There was a lot to unpack after watching the eight-episode first season of Full Swing, Netflix’s docuseries on the PGA Tour/LIV.
In honor of fake (enter name of any LIV co-conspirator here) professional golfers playing on both tours, we broke our review down into a couple of handfuls of Thumbs Ups and Thumbs Downs.
Finau, Family & Friends (Episode 6)
Big T — what we like to call Tony Finau — proved nice guys can finish first, on and off the course. It’s not just that Tony Finau is likable. Right now, he’s hands down THE most likable player on the PGA Tour (confirmed by Golf Digest) and (probably) gained more social fans & followers thanks to his Full Swing episode than LIV’s total viewership numbers on the CW (200,000?) last week.
Doesn’t it seem like 2023 is his year for a major win? We’re picking him to lift a Big A-Trophy at The Open Championship. We see it happening. You’re not alone if you see it too. Let’s go Big T!
The Road Less Travelled (Episode 7)
Back story: another good guy, Sahith Theegala, had to sweat it out to make the PGA Tour. Even though he was a stud in college, he wasn’t as Korny-good as his Episode pal Mito Pereira (now living large on LIV) who won 3 times that season to be automatically elevated to the PGA Tour. Episode 7 focused on these two rooks and how they performed during a couple of life/career-altering events during their inagural PGA Tour season. Spoiler alert: They both suffered heart wrenching loses which played out on my 75’. Tears were flowing. Parents crying. Wives crying. Me crying. Wives of caddies crying. Brutal “rookie” losses.
Seeing the behind-the-scenes video after he lost–Sahith got bad-bounce screwed at the Waste Management–tugged at our heartstrings in all the right ways. It was raw and endearing. Don’t be embarrassed if you shed a tear (and maybe you did for Team Finau as well). No doubt Sahith picked up fans. How could he not have? His excitement for being in contention was on full display. And when he lost his chance at winning, it was as emotional a sports moment as we’ve seen broadcast in a long time. On par with losing a Super Bowl. Missing a last second March Madness buzzer beater. Even the highlights of AFC Richmond getting relegated.
Great episode. Prior to watching it we already knew that Sahith went on to make the Tour Championship and finish out the year strong. If we hadn’t known that already we’d probably still be tearing up. Rest assured, he’s gonna close the deal and lift his fair share of trophies on the PGA tour. We can’t wait.
The Guys You’ve Probably Never Heard Of (Episode 4)
The producers of F1: Drive to Survive proved this type of show can be successful with a mixture of dynamic storytelling and participation from the game’s top players/fan favorites.
Also, the introductions to the next generation of professional golf stars and all-around good guys was on point. We’re looking at you, Joel Dahmen. You and that white belly of yours. And your caddie Geno too. Thanks to the show and its producers we are forever now on #TeamBucketHat.
Full Swing gave us what we needed and more in terms of player participation. From Spieth to Mito to Dahmen to DJ, there were plenty of stars, rookies, journeyman, good guys, bad guys and guys we don’t know what to think of (we miss you Joaquin, come back to the real Tour) who participated.
Comeback Kid (Mulitple Episodes)
Netflix captured Justin Thomas’ epic Sunday comeback at the PGA at Southern Hills in dramatic fashion. Or, depending on how you look at it, Mito Pereira’s monumental collapse. The replay of his swing on the 18th tee made my bowels hurt. I’m sure he trashed more than just his glove once he was in the lockeroom and away from the cameras. The footage and emotion was raw. Dubbing in the CBS broadcast (Faldo and Nantz) was especially interesting to listen–again–this time with Netflix footage. Poor Mito. Poor follow-through.
The tourney’s finish was more than worthy of a major championship that you may have forgotten about with the PGA Tour/LIV Golf Clash consuming the headlines. We just wish Jordan had stuck around to celebrate with his friend. His bad form probably caused his bowels to mandate a quick “flying private is the only way to go” trek back to TX.
Brutal Honesty, Mostly (Episode 5)
Dustin Johnson said it best, “Why wouldn’t I work less for more money?” It’s what everyone wanted to hear even before players started officially jumping ship from the comforts of the PGA Tour.
The former World No. 1 didn’t shy away from the topic and it was refreshing to hear his honest take. He’s probably one of only a handful of LIV players Jay Monahan would welcome back to the PGA Tour (after a long suspension).
