First Published  by The Global Golf Post

The thing Netflix’s “Full Swing” series did so well in its first season is encapsulated again in a moment in Episode 7 of the second season, which debuts on the streaming service today.

Zach Johnson, the U.S. Ryder Cup captain, is calling the six players whom he has selected to join the automatic qualifiers heading to Rome for the 2023 match, and several of those conversations are captured on both ends.

Brooks Koepka takes it as you might expect: happy and matter of fact. Jordan Spieth is pumped. The relief hits Rickie Fowler like a warm shower.

Then there is the call to Keegan Bradley.

Bradley has talked at various times through the second season about how desperately he wants to make the Ryder Cup team, and his desire is palpable. When he gets the call from Johnson telling him that he didn’t make it, everyone watching can feel the depth of his disappointment.

It’s moments like this one – viewers can see Bradley’s name displayed on Johnson’s phone, and Bradley’s young son is bouncing a ball in the house while his father takes the call – that do what a series such as “Full Swing” is intended to do: Take us places we can’t otherwise go.

For years, Chad Mumm, chief creative officer at Vox, which produces the series, imagined a story built around professional golf. When he finally made it happen, the timing was extraordinary.

Season One was a hit, built largely around LIV Golf’s arrival, a fateful bit of timing that sparked the storyline in ways no one fully imagined when the project began.

“You’re going to see a look inside the Ryder Cup that no one has ever seen before.” – Chad Mumm

In Season Two, which has eight episodes, LIV Golf remains an important part of the narrative. The Ryder Cup, which had its own unique tension and drama, provided a dramatic conclusion that takes up the final two episodes.

The producers didn’t have to create storylines. They’ve hit the mother lode during the past two years.

“It’s the first time that the Ryder Cup has allowed the level of access that we got this year to both captains kind of throughout the entire year,” Mumm said.

“You’re going to see a look inside the Ryder Cup that no one has ever seen before. So, sort of unprecedented levels of access, but also unprecedented levels of access to the entire team building process, including cameras rolling live with both the captains and the players as they receive their captains’ picks.”

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Both seasons of “Full Swing” are at their best when they focus on the players rather than their golf. Seeing Rory McIlroy’s flameout at the 2023 Masters and Koepka’s menacing brilliance in winning the ’23 PGA Championship document the how, but providing glimpses of them in private moments fuels the stories.

McIlroy, who was a late addition in the first season, is an open book in the second season. His frustration with his play bubbles to the surface, and his disillusionment with the PGA Tour’s decision to enter into a framework agreement with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund lands like a gut shot when McIlroy learns about it.

Joel Dahmen and his caddie, Geno Bonnalie, became celebrities as a result of their shared story in the first season. In the second season, Dahmen’s game has disappeared and while he’s more recognizable than ever before, he’s in a dark place between the ropes.

Dahmen’s story is juxtaposed against Wyndham Clark’s emergence and his personal battles. Dahmen refuses to consider working with a sports psychologist while Clark, who won the Wells Fargo Championship and the U.S. Open last year, lets the cameras follow him into sessions with his sports psychologist.

“I didn’t really have anything to hide. I also think it’s part of my calling in both golf and in life to kind of share my story.” – Wyndham Clark

Clark allows Netflix and the viewers into places most players probably would put off limits. The result is a better understanding of who Clark is and how he has become the player he is.

“I didn’t really have anything to hide,” Clark said. “I also think it’s part of my calling in both golf and in life to kind of share my story. I’ve had a lot of adversity and challenges thrown my way, and I think my story will, I hope, inspire a lot of people and the people that have had similar stuff happen in their life that maybe this is inspiration for them to keep going and anything like that.”

Unlike the first season, there are fewer segments explaining the basic format of professional golf, but understanding that Netflix wants “Full Swing” to reach beyond the core golf audience, there are moments when some nuts and bolts of the sport are explained.

Hearing Justin Thomas talk about chasing the lost form he can’t quite regain is enlightening. Seeing his reaction when Johnson calls to tell him that he is on the Ryder Cup team – Thomas is walking outside in Florida when he gets the call – is the kind of thing players talk about later but, until now, haven’t been caught on camera for the world to see.

In another candid Ryder Cup moment, the two teams are at a formal event together in Rome when Shane Lowry leans toward McIlroy and asks if he can “slag off” (criticize) the Americans for fun.

McIlroy laughs and, pointing at a camera behind him, tells Lowry, “Careful. Netflix is right there.”

Pulling back the invisible curtain.