An Interesting PR Strategy from Golf Pro Steve Elkington
Can being a blowhard on Twitter land you a deal as a broadcaster? Steve Elkington puts this theory to the test as he creates a stir online with controversial and insensitive tweets.
From Beloved Golf Storyteller to Social Media Blowhard
Steve Elkington used to play on the PGA Tour, but is now a member of the Champions Tour, which is for pro golfers over the age of 50. He’s always been known in golf circles for his dry & witty humor. A request guest of famous sports radio host Jim Rome, Elkington would tell some great stories of the ‘old days’ on the PGA tour. By all accounts, Elkington was loved by players and fans alike.
But goodwill for Elkington didn’t last forever. In 2011, Elkington developed a golf-centric social media site called SecretsIntheDirt.com. In doing interviews to promote the site, Elkington professed his love for Twitter while entirely dismissing all other golfers on the site. When asked who from the golf world he followed on Twitter, he replied:
“There are no other big golf personalities. Their content is rubbish.”
That small and seemingly innocuous quote foreshadowed what Elkington had up his sleeve for the future. The man known as “Elk” has taken to Twitter to share his beliefs, and they have not been well received, to say the least.
Steve Elkington Offends the World, but No One Can Stop Watching
It all started with a couple of racist tweets at the Senior British Open during the summer of 2013. Elkington took shots at the host town of Southport with his tweets, including this gem:
“Things about Southport … fat tattooed guy, fat tattooed girl, trash, Pakistani robber guy, shit food.”
With the insensitive tweet, his Twitter followers began to grow. After all, everyone stops to see a train wreck.
Elkington is now up to over 62,000 followers, and if people were looking for a train wreck, that is exactly what they found. In November, Elk dished out a grossly insensitive tweet regarding a fatal helicopter crash into a bar in Scotland.
The venom on the Internet was swift and justifiable. Elkington backed down a bit, saying that he heard there were no injuries in the accident and therefore thought the humor would be fine. Eight people died.
Elkington laid low for some time, focusing on other highly controversial topics such as politics, but things really went haywire last month when he commented on a prominent golf blogger’s photo with her friends on a golf course.
I don’t know anyone who would find that response funny. Honestly, its not even a joke. It’s more just an attempt to ridicule someone’s body. It was great that Stephanie came back with a witty retort, but Elkington’s “apology” was almost as bad as the tweet itself, blaming drinking for his bizarre and tasteless tweet. Once again, Elk got his name in the news and the story was passed around the web.
He’s gained a strange, almost cult-like status for being offensive on Twitter. He let his followers know that he was reprimanded by the PGA Tour and forced to delete some tweets, but still loves to tweet out some questionable thoughts.
Elk’s behavior all came to a head only two weeks later, after NFL draft prospect Michael Sam announced that he is gay. The news created a bit of a media firestorm, as there has yet to be an active NFL player announce their homosexuality. The story was great fodder for talking heads to go back and forth on such things as whether the NFL locker rooms were ready for a gay player. But with most people responding positively to Sam’s honesty with excitement and encouragement, the media was missing one important thing: conflict. The story really needed an antagonist for the media to continue to make it a story. Steve Elkington was happy to fill that role.
After crossing the line there, Elkington had his name mentioned on just about every news station and printed in almost every newspaper across the country. So if he was trying to make noise, he achieved that objective without question.
What’s Steve Elkington Getting at Here?
Steve Elkington has been offensive in practically every way possible. He’s touched on death, race, women, and now, sexual preference. What I can’t figure out is what he is trying to gain from this behavior. The man has made over $20M on the PGA tour alone over the last 19 years, and that is not counting any endorsement money that he surely received during his days on the tour.
Is he thinking that having his name in the news is going to make him relevant and therefore open the door for a broadcasting position? It seems very hard to believe that any reasonable company would touch Elkington with a ten foot pole. But the bottom line is, celebrities and athletes have always been able to profit from standing out, whether it is Miley Cyrus’s VMA antics or Richard Sherman’s rant after the NFC Championship.
All that said, would you really want to gain notoriety for being a racist chauvinist homophobe who has no regard for human life? Whatever Steve Elkington is trying to accomplish, here’s hoping he gets there quickly so he can quit with the ridiculously insensitive tweets.