Television producer Chad Mumm knew he was going to take another crack at convincing PGA Tour executives to allow him to create a behind-the-scenes docuseries about the PGA Tour. In 2019, he chose the first tee at the iconic Shadow Creek course in Las Vegas to shoot another shot in more ways than one. Here is the Insider scoop about that round, which led to the new Netlflix series, Full Swing. — Photo – Tom Jeffs, Chad Mumm, Mike Pinckes, Chris Wandell.
“So, you want to talk about potentially one of the most pivotal business expense golf rounds maybe in golf history?” asks Mumm.
Yes, we do. The round at exclusive Shadow Creek, a Tom Fazio jewel owned and operated by MGM Resorts International, laid the groundwork for Full Swing, which is trending worldwide and the talk of golfers and non-golfers.
“Well, I have known a few PGA Tour executives for about 10 years, and I originally pitched them about the show when I first met them, but they weren’t interested at the time,” Mumm says. “But we became friends and I would see them every once in awhile. Every year when we would go to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas we would usually get together. They knew that I was at least always good to join them for a round the golf and they were very nice about inviting me out. Each time we would play together, I would always pitch them, ‘Hey, when are we going do a show?’ They would always replay that it wasn’t the right time. So, fast forward to 2019 when I got a text at 10 p.m. from Chris Wandell, the V.P. of Media for the PGA Tour and he wrote, ‘7:30 am, Shadow Creek, tomorrow, you in?’ I immediately replied yes, even though I didn’t have clubs.
“When we got to the first tee, I brought it up again to Chris and said, ‘Now is the time to really lean into this show idea. The Tour has gotten younger, the stars of the game have gotten younger. They are more charismatic and they understand social media. Now is the time to make this doc series.’ And he looked at me and said, ‘You know what? I think you’re right. I think we are interested.’ By the time we finished our round, we had a template for what a deal would look like to give me the rights to do a series. We also figured out the next steps in terms of how we would present the idea to the leadership at the tour. Two months later, I was at the Players Championship to meet with the executive team and they approved it.”
And the rest, as they say, is history.
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The golf at Shadow Creek was special for many reasons. Mumm had never played the course and it was always something he and his father talked about. Plus, the time on the course helped form the outline for the eight-show series.
When Mumm and I talked, it was three days post-launch and the results and ratings were coming in very nicely.
“The show was such a long time coming and so many years of work to get here, and it is just amazing that not just the golf audience, but the Netflix audience, has embraced it,” Mumm says. “After three days, we are the number two most popular television show on Netflix in the United States and we are top 10 in multiple countries. I think we hit number one in the UK and Ireland, and number two in Canada. That just speaks to the amazing stories that are possible in golf that allowed us to be at this level so quickly. It exceeds even my wildest expectations and I couldn’t be more excited.”
The positive ratings validated Mumm’s idea and also the support of Wandell, who already believed in the project.
“Chris had always wanted to do the series, but he didn’t think he would get buy-in on it from the other leadership,” Mumm says. “I knew I didn’t have to sell Chris, but he knew the temperature of the tour for the idea and the timing hadn’t been right. But on that first tee on that day in 2019, he basically said, ‘Look, things have changed pretty quickly with Jay Monahan now at the top as commissioner, and I think there would be a real appetite for this. Let’s use this round to put the game plan together for how we will get it approved.’ And that is exactly what we did.”
The foursome that day also included PGA Tour executives Tom Jeffs and Mike Pinckes in addition to Mumm and Wandell. Mumm, a scratch golfer, shot a miserable 94, but it is safe to say his mind was on other things, especially when his dream series was greenlighted just seconds before teeing off.
“I do remember how badly I played, and I know that is such a golfer way to think,” Mumm says with a laugh. “There I was in this spectacular setting and I was embarrassed by how badly I was playing. I still think about how impactful that round of golf was, but I can’t help but remember how I played. I also remember playing the par 3, 17th with the red phone booth like they have in England. That was pretty cool. But I will never forget just riding in the cart, hashing things out about the show, pushing and pulling on ideas and strategizing about what we needed to do to make it happen.”
Yet another epic golf round at Shadow Creek, and who knows when the impact of it will end.