Did Netflix’s ‘Full Swing’ confirm U.S. Ryder Cup ‘Boys’ Club’?

Images of Keegan Bradley and Zach Johnson from Netflix's "Full Swing."

Netflix's "Full Swing" may have revealed the U.S. Ryder Cup team's "Boys Club."


Perhaps one of the biggest stories of the U.S. Ryder Cup team’s defeat in Rome was who wasn’t there.

All due respect to Cameron Young, but with two wins during the 2022-23 PGA Tour season, Keegan Bradley’s absence from the team was the most glaring snub.

Bradley was competing with a few other players for the final spot on captain Zach Johnson’s team. The sixth episode of season two of Netflix’s “Full Swing” docuseries juxtaposes Bradley’s quest for his third career Ryder Cup selection with that of Justin Thomas.

The episode starts with Thomas’s well-documented struggles throughout the year, which included missing the cut in three of the four majors and finishing T65 in the other. It also showed highlights from his two previous Ryder Cups, where he had compiled an impressive 6-2-1 record.

Bradley was seeking his third Ryder Cup appearance, nine years after his last. In fact, he showed producers the suitcase from his 2012 Ryder Cup berth, which he hadn’t unpacked and promised not to until he plays on a winning Ryder Cup team.

While Bradley significantly outperformed Thomas, earning his first two PGA Tour wins since 2018 and collecting four other top-10s, Johnson, we later told in Episode 7, selects Thomas with his final pick for the team.

Given Thomas’ poor form — the episode recounts how he dramatically missed qualifying for the FedEx Cup Playoffs by a single stroke — many criticized Johnson for the selection.

Tiger Woods’ former swing coach Hank Haney even went as far as to say Johnson’s selections confirm there’s a Ryder Cup “Boys’ Club.”

This was something Bradley acknowledged during the episode.

“The Ryder Cup is on my mind every second,” Bradley said in a scene at his home likely recorded before the selections were unveiled. “I try to tell myself, ‘If you don’t qualify on your on, there’s a good chance you’re not on [the team].’

“The reality for me is, I don’t have this connection to that group that a lot of guys have, so I know I have to go play well to get on this team.”

After the selections were announced, Bradley doubled down on this and claimed he was an “outsider.”

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“I’ve always been an outsider in the sport but I have tried to get closer to the guys I thought would be on the team,” he told Golf Channel. “I feel like moving forward I’m going to have to automatically qualify for the Ryder Cup.”

But that wasn’t the end of it. Assistant Captain Fred Couples said on his SiriusXM show that there was “no ‘outside'” in reference to Bradley’s statement. But he dug himself into a hole as he went on about the difficulties of captain’s selections.

“Now they’re picking other guys that may not have the record of Keegan, but they pair them up perfectly,” Couples said. “I like Keegan. He’s an older guy, and he’s not in tight with them. If that had 20 percent to do with it, I won’t argue that.”

The episode pointed toward more evidence of Haney’s so-called “Boys’ Club.” Many of the scenes of Thomas at tournaments include him spending his downtime with Johnson as well as his other friends on the Tour like Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth.

The most notable instance is at the Open Championship when Johnson, Thomas, Fowler, Spieth and their wives, who were sharing a house and a private chef that week, sat down for a meal. Spieth decided to have a little fun with the situation, with just over a month from the selections announcement.

“Zach,” Spieth said, “if you had to rank the percentage chance that everyone that plays professional golf in this room is on the Ryder Cup team, what would you say are the chances?”

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Johnson and the rest of the group laughed before he deflected and said there were still big events left to be played.

“Don’t dodge the question,” Spieth pressed.

Knowing they were being filmed, Thomas decided to playfully poke some fun at his situation.

“Zach, man,” Thomas jabbed, “I saw you at the range today and I thought your swing looked so good.”

The answer to Spieth’s question turned out to be 100 percent for all three as he, Fowler and Thomas were all part of Johnson’s six captain’s picks, along with Collin Morikawa, Sam Burns and Brooks Koepka.

In a separate interview edited with the scene, Johnson again downplayed the idea of a “Boys’ Club.”

“I wanna get 12 guys that want to be together, that make each other whole,” Johnson said. “Where you came from is not as big a deal.”

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