If you’re receiving this issue much later than the first week of the New Year, blame your postal worker (gently). In most zip codes, golf season is in a lull, which makes the arrival of reading material about the game feel less urgent but also somehow more essential. On the spine of this magazine, you’ll notice we’ve abandoned a 70-year-old tradition of naming issues by their month and are simply calling this Issue 1—in part to spare our collective psyche the reminder it’s January, but the motives lie deeper.
Jerry Tarde, the greatest boss ever, although he deflects the term, has been writing the Editor’s Letter of this magazine since taking the job in 1984—a record run in all of publishing that’s as safe as Nicklaus’ majors if Jack were still playing. In what might prove the least wise decision of an otherwise lifetime achievement career, Tarde relinquished this column to me while he focuses on strategy and content for Discovery Golf, our parent company. But not to worry. You can still read Tarde in his new home on the back page.
As if that wasn’t enough to mark a tide, you’ll notice several other new elements that speak to the naming of Issue 1. Staff Writer Joel Beall debuts the Undercover Caddie, Senior Writer Matthew Rudy becomes our resident golf ethicist, and Associate Editor Coleman Bentley imports the wit he used to build the winning sports and entertainment website, The Loop. And to help you get better in a more holistic way, our instruction and equipment editors have collaborated more closely than ever.
During the production of this particularly hardworking issue, the staff did take a Friday to play the annual company match. The Seitz Cup, founded by Tarde to honor his predecessor as editor, Nick Seitz, pits half of the staff against the other, and this year was contested in classic conditions: 35 degrees and gusty. Many are surprised to learn that both of Golf Digest’s staff events (our other being The Editor’s Putter, which is individual stroke play) always take place in early winter in a not-so-formal rota of venues around New York City. This unlikely scheduling, however, is a window—albeit frosted—into Tarde’s genius at cultivating the right workplace culture over four decades.
“Cold weather is an equalizer. The rawness, the adversity brings everybody together,” Jerry says. “It’s the same feeling you have playing links golf on a windy day. There’s also an element of silliness and survival, which my game evokes more of these days. And we’re all looking ahead to the same end—a bowl of chili and a pint of beer.”
Though we do keep score. Let it be known that in the most recent playing, Team Old bested Team Young by a score of 16-11 to retain the Seitz Cup, whose pewter top is dented from a still unresolved incident that occurred sometime during the Finchem administration. Yes, politically correct or not, we divide ourselves by age at Golf Digest, and the current line of demarcation is a record-low 33 years. My position on Team Old is officially firm, but more important is how this indicates the youth movement going on at our magazine. Among many notable new hires is 24-year-old Staff Writer Daniel Rapaport, who is as talented a player as he is an interviewer. Dan worked with Tiger Woods on Tiger’s first bylined instruction article for us in a dozen years. Oh, yeah, did I mention Woods is back as a Golf Digest Playing Editor? To protect his back, he skipped the Seitz Cup this year.
Less sexy, but another reason for getting rid of the month names is a slightly adjusted publishing schedule that better matches the recent shift of golf’s major championships to the front half of the calendar. We’ll still publish the same number of issues, but you’ll essentially get an extra magazine in the spring when golf matters more. (That’s when you might want to thank your postman.)
So welcome to the new Golf Digest. If for nostalgia you want to skip straight to Tarde now before reading the rest, I understand.