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This Week in Golf Bullshit: The Status of Golf Writing


This Week in Golf Bullshit (TWIGB) is our weekly (or bi-weekly) commentary on a controversial topic in golf or golf media from the last seven days. If you have a topic you'd like me to cover on TWIGB, send me an email at adam@golfunfiltered.com.

What do you expect to read when you visit a golf website?

If it's anything other than videos of golf trick shots, semi-nude women who may or may not be holding a golf club, or fantasy golf picks from any number of daily fantasy sites, you're likely in the minority. What does that say about the current state of golf journalism?

By the way, why did you click on this article? Did the feature image have anything to do with it? Hold that thought.

Last night I interviewed long-time pro golf beat writer Steve Elling on the Golf Unfiltered Podcast. For over 50 minutes we discussed the ups and downs of golf writing in general, including trends we've seen emerge within the medium over the years. While I hope you listen (and subscribe!) to the podcast, our conversation can be summed up as two guys lamenting over what topics have been deemed "popular" in golf media.

As I mention during the episode, Golf Unfiltered is not immune to the temptation of posting articles that fit many of the themes discussed above. Here's a post where I discuss whether sex sells golf blogs more than good writing. Here's another where I detail a video that depicts one female golfer hitting a golf ball off a tee sticking out of her teammate's rear-end. You can find multiple fantasy golf posts by using this blog's search function on the home page.

With the exception of my golf equipment review pieces, those post topics are the most popular on my blog in terms of traffic.

This tells me two things:

  1. If my goal is to drive as much traffic to my site as possible, I need to post garbage articles in any of those three categories; and
  2. In doing the above, I'll be tapping into a younger demographic comprised of readers who probably don't give a damn about golf journalism in the first place.

Those are not the readers I want to visit this site... yet those articles still appear on this site. Such is the conundrum of the modern golf blogger.

In 2013 I published an article on this site that investigated whether the lines between traditional golf writing and golf blogging have become blurred. A number of well-known scribes in both categories contributed to the piece -- including Robert Lusetich of FoxSports.com, Kyle Porter of CBS Sports, Geoff Shackelford from Golf Digest, and Ryan Ballengee from Golf News Net -- by offering their takes on how we can all "get along."

Of all the quotes offered to me in that piece, this offering from Lusetich still rings in my head almost three years later:

“The bottom line is that Old Media is finished,” Lusetich states. “New Media – including bloggers – will find a way to survive, as journals and newsletters did after the printing press was invented. The key is discovering how to make money from the enterprise, as it needs to be a business.

“Now it’s up to bloggers to find the money to make it work. It’s still evolving, but I think it’ll happen.”

How have blogs become a business? What method have most sites relied on to generate revenue? Simple: post goofy videos, gambling odds, mean shit about Tiger Woods, and tits and ass.

Why? Because as long as sites continue to appeal to the lowest common denominator, that population will continue to click on headlines. And trust me: that is a huge fucking population. Traffic equals ad revenue, ad revenue leads to fat wallets, and suddenly you are the proud owner of a small business.

It's the American Dream, baby!

All is not lost, of course. There are still golf sites who offer fantastic, original content you can't find anywhere else. Elling's GolfBlot.com is an example. Ballengee's GolfNewsNet.com is another. Adam Sarson's self-titled adamsarson.com is a third. And, yes, even the guys at NoLayingUp.com deserve your attention.

But why does your golf readership preference have to be so goddamn "niche?" Because it's the only way to find content that doesn't try to gain your support by insulting your intelligence.

Golf Unfiltered isn't going to fall into that trap any longer. You deserve better. Hell, we deserve better.

Traffic loss or no, you will only find original content on this site moving forward. While we may aggregate some news story topics from our peers in the industry, commentary or reporting on those topics will be entirely our own.

All I can hope is that you keep coming to the site.

REVIEW: Sunice Rain GORE-TEX jacket

Golf Unfiltered Podcast 46: Steve Elling