year over year—with April 2011 also having marked the largest issue of that year. But SIGG is putting most of its focus on a new set of experiential events that will take place during the four biggest U.S. tournaments: the Masters, U.S. Open, PGA Championship and Ryder Cup.
“We’re looking to form a long-term franchise at all of these venues,” said Raskopf. “We think it’s something new and something that’s going to be refreshing for the editors and for the people visiting the tents.” At each of the four tournaments, Macy’s will sponsor Top 100 Teachers events, which gives free five-minute golf lessons with pros while also promoting the department store’s new Greg Norman golf line. (Macy’s is also making its first national ad buy with SIGG and will appear in the April issue of Golf Magazine.) Southwest Airlines will sponsor the main stage at the venues, where SIGG will give analysis of the events in its PGA Tour Confidential. Lastly, Myrtle Beach, S.C., will sponsor an event where attendees can have their pictures taken for mock covers of Sports Illustrated.
Condé Nast’s Golf Digest also has big plans for the Masters. “The level of anticipation around the Masters this year is as high as I’ve ever seen,” said the magazine’s editor in chief, Jerry Tarde. Each year, the magazine brings a first-time attendee to join its team of more than 30 editors and photographers at the tournament. To commemorate the tradition, the magazine is releasing a special tablet-only “First Impressions” issue, sponsored by AT&T, that will be free to subscribers or $1.99 for nonsubscribers. It will highlight anecdotes from past participants—like Tom Brokaw and George Plimpton—and features an interactive tour of Augusta National that tracks every change the course has seen since the Masters began.
The April issue of Golf Digest also includes an exclusive excerpt from The Big Miss: My Years Coaching Tiger Woods by the pro golfer’s former coach Hank Haney (Woods is on the magazine’s cover) while the tablet version features 16 instructional videos. “I think one of the examples of why Golf Digest is so perfectly suited to digital issues is that instruction is the heart of our magazine,” said Tarde. Woods will be an especially hot commodity at the Masters, Tarde told Adweek—which will hopefully create a lot of buzz for the title and through the tournament season ahead.