As viewers we watch sports and entertainment and are intrigued about the stars we are watching and want to see more.
This is because in this era of 24-7 access, there is a need to see these people beyond what they allow us. We want to know everything about them because they are not ordinary people, despite what they will have you believe, even if it means showing them fall from grace. We see them living glamorous lives and making millions of dollars and they can be quite good at manipulating their brand. Some want the limelight, some want their privacy, but they are only a photo away from someone with a smartphone – and it doesn’t have to be a paparazzi – showing them doing something they weren’t expecting or were trying to hide.
So that’s why the news that the PGA Tour it is teaming up with Netflix to cover the top players at various events, including all four majors, this year is huge.
Formula One successfully climbed aboard the Netflix bandwagon giving auto racing fans a behind-the-scenes look at the sport with the docu series Drive To Survive. The ATP is doing the same for tennis fans. So the PGA, which has an international audience because it has a global galaxy of stars, is smart to align with Netflix.
According to the release of the news, the players who have agreed to participate without compensation are Jordan Spieth (Titleist Pro V1x), Brooks Koepka (Srixon Z-Star), Dustin Johnson (TaylorMade TP5x), Collin Morikawa (TaylorMade TP5x), Max Homa (Titleist Pro V1) and Joel Dahmen (Titleist Pro V1). Not sure if any of them are really exciting, though Johnson has the added factor of his partner Paulina Gretzky. She finds way to put herself in the public eye – beyond just being the daughter of Wayne Gretzky – with all of her social media contributions and followers.
Stars who have reportedly yet to commit are Jon Rahm (Callaway Chrome Soft X), Patrick Cantlay (Titleist Pro V1x), Rory McIlroy (TaylorMade TP5x), Phil Mickelson (Callaway Chrome Soft X) and Bryson DeChambeau (Bridgestone Tour B X). DeChambeau, who has been very particular about protecting his brand, was quoted as saying the Netflix series will be cool, but he doesn’t want to detract from players who have yet to develop a huge following.
“I don’t want to take the light away from them for their potential to grow themselves in a manner unique to them, where they’re already pretty far behind,” he said. “They have the opportunity to grow a lot more than I do in that regard.”
A docu series on DeChambeau would have been great if it would have been accumulated from everything he went through last season: his stunning win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational; blowing up in the Masters, the PGA Championship and the U.S. Open; his caddie quitting on the eve of defending their win in the Rocket Mortgage Classic; criticizing his driver after the opening round of The Open and then publicly apologizing to the manufacturer; withdrawing from the Olympics after testing positive for COVID; repeated taunting from crowd; celebrating with his fellow Americans in the win at the Ryder Cup and hugging it out with Koepka; competing in the World Long Drive Championship; and going head to head with Koepka in a match for charity. Is it too late to take all of that and package it into a documentary? This guy is all about drama!
But let’s be honest, with all due respect to the current stars on tour and all that happened to DeChambeau, this docu series will really only matter if it includes Tiger Woods (Bridgestone Tour B XS). If and when he returns for one of the majors – and if it’s the Masters it will produce a storyline whether or not he makes the cut – that is what will be the defining moment of the 2021-22 PGA season. The documentary Tiger Woods – Chasing History – was brilliant, but there is always room for more. He provides changing narratives, on and off the golf course. Everyone is keen to see if he will become the PGA’s all-time tournament winner, surpassing Sam Snead. Were it not for all of his injuries incurred while playing or, in 2021 while in a car crash last February, he would have already easily obliterated the record.
Woods has already teased sports fans – and not simply golf fans – with the possibility of a return this season. So if he’s on board – and that has to be the end goal for both the PGA Tour and Netflix – for the documentary, it’s what everybody wants to see.
Netflix began its ATP documentary with the Australian Open and stumbled into a boffo story with Novak Djokovic and his attempt to play despite issues with COVID. Presumably that will be included in the documentary. If it isn’t, well, what could possibly be more intriguing than that?
So here’s hoping Tiger returns, wins another tournament and it’s a major. Hey, it’s okay to dream.