Press "Enter" to skip to content

Drama, heartbreak and laughs are in ‘Full Swing’

Graphic by Sarah Irwin

Musical artist Lennon Stella has a song called “Golf on TV,” in which she questions the infidelity of past lovers and compares the nonsense of their actions to watching the sport from home, singing, “Some people watch golf on TV/ And none of those things make sense to me.”

While I, a golf fanatic, understand why it isn’t the most appealing sport to watch on the couch, Netflix’s “Full Swing” docuseries shows it in a new light.

“Full Swing” was filmed throughout 2022 and follows professional golfers from the PGA Tour for an entire season. Last year was either a tumultuous or thrilling year for golf, depending on how you look at it. The leading reason for this was the debut of the LIV Golf Tour, a competing tour where players participate in teams. Players are also paid more to play less and the tournament experience resembles a nightclub that was built on a golf course. Sounds fun, right?

The daunting catch of the LIV Tour, though, is that it’s backed by Saudi officials, who are aiming to use the eye-catching league as a deflection away from their atrocious history of human rights violations, including the murder of U.S. journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Within the last few months, dozens of golfers have had to decide whether or not to accept invitations to join the new tour. Needless to say, the LIV Tour has been a topic of debate regarding whether the higher payouts and allure of trail-blazing for pro golfers is worth the criticism, hoopla and, as some might say, soul-selling.

There’s much more to “Full Swing” than the LIV controversy, though, and similarly, the series shows that there is much more to golf than what is seen at 2 p.m. on a Sunday at CBS. Laughs, (male) golfers taking their shirts off in celebration, tears, drama and thrills are all included.

The first episode follows PGA Tour golfers Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth, who seem like average counterparts on the surface but have actually been friends since they were in junior high. While the two are still known to be good friends, the docuseries pulls back the curtain to reveal why Thomas has been envious of Spieth at times and how it’s affected his early career and golf game.

“Full Swing” does a nice job of showing viewers the struggles multiple PGA Tour golfers endure, such as Brooks Koepka. Koepka either won or was in contention to win, seemingly every major tournament from 2017 to 2019. Since then, he’s almost vanished and the docuseries reveals that Koepka’s struggles began with mental health. Not only do viewers find out about what’s going through Koepka’s mind, but they also see his performance through the eyes of his ever-supportive, but slightly concerned wife Jena Sims. 

It’s sometimes hard to remember that professional golfers are usually in their late 20s to early 40s and hence, do not have much time to spend with their wives and children while traveling from tournament to tournament each week. British golfer Ian Poulter falls into that category and there’s an episode dedicated to the fiery, flamboyant character that simultaneously is a loving and caring family man. Poulter endures uncharacteristic trials – including exclusive footage of a fit of rage in a locker room – during his 2022 PGA Tour season while sharing that he’s concerned that his kids want to be around him more often. 

I’ve only had time to watch three of the first season’s eight episodes so far, but the most impressive part of “Full Swing” is how much access viewers get inside the ropes of a tournament and inside the minds, private jets and homes of the best golfers on the planet. Filming cameras were even allowed at Augusta National Golf Club for The Masters tournament, where media guidelines are strict and tend to follow decades-long status quos. 

For the casual golf fan or a person that doesn’t even watch golf at all, it’s safe to say that “Full Swing” isn’t about golfers; it’s about people that play golf. Never before has a major professional sports league been infiltrated by a docuseries following athletes’ day-to-day lives as closely as “Full Swing” does and hopefully it is an inspiration for studios and streaming services to do the same with other sports.

Copyright © 2023, The Scout, Bradley University. All rights reserved.
The Scout is published by members of the student body of Bradley University. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the University.