‘Full Swing’s Rickie Fowler And Team Drive Viewers Through Pro Golf’s Most “Unprecedented, Controversial” Year – Contenders TV: Docs + Unscripted

The creators of the Netflix series Full Swing, a compelling look inside the lives of professional golfers, benefitted from a stroke of luck. As they were working on Season 1, the rival Saudi-backed LIV Tour sprang up, posing an existential threat to the venerable PGA Tour.

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“It’s certainly, I would argue, probably the [most] unprecedented, controversial year in maybe any sport,” said executive producer Chad Mumm during an appearance at Deadline’s Contenders Television: Documentary + Unscripted virtual event. “There’s certainly been other attempts and breakaway leagues in the history of sport, but never in the middle of a season, never when you’re sharing a locker room with guys that are leaving or rumored to be leaving and playing in pairings with them.”

Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Ian Poulter are among the golfers featured in Full Swing who bolted for LIV, but fellow competitor Rickie Fowler, past winner of the prestigious Players Championship, stuck with the PGA Tour. He played a key role getting Full Swing off the ground.

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“I’m pretty sure I was the first golfer to kind of commit to it,” Fowler said. “Ultimately, once you have the first, it’s a little easier to get the second and third [player]. It wasn’t like I was personally going to guys like, ‘Hey, you should or need to do this.’ But we wanted people to be on board and I think it shows a lot about the guys that were part of the first season, taking a little bit of a leap of faith because this was a new kind of territory for the game of golf.”

The series comes from Box to Box Films, Vox Media and PGA Tour Productions. Box to Box also produces the Netflix series Formula 1: Drive to Survive, about the world of race car driving, but there are notable differences between the shows.

“You can get a lot closer to golfers on their field of play,” noted executive producer Paul Martin. “We didn’t set out to make kind of the Drive to Survive of golf. We wanted Full Swing to find its own kind of identity, knowing that the athletes were different, the sport was different. Even the geography of a golf course versus the geography of a kind of a Formula 1 [course] is completely different.”

The personal lives of golfers occupy a big role in the series, from their marriages to their opulent lifestyle, making the series absorbing for audiences who don’t necessarily follow the game itself.

“Really, what we do Thursday to Sunday is kind of the easy and the simple part other than dealing with the pressure and competing,” Fowler said. “That’s our time to finally just go be in our element and play golf. There’s so much more work and maybe fun and play time on the side when you’re off.”

Season 2 is now being filmed, promising fresh access to the game’s greatest players, major tournament tension, and more drama between the PGA and LIV.

Check back Monday for the panel video.

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