Game Changers

'One Big Family': Chris Biggins, PGA, Shares How the USDGA Championship is Different

By Ryan Adams, PGA
Published on

At PGA Golf Club this week in Port St. Lucie, Florida, hundreds of golfers have been competing in perhaps one of the most impactful championships of the year.
It's called the U.S. Disabled Golf Association (USDGA)Championship and features 90 players competing in a 54-hole, three-round stroke-play event on the Ryder Course at PGA Golf Club. Run by the USDGA, the Championship's mission is to provide people with physical, sensory and intellectual disabilities an opportunity to showcase their ability in a golf championship at a high level. Golfers must have a handicap index of 36.4 or lower and a WR4GD pass in order to register.
One of those golfers is PGA of America Golf Professional Chris Biggins, the Director of Player Development at Country Club of Birmingham in Alabama. After two rounds, Biggins was leading the Men's Overall Division, with an eye on winning his second championship (2019) today at PGA Golf Club.
We caught up with Chris after his round to get his insight on what playing the USDGA Championship is like, plus how he uses his competitive skiing reps on the golf course and much more.
What's your experience been like playing in this championship? How does it stand out versus others, and why?
Chris Biggins, PGA: This championship is a reunion and a tournament all wrapped in one. The disabled golf community in the USA is like a big family. We have friendships, rivalries, and a shared desire to come out on top. The organizers of the event, Jason Faircloth and John Bell, are both disabled golfers themselves and truly understand how to run a championship for the players. We view this tournament as our national championship.
Biggins during the second round of the USDGA Championship.
Biggins during the second round of the USDGA Championship.
This tournament holds a special place in my heart, because my win in 2019 at Independence Club kicked off my career in global events.
What are a few of your focus points when you play in a tournament versus just regular play? How does that help you compete at a high level?
Biggins: When I play in a tournament, I shift into another gear in terms of my focus. I am certainly not the longest player in the field, so I have to make up for that weakness with intelligent play, and a strong short game. Going into these events, I want to make sure I am feeling great about working the ball both ways so that I can hit the shots that the course demands. I also make sure my wedges, which I believe are my best strength, are dialed in. Then when the tournament starts, I scratch and claw to make no worse than par. These events are a battle, and I love the fight.
Do you use any strategies/tactics from your competitive skiing experiences during tournaments?
Biggins: Yes. In skiing, there is no room for fear. If you are tentative in a ski race, you put yourself in danger. On the golf course, the same principle applies. When I am in the start gate on the slopes, I have to be ready to charge down the mountain and attack every turn. When I am over a golf shot, (like in the second round on No. 4 with 212 to carry the water and the wind whipping), I have to be ready to commit 100% to my plan and go for it.

"All the ball knows is what you and the club tell it. It has no idea what your swing looks like or what your disability is."

Chris Biggins, PGA
You cannot win on the golf course when you play scared. My training in skiing has helped me learn to set any fear of failure aside, and execute the difficult shots.
What's your advice to other golfers with disabilities who may be looking for some tips for success?
Biggins: Hit the ball hard and practice your short game more than everyone you want to beat. Also, find an athlete with a similar disability to the one you have and pick their brain. Every one of us combats our weaknesses in a unique way. Many of us have found out-of-the-box strategies to hit impressive golf shots. That is the beauty of golf. All the ball knows is what you and the club tell it. It has no idea what your swing looks like or what your disability is.
As I reference early, the disabled golf community is like a big family because everyone is willing to help newer golfers improve their games. While we all want to get better ourselves, we will always lock arms and pull the next generation of golfers with us. Don't be afraid to reach out for help.