Episode 3 of Full Swing takes us into the life of Ian Poulter — golf’s most fun dad. The British character, the Ryder Cup star, the funky-pants guy. He’s fun-loving, carefree, almost goofy at times. He and his kids, who obviously adore him, film mini putting competitions on their plane. He banters with the cameramen, with caddies, with other golfers.
But that carefree nature really only goes so far. Poulter is 47 years old, has never won a major, and clearly cannot keep up with the younger guys on the Tour. He gets handily beaten in match play in one scene, marking what seems to be a turning point. Cut to the British golfer in the locker room, throwing things at the lockers and screaming expletives, clearly not meant for the cameras to see.
Poulter lives for the Ryder Cup each year, but seems to be willing to give that all up for LIV. Guaranteed money at this point in his career does make sense for Poulter. After watching the episode, even if you don’t sympathize with him, you begin to understand the place that he is coming from.
“My whole life is about trying to work hard and provide,” he says. “I’m sure LIV have offers out there to numerous people. The fact of there being guaranteed money at play is obviously an attraction.”
This is our most in-depth look at a decision to leave the PGA TOUR and join Greg Norman’s Saudi-funded golf league in the entire show. Poulter is spiny, almost hostile, to reporters when asked questions about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and whether there would be anyone or anywhere for whom he would turn down a lucrative golf contract due to moral hesitations. He does not answer.
So it raises the question — what is the price tag on a legacy? Poulter may now be remembered in golf history as one of the first guys to jump ship, to eagerly join a league unapologetically covered in blood money. But all he thinks about this episode is providing for his children, figuring out a way to keep golfing and earning money when he just keeps missing cuts. But what is the cost?
Full Swing is available to watch on Netflix. All episodes are out now.