SPOILER ALERT: In my last blog, I wrote about the first four episodes of Netflix’s Full Swing, a documentary about the 2022 PGA Tour, and how I was greatly disappointed. I thought it was dummied down too much and didn’t have the pizzazz I expected, but I held hope the last four episodes would be more entertaining. Collectively they were, somewhat, but it was the final episode that aced it.
The first three episodes did very little for me. It began with a profile of Matt Fitzpatrick (Titleist Pro V1x), entitled American Dreams. Nice story about the young Brit and his first win on the PGA Tour, but it was overshadowed when blended with Dustin Johnson (TaylorMade TP5x), who defected to LIV Golf. “I had a wonderful career with the PGA and I’ve very proud of it, now I’ve taken a different step in my life and career,” he says. “It finally came down to the offer they made – play less and making more money, pretty simple.” His wife, Paulina, adds: “I don’t think Dustin would ever make a bad choice for his children, and people have to understand that at the end of the day that’s who he chose this for. This is about Dustin and the kids and me and taking care of us and being there with us.” Johnson is asked by the producer if he cares what people think of him because he joined LIV, and he responds: “I don’t. I know I’m one of the best golfers in the world. I think I’ve proven that over a long period of time.”
I think so much more could have been made out of this episode because of Paulina, who is a star in her own right because of her sexy poses on social media, and the couple’s lavish lifestyle. There is a brief mention of Paulina having a father who played hockey, which of course is Wayne Gretzky, and his time away from the family doing his job. Paulina comes across a dutiful wife and mother. In the second episode, Brooks Koepka (Srixon Z-Star Diamond) and his wife, Jena Sims, are portrayed as living the rich life in a monstrous house and showing off their bodies in and around the pool. I didn’t know much about Sims prior to the series, but everybody knows about Paulina. So why not do an episode entirely about them – heck, he’s a former Masters winner and was once the top-ranked golfer in the world, and they are a true power couple – but I’m guessing the producers probably wanted to focus on some of the young PGA players, even if the profile on Fitzpatrick was simply bland.
The sixth episode is Don’t Get Bitter, Get Better. It’s an axiom that Tiger Woods (Bridgestone Tour B XS) once coined and it applies to Collin Morikawa (TaylorMade TP5) and Tony Finau (Titleist Pro V1). Both were inspired by Woods, but the parallel ends there. Morikawa is single and feels he must be selfish to succeed. “People think being selfish is a bad thing. It’s a good thing.” Finau is married and has five kids and he says family comes first in his life. He overcomes a long draught and says: “A winner is just a loser who never gives up. That’s me to a T.” Or is it tee for golfers?
The seventh episode is Golf Is Hard and focuses on life-long Chilean friends Mito Pereira (Titleist Pro V1) and Joaquin Niemann (Titleist Pro V1x), and Indian-American Sahith Theegala (Titleist Pro V1), all of whom are rookies. Again, nice stories, but nothing too amazing.
It is the eighth and final episode, Everything Has Led To This, that is easily the best of all because it focuses on the PGA Tour/LIV Golf feud. Sean Foley, who has coached many top players, says the one word that describes what has happened in golf in 2022 is disruption.
Rory McIlroy (TaylorMade TP5) and Woods are the chief pro PGA Tour stars leading the charge to convince many of the top players to stay instead of jumping to LIV. They also propose changes to PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan to put more money into purses for the top players, while also committing to play more, and financially assist new players on the tour. It is McIlroy and not Woods who is interviewed at length and who is the key person in this episode.
McIlroy says it’s been a contentious year because of LIV. As a first-year member of the Player Directors on the Tour’s Board, he says he let the feud becomes a little too personal. He feels some people have hurt the PGA Tour, so he is “just trying to defend” what he feels is right. He feels the younger generation is taking a “massive risk” joining LIV. In a quote from a media conference, Woods says: “The players who have chosen to go to LIV, what is the incentive to go out there and earn it in the dirt? You’re getting a lot of money up front and I disagree with it.”
Woods is never interviewed by the producers, and the only footage is from media conferences. As I said in the first blog, excluding him was a colossal mistake. He is simply too important as the Tour’s top star to have been intentionally bypassed. He drives the PGA Tour as evidenced by his recent appearance in the Genesis Invitational, in which he makes the cut. Was the decision to not give Woods more of a focus with behind-the-scenes interviews because so much has been done on him already or did he not want to participate? It is not explained, but he should have been featured more in the overall series because so much is made of his influence on golfers in the series.
Again, the whole Tiger influence and impact could have – and should have – been given far more airtime.
The episode revisits some of the key players from earlier episodes, including Koepka, who has jumped to LIV. There is also mention that Australian star Cameron Smith (Titleist Pro V1x) is about to make the switch, which he won’t publicly admit.
The episode concludes with the Tour Championship/FedEx Cup, the final event of the 2021-2022 season and features the top-30 money winners vying for the $18 million winner’s purse. McIlroy, who hasn’t won a Major in eight years, has had a good season and is looking to win the FedEx Cup a third time, breaking a tie with Woods.
One of the most compelling scenes is McIlroy talking about Phil Mickelson (Callaway Chrome Soft X LS 21), who led the charge for PGA Tour players to join LIV and created a dividing line between players such as Woods and McIlroy. Mickelson has become a pariah. says, “F--- you, Phil,” says McIlroy in front of some other golfers, and adds: “I hope that makes it in (the documentary).”
Because the Tour Championship rewards the top money-earners on the FedEx Cup series, Scottie Scheffler (Titleist Pro V1) starts off with a score of 10-under par. McIlroy begins at four-under and that is whittled down to one-under par after shooting three-over par in the opening round. He is six shots behind Scheffler starting the final round, but goes on a roll and Scheffler comes undone. McIlroy wins by one stroke, and it’s another example of the golfing gods gifting the producers.
In my opinion, I would have made this a major part of this in the first episode, a bridge if you will to the end, instead of a rather nice story of lifelong friends and competitors Justin Thomas (Titleist Pro V1x) and Jordan Spieth (Titleist Pro V1x), which was titled Frienemies. It was a little too saccharin for my liking and focused more toward people who aren’t educated about golf, its terminology and personalities.
“I care deeply about our sport,” McIlroy says. “I care about its history. I care about its legacy. I care about the integrity of the game…It’s been a weird year. I never thought I’d be in this position. I guess for me I have to remember I’m in this position because I win golf tournaments and that’s still the most important thing.”
It’s profound what he says, but the priceless moment is him returning to the locker room after winning the Tour Championship, looking at his cell phone and smiling while reading a message from Woods. “He’s always first. Always. He’ll text me before the last putt drops. He’s unreal.”
It’s interesting how the eight hours cobbled together from the countless hours that were filmed really come down to a few seconds at the end.
I give the final four episodes a collective rating of 7.5 out of 10, the last one a 10. Overall, I give the series a rating of just under 7.
So much more could have been done to make it more dynamic. It was kind of like seeing a great player making a 60-foot putt for a birdie, only to see it narrowly miss, run two feet past the hole and end up as a bogey.