Crowds on the green

Special Interest The new Swiss golf magazine will be published at the end of March - the predatory competition is coming to a head.

Special Interest The new Schweizer Golfmagazin is published at the end of March - the cut-throat battle is hotting up When the golf magazine market is really groaning and cracking, it's an unmistakable sign that the opening of the season is just around the corner. Schweizer Golfmagazin is the latest challenger to shake up the overcrowded golf publication market this year. The plan is to publish a magazine in tabloid format, which will start courting golfers at the end of March. With a print run of 14,000 copies, the new Swiss golf magazine will be available at newsstands, in golf clubs and driving ranges, in golf hotels and by subscription. VIP Media Verlag AG, which published Golf & Country and the titles Petri Heil and Kavallo until the end of May 2003, is behind the brazen attack. However, Urs H. Dillier is no longer behind the publishing house based in Scherzingen. In spring 2003, majority shareholder Alexandra Jahr had a falling out with Dillier and threw him out as managing director and minority shareholder. Jahr took over Dillier's 25 percent stake and founded the new publishing house Jahr & Co. VIP Media Verlag, which is now wholly owned by her and continues to publish the three titles mentioned above.
Newcomer to the industry The only thing that remained in Dillier's hands was the naming rights to his VIP Media publishing house. On January 1, 2004, he sold these to his friend Hans Ruf - with whom he has shared a passion for aviation for over ten years. Ruf is a qualified aircraft engineer and owner of Fiber Seal, a company based in Kesswil, Thurgau, which is active in a special area of aircraft maintenance (textile fiber protection). With his entry into the publishing business, he wanted to gain a second mainstay, explained Ruf, who is not from the industry, to Werbewoche.
The planned magazine, which will be published under the name Schweizer Golfmagazin for the first time at the end of March, aims to cover all aspects of golf. With a lot of service, but also with the necessary portion of entertainment, as the tariff documentation promises. Dillier, who is still subject to a non-competition clause until December 31, 2004 following the sale of his stake to Alexandra Jahr, has nothing more to do with VIP Media Verlag, emphasizes Ruf. And he adds: "But he can advise me as a friend."
Ambitious goals
The new publisher is convinced that there is room for a new golf publication in the Swiss market. "Golf & Country is fizzling out and Drive is also lacking momentum," explains Ruf. That's why now is the ideal time for a new launch. He is extremely optimistic about the market opportunities for the new magazine, expecting to break even "within twelve months". This is possible "thanks to very lean structures and minimal fixed costs". It has not yet been decided which printing company will be allowed to print the new magazine.
Ruf holds his most important trump card in the area of advertisement acquisition. For this crucial task, he has recruited Yvonne Cox, a specialist who, as a long-standing Golf & Country advertising saleswoman, knows the market inside out and has an extensive network of contacts with the relevant advertisers.
A hip shot?
Nevertheless, the established golf magazines are shaking their heads at the bold attack. "There is simply no room for a new launch in our small market," explains Ursula Meier, who produces the member magazine Golf Suisse on behalf of the Swiss Golf Association ASG. "Instead, we expected that one of our existing market partners would soon pull the plug." Thomas Müllerschön, publishing director of the NZZ newspaper Drive, is similarly pessimistic about the potential. "I don't see any opportunities for a newcomer in the paid-for title sector."
Franco Carabelli, whose sports publishing house Europa Medien AG has taken over the production of Golf & Country for Alexandra Jahr, doubts "whether a serious market survey has even been carried out for the new magazine". "I assume that this is more of a hip shot," says Carabelli.
Big clean-out at the start of the seasonWhile the new Swiss golf publication is once again
competition is intensifying, the
established golf magazines fit for the start of the season. With the recently published January/February issue, Golf & Country has created a
completely new layout. "We have retained the magazine character
and brought more order to the magazine," explains Editor-in-Chief Franco Carabelli. Art Director Anita Lorenz was in charge of the visual redesign. The association magazine Golf Suisse is also starting the season with a milestone. The focus has now been expanded to include global events in the golf scene. Previously, the magazine had been limited exclusively to Switzerland. The expansion was made possible because the Swiss Golf Association ASG is now contributing to the production costs of the magazine. This also benefits the size of the magazine: the guaranteed number of pages per issue is now at least 80 pages, compared to the previous minimum of 48 pages. (dse)
"No chance for a newcomer": The established golf magazines hardly give the new competition a chance.
Daniel Schifferle

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