Full Swing: Best quotes, weirdest moments and wildest finishes from new Netflix documentary
A trip into Ian Poulter's wardrobe is as colourful an experience as you could expect.
Full Swing is the latest Netflix sporting documentary that is seeking to be their next 'Drive to Survive' or 'The Last Dance'.
The producers of 'Drive' were given handsome access to some of the best, brightest, and not so bright, of the golfing world and, on first viewing, they have delivered the goods. There could be more actual golf shots included - if we had our way - and neither Tiger Woods or Shane Lowry feature enough for our liking, but this is well worth watching.
For all of the JTs, Spieths, Koepkas, Mickelsons and McIlroys, though, a pre-teen American autograph-hunter delivers the best line of the opening episodes.
Full Swing - First Watch
JOE has been fortunate enough to watch the first three episodes of the first Full Swing season (there are eight in total with the Rory McIlroy focus coming in Episode 8) and here is our instant reaction, and observations made along the way.
EPISODE 1 - Frenemies
Full Swing starts off in the cosy golfing (and mad money) community of Jupiter, Florida. Some of the world's best golfers - Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Leona Maguire, Justin Thomas and Shane Lowry among them - live there and hit up local courses like the Golden Bear Club or Medalist to hone their game.
This episode focuses on the bromance, and rivalry, of American stars Thomas and Spieth. A decade ago, these were the two 'ones to watch' gunslingers and both won Majors early in their professional careers. 'JT' was the one tipped to haul more majors, by many, but it was Spieth that got on a heater from 2015, when he was 21, until 2017 and picked up three.
This episode follows Spieth and Thomas around as they play cash games against each other, share private jet rides to tournaments and have each other's backs, while wanting to beat their hides on the golf course. Thomas starts his season slowly but gets it going by the time the US PGA comes around.
If you are watching with subtitles on, expect a few clangers - "Big pick, big pick!" - but the production qualities and choices are otherwise spot-on. Even in episode one, the looming threat of LIV Golf - the biggest golf storyline of 2022 - is never far from the headlines, and the lips of players, fans and press.
Best quote of Episode 1: Mito Pereira turning to his caddy, at the US PGA, and confessing the obvious - "I f***ed it up on the last hole, man!"
EPISODE 2 - Win or Go Home
Following up on that 'heaters' theme, episode two of Full Swing focuses on one man that had one and another that is still enjoying one - Brooks Koepka and Scottie Scheffler.
Koepka won four majors between 2017 and 2019 but it did little to remove the massive f*** you chip from his shoulder. The Florida native, who jumped from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf in 2022, paints a picture of him being dismissed by all comers as he made his early strides in golf. Somewhat improbably (as who would be so on-the-nose to a promising, young golfer?) he declares:
"They told me I was never going to be good enough. Never going to win anything."
Actress and model Jena Sims, who married Koepka last year, makes some appearances, too, as she tells the Netflix crew it was she that slid into the golfer's DMs to spark off their relationship.
The episode then tries its' best to ramp up the drama by having a Brooks Koepka bogey at the Waste Management Open, in Phoenix, seem like something seismic (slow-mo and all).
We do not have to wait long for significant stakes as the God-cherishing Scottie Scheffler rides a purple patch right into the US Masters and Koepka has to live by his 'Win or go home' mantra. He misses the cut as Scheffler sets a match to Augusta National. Here we see the 32-year-old at his most honest and vulnerable, speaking of his crushing sense of embarrassment at having to pack up as the tournament rages on without him.
Koepka then goes back to his default setting as he pretends he does not know who ended up winning that Masters. Luckily, his interviewer calls that bluff.
Best quote of Episode 2: Signing autographs for fans at the Masters, a lad no older that 12 zings Koepka with a question about his wife-to-be - "Where's Jena? I want a picture with her!" - Koepka handles it well by replying, "Me too! I'll tell her you said you were looking for her."
EPISODE 3 - Money or Legacy
After touching on LIV Golf on a few occasions in the opening episodes, Full Swing uses Ian Poulter as its narrative tool to explain just what the breakaway tour is all about.
The English golfer, who has never won a major but is a Ryder Cup legend, gets off to a shaky start when he, Ian Poulter, refers to 'this Poulter journey' he is on.
The 47-year-old is still capable of going low for the odd round but not consistently enough to claim any big wins [his last sizeable victory was the Houston Open in 2018]. We spend time with his lovely family and hang out with him in his massive walk-in wardrobe as he folds his garish golf slacks and looks to justify squeezing as much money out of the final years of his golf career by jumping ship to LIV.
Fellow Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick dusts Poulter in a match-play event then, later in the episode, speculates to the Netflix crew about who will join LIV. He correctly guesses Poulter, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia.
The episode paints Poulter, at least from my viewing, as a fading force that is going to LIV to stay relevant, not deal with missing cuts, and boost his bank account even more before he hangs up his golf shoes. At one point, he misses the cut at a major and scoffs about having to cover his own expenses.
He casually throws in the fact he is skipping the US Open [he was not ranked high enough and would have to play a qualifier] and may just show up at a LIV event outside of London as it is happening 'down the road'. When we do see the golfers that have opted to join up with the controversial, Saudi-financed tour, the song 'Big Ol Bag of Money' kicks in.
Who wins at LIV London? No-one knows and no-one seems to care.
Best quote of Episode 3: This gem comes from Ian Poulter - "Working for free doesn't float my boat"
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