From the pit of despair to the joy of rediscovery, Mel Reid is a woman to fear once more on a golf course, the proof of which she hopes will be in evidence at this week’s Ricoh British Women’s Open at Trump Turnberry Resort, Scotland.
Acceptance is said to be the last of the five stages of grief. It was also the point of departure for Reid, who finally came to terms professionally with the loss of her mother three years ago after twice considering calling it a day.
Joy Reid died following a car accident near Munich while attending a tournament in which her daughter was competing. Reid’s father Brian was also involved but survived. Though Reid won her fourth Ladies European Tour event a month after the tragedy, within a year her sense of devastation began to take its toll.
Golf did not quite mean what it once did and the tragic events of Munich and a career in the sport seemed impossible to reconcile. “I thought about not playing golf again more than once. I’m just thankful that I had good advice to work out what I wanted. I don’t even know what I would have done. The first time I thought about it [quitting] was a couple of years ago and then last November I made a decision in Dubai to do it properly.”
Reid attributes her sea change in attitude to her new coach Kevin Graggs, whose pastoral approach as much as his technical input has transformed Reid’s outlook. “Kev saved my career. He’s also become my mentor away from golf. We had a boot camp in Dubai ahead of the Dubai Ladies Masters.
“Things still weren’t right and he was still trying to work me out. I remember sitting down with him at breakfast and basically I just spilled my heart out like I’ve never done before. I found it quite difficult to do, but as soon as I did that I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders. Then we kind of figured out what the process was to move forward.
“I think for the first time in a long, long time I’ve wanted it again. I’ve not wanted it for anybody else or thought I should have it because everybody tells me I should have it. I’ve wanted it, stepped it up a little bit and I’ve got the rewards.”
Reid’s first victory in three years came at the Turkish Airline Open in May, a reprise of her maiden LET win five years ago. With that came affirmation not that the old Mel was back but that a new one had been forged, and one that can reflect on the past with a new perspective.
“It’s hard being in the environment I’m in, constantly putting on a face. I just got a bit tired of it. At the end of the day I was just feeling sad. Now I feel completely different.
“I don’t want not to talk about it because I don’t want people to forget what sort of woman my mum was, and if I can help just one person by saying, ‘Look, this is really awful but time is a healer’. You never ever forget what happened, you never ever forget the pain but you must use it almost like energy. Giving up is the easy thing to do and if I can change one person’s thinking, that’s more than I could have hoped for.”
The British Women’s Open will be shown on BBC2, 1-5.15pm on Thursday and Friday; 2-6pm on Saturday and SundayReuse content