The ever changing world of golf blogs
When G4G launched 16 months ago, blogs were generally being disregarded and only discussed as a passing fad. It wasn't obvious at the time who they would appeal to, but it was clear as crystal that the so-called "online diary" concept had limited appeal. There were a handful of bloggers speaking about golf, with most being casual fans who wanted to talk about their favourite sport. They were generating a little interest and a handful of readers. What a difference a year makes.
A lot of sites that were online in 2004 have disappeared or stopped updating regularly, a sign that the author is losing interest in all the time it takes to maintain a good sports blog. It is always tough for some to continue running their blog when the season comes to a close and their golf bag gets put in the garage for a few months. Some may continue once the season starts again, but others seem to have fallen off the map. Golfersmuse, which showed a lot of promise and was clearly written by someone with behind-the-scenes access to the PGA Tour, hasn't posted since July with no indication the site will start again. Sadly, Bunker Mulligan, a military man from Texas, died suddenly last summer. His site stayed up for a while, but now seems to have been shut down. Others, like Golf Tips and News, seem to have become suddenly quiet after regular posts.
Others have continued to post regularly and stay true to their initial promise. Sortagolf still writes humourous asides on the game, while Eric Barzeski and the folks at The Sand Trap do a great job of keeping their site topical and up to date with details on equipment and the various tours. It may be the most complete golf blog on the Web. MJonGolf plucks the headlines, and Golfblogger does a great job reviewing gear, books and other golf paraphenalia. Eatgolf offers some personal anecdotes about his game, and though the layout is a bit jarring, it does a nice job of illustrating many of its post with pictures. Hooked on Golf is still about and writing about the sport regularly while also mourning the coming of snow to his 'hood. BogeyLounge remains thoughtful and insightful, a rarity among golf blogs, while Perform Better Golf's blog section, run by top golf instructor Mike Pedersen, has demonstrated that a good golf blog can also be a great marketing tool. I'm surprised more top golf teachers aren't doing this. Texas Golf has some nice asides and picks up some things few others notice.
There are also new blogs coming online all the time, though only time will tell whether they have staying power. Check out TravllingGolfer.com, which has been active and offers lots of material.
Of course there's also Reluctant Jam Boy, a blog that doesn't fit into any one category, but has a lot of fans. The blog details the inner workings of the caddy shop told from the perspective of an unnamed caddy who is now working in Florida. Part diary, part instructional manual, it is fascinating reading. Someone will surely take his behind the scenes commentary and turn it into the Nanny Diaries for golfers.
There are still only a handful of golf bloggers who are actively part of the media. There's G4G, of course, and there's Geoff Shackelford, who has written a number of books on golf architecture and contributes to a number of golf websites and magazines, including Golfobserver.com. Shackelford plucks stories from the golf media and offers interesting, smart commentary that is easily digestible. Jay Flemma, a New York music lawyer who is fascinated by the subject of golf architecture, has had an interesting year, flirting with Travelgolf.com before working with Golfobserver.com and continuing to run his site, A Walk in the Park, which is regularly updated with his commentary on new golf courses throughout the U.S. Of course there's also the Travelgolf.com blogs, for what they are worth.
Interestingly, there are very few Canadian golf bloggers. Considering the number of players in the country, hardly anyone is offering a Canuck insight into the game. That's too bad. Not surprisingly, most media websites don't know how to deal with the content being created by these blogs. Some organizations, like Yahoo!, have addressed this by offering links to RSS feeds (sort of like an online subscription service), while others, like Golfobserver, are still trying to find a way to make it work for them.
The reality is the golf blogs are just an extension of the 19th hole mentality. They represent what golfers love to do -- talk about, debate and fight about golf. They want to be able to say what the television commentators won't. They want to say what the sports writers sitting behind a desk at some newspaper won't: that Phil is fat, but fun to watch; or that Tiger is being distracted by his pretty new bride. They want to comment on which courses suck and which are worth plunking your money down to play. They want to say Woods has eclipsed Jack as the greatest golfer. They want to be able to critique the stories they read. When done well, this is a fascinating concept that truly adds a level of democracy to sports writing. A vast majority of these bloggers aren't journalists -- and it is intriguing to see exactly what interests them.
If you are interested in checking out the expanding world of golf blogs, take a look at the impressive list compiled by GolfSlo, which literally includes dozens of golf bloggers not mentioned here. Like everything on the Web, some will be worth checking regularly, while some won't be worth visiting once.
Of course, I'm sure some great golf blogs are missing from this list. Please take the time to add your site to the comment section of this post and I'll update readers.