‘Full Swing’ a binge-worthy PGA Tour reality show even a casual fan can love

Pros reveal their personalities to the Netflix cameras as they play, train, joke around and consider the temptation of LIV Golf.

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Collin Morikawa is one of the players profiled on the Netflix documentary series “Full Swing.”


When there’s a documentary film or series about the Michael Jordan Bulls, Nolan Ryan, the 2008 “Redeem Team” or the 1983 NFL Draft, I’ll readily admit I’m sold going in, given my level of interest in the subject matter or the sport.

An eight-part documentary series taking us behind the scenes of the PGA Tour? That’s not exactly in my sports-fan wheelhouse. Sure, I like to tune in on Sundays to watch the final round of the majors and a few other championships and can name maybe 20 of the world’s top golfers. But I’m a casual fan and also certifiably, historically, astonishingly bad at golf.

This is my three-putt approach to telling you the Netflix series ‘‘Full Swing’’ is so compelling and well-filmed (and edited) and is brimming with so many intriguing storylines that even a casual golf fan like me can find it absolutely binge-worthy. My guess is the regular weekend golfer who also avidly follows the game will find it addictively watchable, as the series follows the PGA Tour throughout the 2022 season. And the timing couldn’t have been better for some added drama, given the advent of the controversial, Saudi Arabia-funded LIV Golf and the threat it poses to the PGA Tour.

‘Full Swing’


An eight-episode documentary series available Wednesday on Netflix.

Each of the eight episodes focuses on one or two players, with crews given access to homes, cars, private jets and clubhouses. In a sport in which guys named Justin, Jordan, Dustin and Cameron aren’t always the most colorful personalities on or off the course, it’s great to see someone such as the no-nonsense Brooks Koepka opening up at least a little bit and showing a self-deprecating side, as when he turns down donuts from then-fiancée/now-wife Jena Sims, saying: ‘‘My fat ass don’t need any, I’m good.’’ (Koepka’s manse in Jupiter, Florida, looks like a midsized resort, and Jena is a stunner who comes across as upbeat, supportive and wonderful. Life is good, Brooks. Enjoy.)


Brooks Koepka works out (and declines donuts) to keep in playing condition in “Full Swing.”


Even the reserved and legendarily studious Matt Fitzpatrick — the British pro who still looks like a junior caddie and has kept a written record of nearly every shot he has taken, even on the driving range — flashes a sense of humor and is instantly endearing. Kudos to the filmmakers for seemingly wearing down their subjects by sheer ubiquity. You can see some of the golfers gradually letting down their guard and getting used to the omnipresent cameras.


The meticulous Matt Fitzpatrick lets “Full Swing” see his sense of humor.


Episode 1, ‘‘Frenemies,’’ focuses on the longtime friendship and rivalry of Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, and Episode 2 chronicles Koepka’s efforts to shake off injuries and reclaim his spot as one of the world’s top golfers. (It’s hardly a surprise to see Koepka, who is built like a strong safety, working out, but I was impressed by how nearly every golfer featured in the series is constantly hitting the weights.)


An episode focuses on the friendship and rivalry of Justin Thomas (left) and Jordan Spieth.


Later episodes center on Ian Poulter, the colorful and popular British veteran who is near the end of his competitive career and is considering an offer to join LIV Golf for tens of millions of dollars, and the down-to-earth Joel Dahmen, who looks like a guy who should be drinking beers in the stands and cheerfully cracks: ‘‘Someone’s gotta be the 70th-best golfer in the world; it might as well be me!’’ (Spoiler alert: The 70th-best golfer is still a hell of a talent, as evidenced by Dahmen’s tie for 10th place in the 2022 U.S. Open.)


Joel Dahmen cheerfully celebrates his status as “the 70th best golfer in the world.”


One of my favorite episodes in the series features two of the brightest talents in the game: Collin Morikawa, 26, who already has five PGA Tour victories, including two majors, on his résumé and is a perfectionist down to the color schemes on the outfits he wears and the fit of his gloves; and Tony Finau, 33, who has a top-five finish in each of the majors and a skill set to rank with anyone’s but has endured criticism about ‘‘distractions’’ because he often brings wife Alayna and their children on tour with him.


Family man Tony Finau hangs out with his wife, Alayna Finau, and one of his daughters, Sienna-Vee Finau.


‘‘I believe you can be a great golfer and a great husband and father,’’ says Finau, while the equally likable Morikawa says: ‘‘I’m, like, super-organized. . . . If I was coming around with 10 people and I didn’t know what was going on — I’m getting the angsty shakes [just] thinking about that.’’


Rory McIlroy sounds off about Phil Mickelson in an especially candid moment of “Full Swing.”


The final episode follows the PGA/LIV Golf controversy as it heats up, with a number of veteran players jumping to the upstart league despite political and civil-rights controversies stemming from Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Public Investment Fund backing the entire endeavor with hundreds of millions of dollars.

The charismatic and greatly talented Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, arguably the most popular and influential member of the PGA Tour since Tiger Woods, is a traditionalist who spearheads the efforts to incentivize the tour’s best players not to jump ship and doesn’t hide his disdain for Phil Mickelson, who initially expressed concerns about Saudi Arabia’s abhorrent human-rights record before taking a reported $200 million to join LIV Golf. At one point, McIlroy exclaims, ‘‘F--- you, Phil!’’ and then says, ‘‘I hope that makes it in.’’

Don’t worry, Rory. These filmmakers know what they’re doing. They’re not going to cut the moment when you let loose on Phil Mickelson.

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