“Full Swing”: The Five Things to Know Before Watching Golf’s New Netflix Show
By Ryan Adams, PGA
Its here — the week golf fans have been patiently (or impatiently) awaiting.
“Full Swing,” the highly anticipated Netflix documentary chronicling the life of PGA Tour players on and off the course in dramatic fashion, arrives on Wednesday at 12 a.m. PT / 3 a.m. ET. The eight episodes will all be available to stream. Fans can either spread the episodes over the course of the approximately 50-minute episodes or, as tempting, watch them all at once.
Having watched all eight episodes in spurts, “Full Swing” provides an unvarnished view of what life is like for every player on the PGA Tour — from the megastars seeking another major to the middling player and rookie trying to get that one life-altering win . . . Oder just make the cut.
Each episode centers around a few characters — or tour players — during different points of the 2022 season, illustrating how positive it went for some and how negative it went for others. You can have a successful career on the PGA Tour, with private jets and personal chefs and trainers, decision-makers for apparel lines, and other perks. is showcased, there’s also the dark side of what happens when the missed cuts pile up and the prize money slows to a drip. Players second-guess themselves if they’re still good enough to compete and a void emerges, making them contemplate their next steps and what the right or wrong move is.
“Full Swing” accomplishes a lot in one season, from laying out the basics (scoring, the cut, the majors) to providing the raw behind-the-scenes footage golf fans crave of their favorite players. There’s a human element to it all, too, which made the show’s F1 sibling “Drive to Survive” so popular. It tries to show the characters in a relatable light and leaves the viewer to decide what they see. . . whether it’s good or bad.
Perhaps PGA Member Mike Thomas, who serves as his son Justin’s coach and appears in the first episode of “Full Swing,” puts it best.
“It was really just doing what we do, so it was no different for me,” says Thomas. They just happened to be filming it.”
They filmed a lot. Here are five other themes that permeate the first season of “Full Swing”:
Relationship between Mike Thomas and Justin Thomas
Things can get a bit complicated when your dad is also your PGA Coaching Coach. Mike Thomas has mastered that balancing act, however, and it’s on display in the opening episode of “Full Swing.” Once play starts, he’s his son’s “friend and coach,” which is hard to comprehend when your child is trying to win the 2022 PGA Championship in a nerve-wracking playoff, but viewers will come to understand why Thomas takes the approach he does — even to the dismay of his son at times. From a PGA Member perspective, the Thomass relationship is a fascinating watch and showcases the “, PGA” values Mike has tried to instill in Justin. As he says, “My proudest moments are always when someone comes up to us on the course, or anywhere, and tells us how nice and polite he is. That means more to his mom and I than anything.”
The importance of majors
All sorts of footage from the 2022 PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club in Oklahoma is featured throughout “Full Swing,” revealing all the angles of that electric final hour: the pressure of the final hole, and Mito Pereira trying — then failing — to win one of the biggest tournaments of the year; the back-and-forth of the Thomas-Zalatoris playoff, and Thomas emerging victorious, from the unseen/unheard perspective of his mom, dad and wife. The Masters, U.S. Opens, and Open Championship all feature prominently in the show, which moves from one venue after another. It’s clear that no matter how the golf year goes every season, the majors are what players live and die by. Brooks Koepka had an incredible run, winning two U.S Opens, two PGA Championships, and one PGA Championship in 24 months. Now, he is trying to understand the drop in performance and desperately searching for an answer. As he says, “I got a taste of it — now all I want is to win.” Koepka has always been viewed as a cold-blooded major hunter, but in “Full Swing,” he’s strikingly vulnerable.
The grind of “making it”
The mental anguish of the PGA Tour grind consumes every player at some point, whether it’s for five minutes or five years, and “Full Swing” does an excellent job of capturing that premise. Joel Dahmen questions whether he is capable of being a top 30 player despite the fact that his closest friends fully believe it. Ian Poulter considers where to go after a quick exit from the WGC – Dell Technologies Match Play. Tony Finau visits his childhood townhouse where golf ball dents pepper the outside of the garage door, a reminder of his dad’s humble practice set-up. Matt Fitzpatrick sifts through every statistic in his quest to find an edge. He ultimately wins with his family at the U.S. Open 2022. Pereira and Sahith Theegala try to make a difference in their lives, but they fail heartbreakingly. There’s opportunity to be had but as “Full Swing” shows, to truly seize victory on the PGA Tour is perhaps one of the hardest accomplishments in sports.
Scenes from high above . . The grillroom
This theme is the show’s bread and butter. It’s what the golf fan craves, and probably will capture the attention of the non-golfer, too. Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth drank beers and played high-stakes cards aboard a private plane, with Mike Thomas as their supervisor. The U.S. Open lunch table conversation in The Country Club’s grillroom between the trio of Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Collin Morikawa. Tony Finau and his tight-knit family at the breakfast table, each kid rating dad’s egg sandwiches. The off-course content of Full Swing, is excellently done. There are scenes like McIroy talking at the Palm Beach Par 3 about his daughter, Thomas needling Thomas, Theegala using cardboard boxes for a laundry hamper, and Morikawa asking for an Adidas orange shirt with military blue pants. These scenes make the players feel much more real for viewers.
From a player perspective, the rollercoaster ride that is 2022s golf season.
Full Swing, which covers the WM Phoenix Open through 2022s Tour Championship, covers almost every big moment. The show is a great way to show off LIV Golfs disruptive rise, but it also does a great job building up the big showdowns in the year. Broadcast video and Netflix’s own visuals are paired up with never-before-heard audio from the players, which gives the audience insight as to how they handled the biggest moments. Starting with the PGA Championship, building the hype with the U.S. Open and culminating with a memorable 150th Open Championship and Tour Championship, “Full Swing” finds a way to get every ounce of the season in the show. Each episode probably could’ve been close to 90 minutes but the under-an-hour duration is engaging — and sets a great precedent for a potential second season.
You can see the teaser trailer below to refresh your memory before the Full Swing debut.