Underwritten by Aviva Insurance Limited

Full Swing: a review of golf’s new Netflix documentary

Golf Care, 22nd March 2023

full swing


By Chris Bertram

Fly-on-the-wall sports documentaries are always going to face the impossible job of being remotely as entertaining, revealing and frankly hilarious as ‘An Impossible Job’.

That year following Graham Taylor’s England around as they tried to qualify for the 1994 World Cup will surely never be matched—although ‘Living with Lions’, about the 1997 British and Irish rugby union team still acting as if they were in the amateur era, is a very, very close second.

Weighing up sports documentaries against those two is like comparing the first series of Big Brother against those that followed; in the first one, the nation was gripped precisely because Nasty Nick and co had no idea the nation was gripped by it.

Now, everyone is acting to some degree in the spate of sports documentaries churned out by Netflix and Amazon Prime. ‘The Test’ – which followed the Australia cricket team – and ‘Sunderland Til I Die’, about the city’s football club, are commendably raw: in the former, it is probably just the mentality of the team and country that makes them so candid and authentic; in the latter, they might just not have had the wit to realised how their antics would be portrayed on film.

In the much-hyped ‘Full Swing’ series, the results are mixed.


Full Swing

full swing

It starts weakly in every sense, with staid conversations between Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth, the lowlights of which are discussions about the latter’s best man’s speech for the former and their hammed-up practise round money match.

It was titled ‘Frenemies’, suggesting behind their friendship is a spiky rivalry. I mean, Spieth was Thomas’ best man—how frosty can their rivalry be?!

It was largely dreadful, much of which I have tried to expunge from memory. You suspect it was planned as one of the key episodes given they are two of the game’s biggest names—but then, thankfully, LIV happened, and the ‘Tour Wars’ narrative ran through most of the other seven episodes.

All eight had a theme; after the ‘JT’-Spieth opener, there are ones on Koepka’s struggle to regain his ‘Alpha Male’ status, a strained attempt at a ‘Tiger Woods legacy’ episode with Tony Finau (good insight) and Collin Morikawa (zero insight), one on Joel Dahmen (the likeable everyman), a Rory McIlroy love-in (fighting to win The Open, claiming the FedEx and battling LIV), a worthy, if often low-key, look at life for rookies Sahith Theegala and Mito Pereira, and, of course, an Ian Poulter focus.

Matt Fitzpatrick’s US Open victory is covered comprehensively, and, for those without Sky Sports, the numerous shots shown in that episode will, remarkably, be the most they have seen of the Englishman’s historic Major win.

Fitzpatrick’s was especially well done and made you wonder exactly how many cameras they had out there following the lives of different players, because they didn’t just pick up the story on Saturday evening once he was in contention. How many players were they following leading into the event in order to capture the story of the winner?

Either they had cameras following 50 players to some degree, or they were very lucky by choosing Fitzpatrick, or they cheated and went back and filmed bits after he had won or was in contention. However it happened, there was frankly incredible access to the Sheffield player, filming in his rented house between the weekend rounds of the US Open.

The same was true of the Dahmen episode. He was seen qualifying for the US Open and then performing well in it—a brilliant call by whoever suggested going to qualifying would make good viewing. He’s an interesting person with a lengthy backstory, so that made for compelling viewing.

You believed it was the real Joel Dahmen you were watching, whereas, with Koepka and Poulter, you wondered how much was what they wanted you to see.

The Finau-Morikawa episode—‘American Dreams’—focusing on their family-orientated, golf-obsessed approaches to their careers—summed up the highs and lows of ‘Full Swing’ perfectly. It mixed genuinely emotional moments with Finau and family with cringe moments, such as Morikawa’s outfit scripting with TaylorMade-adidas. Outfit scripting! Did I not like that!

This also took us behind the scenes at Augusta National, which was a pleasant surprise. You suspected access would end as the courtesy cars turned down Magnolia Lane, but the cameras happily kept rolling.

Full Swing was very slickly put together, with action mixed with talking heads (generally US golf media) explaining the narrative and background to players and events, and, of course, the scenes with the players themselves.

It’s clearly been sufficiently successful for another series to be commissioned, and I will watch it. Doing just eight episodes was probably a wise move. It hasn’t left us wanting more in quite a Fawlty Towers manner, but you are at least intrigued as to who and what will feature next.


Have you watched Full Swing? Get in touch via our social media channels and let us know what you thought of it.


Specialist golf insurance with Golf Care

With Golf Care, specialist golf insurance includes Equipment cover up to £7,500, Public Liability of up to £10m and more. Click on the banner below to learn more about specialist golf insurance and get a quote today.

Golf Care offer
Show Buttons
Hide Buttons