Mel Reid on how she battled back to the Major stage
There was a time, not too long ago, when Mel Reid wasn’t sure she still had the
appetite for the game.
Her golf had gone south, she was ranked the 333rd best player in the world, cuts were as likely missed as made and she was living her life without the person who knew her best, her mum.
Three years ago, Joy died in a car crash after watching Mel play a practice round in Germany. Four weeks later Reid, incredibly, triumphed in Prague – an event she now says she should have missed as it was so soon after her mum’s death – before the brutal reality of what happened hit home.
Now, the 27-year-old from Derby’s game is back on an upward curve. She won in Turkey in May, her fifth LET success, and will be back on the Major stage at Turnberry.
Talk is of a possible second Solheim appearance rather than repetitive questions about when we might see her scores pick up. Reid is in a good place and it’s nice to see.
Your coach is Kevin Craggs, Catriona Matthew’s long-time coach. How did you get together?
My best mate Breanne Loucks rang me up about 16 months ago and said she thought I would get on really well with him. I thought about it for an hour but I trust Breanne’s judgment massively and we met up the following week.
We’ve changed a lot technically but it was more about the communication. I was in quite a low place when we got together and he understood me very quickly. He would push me and then back off and would constantly test me to see how I learned and how I worked.
After your win you said you had an in-depth chat in Dubai which helped kickstart your better form?
We would meet every morning at 6.30 and we were at the course by 7.30 as part of a boot camp. That day we left breakfast at midday, we were there for over five hours.
I wouldn’t say Kev had been trying to break me but it takes me a long time to trust somebody and I felt like a massive weight had been lifted. He had been trying to get that trust from me and he said ‘now I can help you’.
He is a really good guy, very similar to me and my dad. He’s a ‘live life’ character and, if something doesn’t work, he’ll just try again.
Other than the coaching what has he brought in?
He describes experiences as being in a tunnel with soft edges. He doesn’t like to think of it as a box and he likes to get me back in that tunnel.
He also quickly learned that I needed a schedule. I am hard to manage, left to my own devices I do too much. Some weeks I would do 40 hours’ practice and others I would do 10; he would see what would work for me and test me without me knowing.
How much advice do you get from everyone when things aren’t going well?
When you’re not playing well you get so many people telling you what’s going wrong and then when you do play well they still think they should have an opinion. When you’re not playing well you listen a bit more.
You are trying to find a secret when there is no secret. The biggest thing was understanding myself and working out what I wanted. Kev said if I wanted it then great, if not then that’s fine but when I do then he would be there. I don’t know why it happened in Dubai, it is the first time I have trusted someone with stuff like that and I don’t show that side of me to that many people.
Turnberry really suits my eye and I like courses where you can see what you’re doing. How would you describe your personality?
I have a social, addictive personality and am driven when I get something in my head. I have good values but those also hinder me a bit as I get a bit obsessive. I’m an all-or-nothing person, if I’m on a night out then I’m on a night out, if I’m training then I’m training. I don’t think my personality suits golf which is a bit weird. I don’t particularly like not having people around me which I think is why I have created a team around me and I am quite close to them.
How emotionally tiring is it to talk about your mum in public?
People don’t know what to say but there is no right or wrong thing. If people tried to help I would do the opposite. I needed to do things my way. I wish I could have done things differently. I made not the best decisions but not the worst and I’m glad I went through what I did afterwards as I have had to step back and reflect that it wasn’t what I want. I am so much happier now.
In most interviews it gets mentioned but I don’t mind it as much now. I talk about it with my brothers and sisters and they try to tell me to see it as a positive thing to talk about her and I hope that my story can help others.
Was she your sounding board?
Massively. She just guided me and understood me better than anybody and she would put me back in the tunnel when I needed it, like Kevin does now. She would give me a stiff talking to or just say go and have fun with your mates. She was an incredible woman.
Turkey – where would that rank among your wins?
It is really tough to lead each day but I had a number in my head and, if I got to that number, I knew nobody could catch me. It was really satisfying, the best win I’ve had because of the journey I’ve been through. To lead from start to finish was the icing on the cake and it’s nice to know the hard work I’m doing is paying off.
Is it right that you didn’t have a practice round?
No, I didn’t have one there or Prague or Spain where I won. I wasn’t in the pro-am, which was a first as a pro, but I walked 14 holes. My caddy knew it like the back of his hand and he said he knew exactly where to hit it and what the game plan was so he did a great job. We have now had six events together so he knows how I work and what I like.
How much are you looking forward to Turnberry?
I’ve missed the last two years and it’s not nice to miss one. Turnberry really suits my eye and I like courses where you can see what you’re doing.
It’s always a special week. It is just a tournament though, I’m not saying it’s not special but you have to treat it the same. I have always thought of Majors as different, and they are, but you have to prepare the same for the conditions and the course.
Kev knows the course well and we’ll plan it all three weeks before.
What was it like to play in the British Open as an amateur?
It was a really cool week. I had my dad on the bag, I had a practice round with Annika and I finished 16th which is still my best finish.
My favourite Open courses are Birkdale and Carnoustie. We played loads of links courses as amateurs, I love it, it’s my favourite kind of golf. I hit it high but low if I need to and I love the fact it can be flat-calm one day and blowing a gale the next. I love the uncertainty of it.