Some of the best golf wisdom in recent memory came from someone most people do not know. Cissye Gallagher, in addition to being the wife of PGA Tour winner Jim Gallagher, is a legend in Mississippi amateur golf circles, having won as many state amateurs as a couple of players in this week’s U.S. Women’s Open field have had birthdays. Gallagher is also the first woman ever inducted into the Mississippi Golf Hall of Fame. Not long ago, Cissye told Jim, “Men have to play well to be happy. But women have to be happy to play well.”
No one typifies that pearl more than England’s Mel Reid, who shot 67 in the opening round of the U.S. Women’s Open and looked like a 10-time major champion doing it, not a player who, just a few years ago, had no sponsors, no LPGA Tour wins, and was on the verge of having no tour to play. Reid has come a long way. Not only is she now an LPGA Tour winner, capturing the 2020 ShopRite LPGA Classic, Mel is one of the most sought-after pro-am partners in professional golf and one of the happiest and most confident people in the game.
What got her here? A lot of things. As she put it after her Thursday round at The Olympic Club, “I think the work with Jorge (Parada), my coach, took a while to kind of set in. We made a big (swing) change. But I understand him a bit better now. He understands what I need a little bit more. And the communication is a lot better.
“Obviously, having Howard Falco on board, my mental preparation coach, he's really valuable. I've got a great agent. I feel like my whole team, I'm extremely happy with it. Obviously, having Desi (Ryan Desveaux) on my bag as well.
“I'm happy off the golf course, too. I think that helps. I feel like my life is in a good place. I'm just working hard and being a good person, and hopefully good things will happen to me.”
Mel has always been a good person, gregarious and giving. But the tragic loss of her mother in a car accident in 2012 and the uncertainty about leaving her home in England led to a slump that almost derailed her career. But the last two years, after failing to make the European Solheim Cup Team in 2019 and serving as an assistant captain, she has made the commitment to move to Florida, get a new manager who understands her marketability, and she, in her words, “works my a** off in the gym.”
Now she has a friendship that could take her to next level.
“I text Brooks (Koepka),” Reid said. “I texted Brooks on Tuesday. We had a long conversation and then we FaceTimed for an hour on Tuesday night. He gave me a few things that he follows by in a major. So, obviously, I appreciate his help. Yeah, I'm just trying to be a bit more like Brooks, honestly.”
And she has a dream to represent Great Britain in the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer.
“I think the Olympics is a really cool event,” she said. “Growing up as a multi-sport athlete, I never dreamed as a golfer that I could play in the Olympics. That was never on my radar. Obviously, it has been the last six, seven years. I think it would be an absolute honor if I played in the Olympics and represented my country.
“I also think it's a great opportunity for golf. I would never normally watch gymnastics, for example. But during the Olympics I watch gymnastics. We talk about growing the game all the time on the LPGA. I think representing your country in the Olympics is growing your game. You're going to have so many new eyes watching golf and potentially taking it up, I just think it's a huge opportunity to introduce new people to the game.
“It's definitely on my radar. I would love to play in the Olympics. I've never been shy about that. It would be a pretty awesome achievement.”
Mel also has a fiancée, Carly Grenfell, who works in social media with the PGA Tour. Both have become advocates for gay rights and equality in public life.
“I’m just comfortable in my life,” Reid said. “I think that the reason I (came out so publicly) was more about inclusion. It's just that I believe that golf could be a little bit better at inclusion. I've seen it firsthand, the discrimination from all backgrounds. And I've also seen the positive side of including everyone.
“So that's really why I just wanted to be a voice for a lot of people that have struggled with stuff. I basically wanted to say, ‘I have your back. And I believe that anyone from any background, any sexuality, any race should always be welcome to play golf.’ That's what I'm fighting for.”
She’s hard to miss. Her flat-billed hat and athletic physique have become a brand of her own. But she’s also worth getting to know. Interesting, funny, engaging, smart and as loyal a friend as you will find, Mel Reid is a fascinating follow, and a player who would be a worthy major champion.