Following the success of Formula One docuseries Drive to Survive, a golf version is in the works. Alex Perry asks two F1 experts what it could mean for our sport

The production team behind Netflix’s impossibly popular Formula One docuseries, Drive to Survive, is turning its attention to golf.  

What do we know so far?

Well, not a massive amount. It doesn’t even have a name just yet, but Netflix did release a roster of PGA Tour stars that will be involved.  

In no particular order, other than alphabetical, those who have already put pen to paper are Abraham Ancer, Daniel Berger, Cameron Champ, Joel Dahmen, Tony Finau, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood, Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia, Harry Higgs, Max Homa, Viktor Hovland, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Collin Morikawa, Kevin Na, Mito Pereira, Ian Poulter, Xander Schauffele, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, and Bubba Watson.  

There are some notable absentees from the list, the highest profile of which are Tiger Woods, Phil Mickleson, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Patrick Reed and Bryson DeChambeau – the latter of which is the only player to offer a reason. But while they haven’t agreed – yet – to allow the cameras into their private lives, that doesn’t mean they won’t be involved at all.   

Also good news is that, as well as the PGA Tour – who say they will have absolutely no creative control over the project – the four majors are also on board.  

Why should we be excited? 

Drive to Survive follows the Formula One season and provides 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.  

I reached out to my former ESPN colleagues Nate Saunders and Chris Medland, prominent F1 writers who were involved in the making of Drive to Survive, to ask them what we can expect.

“It’s brought a whole new fanbase to F1,” Nate explains, in particular when it came to finally cracking America.  

While that’s not a particular problem for golf, a pastime mostly popular in North America, Europe, Australia, and the Far East, Netflix can help reach parts of the world in which it has so far failed to capture the imagination of even the most ardent of armchair sports fans.  

But what will get passionate and casual golf fans alike tuning in is the opportunity to see the world’s best laid bare.  

“One of the best things about Drive to Survive was how it humanised the biggest names and gave us insight into the characters,” Nate explains. 

“Before Drive to Survive, 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,” Chris adds. “Which made for interesting additional storylines.”

Nate agrees: “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.”

Chris adds: “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 warns, 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.”

And on that controversial final race of the season, he adds: “A lot of people said the race director forced that finish – breaking the rules he was meant to implement – because F1 has become more about the entertainment factor than the integrity of the sport. So there has been some negative impact.

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

When can we watch? 

The PGA Tour and Netflix are remaining tight-lipped about a launch date – most likely because they don’t have one yet – but filming reportedly started at the Hero World Challenge in December and is likely to continue through to the end of the FedEx Cup Play-offs in September, so expect to see it in the autumn. 

What are you expecting from the PGA Tour’s Netflix documentary? Let me know in the comments below, or you can tweet me.  

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