Is the new Netflix series ‘Full Swing’ worth a look?

Each week we ask our panel of writers, PGA members and golf industry experts to weigh in with their views on the hot topics of the day.

The first eight episodes of ‘Full Swing’ were released on Netflix last week and received mixed reviews. Over a dozen PGA Tour players were featured providing a behind the scenes glimpse into their lifestyles. The series was intended to do for golf what F1 did for Formula 1 racing – attract new fans and entertain the already hooked. What was your take on the shows? Do you think they will attract new golf fans and did you enjoy watching them?

Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): I watched the first episode and about 15 minutes of the second before giving up.  I found the first totally confusing… if you don’t follow golf, it was like watching home movies of two people you don’t know, full of in-jokes, and golf slang and oblique references to past events.  Fine if you do follow golf and know who these guys are.  But then, the voice-overs would explain things like what a “birdie” is and how many rounds a golf tournament has.  So, like, who’s your audience here?  Then I watched episode two, which I gave up on because I can’t stand Brooks Koepka, and nothing in this show persuaded me otherwise.  Koepka’s surly attitude, foul language, and his insipid relationship with his vacuous and self-absorbed wife just did me in.  I really don’t see how this series will attract new fans to golf.  On the contrary, I think it will only reinforce the idea that these guys are over-compensated for what they do and spoiled beyond belief.

Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): I’m on episode 5. I find the episodes hit and miss so far. Poulter looked like a silly spoiled adult. They show him missing the cut and “I didn’t make any money”, now watch me fly home in a private jet. Laughable. I’m an even bigger fan of Joel Dahman now though, I will root for this man to play well or win every week. I’m not sold that this series will attract many new golf fans. It doesn’t hurt, but I don’t see it being “marketed” hard to attract non-golfers to watch. It does show in the catalogue high for shows to watch on Netflix though, maybe that’s enough to have someone press play (hope so).

Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Hall of Fame Member, PGA of Canada: They are interesting. Seeing the players away from the course is always fun. One subject I’d like to see is a player and a caddy building their pre-tournament course notebook. How they measure and what they measure on a course they are playing for the first time. Perhaps a current player won’t give up his/her secrets but maybe someone retired like Faldo would do it.

TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): I feel like it was hit and miss.  Some of the episodes are great and really get into the players’ personal lives with interesting plot lines, other episodes seem drier than what I would have expected.  In a year with such turmoil on the Tour, it seems to me that it could have been a lot juicier.  That being said, I did enjoy the series and I think it could be of interest to non-golfers.  Will it draw people in like the F1 show, that remains to be seen, but I’m skeptical.

Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): I was prepared not to like this series but after four episodes, that’s not the case. The storylines are tasty and there’s enough meat to satisfy those hungry for a behind-the-scenes glimpse into a professional golfer’s life and thinking. The in-depth looks at Brooks Koepka and Ian Poulter are very strong. Koepka in particular comes off as a sympathetic figure. Despite all his material wealth, all his accomplishments, and the macho image Koepka is a tortured soul. Unfortunately, all of the episodes are marred by too much trashy lifestyles of the rich and famous crap and totally unnecessary explanations of birdies and cuts. Not sure these will attract any new golf fans, but they are entertaining.

LIV Golf kicks off their season this week with at least five new names added to the roster – Mito Pereira, Sebastian Munoz, Brendan Steele, Danny Lee and Thomas Pieters. Munoz, Steele and Lee are former PGA Tour winners, while Pereira nearly won the PGA Championship last year. Pieters is ranked #34 in the world and was on the 2016 Ryder Cup team for Europe. Like last year, LIV Golf has made some noise with their signings but the PGA Tour has countered with very successful designated events, including the latest ones in Phoenix and Los Angeles. What does LIV Golf need to do to recapture the momentum?

Deeks: A California judge has ruled that the PGA can “depose” the primary Saudi executive in the LIV vs. PGA lawsuit.  This may mean that LIV will withdraw the case (rather than expose the Saudis and their motivation/financing of LIV), which may mean the Saudis will simply give up, pay their commitments, and get out of Dodge.  That will hardly be the kind of “momentum” you’re suggesting here.  Short of offering McIlroy, Rahm, Scheffler, Morikawa, or Tiger a billion dollars EACH to defect, I don’t think LIV can regain anything, and will ultimately be the League That Never Was.

