A driving force
After typing those words to her Twitter followers on Dec. 10, 2018, professional golfer Mel Reid – a six-time champ on the Ladies European Tour – quickly became one of the most visible, authentic, and admired voices for the LGBTQIA+ community and the many obstacles it faces.
Since coming out that day, Reid has led the fight for equality in the male-dominated sport of professional golf, where men are paid more for competitions and from sponsors and are given more media attention. The discrimination extends beyond professional golf, with Reid noting that if she as an elite golfer is made to feel unwelcome at certain golf courses, what hope is there for other women? Reid spoke to GO! about those issues, how she makes the choices that define her, and how she hopes to lead her sport – and those who watch it – into the future.
Below are her thoughts on leadership.
What I care most about is... fighting for higher pay and more visibility in women's professional golf. We do the same job as men. We sacrifice just as much as men. But we're paid a tenth of the prize. Unfortunately, that's the way it is for women in many sports – not just golf. We deserve more respect because we're tremendous athletes. We should have equal opportunities.
"We do the same job as men. We sacrifice just as much as men. But we're paid a tenth of the prize."
When I was growing up... I saw only men representing brands in the pro shop – Adam Scott, Tiger Woods, Ernie Els. There wasn't one woman. Marketing, advertising, and social media have a big opportunity by appealing to more women. That's one way to start to move the needle towards equality. If it's in front of you, you're going to watch it and you're going to respect it.
I came out because... I was at a point in my career where I thought, You know what? Why am I hiding this part of me? I can't help who I am. I'm very proud of who I am. And others should be proud of themselves too. It's very important to me to be authentic. I wanted the people around me to know who I am, particularly the companies that represent me. It was important to me to work with sponsors that would be proud to represent me as my authentic self. There's only one you in the world and you want to be your best version of you and proud of who you are.
"I was at a point in my career where I thought, You know what? Why am I hiding this part of me? I can't help who I am. I'm very proud of who I am."
I try to teach others... to be comfortable with themselves. I've been the shy rookie on a team. I was very fortunate to have great mentors who made me feel comfortable. I feel like it's my role to do the same as a more senior player. When I see someone who looks a bit uncomfortable, I feel for them and want to make them feel welcomed. That's something I'm proud of. If I make a bit of difference to a couple players, I've done my job. Golf is a place where everybody should be welcome, and I'll always fight for that.