The Netflix golf documentary series “Full Swing” won’t have full access at the Ryder Cup.
U.S. captain Zach Johnson says he spoke to all 12 players on his team when concerns were raised about a film crew in the team rooms, and they unanimously decided to keep certain areas off limits.
“Netflix is going to be there,” said Seth Waugh, CEO of the PGA of America. “I would say all things involving the team we leave to the team and the captain. I think there’s a sanctity to the team room, and the experience is important to them. It’s part of being a team, right? Netflix has been great for the game. They’re doing great things. The team collectively decided there are areas of privacy that need to be respected.”
Netflix is in production for its second season of the series that has been popular with golf fans and even those who didn’t pay much attention to the sport. Nielsen Media Research analysis in U.S. markets showed 60% of viewers are between the ages of 25 and 54, and 63% of viewers watched the PGA Tour in the two months following the series’ debut.
The Ryder Cup, which starts the week of Sept. 25 outside Rome, presumably would be a big part of the upcoming season of “Full Swing.”
But there were enough concerns from a few players about letting Netflix into the team room at Marco Simone that Johnson polled his players and they chose to keep the team room private.
“It was one of those where we all gathered, I talked to every individual and laid out scenarios,” Johnson said in a telephone interview. “And they all felt like it was best to navigate that week of the tournament in a manner which the sanctity and sacredness of Team USA is preserved. We’re eliminating scenarios.”
A Netflix spokesperson declined comment. Netflix typically does not discuss potential content for a series currently in production.
Stefan Schauffele, the father of Xander Schauffele, said he first was aware of the Netflix presence when he received a player participation and benefits agreement in July, a month before Ryder Cup qualifying had ended.
“Apart from the fact the guys don’t get paid, you cannot make a deal with a third party that we are not party to for rights into eternity,” said Stefan Schauffele, who said his son did not sign the agreement without changes to the language.
The Americans and Europeans have a team room at the golf course and at the host hotel for the Ryder Cup that historically are off limits to the media and other VIPs not directly involved in the matches.
Netflix has had extensive access to the players it has profiled from the “Full Swing” series, at their homes and during travel to tournaments. The first season was shot during 2022 as golf was torn apart by defections to LIV Golf.
The PGA Tour released results of a general population survey that showed 42% of those who watched at least some of the Netflix series spent more time watching golf on TV, and 36% spent more time engaging with pro golf on social media.
Justin Thomas, another captain’s pick who has taken part in the Netflix series, said it was an easy decision for Johnson to eliminate any source of distraction.
“I just think there was maybe a couple of people a little skeptical, and it really was not even a conversation,” Thomas said. “We’re all a team this week. All 12 were on board, so it doesn’t really matter.”