Anyone who writes about golf on the internet has noticed it.
Whether you write about the sport for a traditional media site, or just pen periodic posts for your own little blog, you've seen the virtual tsunami of new golf sites, golf blogs and golf-centric social networks. The graphic above shows a Google search for "golf blogs". It shows results 1 - 10 of about ... 56,550,000! Ok, that doesn't meant there are 55,550,000 golf blogs out there but I think it's safe to say there's "some interest".
All the (surviving) print publications now have online editions. These are often superior to the the print version, thanks to continual updating. The addition of video tips, interactive forums and well crafted slide shows also allows their excellent writers, astute editors and fabulous photographers to take their respective crafts to the next level.
But where the metaphorical wave of content creation becomes the tsunami, is with the dozens of new blogs and web sites that have been launched each week since the end of last summer.
Some are major efforts involving a team of staffers, and presumably, some venture capitol, while others are one-man-shows, often targeting a niche within the golf niche.
I'd guess that the number of active golf blogs - blogs that post at least twice a month - has at the very least, doubled since early fall. Actually, I suspect it's more than doubled. Sites specialized in tracking scores or teaching a specific skill have proliferated too. And what about the golf-centric social networks? There used to be a few - now there are dozens, and the number's bound to keep growing now that they can be so easily created.
That this rapid growth in online golf media has mirrored an equally sharp economic decline in the US, and around the world, is no coincidence.
Though virtually all of the new golf bloggers I've spoken to are passionate about golf, a number of them told me that they were inspired to actually blog about it because of changes in their lives, brought on by the current economic crisis: lost jobs, vulnerable jobs and the need to explore additional sources of income were all sited.
Some of these new blogs, sites, and social networks are poorly designed, poorly written, and show no signs of any real research or fact checking. Some are simply the product of one person with passion to spare, and no content creation skill set. However, a surprising number of them are good, and some are really good...they provide course reviews or commentary on tournaments...they present weekly equipment deals or handicap lowering tips, and they're well designed, well written and professional.
Here's the issue though; While consumers of content, are finding more and better product to choose from, producers of such content are trying to figure out how they're going to be able to continue providing it. Online advertising is declining along with advertising in general and most attempts to charge for digital content have been unsuccessful. This leaves online publications,large and small, and in all categories, struggling to find a viable business model.
So, golf writers, bloggers and content creators... what are your thoughts? I have a few I'll be posting later in the weekend, but in the meantime I'd love to here yours. And readers, would you be willing to pay for any of the content you consume? Do ads on blogs and websites bother you? I'd love to have your thoughts too.