I've Watched Every Episode Of Full Swing - Here's What I Thought

The PGA Tour Netflix series is must-watch TV that brings to light some excellent behind-the-scenes stories

Tony Finau and his family in the kitchen
(Image credit: Netflix)

I was beyond excited to watch the Full Swing Netflix series about the PGA Tour and all four of the men's golf Majors, and it mostly delivered. This article will contain some spoilers so stop reading if you wish to avoid them!

Of course I was excited to see the PGA Tour behind the scenes for myself, but I was more excited for my friends, family and non-golfers to watch it. I imagined that they'd love the golfers, think the sport is pretty cool and maybe even start following it like I did with F1.

I became obsessed with F1: Drive to Survive and now consider myself a 'proper' F1 fan, who watches the races, qualifying, listens to F1 podcasts, reads about F1 and follows F1 drivers, teams and accounts on social media. The series grew the sport to levels and new fanbases it previously couldn't reach, and I'm hoping that Full Swing can do the same.

If it's even half as successful as Drive to Survive, it will surely be a huge thing for the game.

I've watched all eight episodes of Full Swing (multiple times) and it has to be said that Vox Media and Box to Box studios have done an incredible job. They followed the PGA Tour and its players, and even a LIV Golf event, throughout the 2022 calendar year and it must have been extremely difficult to know which players to feature, which tournaments to feature and just how to organize all of their extensive footage.

Despite having seen all the F1 episodes, for some reason I was actually surprised by just how similar Full Swing and Drive to Survive are. In the same way that they focus on specific drivers and races in Drive to Survive, they focus on specific golfers and tournaments in Full Swing in an almost identical way.

Full Swing is much less controversial than I had hoped, though, with not too many revelations about the Saudi-backed start-up or any new details that we didn't already know. "You chose a hell of a year to follow the PGA Tour," Ian Poulter said in the trailer, which I thought teased some really juicy segments, but I was left slightly disappointed on that front.

Ian Poulter in the trailer for the Netflix series Full Swing

(Image credit: Netflix)

It certainly gives Ian Poulter and Dustin Johnson in particular the forum to explain their decisions but the real beauty of this show is the characters. Joel Dahmen, Tony Finau and Matt Fitzpatrick are the highlights for me, and once you start to get deep into their stories and follow them a bit you'll forget about all the juicy LIV stuff. Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of LIV stuff, but hardcore golf fans who follow the game week-in, week-out probably won't learn a great deal.

There's no real new information on LIV, no interviews with any executives, Greg Norman, Phil Mickelson or agents. There's plenty of LIV footage though, so non-golfers will certainly get a real view of how the sport was changed, and the enormity of that seismic change and fracture was conveyed well.

Dahmen and Finau have stories that people from all walks of life will relate to and all of the other players featured get across what I wanted my friends, family and non-golfers to see, that golfers are normal people, golf is cool and that today's stars are unbelievably talented at the best game there is.

The series starts out fairly innocuously with Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas' rivalry perhaps over-egged in Episode 1: Frenemies, but it's a great focus on JT and a look into his relationship with his coach and father. Thomas struggles during the week of the PGA with allergies and a poor Saturday but builds an incredible seven-shot comeback on the final day to win Major number two. His mindset and self belief is seriously impressive and it goes to show just how confident and ruthless you need to be to be one of the world's best at your chosen profession. We also get a good look at his and Spieth's friendship and hear some good stuff from Rickie Fowler, too. 

Episode two, titled Win or Go Home, is Brooks Koepka's turn and Vox Media and Box to Box frame him very well against Scottie Scheffler, who is basically turning into Brooks Koepka mark two, winning everything and rising to the top of the world rankings. It's a great look inside the mind of Koepka and, even for me, a surprise to see just how much he cares about the game.

Full Swing shot of Brooks Koepka putting on his carpet at home

(Image credit: Netflix)

He is struggling with a real crisis of confidence and it makes his move to LIV seem, on one hand fairly obvious with all the injuries and loss of form but on the other also very disappointing as he clearly was desperate to get the top of the game again. It's clear that the Majors mean everything, like literally everything, to him so perhaps the fact that he can still play in them is why he ultimately took the money.

Ian Poulter stars in episode three, titled Money or Legacy, and this was the one I was probably most looking forward to. I've been a Poulter fan since childhood and I think he comes across in just the way you'd expect him to. A genuine bloke who is brilliant at golf and unafraid to say what he thinks. 

Non-golfers and people who don't follow the game will really warm to Poults I think, who is shown to be a proper family man who is becoming increasingly frustrated with his struggles to mix it with the young guns. Money or Legacy is the title of the episode and we all know he chose money.

"People ask all the time 'don't you have enough already?' but that's all relative," he said. I thought that was a really good quote because he looks to have more money than he could ever spend, with two glorious mansions on either side of the Atlantic but then I've never been offered $30m (Poulter's reported LIV Golf fee) to do anything, let alone play golf on some of the world's best courses. He'll likely never feature in the Ryder Cup again, which is remarkably sad.

