sport news Netflix's Full Swing stars Rory McIlroy but fails to capitalize on LIV Golf ... trends now
Golf is undoubtedly having its moment, and it has the chance to take it one step further.
'Full Swing,' debuting February 15 on Netflix, looks to bring the 'Drive to Survive' effect to golf, following the 2022 PGA Tour season through the lens of 13 players.
It wasn't long ago that NASCAR dominated American motorsport interests but that all changed with 'Drive to Survive' as Formula One raced forward in popularity.
The docuseries, entering its fifth season, has been widely successful by deep-diving into the lives of the drivers and team dynamics with a few dramatic 200mph races sprinkled in.
Golf has already experienced that phenomena to an extent thanks to the headline-grabbing controversy of LIV Golf. And the rebel series is surely the greatest pulling point to the show for both existing followers of the sport and non-fans.
'Full Swing,' debuting February 15 on Netflix, looks to bring the 'Drive to Survive' effect to golf
Rory McIlroy headlines the star-studded line up of the docuseries on the PGA Tour
Yet, despite teasing the LIV vs. PGA Tour turf war throughout its trailer from Ian Poulter screaming in the locker room to chief loyalist Rory McIlrory taking center stage in a theatrical finale, those who tune in expecting eight hours of inside-the-ropes insight into the battle, the 'will he, won't hes' and the sly digs will be left sorely disappointed - at least at first.
It takes three episodes for the for the Saudi-funded breakaway to get a notable mention with ex-Ryder Cup favorite Ian Poulter using his waning days as a viable pro, his role as a father, his personality platform, and, let's face it, the money, as excuses for jumping ship throughout his segment.
At one point during his episode, with Poulter in the hot seat, the interviewer asks, 'Straight up, are you going to LIV?' Poulter half-scoffs and repeats the question.
'It's a business decision,' he says. 'It's an opportunity. So we'll see.'
With that, the former fan favorite offers a half-smirk and a side-look as 'Big Bag of Money' by G-Eyez plays.
This is it. Here we go. All the speculations, rumors, backstabbing, war of words, betrayal and anger is all about to be unloaded… only for the next episode to cut to the story of journeyman Joel Dahmen.
And that's it. 'Full Swing' dips its toe into the controversy here and there, but the Saudi-funded breakaway is barely mentioned until the final episode. In fact, it almost feels like the series treats golf's big summer of melodrama as a nuisance rather than a springboard to guaranteed entertainment.
And yes, admittedly at times the PGA Tour's ceaseless battle with LIV Golf has felt more like a soap opera than sport and members at country clubs across the world certainly wouldn't want their sport turning into a reality TV show.
LIV Golf's first big mention in the series by Ian Poulter appears to tee up the controversy
But the following episode instead switches to journeyman Joel Dahmen at the US PGA
But golf also experienced blockbuster moments on the course last season too - just take Tiger Woods's Masters return for example - with the LIV saga an accompaniment. And, after the year the sport has just had, surely they go hand in hand?
But that's the compromise viewers have to make. With every stray to the juicy LIV segments, the series is quickly steered back on track to the safe storylines of the individual players.
However, the hope may be that non-fans and established gold followers alike will tune in for the LIV controversy but stick around for the human aspect.
While the series fails to live up to its LIV hype, it does provide a never-before-seen view into the emotional rollercoaster of life as a professional golfer - something which, even before LIV made golf more topical, was something that was calling out to be highlighted.
From Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas's friendship, to a bleached-blonde Brooks Koepka struggling with his steep decline from the peak of his career, to Tony Finau balancing his family of four children and a career, 'Full Swing' tells the tale of what it takes to survive on the PGA Tour.
Presenting an intimate portrait of 13 individual players, episodes hop from storyline to storyline but not in golf's traditional order.
With the series character-based, not calendar-based, the episodes don't necessarily focus on the sport's usual biggest chapters of the year - the majors - and even when they are touched upon, they don't appear in chronological order.
The PGA Championship comes before The Masters, before returning to Southern Hills again, then jumps to the US Open before rewinding again to Augusta - with the 150th Open at St. Andrews the only one appearing in seasonal order.