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"Elkington splashes onto the Champions Tour with the same gorgeous swing, but as a combination of 1920s barnstorming player and Internet startup CEO."

Brett Avery gets to the bottom of what Steve Elkington is doing with his cultish web community and his stunning new house on wheels that will be his home-away-from-home as he travels the Champions Tour.

Bob Croslin's photos of Elkington's amazing big rig accompany the story in Golf World and the online edition.

Through organic growth Secret has members from more than 125 countries. Maves equates the 30,000 unique monthly visitors to Twitter, where a core stokes conversations and far more read and retweet. Elkington claims that by dress and swing alone he can pick from a crowd any Dirters, as they call themselves. "We always try to get them to think a little deeper," Elkington says. "Take responsibility for your own game."

Among the converted is Ross Roark, a west Texas horse trainer who met Elkington 15 years ago. Roark discovered Secret as a mid-80s shooter with a looping, knee-dipping swing many instructors might scrap. Roark grooved his action by studying about 300 videos, one reason the new Secret channel on YouTube has logged a million views. "If you want to know anything about golf, about the swing or the way it's supposed to be done, it's right there in The Vault," he says. Last summer Roark, now scratch, shot a 63.

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Reader Comments (25)

I've checked it out previously and went back again after reading the story -- last week. My report: ho hum, yet another run-of-the-mill golf site. Some video instruction, often-confusing golf-based cartoons and the usual "forums," giving another gang of gabby golfer a place to gush, grumble and gripe. The fuss over "SecretDirt" is beyond me. Wake me when Elkington makes waves equal to Jack Dorsey.
02.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBenSeattle
Elk is a completely boorish donkey on twitter. The term 'petulant child' comes to mind. If he's half as cranky, rude and dismissive in person, his 'Dirters' would be better served following the slew of superior golf websites out there.
02.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPJ
Disagree with you Ben, there is quite a bit over there in Secret in the Dirt. It is THE site for passionate golfers focused on their game. There is diversity in content and a lot of it, wide ranging topics for discussion, some on a very technical level and tons of videos. Effectively there is something for everyone. Similar to this site there is something new everyday,

Gotta give Elkington credit, whether you like him or not, he has built a pretty impressive site.
Geoff's site is the go to site for the State of the Game of golf. Elk's site, is the place to go for the "playing" of the game of golf. Ton's of instruction, much of it on a highly technical level. Diverse topics including discussions on equipment, fitness, etc. Like him or not, Elk has built something over there.
what does the way they dress have to do with anything?
02.21.2013 | Unregistered Commenterthusgone
Seems like they're inhaling something stronger than antler spray.
02.21.2013 | Unregistered Commentertlavin
The website has an excellent selection of instructional and other other videos, however the forum is dead. I checked it out the other day and in many of the discussions it appeared that no one had replied to a topic in weeks or even months.
02.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKC
Like Elk and his swing. The site's different and irreverent enough to attract folks that wish to be separated from the stodgy golf crowd. His Twitter persona is too rude for my taste.
02.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAG
Elk like Sobel tries too hard and more often than not, fails at humor.
02.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterLeeWatson
Put me in the group that likes what Elk is doing with his website.

SITD is (and has always been) a site for swing junkies in the obsessive compulsive Hoganeque mold much like this site's crowd are fans of more traditional architecture and game values.

