Editor’s Note: Golf Digest is recapping and analyzing every episode of the second series of the Netflix golf series Full Swing. Last season’s recaps can be found here.

Season 2 Recaps: Ep. 1: The Game Has Changed Part 1 | Ep. 2: The Game Has Changed Part 2 | Ep. 3: Mind Game | Ep. 4: Prove It | Ep. 5: In the Shadows | Ep. 6: Pick Six | Ep. 7: All Roads Lead to Rome Part 1 | Ep. 8: All Roads Lead to Rome Part 2 | Bonus: Season 2 Review

Episode Title: “Prove It”

Tagline: After a stellar performance at the 2022 Presidents Cup, 20-year-old golfer Tom Kim’s star continues to rise—but can he meet expectations on a larger stage?

Tom Kim is many things, but as a great memorizer of short company slogans? Folks, he needs work. Though to be fair, “Make it, earn it, win it, prove it,” which he’s asked to recite on camera with increasingly comic blunders, is sports-corporate gibberish of the worst variety. The fact that Kim stumbled to make sense of it—unable to conceive that “win it” isn’t the last of the sequence—is probably a credit to him. It’s a great intro, too, because anyone who has spent even a few minutes around Kim knows that along with his incredible talent, he’s at least 65 percent goofball. This comes across loud and clear, and you have to hand it to “Full Swing”; the opening scenes of three out of four episodes so far have been hilarious bangers. (To refresh: Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler assault Adam Hadwin’s port-a-potty, and Joel Dahmen rues his new life as a poolboy.)

Following this showcase of the world’s worst spokesman, “Full Swing” turns where it inevitably must—to the $#*%&ing narrative. After cleverly titling the episode “Prove it,” they hit us with the storyline, which is that sure, Tom Kim is good, sure, he’s young, and sure, he’s already won on the PGA Tour … BUT, if he doesn’t win a major this year, or at least play very well, he’s a dumb nobody and we can write him off forever. This is nonsense, of course, but let’s strap in.

First, we get a practice round with Kim, JT and Spieth, where JT tries to razz him but fails because Kim is “too ****ing nice,” and then Spieth very successfully razzes him with this delightful sequence:

Kim: They have peanut butter and jam.

Spieth: Probably for the kids. Which I guess includes you.

Kim: Wow. OK.

Spieth: There’s my 15-month-old, Rickie’s 15-month-old and Tom Kim, just sitting criss-cross applesauce eating PB&Js.

We’re told that he’s “swimming with sharks” on tour, that nobody will respect him if he doesn’t win a major, and Kim says he just wants to be taken seriously … which he quickly proves by riding a motorized cooler around his house and showing off his large “Thomas the Tank Engine” toy that is encased in glass. He narrates his origin story with golf in South Korea, though the biography is pretty sparse, and we skip ahead to turning pro at age 15. Now he’s on the PGA Tour, and rather than feeling like he’s done it all, he wants more.

Enter the majors. Kim finishes 16th at Augusta, which is weirdly pitched as a failure. However, the scenes around Augusta are rich; Kim denies a phone call with his mother, jinxes himself for life by accidentally stumbling into the Champions’ locker room (“I don’t think I’m allowed to be here”), and then gets owned by Scheffler who shows him that he’s also managed to park in the champions lot. At night, driving on the main strip, he talks about his “monkey brain” that tells him to eat McFlurrys. “I hate my monkey brain,” he says. Food is a common theme, as you see; Kim is often talking about it or trying to find it.


Christian Petersen

We learn that Kim is hard on himself despite appearances, and he’s self-deprecating, including when he uses the Netflix cameras to lament his love life, and to shout out the ladies: “Hit me up, I’m available.” The he-better-succeed-in-majors narrative takes a turn for the dire when he misses the cut at the PGA Championship, and only makes news when he manages to get covered in mud. He takes a bath in a creek, gets some good-natured insults in the locker room and Rory McIlroy makes a cameo, reacting to Kim’s mud adventure like he’s a Victorian-era baroness who just watched a dinner guest use the wrong fork.

From there, we conveniently ignore the U.S. Open, where Kim finished T-8 and rudely spoiled the narrative du jour, take a short interlude for some practice with Chris Como, who emphasizes process (“Tiger was so into the process”), then speed right ahead to Hoylake, where he recovered from an ankle tear and a mediocre opening round to finish in a four-way tie for second place. He did it, folks. He proved it. The entire golf world breathed a giant sigh of relief that we didn’t have to throw him into the proverbial trash heap of failures. Rejoice, for the narrative arc has been fulfilled.

Last, we skip ahead a few weeks, Tom Kim wins the Shriner’s for the second straight year, and tells reporters how badly he wants to finish a piece of chocolate in his hotel room.

The Good Stuff 1738041869

Michael Owens

—Tom Kim is a delight. You can already tell what I’m going to say in the next section, but whatever complaints I have, it remains true that a camera following Tom Kim around for a year is a formula for content gold. First and foremost, the man is hilarious. The image of him riding around on that motorized cooler is burned into my brain forever—it’s a true laugh-out-loud moment and a perfect encapsulation of his goofball nature. That was the highlight, but this man is truly a laugh-a-minute and one of those guys who’s funny even when he’s not trying to be. Remember, this is a guy who split his pants twice in a single Presidents Cup and didn’t seem to care. Just watching him stumble his way into weird situations at Augusta National, or nearly drown himself in mud at Oak Hill, or wax poetic about his monkey brain, is worth the price of admission. So even though I’m going to whine about the actual story they foisted on us in a moment, let me abundantly clear: I was entertained.

—Even though they didn’t delve too deeply into his background, presumably at Kim’s own request, they did a great job using his stream-of-consciousness speaking style to paint a really full portrait. He’s the kind of guy who if you put him in a car with a camera rolling, he’s going to want to talk, and the material is always funny.

