Golf World magazine goes all digital

WILTON, Conn. -- Golf World, the oldest golf magazine in America, published its final print edition this week before switching entirely to a digital delivery.

Golf World first was published in 1947, the year after Ben Hogan won his first major. It is the news division of Golf Digest, the monthly magazine that dates to 1950. Conde Nast publishes both magazines, and Golf Digest still will be available in print.

The changes were announced Wednesday as part of its "new strategic vision" for Golf World and Golf Digest. By going exclusively digital, Golf World will have 50 issues a year, up from 31 issues of the print version.

"These are the right decisions, but they're tough ones," said Jerry Tarde, the chairman of both magazines. "This brand has been around a long time, and we want it be around for a long time. The only way to do it is by meeting the expectation of our readers."

Golf World has offered an abbreviated roundup of the week's golf coverage through tablets and other devices on Monday morning, and recently the magazine has been made available digitally in the middle of the week. Starting Monday, the full magazine will be available online for free. Readers can sign up for it on the website. Tarde said Golf World subscribers can either be switched over to a Golf Digest subscription or refunded.

The headline on the final print cover says, "Jackpot!"

Tarde, however, didn't look at this issue as the last one.

"Golf World is not ending," he said. "We're moving into a bigger digital footprint. We don't view it as a last issue. We've got another cover coming next Monday. We're all about producing great content. Where it appears has become less critical. Now you're getting it quicker, through all different devices."

He said the next issue would be a hybrid of the "Golf World Monday" that was distributed digitally and the full magazine. The new version will combine the long stories with perspective (found in the print version), bonus pieces and eventually video reporting. He said there would be a section called "Rosaforte Report" that includes senior writer Tim Rosaforte's weekly video analysis. Rosaforte also does work for Golf Channel.

"It's a response to the times and people's reading habits, and the changing nature of the 24-hour news cycle," Tarde said. "The notion of a print magazine that lands a week after the action ... the perspective is really good, but it's much better if it can be delivered immediately. That's what our readers' expectations are."