The hyper-competitive world of the PGA Tour takes center stage in “Full Swing,” a new Netflix documentary series about the biggest names in professional golf. The project comes from the same creative team that turned Formula One racing into one of the biggest shows on television with ‘F1: Drive to Survive’ and features golf superstars such as Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka. Like “Drive to Survive,” it follows the human drama that unfolds over the course of each golf season as players travel the world to compete in various tournaments.
If “Full Swing” generates a fraction of the interest for the PGA that “Drive to Survive” generated for F1, it would be a huge boost for a league that desperately needs it. In addition to existing problems such as an aging audience and the massive decline in viewership that will inevitably occur when Tiger Woods retires, the PGA also faces the existential threat of LIV Golf. The upstart league has drawn outrage for being funded by Saudi Arabia’s Sovereign Investment Fund, but that hasn’t stopped it from poaching many of the PGA Tour’s biggest golfers with guaranteed nine-figure contracts. The result essentially split televised golf into two leagues — one with tradition but no star power, and one with all the star power you could ask for but benefiting a murderous regime and unrelated to the best known. tournaments in the game like The Open, Masters and US Open. It’s a challenging inflection point for the sport that the Drive to Survive team is uniquely positioned to capture.
It’s easy to forget that a decade ago F1 was a largely overlooked brand that catered primarily to older racing fans. Its rapid transformation into one of the world’s most popular sports is largely the result of new ownership willing to adapt to new ways of entertaining fans. Allowing Netflix to produce a weekly show on F1 – in addition to scrapping antiquated rules such as banning drivers from using personal social media accounts – allowed the bigger personalities that dominate the sport and the picturesque race venues to avoid to the center. It’s a model that golf would be wise to follow, and it looks like ‘Full Swing’ could be a serious attempt at it.
“Full Swing” will begin streaming on Netflix on February 15th. Check out the trailer below.