—It’s really fun to watch someone like Chris Como go deep in a swing session with Kim, even if they’re both a little reserved because the cameras are rolling. You have to respect his way of telling Kim that he should take the process a little more seriously by invoking Tiger. Pretty much the ultimate trump card there!

—In general, the moments where Kim interacts with fellow players all feel really organic and fun, from the practice round with Spieth and JT to the locker room scenes to his brief run-in with Scheffler to the session with Como. All the moments that sometimes end up feeling staged or awkward in “Full Swing” are really good here.

—Shout out to the opening graphic with the episode title, “Prove It,” with Kim’s lead-in. Cleverly done.

More from Golf Digest ‘The Loop’ We found out the hilarious thing Joel Dahmen and Geno Bonnalie were actually doing at Waffle House in ‘Full Swing’ The Duds 2000479520

Christian Petersen

—You can just see how it happens, every time—you have an episode geared around Tom Kim, you know he’s a good subject, but you think to yourself, “OK, but what’s the story of the episode?” And because you don’t have an obvious answer, you invent one that kind of seems to fit with the events of the year: Tom Kim must prove himself at the majors. Hell, why not? You’ve got a young guy who has already proved himself in other ways, so maybe that works as a progression. You cook up a montage of players like Nicklaus, Tiger and Spieth winning at Augusta as very young men, you get a talking head to say that nobody will respect Kim until he wins, and then the real-life results can be jammed into the formula. And so what if a few things don’t quite fit? So what if literally nobody in the golf world was saying that Kim had to succeed at majors to validate himself? So what if golf is too small a sport for anyone to put “expectations” on a guy like Kim who up until last summer was basically anonymous and is still an extremely marginal figure to the average golf fan? So what if the people you’re comparing him to are the literal best golfers to ever play, and that he’s still even younger than they were when they won for the first time (Kim is still only 21 after all?!?)? So what if his 16th-place finish at the Masters was really good, and so what if his T-8 at the U.S. Open gets in the way of the climax you want at Hoylake? And so what if plenty of people already respect Kim, just as they respect older players who haven’t won majors yet (Rickie Fowler) or won them later in their career (Adam Scott, Jim Furyk, Davis Love III)? Just shove that square peg into the round hole and call it a day.

My point is, not only does it not work on any logical or narrative level, but you don’t need it! Just have the courage to do an episode about an interesting guy! I guarantee you it will be good, and it will resonate wayyyy more because it’s honest. They did that with Joel Dahmen two seasons in a row and it was a big hit both times, and great TV to boot. I just can’t understand this obsession with forcing a contrived storyline where it doesn’t belong, and it drives me a little crazy with this show. And yeah, I know the common reaction here is, “well, this is not necessarily for you, guy who writes golf for a living.” But it should be! And even if it’s not for me, the rank-and-file medium-knowledge golf fan shouldn’t be fed a storyline that’s a very short step from fiction!

And it has to be said that all of this narrative business exists within the context of some great editorial choices. They are really, really good at revealing Kim’s personality through his actions, and the way the story is threaded is good and sometimes great, right up to the end. It’s this extra layer that spoils it, like a gnat that won’t go away when you’re sunbathing in paradise.

Stray Thoughts

—”Full Swing” loves a shot of a slate clapping in a guy’s face, and in this episode we get not one, but two within the first three minutes.

—Huge respect to the kid who told Kim he didn’t need his signature, but would he please get Rory to come out?

—Among his other qualities, Kim’s honesty is also so refreshing, and you get it in little doses when he says things like, “I didn’t have a lot of friends growing up.”

—I continue to love that “Tom” comes from Thomas the Tank Engine, and that he gave the nickname to himself.

—I’ve said it twice now, but I’m going to say it again: him riding around on the motorized cooler is one of the 10 great comedy moments of the 21st century.

—Kim’s going to be so pissed that Netflix chose to show him declining his mom’s call. He’s going to pay for that one for a long time.

—The monkey brain is so real. I wish it were not.

—Speaking of, I have to reiterate that Kim’s obsession with food is about as relatable as it comes. Food was the subtext of almost everything we saw in this episode, and it ended perfectly when reporters in Vegas basically asked him if he was going to go get drunk since he was 21 now and his mind went straight to chocolate.

—”You’re crazy, brah.” True story, Tony Finau.

—Speaking of Finau, great pandering by wearing the Bobby Firmino jersey in Liverpool.

—I liked the insight on Kim from Ben Harrison (the agent, aka, by his own description, the ******* everyone needs), who pointed out that he feels less talented than his peers, which, beyond the goofballery, is what drives him to work so hard.

—This may be a jerky thing to say, but I laughed when Kim was handed a pair of crutches in the locker room after he had just walked 18 holes three days in a row, and I laughed a little more when the camera showed leaving with them, but basically treating them like two walking sticks instead of implements designed to take the weight off his injured ankle.

—I can’t believe I’m saying this, but we got the weepy indie music YET AGAIN when Kim finished on the 18th hole at Hoylake. One thing I love about “Full Swing” is that once they get into a habit, they literally never get out of it.

Final Assessment

This falls into the exact critical space that we’ve seen for so much of Full Swing’s run, which is to say that the content throughout is fun and entertaining and I’m glad we have it, but that the overarching storytelling is full of shoehorned narratives that don’t really make sense. Still, Kim is a wonderful subject, and all quibbles aside, it’s great that more people will be introduced to him. His is a singular personality, and one that will thrive with a bigger fanbase.

Listen to our ‘Full Swing’ reaction episode of The Loop podcast here: 

This article was originally published on golfdigest.com