In life, every person deals with their own challenges. Some have more difficult battles than others, but no matter the case, positivity is vital to overcome.
For Chris Biggins, a recent graduate of the Methodist University PGA Golf Management program and newly minted PGA Assistant Professional at Country Club of Birmingham (Alabama), the “glass half full” outlook doesn’t quite work. “Glass overflowing” would be more appropriate.
“Chris was always the first person in line, ready to go and willing to take on whatever task was at hand,” says PGA Professional Bob Bruns, the PGA associate program director at Methodist. “He has the unique ability to wake up a room within minutes – it could be the red hair, the big smile,or simply,the heart that is bigger than life.”
Biggins has battled cerebral palsy since a young age but doesn’t let his condition faze him. Instead, optimism flows freely through the 23-year old.
“Life has always been like this for me but I’ve always found a way to get it done,” says Biggins. “I just wanted to be like my brothers and play sports all the time. My coordination was better than most growing up, so sports, golf especially, actually came easy for me.”
Growing up in Clarksville, Maryland, a town between Baltimore and Washington D.C., Biggins’ siblings played an important role in the mindset he carries today.
“Like most brothers do, we always tried to one up each other,” says Biggins. “I had to keep up with them so that motivated me to do my best in everything I tried.”
That positivity has now carried him to places far beyond the golf course. Starting in December 2014, Biggins trained for two months at the National Ability Center in Park City, Utah getting ready to compete for the U.S. Paralympic Ski Development Team.
In late March, he contended at the U.S. Paralympic Alpine National Championships at Loon Mountain in New Hampshire, racing against competitors from Japan, Canada and New Zealand. By 2018, Biggins hopes to be on the “official” team, racing in the Winter Paralympic Games in South Korea.
And yet, as impressive he is as a skier, Biggins is even more so,a golfer.
“I was one of those kids where my dad dropped me off at the course and didn’t pick me up until it closed,” says Biggins. “I loved it.”
One of my colleagues recently played a round of golf with Biggins on the Squire Course at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine during the 2017 ING Adaptive Golf Challenge. Biggins shot a 71, which would have easily been a 70 if he hadn’t been rushing o the last hole to catch his flight.
As my colleague expressed, Biggins made 15 to 20 foot putts look routine almost as if his last name was Spieth. On top of that, he only missed two fairways on the day.
As a participant in the local First Tee program at Paint Branch Golf Complex, Biggins had a raw passion for the game that no one could extinguish. After playing varsity golf in high school, and with aspirations to play in college, he decided to pursue PGA Golf Management at Methodist.
“It’s the reason why there is PGA Golf Management,” states Biggins. “All these students like me grew to love the game as kids and now we have a chance to do something with that passion.”
And that he has. Biggins is now in charge of the junior golf program at Country Club of Birmingham, teaching life lessons to youngsters that he learned when he was their age.
“I can see myself in each of them,” he says. “They all have dreams of playing on the PGA Tour, having fun with their friends. It’s so cool to watch them not only improve, but see them shake hands with members, show class and understand that golf teaches you a lot about life.”
Biggins, along with Eric Eshleman, PGA Director of Golfat Country Club of Birmingham, rewarded those juniors with a trip to the grounds of August National Golf Club during the Monday of Masters week.
Eshleman brings a group of juniors to the event every year and this time around, introduced Biggins to a well-known student of his that also happens to be a member at Augusta: former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.
“I’ve been having lunch for 23 years and that was easily the best one,” says Biggins. “It was just a really easy going conversation. We talked about my game, her game and we never really talked politics at all. It was unbelievable.”
And now, as a Class A member of the PGA, it’s Biggins that is making people stand in disbelief of how he lives life, overwhelming his cerebral palsy with a contagious positive attitude.
“Chris is one of the most inspirational PGA professionals we have in our Association,” says Eshleman. “He has a positive impact on all whom he touches and looks at his challenges only as opportunities. I’m lucky to be around him.”
PGA Professional Jerry Hogge, the program director at Methodist, echoes Eshelman’s feelings on the 22-year old and saw early on how big an impact Biggins can make in the industry.
“Chris is a leader who made his mark on Methodist and his story will be told by all who meet him during his career,” says Hogge. “I do not know where our game will take Chris, but I do know that whatever he attempts will be a success.”