The Netflix golf documentary series Full Swing wants to be able to say that it gives viewers an all-access, behind-the-scenes view of the golfers it covers. However, the U.S. team at the 2023 Ryder Cup has made it impossible.
U.S. captain Zach Johnson told reporters that he spoke with the 12 team players after concerns were raised about a film crew following them in the team rooms. The players all unanimously voted to keep those rooms off-limits to filming.
“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.”
According to U.S. team member Justin Thomas, it wasn’t a hard decision for them to make.
“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.”
Along with privacy concerns, some of the players and their families took issue with the language in Netflix’s contracts over the footage.
“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, father of Xander Schauffele. He added that Xander did not sign the agreement without changes to that language.
Netflix is currently in production for the second season of Full Swing, and while the U.S. team didn’t want to offer them full access, the docuseries is still seen as a positive by those in charge.
“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.”
Both the Americans and Europeans have a team room at the golf course and the hotel. Traditionally, those rooms are off-limits to the media.
The 2023 Ryder Cup gets underway on September 29 at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Guidonia Montecelio near Rome.