Molly Biggs is a 2023 graduate of Kansas State University's turfgrass program. She will begin her graduate studies at Iowa State University this fall. Photos courtesy of Molly Biggs
Editor’s note: In honor of Women’s Golf Day 2023 — which will be celebrated for an entire week, May 31-June 6 — GCM has partnered with John Deere on a series of stories that highlight five women working and thriving in golf course management. These stories, told in the women’s own words, highlight career journeys, discuss challenges and lessons learned, offer advice to fellow women in turf, and suggest ways the industry can foster more-inclusive work environments. Stories will be posted daily through Monday, June 5.
The future looks bright for Molly Biggs, who completed an undergraduate degree in horticulture and business at Kansas State University this spring. After an internship this summer with the USGA Green Section — and some volunteer experience at the
U.S. Women’s Open — Biggs will start a graduate program in turf at Iowa State University in the fall. Biggs shares her thoughts on thinking outside the box as a woman in turf and the value of networking with other women in the industry.
I grew up on a small cow and calf operation, and I was involved in FFA. I wanted to stay in agriculture, but I also really loved golf. I played competitively starting in middle school and through high school. I thought I wanted to continue
in college, but nothing I studied really interested me. I thought if I was going to go to college, my purpose needed to be getting a degree and finding a career I enjoyed, not just to play golf.
At an FFA convention my junior year in high school, I attended a seminar on non-traditional careers in agriculture. One option was being a golf course superintendent. I thought it seemed right up my alley, so I researched it. During a K-State college
visit, I looked into the golf course management study option in horticulture. It seemed like a very real possibility.
Biggs (center left) and her K-State Turf Bowl teammates with their fourth place award at the 2023 GCSAA Conference and Trade Show in Orlando.
Once I decided I was interested in this as a career, I started studying at K-State. I worked two summers at Firekeeper Golf Course (in Mayetta, Kan.) and Prairie Dunes (in Hutchison, Kan.) Prairie Dunes is what got me hooked. I loved the level of quality
maintenance and attention to detail and thought I could see myself continuing to do this.
There are challenges. The main thing I encountered was the GCSAA Collegiate Turf Bowl (which is presented in partnership with John Deere). Five of us went the first year I competed, and I was the only girl on the team. We couldn’t afford to go and
stay in several hotel rooms. Airbnb was the easiest option, because we could stay together, and I had my own space. I just had to change my perspective and find a non-traditional solution.
This last school year, I served as our turf club president. I organized a trip for two full teams to go to the Turf Bowl. We got an Airbnb again, and seven guy friends from turfgrass programs traveled down to Orlando. My team took fourth place. It was a great representation for K-State.
Last fall in my capstone class, Shelia Finney (GCSAA’s senior director, member programs) was a guest speaker the week before the Women in Turf task group meeting in Lawrence. After the Zoom class was over, Shelia asked if I’d like to come
sit in on the task group meeting here. It was cool to sit at the table with those women. I wasn’t just an observer. I was invited to be part of conversations. Got to know several of the women on the task force and make that initial connection.
After going to the task group meeting, this year’s Turf Bowl and the GCSAA Conference and Trade Show were absolutely crazy. I’d met so many people over the last year that my whole schedule was slammed full. I talked to almost all the women
I’d met at the task group.
Biggs at work on the course. Biggs will put her classroom skills to work this summer in an internship with the USGA Green Section before beginning her graduate studies in the fall.
As I was leaving the trade show, I got an email from one of the other women that said they were looking for someone to fill a spot on the volunteer team for the U.S. Women’s Open. I’ll be there at the end of June, for advance week and championship
week. I left Orlando on a college-career high. I made connections with the USGA as well, and I’m doing an internship with the organization this summer.
I like being on a golf course, but I don’t know that I want to be a superintendent. I love the everyday of being on a course and getting to see everything. For my summer internship, I’m working with the USGA Green Section, and I think getting
to see what they do with course consulting sounds fun. I love travel and being involved in the decision-making of what occurs on a golf course. Course consulting sounds like a good combination of getting to see what a course does and helping problem-solve
something new every day.
It can seem scary to be the only girl in some spaces. Being around men in agriculture was not new to me, but the whole stigma around it is that there are a lot of men and not a lot of women. You have to take a different viewpoint. Everything won’t
necessarily be more difficult because you’re a woman, but you do have to look for different solutions. Don’t try to do everything the same way the guys do. If you try to think outside the box, it won’t be difficult, it’s just
going to be different.