In recent years, Netflix has expanded its catalog of original content. Some of the best programming put out by the streaming channel in recent years includes sports documentaries, such as Quarterback, which followed Patrick Mahomes, Kirk Cousins, and Marcus Mariota suring the 2022 NFL season, Full Swing, which covers the world of professional golf and Drive to Survive, which introduced many to Formula 1 (in the interests of full disclosure, Full Swing is a Vox Media Studios production).
Now Netflix is expanding into its first-ever live sporting event, merging Full Swing and Drive to Survive in the days leading up to the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix. The inaugural Netflix Cup will be streamed live on Tuesday, November 14th, and will feature four professional golfers (Rickie Fowler, Max Homa, Collin Morikawa and Justin Thomas) along with four F1 drivers (Alexander Albon, Pierre Gasly, Lando Norris, and Carlos Sainz Jr.) in a match play tournament at Wynn Golf Club at Wynn Las Vegas.
Under the formate of the tournament, four pairs consisting of one F1 driver and one PGA Tour professional will play an eight-hole match, with the top two teams advancing to the final hole. That is where the winner of the first-ever The Netflix Cup will be crowned.
As you might expect, golf is a passion dear to many drivers. When I spoke with Norris ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix back in April, we talked about his love for the sport, and how he looks forward to playing when in the United States for events such as the United States Grand Prix.
“I love Austin,” said Norris back in April. “It’s one of the most fun races of the entire year. I think one of the highest attended races last year too. So yeah, it’s just a lot of fun, enjoyable as a place too. There’s nice golf courses so I can go and play some golf, but just yeah, cool people, a lot of fun.”
Although Norris might be a bit rusty, given his comments ahead of the São Paulo Grand Prix.
“Nope,” said Norris at the Thursday press conference when asked if he was ready for the The Netflix Cup. “I played yesterday here in São Paulo, but… I’m feeling alright. I’ve not been playing a lot of golf at all over the last few months, just for different reasons. So, I’ve kind of lost touch but I’ve tried to get back into it in the last few days, and I will continue to, before Vegas next week and before the event. So, I’m sure I’ll be alright – or at least get carried by my team-mate.”
Norris is not the only driver with a passion for the sport. Gasly is another driver on that list, and he can count on Rory McIlroy, a new part owner of Alpine, as someone in his corner.
“I did manage to get a free golf lesson from Rory,” said Gasly ahead of the Mexico City Grand Prix. “We did a putt challenge and somehow managed to beat him. Okay, I had a hole which was pretty much double the size that he had. And yeah, that was the bet on the line: I told him okay, if I beat you, I want to free golf class from Rory and that’s going to happen. “
However, Gasly admitted to being a bit stressed about The Netflix Cup in that same press conference.
“[Alex and I] were just talking about it and how stressed we are about it,” exclaimed Gasly at the press conference ahead of the Mexico City Grand Prix.
“I’m not sure we’ll be able to do it [the lesson with McIlroy] before Vegas. But yeah, we got these big tournament coming up with Alex. I think we are in the in the worst seats at the minute compared to Lando and Carlos,” added Gasly. “So, we might get some practice together next week. We’ll see. But yeah, that’s definitely going to be a pretty cool experience to be on the golf course with these pro golfers. And just having Rory and [former world champion boxer Anthony] Joshua last weekend in America was definitely an honor for us and great to have these guys’ support.”
However, while Albon might be stressed about the tournament, he might also have an advantage over the others.
A dedicated private coach.
When Albon was asked at the press conference who was coaching him while Gasly was lining up a lesson with McIlroy, Gasly quickly interjected “girlfriend!”
As in Albon’s partner, Muni “Lily” He, a golfer on the LPGA tour. She has four amateur wins under her belt, and a victory in the 2018 Prasco Charity Championship on the Symetra Tour.
Although to hear Albon tell it, he might not be the best student.
“Pretty much,” agreed Albon with Gasly’s interjection. “I think I have a full-time coach, which is my girlfriend, but I don’t listen to her… because she’s my girlfriend. So, it’s going to be tricky, I think. We’re trying to find some time.”
Albon hopes to get some practice in for The Netflix Cup in the week off between the São Paulo Grand Prix and The Netflix Cup, but is not sure if the demands of his real job will allow for it.
“I don’t know how Pierre’s doing but obviously a triple-header. And then we’ve got a week off – but that week off is normally spent traveling and doing simulator work. I’m going to struggle to get the practice in,” added Albon. “We’re going to embarrass ourselves quite badly on international television. So, it’s a lot of pressure. I think it’s becoming on my mind more than the races is coming up. Which is a problem.”
Albon also admitted in an interview with Golfweek last year that his game has a long way to go.
So that’s the thing, I don’t know what she’s told you, but I started pretty badly when I was with her, and I have improved. But I wouldn’t say much of my improvement has come from her. I can watch and I can learn and I looked at her tempo and she has an amazing swing. It’s almost textbook the way that her swing looks.
But the problem with us is that she doesn’t know where to start with me. She’s not a golf coach, and she’s not used to having to change absolutely everything in a swing.
I’ll shank the ball and be like ‘Lily, what went wrong?’ And she’s like, ‘I don’t know where to start; it’s all wrong.’
We’ll see if she can get Albon’s game sorted out in just a few week’s time, when Netflix broadcasts its first-ever live sporting event, The Netflix Cup.