Loughry: If LIV Golf wants to steal some of the spotlight, they need exposure (better global TV deal) and they need to sign more top players. That’s it. I just read the LIV event in Adelaide Australia sold out (60K tickets). That’s actually quite impressive. I feel for Australia who for decades have been starved of real professional live golf by the Euro Tour and PGA Tour. Australia is a golf crazed country, and deserved more respect than it was getting from a world stage.

Schurman: Nothing! They should start fulfilling everything they promised by getting their nose to the grindstone on a daily basis. Do the mundane things of running a tour, work hard and maintain their focus.

Rule: Great question because it seems like they are losing some momentum with all of the legal issues they are dealing with.  Those are a few decent names that they have drawn, but no more big fish in my opinion.  Although Pieters is 34th in the world, he’s not necessarily a big name yet in the world of golf.  The PGA Tour has had a great start to the year with the elevated events drawing great fields and even better Sunday finishes.  The challenge for the Tour will be when they have to endure a few non-elevated events in a row and maintain the momentum.  And of course it will be interesting to see how the Majors play out.  First one is less than 1000 hours away (but who’s counting?).

Mumford: Last year, LIV Golf was all about signing big name players. This year, they have to demonstrate they have a product people want to watch. I don’t like the shotgun starts but I do find the team concept very intriguing and believe it will catch on with golf fans. The legal stuff will eventually be resolved, so best not to talk about it. Time to let the clubs do the talking and show us some golf and golfers worth watching, whether that’s in LIV Golf events or at the majors.

Tiger Woods returned to action last week at Riviera, playing all four rounds and thrilling fans with flashes of brilliance. He says that he’ll try to build a schedule around the four majors and maybe a few more events when his injured leg and back are healthy enough. That’s not a lot of reps for a guy who’s used to being fully prepped whenever he tees it up. Given that he’s only going to play against the strongest fields, do you think Tiger can win again?

Deeks: I was impressed with Tiger’s performance, although he only made the cut on the wire.  I think he’ll do okay on his abbreviated schedule.  But I wonder about the majors:  Augusta is a tough walk for anyone, especially over four days.   I don’t know about the terrain at LA Country Club, but U.S. Opens are generally hot, tough, and tiring, mentally and physically.    Hoylake (Royal Liverpool) is flat as a pancake, but if it’s windy and rainy there as it may well be, that’ll be a stern test of endurance as well.  That leaves the PGA at Oak Hill, Rochester; he could stand a good chance there.  I’m learning to like Tiger more these days, and I wish him well going forward.   But win again?  Don’t think so.

Loughry: I think it will be tough for Tiger to win again, but maybe as her gets used to that being his new norm, he can catch fire one week and maybe slip a win in here or there before he “retires”. It will be very tough. I think he could win a Canadian Open if he chooses to ever play in one again.

Schurman: The last couple of times Woods played he displayed a Hoganesque style. He hit the correct shots from the tee and into the green. His ball ran when it should have and stopped when it should have. His irons this week were outstanding. He hit the ball into the exact proper position repeatedly. I really like his swing now whereas I didn’t like it previously. Can he win? That’s a tough call. I think he might win on a very difficult course where the scores are high. He could plod to victory with fairways, greens and two putts but the crazy magic is gone.

Rule: If you had asked me a week ago, I would have been pretty confident in my estimation that he won’t win again, but Riviera changed my mind.  His swing looks great and if he can manage to get a few more reps in advance of tourneys, there’s still a chance.  I’d love to see him break Snead’s record in 2023, maybe at Augusta? One can dream.

Mumford: At 47, Tiger is in the twilight of his career anyway. Multiple injuries have rendered him a body that isn’t capable of sustaining 72 holes of golf at peak level. At Riviera he had some amazing stretches, followed by pretty mediocre golf. That’s not going to win golf tournaments. As much as hero worship makes people believe that Tiger is back, it’s not hard analysis. He’s not and never will be the Tiger of old. Other players are not intimidated by Tiger anymore. He may shoot some low scores and he will certainly entertain, but I don’t think he’ll win again.

The Round Table
The Round Table is a panel of golf writers, PGA members and industry experts.

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