When it comes to growing the game of golf, PGA of America Board Member Lynn Swann is fully in favor of the youth movement sweeping tournament golf right now.
But he's aiming at a generation even younger than the one dominated by Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Rickie Fowler. Speaking at the PGA Merchandise Show on Thursday, Swann said the aim is to provide opportunities right now for future PGA Professionals.
"I think we always grow the game best by taking it to young kids," Swann said. "I think reaching out to kids, not only to the ones whose parents belong to clubs and play golf, but to those kids in urban settings who don't have access to the game. It's about teaching the game and creating the joy of playing golf.
"They may never become golf professionals in terms of on the PGA Tour. But they can help develop the game in golf design or being PGA Professionals, running golf shops and things of that nature. So giving them the opportunity of seeing what the avenues are is how we grow the game that way."
The 63rd PGA Merchandise Show is a perfect example of that, according to Swann. Not only is the Show a chance for PGA Professionals to conduct business, learn new skills and network, it's an opportunity to showcase the sport for people who may never have the skills to play golf on television for money but still want to pursue a career in the game.
"It's a great opportunity for golf professionals around the world to come in and see the latest technology of golf, the latest equipment and clothing, the things they want to put in their pro shops," Swann said. "But it's also an opportunity to learn. There are a lot of teaching sessions for PGA Professionals and interns, young men and women who want to get into the golf business.
"It's also a great opportunity for young kids to be here and see the technology and innovation that surrounds the sport. A lot of people think they want to be involved in sports by playing the game. In reality, there's so many other things around the business of sport that creates opportunities for everyone."
Swann said he picked up the game while playing football at Southern California, but didn't really get serious about golf until after he retired from the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1982.
"I had some friends who played golf," Swann said. "I had a friend named Charles Lyons who had a company called Holiday Golf Products. They had a line of products which eventually became TaylorMade. And Charlie was a lawyer by education and a USC grad. But he was a club designer. I played with his son who was about 13 years old at the time and he beat me handily.
"But after I retired from football, I started picking up the game and just thoroughly enjoyed it."
When asked whether he was more nervous lining up on offense in the Super Bowl or teeing off at Augusta National Golf Club, the NFL Hall of Famer didn't hesitate -- he was way more comfortable with a helmet and shoulder pads than golf spikes and a driver in hand.
Much of that, Swann said, comes down to practice and preparation, plus motivation and desire. You don't win four Super Bowl rings without putting in the hours of preparation during practice, no matter how much natural ability you might have. And Swann said that's the same thing with golf.
"It's really any sport, or anything you do in life," Swann said. "As a professional football wide receiver, I would work every day on drills to have the skill set of catching the ball and running the correct route. Did I know how to run a route? Absolutely. Did I know how to catch a ball? Absolutely.
"But every day, it's important to ingrain the basic fundamentals over and over again, so when it comes time to do it, you're not thinking about it. Instead, it looks like you're just reacting to the situation. That's practice, that's preparation. And golf is the same way."
So how does Swann approach golf? It's serious fan -- and he tries to enjoy his time on the course instead of worrying about how he's playing.
"I'm not trying to be (a tour professional), so I take enough lessons and practice enough to have fun and go out and enjoy the game," Swann said. "Will I make bad shots? Absolutely. But I don't get upset about it because I haven't put in that kind of time or work. I just love the game, want to play it and compete at it to the best of my ability."