Netflix’s best sports doc returns this week — and season 2 looks even more dramatic

Promotional image for "Full Swing" season 2 on Netflix
(Image credit: Netflix)

Ask somebody to pick the best Netflix sports documentary and they may select the juggernaut “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” or perhaps the recent “Beckham” series that birthed a widely-shared online meme. However, in my opinion, there’s only one correct answer to the question. Netflix's best sports doc right now is “Full Swing”

“Full Swing” is an intimate and gripping look at the sport of golf, and before you tune out immediately because you think golf is “boring”, give me a chance to argue the case for this compelling sports doc. Trust me, I have no great love for golf either, and yet the first season of “Full Swing” hooked me more than almost any show I watched on Netflix last year. 

The second season of “Full Swing” arrives on Netflix this week (Wednesday, March 6), and the early reviews suggest it might even be a step up over the doc’s debut season. So, if you’re looking for a new docuseries on Netflix, one outside of the true crime genre that dominates a little too often for my taste, then here’s why I implore you to give “Full Swing” a shot. 

"Full Swing" is not just for golfers 

a photo of a golfer wearing a golf glove

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Just to reiterate what I said above, you really don’t have to be a superfan of golf to enjoy “Full Swing”. Yes, the show does touch on the impressive things these professional players can do on a golf course, but the real meat of the series is showcasing the personal stories of the players who are competing for major honors and the rivalries and friendships that form out on the green. 

The first season spotlights a bunch of golf's biggest names including Justin Thomas, Matt Fitzpatrick, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. “Full Swing” offers a deep insight into what makes these highly-driven athletes tick, and how the pressure to perform can overwhelm even the most experienced players. This makes for a riveting watch for any sports fan. 

If you’re totally unfamiliar with how golf is played that’s not a problem either. The show covers all the basics and makes an appreciated effort to clue viewers in on all the correct terminology. After binge-watching the show’s eight-episode first season you’ll have no problem differentiating a birdie from an eagle from an albatross.

Professional golfer Rory McIlroy in Full Swing on Netflix

(Image credit: Netflix)

Though, if there’s one (relatively minor) flaw, “Full Swing” isn’t so good at laying down an easy-to-follow timeline. Episodes frequently jump between competitions at different points in the golfing calendar, and some later chapters even take a step back in time by circling back to previous tournaments, which can make mapping out the entire season in your head a little tricky. But this is far from a deal-breaker.  

A lot can change in a year 

One of the reasons I’m super excited to dig into “Full Swing” season 2 is that the past 12 months in golf have been some of the most eventful in the sport's entire history. This is primarily because of the ongoing feud, and eventual proposed partnership, between the PGA Tour and the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund backed LIV Golf.

The formation and initial announcement of the highly-controversial LIV league was touched upon in “Full Swing” season 1, but things are set to get even more dramatic in season 2, as a shock deal between the two is thrashed out in the background leading to stalwart pros like Rory McIlroy, who had rallied against LIV from one day, to question the very future of the sport.  

“Full Swing” season 2 also covers the 2023 Ryder Cup. This is a tournament that occurs every two years between teams made up of the very best golfers from Europe and the cream of the crop from the U.S. It's a true battle for golfing supremacy and last year's iteration certainly brought the heat. Plus, the Netflix doc also hits on the pain and disappointment felt by the players who don’t make the cut.  

Typically sports documentaries are only as good as the season, time period or subject matter they cover. If the last 12 months had been fairly routine in the golf world, then “Full Swing” season 2 could have struggled to justify its own existence. Fortunately, the last year has been genuinely future-defining for the sport, and the Netflix cameras were there to capture it all. 

“Full Swing” season 2 is up to par  

The first season of “Full Swing” was extremely well-received by critics. It maintains a perfect 100% score on the review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, and while season 2 doesn’t yet have enough write-ups to have a score of its own the early impressions appear to be similarly positive.

The Athletic’s Brody Miller felt the show’s second season was a big improvement over its first. “If Season 1 felt like an entertaining but generic and surface-level introduction to golf for new audiences, Season 2 is more of a lived-in, compelling narrative that gets into tough subjects and tells a complete story,” said Miller.  

Elliott Heath of Golf Monthly echoed that sentiment declaring season 2 better than season 1 thanks in larger part to the inclusion of the Ryder Cup. Heath describes the second season as “a gripping watch throughout” but did wish the show had refreshed its roster of spotlighted players rather than opting to focus on familiar faces already covered in the first season. 

Meanwhile, Tim Gavrich of GolfPass, labeled the second season of the sports doc "insightful, endearing and even downright emotional" but criticized the show for once again opting against presenting events in a linear fashion. But concludes by calling the Netflix show "an entertaining look back at the last year in pro golf." 

Overall, it looks like “Full Swing” season 2 is basically more of the same, and considering how much I loved the first eight episodes that’s exactly what I wanted. If you’re a sports fan, looking for a new docuseries on Netflix then you can’t go wrong with “Full Swing”, maybe you'll even feel inspired to hit the links yourself afterwards. 

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Rory Mellon
Entertainment Editor (UK)

Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team.