Episode four, Imposter Syndrome, focusses on Joel Dahmen and he comes across incredibly well, yet self-deprecating. As a Brit I probably didn't know as much about Dahmen as I should have done but he, along with Tony Finau, is going to come out of Full Swing as the most well-liked I think, as well as his caddie Geno Bonnalie. On that, his and Finau's episodes both reduced me, and my girlfriend, to tears on multiple occasions. I'll leave it at that.

Netflix Full Swing screenshot of Matt Fitzpatrick entering stats into his laptop

(Image credit: Netflix)

Number five, American Dreams, follows Matt Fitzpatrick and Dustin Johnson. Fitzpatrick's story is excellent and he clearly works incredibly hard on his fitness, distance, stats-keeping and his general golf game due to him being fairly small and a bit of an underdog. Netflix really paint the enormity of his US Open win well and there's certainly some goosebump moments as it builds towards his victory.

DJ shares the episode but I would have loved to have seen more, perhaps a few home visits, car journeys and just more from him. I've become a massive DJ fan in recent years and really miss watching him winning PGA Tour events and playing against the likes of Rory. His quote on why he joined LIV was one of my favorites of the series.

"For me it was playing less, making more money. Pretty simple. Someone offers anyone a job, doing the same thing they're already doing but less time at the office and they're gonna pay them more. Pretty sure you're gonna take it. And something's wrong with you if you didn't."

Episode six, Don't Get Bitter, Get Better, is Tony Finau's episode, which also features some of Collin Morikawa. This is hands-down my favorite of the series and the one my girlfriend and I cried at the most. Finau is so down to earth, an amazing family man and someone who has been through real tragedy. He comes out with beautiful quote after beautiful quote and his rise from near-poverty to the multi-millions of the PGA Tour is incredibly impressive. 

Tony Finau and his family in the kitchen

(Image credit: Netflix)

Seven was another I was really excited to see, Golf is Hard, involving Mito Pereira and his PGA Championship collapse and Sahith Theegala's Phoenix Open near-miss in a rookies episode.

Mito going "I f***** it up on the last hole" after THAT drive into the creek was agonising and it was a hard watch with his wife Antonia devastated and his caddie's wife in tears following his double bogey finish. Theegala was also in tears, which we saw at the time, after his Phoenix Open disappointment despite winning a pay check of over $400,000 still early on in his rookie season. It really went to show that these guys are competitors first, and businessmen second.Theegala's father Murli gets some time too and his care for his son and how much he has put into helping him reach the PGA Tour is very heart-warming.

Theegala's father Murli gets some time too and his care for his son and how much he has put into helping him reach the PGA Tour is very heart-warming.

We also get to see the strong latino/Spanish speaking fraternity on the PGA Tour and the close relationship Pereira and Joaquin Niemann share. It looks like they all really care for each other and seems like great fun to be part of. They're mostly (Niemann, Ancer Ortiz and Garcia, and maybe Pereira and Munoz too according to reports) with LIV Golf now but that wasn't really touched upon. It's easy to see why they all joined LIV. They're like a family.

The final episode, Everything Had Led To This, follows Rory McIlroy who allowed the Netflix cameras in for a month. They get the enormity of the 150th Open across well and Rory's sad 3rd place finish, and then include Cameron Smith's awkward press conference when he failed to deny to LIV rumors. It ends up at East Lake where we see some cool behind-the-scenes footage, including McIlroy shouting "F*** you Phil" and he also reveals at the end that Tiger Woods is always the first to text him after a win - with the message usually coming before the winning putt is sunk. 

It's a great finish to the season and a series that is must-see TV. I binged it all in one afternoon/evening and I think a lot of golfers will do the same. 

Here's to season 2 - hopefully that gets commissioned!

Favorite quote

The entire series of Full Swing is littered with epic quote after epic quote but I'd have to go with the Dustin Johnson one where he simply explains that the money was too good to turn down LIV Golf.

"For me it was playing less, making more money. Pretty simple. Someone offers anyone a job, doing the same thing they're already doing but less time at the office and they're gonna pay them more. Pretty sure you're gonna take it. And something's wrong with you if you didn't."

Favorite episode

My favorite episode was Tony Finau's 'Don't Get Bitter, Get Better'. I was a Finau fan before but he comes across so well, and the tragedy of losing his mother and how his family are trying to move on after further tragedy with the loss of his wife's father makes for a very emotional watch.

Favorite non golfer

This is an easy one - Geno Bonnalie. Joel Dahmen's episode is perhaps a close second for me and his relationship with Geno is quite beautiful. Geno is a unique character and a hilarious guy who loves and cares for his player, and best friend, very deeply.

Elliott Heath
News Editor

Elliott Heath is our News Editor and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news team as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as five Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays off of a six handicap. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: Titleist TSi2

Hybrids: Titleist 816 H1

Irons: Mizuno MP5 5-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Srixon Z Star XV