What we know now is that DJ isn’t working less (he’s committed to a 14 tournament circuit along with tons of dumbass LIV PR events), but there is no denying that he’s making more. His take home in ‘22 was crazy ($35M+ from tournament purses alone). And ‘23 will likely turn out about the same. Pat Perez certainly hopes so.
The Koepka Family La La Vacation (Episode 2)
How about Koepka’s South Florida home? Are you shitting me? A handful of guys on LIV have now opened up about the “generational wealth” that was doled out to them by the Saudis to get them to bounce from the PGA Tour, But did Brooksie and Jena need to spend the first $20M+ on that house?
We aren’t surprised that he is catching flack for how his “story” played out, and that he feels slighted by the producers. Sure, they were looking for villians. And Dechambeau and Mickeldick didn’t open up their homes the way he did. No matter how he spins it or the excuses he throws out there, his A/B game is on hiatus and he continues to struggle on the course. At least Jena keeps him company while they’re both working on their tans.
The 4-time major champion is at a crossroads which recently included surgery, marriage and the jump to LIV. The seemingly deliberate comparison to the Scheffler’s made it feel like like he has fallen further to the dark side. Jenna did say she’s worried about the future…but not the money honey!
Awkward Friendship? (Episode 1)
There’s no denying Jordan and JT are besties. Everyone deserves to have their go-to golf buddy. But didn’t the first episode come across like they were trying to be too cool in front of the camera to the point it got a little bit uncomfortable? Hopefully, they don’t play “guess the card for $1000” every private jet ride. That awkward phone call didn’t help either. Also, Full Swing did their other BFF, Rickie Fowler, dirty by throwing world No. 146 under his name. Come on, most fans remember that BDR won THE PLAYERS not too long ago!
Note: Fowler is a producer of the show. Maybe he personally placed No. 146 under his name to spark a confidence resurgence. He has been playing better, mostly. BDR! BDR!
Season On Repeat (The Whole Series)
The show’s episodes were non-sequential which made the series feel a bit jumpy. If you don’t know after watching the series that Southern Hills hosted the 2022 PGA Championship, you spent way too much time fiddling your Tik-Tok while you watched.
The ups and downs of golfers throughout the calendar season as they battle the yips, only to find a groove was lost in this show’s format. We know the Waste Management Phoenix Open is the most fun a fan can have at a PGA Tour event (depending on your definition of fun), but it’s not that important overall. As a golf fan, the show felt as if it could have added two episodes, without a specific player focus, as they follow the final weeks of the season leading into the pinnacle, the Tour Championship.
The Forgotten Rookie (?)
For the “Rookies” episode they didn’t even mention that Cameron Young bested Mito and Sahith to win the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. How about showing some b-roll of Young playing in the Open Championship or PGA Championship. He made charges and finished top 3 in both.
Maybe the producers didn’t like his storyline or felt his cool demeanor was a little too boring for what they were trying to accomplish. We feel this was a missed opportunity to highlight one the game’s most promising young stars. The stud is going to win double digit tournaments before he turns 35.
Oh Wow, Look, It’s a Cut! (The Whole Series)
If you didn’t know the standard PGA Tournament has a cut, where the bottom half of players are eliminated from competition halfway through the event, the show made sure to let you know about that. And more than once. Was it every episode? If there wasn’t a contentious split of professional golf the prior calendar year, the oft-repeated explanation of what a “cut” is would seem to be a simple editing mishap. However, after the 24th mention (shit, the 3rd mention), it comes off as a holier-than-thou snub directed at LIV. The universe does not disappoint though, as the PGA Tour announced this week that many of their “elevated” events will have NO CUT. If there happens to be a Season 2 of Full Swing, which we are expecting, they need to provide a professional golf glossary to all Netflix subscribers (and anyone else who uses a buddy’s log-in credentials). Fast-track the education and minimize the redundant need to have talking heads.
All-in-all, we give the series a B- review.
For the casual to semi-avid fan of golf, they would likely rate it a solid B.
For someone with no knowledge of the game, let alone the strife Norman, Mickeldick and their Saudi buddies created with the invention of LIV, we think they’d bounce right back to Drive to Survive after a couple of episodes and never look back.
We hope Year 2 will be a stronger season. However it turns out, we’ll watch. Especially if either BDR or Sahith are featured winning Big A-Trophies!
Catch the series on Netflix here.