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Full Swing: Joel Dahmen on being '70th-best golfer in the world'

In episode two of Full Swing, we hear Brooks Koepka say that the Phoenix Open ‘almost feels like a real sport’. In episode four, we see why. 

The 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale in Arizona has always hosted the most boisterous fans on the PGA TOUR, but 2022 saw things escalate to a new level. 

In the final round, while nowhere near contention, Harry Higgs, one of the, let’s say, huskier gentlemen on the PGA TOUR, announced his intention to take his shirt off if he holed his putt. Sure enough, he holes the putt, the crowd goes wild, he lifts his shirt over his head, and the crowd goes wilder still. 

At this point, his playing partner, Joel Dahmen, decides to join in. Phoenix Open or not, golf is a sport with a strict dress code; an untucked shirt on the course is unseen, never mind one removed entirely. So wild were the celebrations the green looked like the Monday morning at Glastonbury. 

The whole thing summed up Dahmen quite perfectly. He’s not a golfer who takes himself too seriously; indeed he doesn’t seem to take himself seriously at all. 

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And as we see in episode four, Impostor Syndrome, he’s incredibly self-deprecating, acknowledging that someone has to be the 70th-best golfer in the world and that it might as well be him.

Dahmen also acknowledges that he simply doesn't have the mindset of a Rory McIlroy or a Brooks Koepka and admits that for all his talent, it's unlikely he'll ever be able to hang with the best in the business.

Both Dahmen's caddy Geno Bonnalie and rising PGA TOUR star Max Homa both talk about how Dahmen could be so much better than he is, but the difficulty seems to be getting him to believe it.

We see how Dahmen suffered the loss of his mother as a teenager to pancreatic cancer, something he still struggles with nearly 20 years later, as well as his own diagnosis with testicular cancer aged 23, and it seems to go some way to explaining Dahmen’s outlook on golf. 

While the fear of failure can be seen in all walks of life, the fear of success is less common, and it may be something Dahmen deals with. From a teenager into his mid-30s, Dahmen has been told how good a golfer he is and how good he could be if he really applied himself, but his self-deprecating nature, and perhaps lack of self-belief, refutes the idea. With everything he’s been through in his life, he seems extremely comfortable with his position. 

In the last five seasons since regaining his PGA TOUR card, Dahmen has earned between $1.4m and $2.1m, an average of $1.7m a year. 

By his own admission, he’s not built like Rory McIlroy, and perhaps he doesn’t need to be. As he says, someone has to be the 70th-best golfer in the world, and it might as well be him. 

In episode three, we see Ian Poulter struggle with his slide down the rankings, out of the top 50, and out of automatic qualification for majors. In episode two, we see Brooks Koepka struggle with not winning majors. 

Dahmen, ranked below both, has no such concerns. 

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Because of his ranking, we see Dahmen have to qualify for the US Open, which he just about manages. From there, he holds a 36-hole lead before finishing in a tie for 10th, earning himself more than $400,000 for the week. 

Dahmen’s form dipped in the following weeks before a strong end to the season, recording two top-20s and three top-10s in six events. 

Dahmen didn’t win his first major at the US Open, but proved that he can hang with the best, and hopefully it gives him the confidence – and the motivation – to do it more often. 

bet365 is the Official Betting Operator of the PGA TOUR and you can watch all episodes of Full Swing exclusively on Netflix from 15th February.

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