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Full Swing Season 2 Review

By: | Mon 18 Mar 2024

Have you checked out the second series of Full Swing on Netflix? I have just finished the final episode and have found the whole thing thoroughly absorbing.

The first two episodes tackle the entire PGA Tour-LIV Golf merger fiasco and I have no intention of going into any great detail here because that subject has been done to death. However, the shock among leading PGA Tour players when the news broke was palpable. Not one of them had a clue that their commissioner, Jay Monahan, was in secret talks with the Saudis.

However, the last thing I expected was to hear the f-word dropped at will by almost every single player featured in Full Swing. Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Joel Dahmen, Jordan Spieth, Collin Morikawa, Jon Rahm could all give your average fish-wife a proper run for her money. And I am not talking about them swearing on the course (although Dahmen certainly did) or in unguarded moments. They all routinely used the f-word in interviews, knowing the cameras were on them and that their words were bring recorded.

I know that Full Swing had to deal with the whole LIV Golf thing but, like most of you, I have had my fill of it all, and my interest was piqued by an episode on the mental game and by the build-up to the Ryder Cup.

Wyndham Clark was one of the best amateur golfers in the world when he turned professional. He won dozens of events and expected that to continue when he joined the paid ranks.

But things didn’t quite work out that way. He had gone from being a leading light in his field to just another Tour hopeful. And he struggled. Horribly. When things went wrong on the course, Clark would routinely blow a fuse. And the angrier he became the more difficult it was for him to play the sort of golf he knew that he was capable of producing. 

Clark had lost his mother and ended up seeing a therapist as he tried to come to terms with his grief. Before dying, she had told him that he could achieve anything he wanted. The therapist helped him cope with his grief, but he continued to lose his way on the golf course.

At the beginning of 2023, Clark finally realised that he needed to speak to a sports psychologist and so he hired Julie Elion, who had previously worked with the likes of Phil Mickelson. He quickly realised that he had done the right thing and in May he won the Wells Fargo Championship and immediately recognised the role that Elion had played in getting his mindset right. And if he needed any further affirmation it came the following month when he held off Rory McIlroy to win the US Open. Again, Elion was credited by Clark for the role she has played in sorting out his head. His temper tantrums are now a thing of the past.

After the first series of Full Swing, Joel Dahmen became something of a cult figure. It is difficult to understand exactly why but it probably had much to do with the fact that Dahmen admitted he was happy to be the world’s 90th best golfer while his caddie, Gino Bonnalie, told anybody who was prepared to listen that Dahmen could achieve anything he wanted in golf if only the player himself believed it.

Dahmen was happy enough to be making a very comfortable living without being one of golf’s superstars. He didn’t go to the gym and he did not spend much time working on his game. But he was recording decent results. 

Fast forward 12 months and the story is somewhat different. Dahmen is suddenly a fan favourite as a result of his Netflix appearance, constantly surrounded by adoring fans looking for an autograph. Bonnalie has also become something of a celebrity in his own right.

But on the the course it is all going wrong. Dahmen is now a father and his priorities have changed. Now he seems even less interested in playing golf. And Bonnalie cuts an incredibly frustrated figure, pointing out that his friend is drinking too much and falling to apply himself. There is also plenty of foul language from Dahmen when he does get out on the course,

Like Clark, Dahmen has lost his mother and Bonnalie tells Full Swing that he has failed to deal with it. He urges his player to follow Clark’s example and hire a sports psychologist but Dahmen is not interested. We see him getting drunk while telling somebody in a bar that he knows he needs to work on his game. But clearly having no intention of doing so.

The penny finally drops for Dahmen after he misses the cut at the 2023 US Open. On the flight home, he and Bonnalie have a heart to heart. Bonnalie says: “JD, there is just no point just turning up, missing the cut, going to next week and doing the same f-ing thing again and again unless there is a purpose, unless we are trying to get better.” Dahmen vows to start putting in the work and both embrace in tears.

And then there is the Ryder Cup. If you ever thought that the players don’t care about it you could not be more mistaken. 

Justin Thomas admits early on that his whole year is built around making the American team for Marco Simone. Keegan Bradley says the same thing. Watching Thomas’s struggles in 2023 was pretty painful. He missed the cut at the US Open by a country mile after a second round of 81. And it only got worse. An 82 at The Open almost brought him to his knees. He had started the year in one of the automatic qualifying places but quickly tumbled down the Ryder Cup rankings.

For the first time in his career he was at risk of failing to make the FedEx Cup Playoffs. In a last-gasp effort to make the top 70 he entered the Wyndham Championship and it all came down to the 72nd hole, where he needed a birdie to make it. He hit his drive into the trees, somehow got the ball just short of the par-four in two and then looked on in disbelief as his chip lipped out. He had ended the regular season in 71st place.

Bradley, meanwhile, won the Travelers Championship, made it to the FedEx Cup Playoffs and sat just outside the top six in the Ryder Cup standings.

We then see US captain Zach Johnson calling his six picks and Thomas gets the nod. The call to Bradley is to deliver the bad news that he has missed out. Interestingly, we see Donald delivering the good news to his picks but not the uncomfortable call to Adrian Meronk, the Polish golfer who was controversially overlooked and who later had much to say about being sidelined.

Many people have said Johnson was a poor captain. While that may be true, Full Swing showed him to be a compassionate man who cared deeply about the decisions he had to make and the impact they had on individuals. In hindsight, picking Thomas was a good call. Despite the USA being thrashed, Thomas was arguably the heartbeat of the team.

We also see previously unseen footage of the whole unsavoury incident involving McIlroy and US caddies Joe LaCava and Jim “Bones” Mackay. His clash in the car park with Mackay could have turned out very differently had it not been for Shane Lowry, who bundled a livid McIlroy into the back of a car.

In the aftermath Europe’s victory, McIlroy was seen embracing Rahm and saying to him: “Jon, you just make me want to get better.” It nearly reduces the Spaniard to tears - and perhaps goes some way to explaining why McIlroy is so keen to have Rahm on board at next year’s Ryder Cup.

And Thomas? “Man, I would go 0-5 every single time if it meant we won."

What’s the verdict then? Was series two an improvement, did we gain any proper insights and did we learn anything we didn’t already know? Yes, yes and yes. And I sincerely hope that there will be a series three.

Podcast: Full Swing Season 2 - What Was Missing


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Tags: PGA Tour LIV Golf european tour dp world tour

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