As one who teaches this confounding game, Elk's website is rather refreshing, and his cartoons are pretty good. The site is definitely NOT for folks who are looking for a magic bullet/method system to improve. It basically breaks down 'what's' supposed to move 'when' and shows how other folks have done it in the past and how to become your own best coach....which is the whole point.
02.21.2013 | Unregistered Commenterjohnnnycz
Don't talk bad about the Elk, it's DTF's boy. But agree, everything he says he's TRYING to be funny. He's a complicated dude.
02.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRich Gandolfini
Doesn't the very name of the site, (we all know it's a reference to the Hogan quote), seem to indicate that looking for some secret swing tip on a website is a waste of time? I'll wait for "veterans can kiss my"
02.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCOB
That's right, don't talk bad about Elk, or else ;0)
02.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
How much money do you make from playing the champs tour? if this guy trucks this thing to each event and flys private in/out, does he have to win to break even on the week?
02.21.2013 | Unregistered Commentersmails
Elk is kind of pitiful to me. He's the kind of guy that makes fun of almost everyone because he's so insecure about his shortcomings. I can see guys in the locker room actually making fun of him which is ironic. You know, the Elk look with the sleeves on his shirt too short, his low-water sans-a-belts, and the classic foot joys. Great swing but not a cool guy, even though he thinks he is.
02.21.2013 | Unregistered Commentercavleer
Jackie Burke Jr. must be a really really lousy judge of character...
02.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Elk replied to a tweet of mine about the migratory patterns of gold crowned sparrows...sorry, I can't say a word against him.
02.21.2013 | Unregistered Commenterjjshaka
He had potential when he and Mr. Burke first became tight but I bet even old Jackie would tell you that Elk ventured down the wrong path with some of his past antics and many conflicts he's had through the years. You can defend the guy DTF, I expected that, but you can't deny his attitude, not the injuries, is what held him back.
02.21.2013 | Unregistered Commentercavleer
Hey johnny, what's your take on Jimmy Ballard's swing theories?

cavleer, what's your take on Scott Hoch?
02.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Actually know Hoch from junior golf in Carolinas, he was always a DB. Good player, probably underrated. I actually think he has a few of the same issues as Elk. Scott was always self concious and uncomfortable around people so he ran his mouth and usually stuck his foot in it eventually.
02.22.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCavleer
That's funny because at one time I played a lot of golf with Scott after he got on Tour and I like him a lot. I can also assure you he was very well liked around Bay Hill and of the good guys, still is. Did you ever beat him? He was definitely underrated, finest iron player in the world for a period of time there IMO. Do all brash teenagers grow up to be bad guys?

Do you know Elkington personally? Who do you like?

Out of curiosity, what club in NC did you grow up at? I can understand if that's not something you want to reveal.
02.22.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Did I ever beat him? Geez DTF, did I strike a nerve? I didn't say he was a bad guy now, although the guys on Tour did say that many years ago. I was simply describing him when he was a junior and it was accurated. I played at Raleigh CC DTF and while it makes no difference I did beat Scott several times in junior golf, before he got really good. If you don't mind me asking where did you play in the Carolinas? Perhaps we know eachother.
02.22.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCavleer nerves struck. But it's kind of funny how many guys who got drummed regularly by some other guy back in the day think that person is/was a jerk ;0)

In fact the guys on the PGA Tour never said Hoch was a jerk. Are you familiar with what went down there? Some writer distributed 100 questionnaires, got back about 40, Hoch's name appeared twice in the "least likely to be paired with" line and 38 other guys appeared once, so the publication went with Hoch...highly dubious.

What I'm trying to get at is so often I hear people saying "that guy so-and-so is a real jerk" and they've never even met the person, have no idea what that guy is really like. I enjoy asking the Hoch question because he has a terrible reputation, mainly because of his comments about the Old Course, and secondarily because he did generally have a grimace on his face on the rare occasions Chirkanian actually allowed the cameras to focus on one of his shots! But the truth is Scott is a great guy to be around, regular guy, likes to drink a beer after the round and tell some great stories, just extremely well liked in the neighborhood.

I bet Steve Elkington is similar. Personally I always thought he was a bit stiff, thought he wore his shirts too tight! But then I read his My Shot interview in Golf Digest and it was hilarious, shed a new light from my perspective...reminded me of the Hoch Principle.

I had a brew or 400 at Barry's and Ed's Grocery back in the day ;0)
02.22.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
I'm the first one to admit that people change and grow. All I can speak to is what he was like as a junior and it wasn't a great rep--which was earned. From local chatter it didn't change much in college and that's not me talking. I'm glad he turned into a fun guy to be around. Amazing what a couple million dollars will do to the "tude".
02.23.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCavleer
I'm sure we crossed paths. How bout "Bowties" at the Hilton? Great pick up joint back in the day.
02.23.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCavleer

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