Netflix springs into golf season with “Full Swing” series


Photo by Collin Chen

On Wednesday, Feb. 15th, freshman Jaiden Chung watches the new Netflix documentary series “Full Swing,” while playing a round of golf at Bretton Woods Golf Club.

By Collin Chen, Online Editor

What word comes to mind when you think of golf and documentaries? You are probably thinking “boring.” Well, Netflix combined the two to create a television series that will actually have viewers laughing, crying and possibly picking up the “boring” sport. “Full Swing” is Netflix’s newest documentary series that provides a fascinating behind-the-scenes window into professional golf from a player’s journey towards a major championship win to their unfamiliar lives off the golf course.

The show was brought to us by the same people who made the popular “Formula One: Drive to Survive” and tennis docuseries “Breaking Point.” The Formula One documentary transformed the spectator racing sport into a passion-driven soap opera that humanized the drivers and gave viewers insight into their characters. Already seasoned Formula One fans loved connecting with the drivers on a level that could not be possible through ESPN. The popularity of “Drive to Survive” brought millions of people of all ages and backgrounds to the sport and, hopefully, “Full Swing” will do the same for golf.

Similar to “Drive to Survive,” viewers do not need to have any background knowledge of competitive golf to watch the new series. “Full Swing” does a fantastic job of explaining the rules and structure of tournament golf for general sports enthusiasts, such as mentioning specific tournaments and the scoring system. By combining dramatic competition with simple explanations, Netflix effectively hooks its audience into the golf world and exposes them to all its excitement. Although, for die-hard golf fans, much of the information will be repetition of what they already know. 

As for the format of the golf documentary, it follows a similar character-led nature as the other two series, focusing on one player for each episode and highlighting specific moments in the 2022 season that demonstrate their history and character. However, given there are many professional golfers, Netflix has signed only a few to star in their documentary. The cast includes some well-known names such as  Jordan Speith, Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Collin Morikawa and other top players in the world. 

The first episode begins with Jordan Speith and Justin Thomas, and their relationship as best friends/rivals since they were 13. Viewers get to see a behind-the-scenes window into their preparations for the Professional Golf Association (PGA) Championships, one of the four major tournaments, and the struggles they faced along the way. The show’s dramatic cinematography and direct interviews with the two players capture the wild ride of emotions that occurred throughout the tournament, leaving watchers sympathizing over bad results and cheering after a hard-fought victory. 

“Full Swing” also exemplifies the mental hardships of the sport and how the real battle of golf is actually against the golfer themself and not so much the other players. Inexperienced watchers would not be able to understand the true challenges of golf without having played it, but the Netflix documentary does the next best thing by demonstrating it through professionals.

Nevertheless, nothing is perfect and “Full Swing” is no exception. By not ordering the episodes chronologically, the show bounces around the PGA tour season recklessly. This deprives unfamiliar fans of the full story and what led up to the FedEx Cup, the last event of the season with an 18 million dollar payout to the winner. With that being said, not every competition should be highlighted in the next season, only the significant ones such as majors or ones relevant to players featured in the documentary. Also, more discussion about the LIV golf tour, a new golf league competing with the PGA, would spark more juicy drama between the athletes.

It is exciting to see golf receiving more coverage and recognition for the competitive sport it is. Casual golf fans and general sports fans will undoubtedly enjoy ‘Full Swing” more than the die-hards, but there is just about enough to keep the latter happy. But whoever the watcher is, they will laugh, they will cry and they will come away with more than they started.