Melissa Reid: ‘My demons meant I couldn’t be bothered to play golf’

Melissa Reid has plenty to say. That shouldn’t be interpreted as a criticism; it was apparent again during the Open Championship as the 30-year-old proved an excellent addition to BBC Radio 5 Live’s commentary team in Carnoustie. She has ambitions in that domain. “I have always loved broadcasting,” Reid explains. “I would love to have a show where I would talk to athletes who have gone through adversity.” More of that later.

Earlier, a marquee player the Ladies European Tour should be taking counsel from and promoting to the highest degree ruffled feathers within the organisation with a blunt analysis regarding the scenarios facing emerging players. One glance at the LET’s money list or fractured schedule backs up Reid’s claim that her professional-playing friends have had to get part-time jobs to get by. Two months on, Reid believes LET executives are “not interested in what I have to say”. Heading into this weekend’s Scottish Open, 10th on the money list has earned less than £26,000 for the year.

Reid, a six-times LET winner and three-times Solheim Cup player, says: “It’s not really a schedule, is it? I got into a bit of trouble for talking about it, I got called in. It is my opinion, I have mates who have been out on tour for 10 years and had to get part-time jobs. People don’t understand that and don’t understand the struggle for girls, just getting a tour card and with no events to play. The tour is still giving out 30 cards a year which to me is daylight robbery because they have no events to play in.

“I just stated facts, which are people are having to get jobs and there won’t be a tour soon. Those are facts. They have assured me there will be events next year so we will have to see. I’d love to eat my words.

“I’m concerned about what the Solheim Cup team is going to do because you’re going to have girls playing six [LET] events in two years and be in the Solheim Cup which is, to me, ridiculous.”

Reid’s withering criticism is not without solution. “I think there should be 100 players [in events] and 50 cut,” she says. “But there are no events so it doesn’t make a difference anyway but that’s what they need to do for now and just stop having 126 or 150 in the field. The 70th place is making £200, not even covering their car hire.”

In response to complaint – and Reid is hardly alone – the LET has consistently pointed towards economic challenges. “I think it’s an explanation but I also think it’s to do with how the product is being sold,” Reid insists. “It is a fantastic product and it’s not getting marketed in the right way, in my opinion. I understand it is hard to get events but I feel like there have been bridges burnt.”

Reid has similar, if less deep-rooted, scepticism regarding the youthfulness of players on the LPGA Tour in the United States. Teenage prodigies, she believes, come with drawbacks. “It’s incredible that Lydia Ko was winning events at 15; I’m not taking anything away from her and it’s an incredible achievement but at 15 I was still climbing trees,” Reid says. “I had a job at 18. For these girls it’s just golf, golf, golf.”

If the Englishwoman’s forthright approach is highly admirable, it barely resonates in comparison to the fact she still plays professional golf at all. Six years have now passed since, when travelling to watch their daughter play in an event in Germany, Joy and Brian Reid were involved in a car crash. The golfer’s mother did not survive.

“It is obviously a devastating thing to happen to anybody,” says Reid. “I don’t think it matters what age you are when you lose your mum, it will always be a big thing. The way I lost her was like a triple whammy. It definitely cut off a bit of my career and the stuff I went through, I doubt a lot of players would have come back from. The demons I had, I just struggled. People think I went off the rails, I didn’t really; I just couldn’t be bothered to play golf.

“It will affect me for my whole life. It has changed me as a person. Us golfers are a bit egotistical whereas this has made me the person my mum always knew I was. I don’t have to prove anything any more, I am really proud of who I am. I wish my mum had seen this but she knew it was there, I just had to grow up a little bit.

“I really hope that I win a British Open or something big to prove to people and myself that, no matter the adversity, you can get over it as long as you surround yourself with the right people.”

Reid’s latest British Open opportunity begins on Thursday, at Royal Lytham & St Annes. The last time the event was there, in 2009, Reid was in the process of extricating herself from a high-profile mentoring project involving Sir Clive Woodward and 13 advisers. Kinetics experts and biomechanics specialists ultimately proved too much for Reid’s liking.

“Do I completely agree with the concept, looking back? Probably not,” says Reid. “It was a little bit too much but I understand what he was trying to do.”

Lytham again arrives at a time of change. Reid has switched caddie and coach within the last few weeks, with a straightforward ambition in mind. “I don’t feel like I have fulfilled my potential at all,” she says. “This is the first time I have felt consistent in work ethic, in who I hang out with. I feel like the best part of my career hasn’t happened yet.” Reid is firmly of a mind to walk the walk. (theguardian)