Many famous moments in sports are just a result of someone being in the right place at the right time to capture something remarkable. The latest case of that comes with Netflix golf series Full Swing. Earlier this week, Chad Mumm (a producer on Full Swing, and chief creative officer of show studio Vox Media Studios), confirmed the show was filming during Tuesday’s shock announcement of a LIV Golf-PGA Tour merger.
You better believe we were filming when this broke. #FullSwing.
— Chad Mumm (@chadmumm) June 6, 2023
Mumm spoke to Richard Deitsch of The Athletic about that on Wednesday. There, he said they had two separate crews filming Tuesday. But this wasn’t on their radar at all, and it wasn’t a sure thing; last year, they filmed on approximately 300 of the 365 calendar days. So this could well have been missed with different timing. But here, they had a crew at the RBC Canadian Open in Toronto that was able to capture player reactions there, and they had another crew at home with a player when he found out the news from an agent.
“We had a player who was literally driving to his first PGA Tour event as a professional and we wanted to see what that was like, following someone who just turned pro,” Mumm said. “We were with him when the news broke. I wasn’t there personally, but the feedback from our team was the mood was palpable. You could just feel the uncertainty and the waves of questions that arose. It just was a dramatic day to be on-site at a PGA Tour event.”
…“If you’ve seen ‘Full Swing,’ we’ve spent a lot of time off the golf course with players that we’re featuring,” Mumm said. “It just happened to be a day where we said, ‘OK, we’re going to be at your house and we’re going to watch you hang out with your kids.’ So in the middle of the morning, they’re hanging out in the living room and all of a sudden the player gets a phone call and the whole world shifts in real-time. We were rolling on it. The dream of being in the right moment at the right time and getting unfiltered, true reaction to something so pivotal, we got lucky. I’d love to say it’s great planning, but nobody knew this was coming. I found out the same time everyone else found out.”
Mumm also had a great line to Deitsch on how this twist would have been rejected as unrealistic in a scripted show.
“This is proof that real life is always going to be stranger and more interesting than fiction. This is why I got into documentary filmmaking. If I turned this script into Netflix at the beginning of the year and said, ‘This is what Season 2 is going to look like,’ they would have tossed it back and said, ‘This is too fake.’”
There’s something to be said for that, maybe especially in sports. Sports can have so many unexpected twists, from surprising playoff runs to trades to great on-field moments. But things like this that happen off the field can be even stranger sometimes, and even harder to predict. And while the Full Swing footage here won’t be viewable by the public for some time (Mumm told Deitsch they won’t release this early, so it will be worked into the next season, expected to be released in about eight months), it sounds like the show was perfectly-placed to capture reactions to the unexpected merger here, and to the fallout that’s since ensued.