SBJ/Feb. 3-9, 2014/Media

Golf Digest, Golf Channel unite on ‘Hot List’ reviews

Golf Digest and Golf Channel are teaming up for the first time to create a block of branded programming this week featuring the magazine’s “Hot List” equipment review.

Beginning Monday and running each day of the week on Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive,” the show’s co-hosts will talk with Golf Digest editors to explain how the magazine tests equipment and comes up with its club ratings.

From drivers to wedges and everything in between, Golf Digest’s “Hot List” analyzes 250 golf clubs in all, and gives gold and silver ratings to the 106 clubs that become part of the “Hot List.” Golf Digest’s ratings and reviews have been running under the “Hot List” label for 11 years.

“Morning Drive,” a two-hour daily show, will expand to three hours on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, and four hours on Thursday to accommodate the show’s additional content.

Jeff Neubarth, coordinating producer for “Morning Drive,” said he wants to make sure the live show has enough time to touch on all 106 clubs on the “Hot List” and respond to viewer feedback on social media. He has worked with Craig Bestrom, Golf Digest’s editorial director, to coordinate the segment, and Golf Digest editors Mike Stachura, Mike Johnson and Ashley Mayo will appear on the show.

“We have a great opportunity to show the viewers how the ‘Hot List’ is developed,” said Neubarth, who helped oversee the relaunch of “Morning Drive” last year in its new Orlando studio.

Equipment has become a core topic for the show — the relaunch has included regular equipment segments. It’s becoming common, Neubarth said, for manufacturers to announce player deals and product launches on “Morning Drive.”

But “Hot List” will go deeper into equipment analysis than the show has gone before. Neubarth said Golf Channel cameras were with the Golf Digest panel of experts throughout October when the club testing was done, and the show will delve into the magazine’s evaluation process.

Bestrom said he hopes the “Hot List” will become an annual feature on the network.

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