Joel Dahmen just got even easier to root for | ‘Full Swing’ Ep. 4 recap
The long-anticipated Netflix series “Full Swing” hit streaming devices on Feb. 15 with eight episodes featuring a dozen stars who brought us inside their homes and lives on tour in 2022. So, what did you miss? And what do you need to know? Here, we’ll break down every episode.
Read all of our episode recaps here: Ep. 1 | Ep. 2 | Ep. 3 | Ep. 4 | Ep. 5 | Ep. 6 | Ep. 7 | Ep. 8
Episode 4 of “Full Swing” — Imposter Syndrome — gave us a glimpse into the life of one of golf’s most magnetic personalities: Joel Dahmen. And while previous episodes have featured contrasts between two stars, this one explicitly followed Dahmen — plus his parter-in-crime, caddie Geno Bonnalie.
While the stars of the show featured to this point (Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka, Scottie Scheffler and Ian Poulter) are all oozing with self-belief and confidence, Dahmen is quite the opposite.
“All the best players, they’re way better than I am,” Dahmen says. “I’ll never be a top-10 player in the world and I’ll never win majors.”
Dahmen, who’s currently ranked 90th in the world, is not your typical pro golfer. Unlike the top stars on Tour, he’s not galavanting the globe in a chartered jet. His home is not a mega mansion, but rather a quaint house in Scottsdale, Ariz. And he shares few aspirations of becoming a top talent in pro golf.
“Somebody’s got to be the 70th-best golfer in the world,” he says. “It might as well be me.”
This satisfaction as a good-not-great professional golfer is a common theme throughout the episode, and after learning more about Dahmen’s journey, it becomes clear why.
What golf fans might have learned
Dahmen has long been a favorite among his peers on Tour, but few fans knew much (if at all) about his personal journey — and how it’s shaped his outlook on life.
At one time, Dahmen was a junior-golf star in Washington. He was so good that he earned a scholarship to the University of Washington. However, prior to setting off to Seattle for college, his mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, passing away six months later.
“She did everything for me,” Dahmen said. “I never made my bed, I never did laundry. I was so spoiled by her.”
The trauma of that loss followed him to U Dub, and he turned to a life of partying. After just one season at Washington, Dahmen dropped out of school. He spoke candidly about his struggles during this time, calling himself a “leaf in the wind” who had little direction in life.
He turned pro in 2010 and earned status on the Canadian Tour, but just a year later, life threw him yet another curveball as he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. The trials he faced in this period of his life would be enough to sink some, but not Dahmen.
“I think myself having cancer probably changed my life for the better,” he said. “To not take life for granted, try your best and do all the right things. Maybe a blessing in disguise.”
This entire segment is a tear-jerker, but showing Dahmen’s difficult journey is essential to understanding more about his satisfaction with his standing in the pro golf ranks.
What non-golf fans might have learned
Other than “Full Swing” reminding us yet again how the cut line works, this episode also sheds light on the intimate player-caddie relationship. And what better way to introduce this dynamic than with Dahmen and Bonnalie.
The fun-loving duo grew up in neighboring towns on the Washington-Idaho border, and their mutual obsessions with golf brought them together.
“Geno had his license, so he’d pick me up and we’d play golf after school, take me to Taco Bell,” Dahmen said.
The episode then shows viewers how Bonnalie got his start looping for his buddy. Early in Dahmen’s pro career, Bonnalie sent his friend an email formally “applying” for the caddie gig.
First off I want to tell you how proud of you I am. Not only do I think you’re going to make the big time, I truly believe you’re one of the best players in the world.
That being said, I’d like to officially apply for the position of Joel Dahmen’s caddie. I just want what’s best for you and I truly believe that you and I would thrive together.
I already have a plan to get rid of my truck and buy a Honda Civic and modify it to be my house.
While reading the letter, Dahmen gets choked up and can barely finish his sentence.
“I can’t believe I’m getting emotional,” Dahmen said. “That’s how much I love Geno.”
The love these two have for each other is clear not only from the letter, but also the on-course banter the two share throughout the episode. Not every player-caddie relationship is like theirs, but it’s got to be the gold standard.
3 random thoughts
1. Dahmen had a hell of a week at the U.S. Open at Brookline — but he almost didn’t even make it there. At his sectional qualifier (shown in the episode) he plays poorly in the first 18 of his 36-hole qualifier, and he contemplates not even playing the second 18. Then the cameras capture him drinking a couple White Claws with lunch before he heads back to the course and plays himself into the championship.
2. There’s a scene with Dahmen and his wife, Lona, shopping for a stroller that’s pretty funny. Dahmen, in his typical deadpan, approaches the outing like he does his golf — with a healthy amount of aloofness. I’m not sure why the scene stuck out, but I got a kick out of it.
3. Dahmen famously stripped his shirt off on the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale last year, and it’s the scene that opens the entire episode. It’s pretty great getting his take on the viral moment from the Phoenix Open. “Then the Tour calls and yells at you because you’re not allowed to take your shirt off on a golf course,” he said. “Which makes sense.”
1 thing you might’ve missed
Max Homa makes a couple cameos in this episode, and as a fellow everyman, he’s a perfect addition. It was fun hearing about their nights drinking beers and Homa trying to instill a little more confidence in his buddy.
“Most of my adult beverage nights with Joel end with me yelling at Joel about how good he is at golf,” Homa said. “And trying to get him to realize it.”
“Somebody’s got to be the 70th-best golfer in the world. It might as well be me.” —Joel Dahmen
This episode was one for the people. Dahmen is the epitome of a journeyman, and it’s nice getting to see that side of professional golf.
The rest of the series is filled with private jets and players trying to cement their legacies in major championships. When watching Dahmen, you get to see a regular guy who’s easy to root for — not only for his story, but also his admirable outlook on life.
Not everyone can be a superstar, and it’s nice to see someone content with their standing in the ecosystem of professional golf. It’s impossible not to be a fan after getting to know him a little better.