I’ve got a complex relationship with the game of golf. I come from a golf-obsessed family, but as somebody that lacks both the hand-eye coordination and the necessary patience for the game, growing up I was always the black sheep of the family.
So when Netflix’s new eight-part sporting documentary Full Swing debuted last month, I can’t say I was especially interested. I’ve been forced to sit through countless viewing parties for The Masters and dragged to so many driving ranges, the mere sight of a golf course breaks me out in a cold sweat.
However, last week, with a long flight to fill and running low on options, I decided to give Full Swing a chance — and I’m utterly delighted I did. I tore through the whole series in just a couple of days, and the news this week a second season is coming in 2024 (opens in new tab) has me hollering with delight as if I’ve just sunk an impressive putt.
Obviously, the sports documentary has attracted enough interest to warrant a Full Swing season 2, but it only peaked at No.6 in the Netflix most-watched list and disappeared from the list entirely soon after. That’s a shame because this is a hugely compelling show that deserves just as much attention as Drive to Survive, Netflix’s juggernaut F1 show.
Full Swing is about the players, not the game
As noted, I don’t have much time for the game of golf itself. I totally respect and understand how impressive it is what professional players can do on a golf course, but the sport just ain’t for me. However, Full Swing grabbed me because it puts the focus on the humans beings hitting the ball rather than how far said ball traveled.
Several top pros are spotlighted including Justin Thomas, Matt Fitzpatrick, Jordan Spieth and Rory Mcllroy. (The latter is a firm favorite among my Northern Irish family.) And it’s the deeper insight into their individual lives and personal motivations that really drew me into the series.
There’s something extremely fascinating about exploring what makes each of these remarkable athletes tick, and the doc does an excellent job of presenting each player’s story in a compelling fashion.
My favorite episode of the series focuses on Joel Dahmen, an American golfer from Clarkston, Washington. One of the first things he says is “someone’s got to be the 70th-best golfer in the world, and it’s me. I’m really OK with that.”
Considering the rest of the series focuses on players who are determined to be the best in the world, I found the insight into the mindset of a player who is content with being much lower down in the professional ranking extremely interesting. And that's not something you often see in sports documentaries.
Don’t worry if you’re not particularly familiar with golf either. The series does a mostly adequate job of covering the basic rules of the game and explaining how each tournament is structured. Although, it doesn’t do a great job when it comes to laying out a timeline of events between episodes. This can feel a little disorienting as you try to follow along with the 2022 golfing season that the show covers.
Don’t just take my word for it either
It’s not just me finding Full Swing to be a worthwhile watch either. The show’s first season currently enjoys an impressive 100% score on the review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes (opens in new tab).
Granted that number only comes from a comparatively small sample size of 10 reviews, but it’s nevertheless a strong indicator of its overall quality.
Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times (opens in new tab) called the docuseries a “binge-worthy PGA Tour reality show even a causal fan can love” and Detroit News (opens in new tab)’ Tony Paul said “the more-casual sports fan or even non-sports fan will have no problem with the project as presented, because so much of the stories pull on the heartstrings” which is a sentiment I certainly echo.
If you’re looking for something new to watch over the weekend, then I strongly encourage you to give Full Swing a chance.
The biggest compliment I can give it is that it’s actually made me rather excited for the next time my family gathers to watch a major golf tournament together. When we come to the end of the year and start looking back on Netflix’s 2023 as a whole, I’m confident that Full Swing will rank among the streamer's best new TV shows.