Was This The Best Part of Full Swing
SO have you watched Full Swing yet? I loved every single minute of the Netflix series. Not because of any insights into LIV Golf or those who opted to jump ship. And not because of any of the golf clips, of which there are plenty.
What I have genuinely loved is the fact that the players who agreed to be followed by the cameras genuinely opened up. Brooks Koepka, Joel Dahmen, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Tony Finau were inspired choices.
Let’s start with Fitzpatrick. They could never have known that he was going to win the US Open. I guess they decided to follow him because, as an 18-year-old, he won the US Amateur Championship at Brookline in 2013. And last year the US Open returned to the same course.
But really, who could possibly have foreseen Fitzpatrick winning his first major on the same course, especially as he had never won on the PGA Tour and was beginning to develop an unfortunate habit of getting into contention and being unable to finish the job?
You may know that Fitzpatrick is something of a geek. He records every shot he plays - even on the range. He has notebooks full of stats and meticulously inputs everything to his laptop. Even his younger brother, Alex, who is also a professional golfer, shakes his head in disbelief.
It is clear that Fitzpatrick lives for golf. For me, the highlight was not his reaction when he holed the winning putt. It was that of his seasoned caddie, Billy Foster, a man who has worked with Seve Ballesteros and Lee Westwood and has seen it all. He was moved to tears.
Finau, on the other hand, is a golfer who has been criticised for not being dedicated enough to the pursuit of chasing a golf ball around the world. He is a family man.
His mother died in November 2012. The following day Finau’s wife, Alayna, gave birth to the first of their five children.
Finau’s mother played a huge part in his young life. His family did not have much money - he would spend hours in the family’s garage hitting golf balls into a mattress because he could not afford green fees. She made lots of sacrifices for him and when he speaks about her the tears are never far away.
Finau had travelled alone to tournaments but when Alayna’s father died he suggested she and the children join them on tour. And in the early part of 2022, his form suffered. He talks movingly about his mother and his family and admits that having the wife and children in tow might have affected his form. But he knew that Alayna was grieving - and he is clearly a devoted and loving husband and father.
After returning from The Open at St Andrews - a trip he made without the family - he returned to the States with a renewed determination and won the 3M Open. But he then found himself being questioned about the strength of the field he had beaten. So the following week he headed off to the Rocket Mortgage, where he beat a world-class field. And when he returned to Idaho, where he lives, it was to a hero’s welcome.
I have always been a fan of Finau but I now have a new-found respect for him.
Everybody around Dahmen tells him he is a world-class golfer. The problem is that he simply doesn’t believe it. His caddie, Geno Bonnalie, is also his best friend and they have a relationship like no other on the PGA Tour. Bonnalie constantly tells Dahmen he could be one of the best out there, but the golfer simply doesn’t believe it. And admits that he doesn’t actually know if he wants it that badly.
Some of the interactions between golfer and bagman are hilarious, and I now can’t help but feeling that Bonnalie knows Dahmen better than he knows himself - and that he really could be a top-20 golfer if ever he chose to dedicate himself to the cause.
And then there is Koepka, a golfer who, between 2017 and 2019, seemed to have the world at his feet. He won four majors and reached the top of the world rankings. And then the injuries began.
Koepka opens up on what it feels like to go from hero to zero, pulling his hair out over missed cuts. As his wife chats to him, it is obvious that he isn’t interested. And he later admits that all he can think about now is golf. When he was winning tournaments he simply stood over the ball and hit it. But with his loss of form his head is now full of thoughts - most of them negative. I should warn you that his language throughout is pretty colourful, but this is a tormented soul.
There is not a single golfer among us who hasn’t gone through the same thing. But it is a real eye-opener to discover that it can also happen to a four-time major champion.
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