fbpx
Full Swing season two

Full Swing review: Has Netflix aced its PGA Tour doc?

There's been an awful lot of hype about Full Swing - the Netflix series following the PGA Tour's stars for the 2022 season. But did it live up to it? Alex Perry jots down his (spoiler-free) thoughts
 

Can you remember the last time there was this much buzz about a television show involving golf? Well, the Full Swing Netflix series is made by the same people who brought us the impossibly popular Formula 1: Drive to Survive and the beautifully shot tennis doc Break Point, so there’s a lot to live up to.

Now in its fifth season, Drive to Survive has revolutionised F1 as a spectator sport and as a soap opera, providing a candid and fascinating behind-the-scenes window into the sport which, even for those who don’t follow closely, is captivating and, at times, unmissable.

So can Full Swing provide the same for golf?

Before I watched Full Swing, I wanted to get a better idea of how those in the F1 bubble felt about Drive to Survive. So I fired up a WhatsApp conversation with my former ESPN colleagues Nate Saunders and Chris Medland, prominent F1 writers who were involved as talking heads in the series, to ask them what it’s done for their sport.

“It’s brought a whole new fanbase to F1,” Nate explained. “One of the best things about it was how it humanised the biggest names and gave us insight into the characters.

“Before, Lewis Hamilton was F1’s only genuine recognisable star, but it’s showed there are some incredible personalities across the sport.”

“It made people other than the drivers relatable too,” added Chris. “Which made for interesting additional storylines.”

Nate agreed: “It captured genuine moments of animosity between [rival race team leaders] Christian Horner and Toto Wolff, for example, which you don’t always see when they have played nice on camera.”

Back to Chris: “For me it was about getting people to connect with lesser-known stars in the sport. So they’ll be watching a race and find themselves rooting for a random driver in eighth place, and so on.

“Like golf, it’s not just about who wins.”

But, Nate warned, there can be an element of finding drama for drama’s sake: “While new fans loved it for that reason, for us who follow F1 closely, the series created rivals where rivalries didn’t exist. For example, if you watched the series you’d think Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo were arch rivals but to those of us in the know, there is no beef between them at all.

“For the new fanbase, that’s been great, but it’s a double-edged sword.”

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth in Full Swing

Having now watched the series in its entirety, it’s clear Full Swing has followed the same formula. So will it get passionate and casual golf fans alike tuning in to see the world’s best laid bare?

Each episode is character-led, whether it be Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas in episode one (those two are best friends – who knew?) or Brooks Koepka in episode two, or Ian Poulter, Joel Dahmen, Matt Fitzpatrick, Dustin Johnson, Tony Finau, Saheeth Theegala, or Mito Pereira. There’s even a surprise turnout from Rory McIlroy in the finale – though he had some pretty strict rules.

Like my F1 pals, as a die-hard golf fan I had mixed feelings. Large chunks of episodes largely tell us what we already know – whether it be following tournaments we’ve already seen, or graphics that tell us what a birdie is, or prominent golf journalists popping up to explain to us what a playoff is, or what a missed cut means. They must be wondering why they weren’t given the opportunity to add some much-needed colour.

But this is a documentary aimed at general sports fans. It’s not really meant to be for me or you in that sense.

Brooks Koepka in Full Swing

And the parts with the players, whether in their houses or while they are mic’d up at tournaments, that offer a genuine look behind the curtain that we otherwise don’t get, more than make up for it.

As promised, I won’t drop any spoilers, but there are two episodes where your opinion of certain golfers will change. In my case, it was one for the worse and one for the better. (I’ll let you decide who and which way once you’ve seen it.)

There are also two episodes in particular that will leave you in floods of tears. The show’s most rewarding aspect is seeing some of the world’s best professional golfers at their most vulnerable.

But it’s frustrating to follow in a linear sense. Due to the character-led nature of the series, we hop around the 2022 PGA Tour season with seemingly reckless abandon. For starters, the opening episode is entirely based around the PGA Championship – a tournament that is held eight months into the season and isn’t even the first major let alone big tournament.

As a result, it feels like each episode resets and starts again. In the first 45 minutes, we have Thomas overtaking Pereira to win at Southern Hills, but the Chilean’s episode isn’t until the tail end of the series, so we end up treading back over old ground. Why? We’ve done the PGA already. Get us to St Andrews.

It feels like the eight episodes could be watched in any order and it wouldn’t affect your viewing experience. It’s incredibly galling for even the casual golf fan.

As for LIV Golf. Poulter, as you will have seen in the promos, tells the creators that “they picked a hell of a year to start following the PGA Tour”, but the storyline of the so-called civil war at the top end of the game never really gets going. Why would you not pit McIlroy and DJ against each other as the mouthpieces of their respective tours?

It ends up falling a bit flat as, again, there isn’t a lot on offer for people who follow golf on a weekly, if not daily, basis – though, admittedly, watching the LIV discussions with the benefit of hindsight and knowing what we know now does add an extra layer of deliciousness to the experience.

Casual golf fans and general sports fans will undoubtedly enjoy it more than the die hards, but there is just about enough to keep the latter happy. But whoever you are, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll come away with more than with which you started.

But there’s a lot to learn if a second season is on the cards – including getting Tiger Woods involved…

Full Swing release date

Full Swing release date

All eight episodes of Full Swing will stream on Netflix from February 15.

Alex Perry

Alex Perry

Alex has been the editor of National Club Golfer since 2017. A Devonian who enjoys wittering on about his south west roots, Alex moved north to join NCG after more than a decade in London, the last five of which were with ESPN. Away from golf, Alex follows Torquay United and spends too much time playing his PlayStation or his guitar and not enough time practising his short game.

Latest Posts

masters champions dinner

The Masters

Masters Champions Dinner: What’s been served down the years?

By

Read full article about Masters Champions Dinner: What’s been served down the years?
Scottie Scheffler wife

PGA Tour

Who is Scottie Scheffler’s wife? Meet Meredith Scudder

By

Read full article about Who is Scottie Scheffler’s wife? Meet Meredith Scudder
The complete list of amateur winners on tour

The complete list of amateur winners on tour

By

Read full article about The complete list of amateur winners on tour
Who is Tony Finau's wife? Meet Alayna Galea'i

PGA Tour

Who is Tony Finau’s wife? Meet Alayna Galea’i

Read full article about Who is Tony Finau’s wife? Meet Alayna Galea’i
Rickie Fowler's wife

PGA Tour

Who is Rickie Fowler’s wife? Meet Allison Stokke

By

Read full article about Who is Rickie Fowler’s wife? Meet Allison Stokke
Rory McIlroy's wife

PGA Tour

Who is Rory McIlroy’s wife? Meet Erica Stoll

By

Read full article about Who is Rory McIlroy’s wife? Meet Erica Stoll
Patrick Cantlay wife

PGA Tour

Who is Patrick Cantlay’s wife: Meet Nikki Guidish

By

Read full article about Who is Patrick Cantlay’s wife: Meet Nikki Guidish
Who is Collin Morikawa's wife? Meet Katherine Zhu

PGA Tour

Who is Collin Morikawa’s wife? Meet Katherine Zhu

By

Read full article about Who is Collin Morikawa’s wife? Meet Katherine Zhu
Who is Sam Burns' wife? Meet Caroline Campbell

PGA Tour

Who is Sam Burns’ wife? Meet Caroline Campbell

By

Read full article about Who is Sam Burns’ wife? Meet Caroline Campbell