As one of the most likeable and charismatic golfers in the women's game, this is why recent LPGA champ Mel Reid should be your new role model (if she isn't already that is).
So, who is Mel Reid?
To long-time golf fans it might seem a silly question but, if you’re new to the game, you could be a bit baffled about why we’re all losing our minds with happiness over the fact that the Derbyshire-born player won the ShopRite LPGA Classic.
Of course, it’s immediately obvious that she’s super talented and deserved to win, but this is an English girl who's admired for so much more than just her skills at hitting a ball (although those are literally amazing too).
So, for those of you who want a bit of background on the latest LPGA champion, but this is the inspiring and moving story of professional golfer Mel Reid.
It's a horrible place to start really, but much of 33-year-old Melissa's story centres around one horrific event.
A six-time winner on the Ladies European Tour (LET) and a three-time Solheim Cup competitor, it might seem strange to some that it wasn’t until 2020 that she got her first LPGA win.
But this is because she's been through the hardest times you can imagine (and come back fighting).
Back in 2008 she was named the LET’s Rookie of the Year and the following season she secured eight top ten finishes; it seemed liked nothing could stop her and she was considered England’s top female golfer.
But then tragedy struck, and it makes me feel sick just to write it.
Mel's mum was killed in a car crash in Germany in 2012. It happened as she was on her way back from watching her daughter play near Munich.
Joy Reid was much-loved amongst the other players and, of course, her daughter’s biggest cheerleader.
Laura Davies described the accident as "by far the worst day I've known on tour."
The grief Mel and her dad must have gone through is unimaginable, but somehow she returned to compete in the Prague Masters just four weeks later. Unbelievably, she also won too.
But the hugely personable player later admitted that she was just “papering over the cracks”. Her career took a sharp downward turn in the years that followed (she dipped to 333 on the World Rankings) and her personal life became one long stream of heavy nights and fuzzy mornings.
Speaking back in 2015 to sports channel espnW she said: "I was a mess. I wasn't coping, I was rebelling. I was spending time with people who partied. I was hitting the self-destruct button. I was with a lot of people, but I was lonely."
But fast forward to 2020 and the picture is so VERY different.
Two top-ten finishes at the ANA Inspiration and Portland Classic lead her nicely into her victory in New Jersey.
She's also became the face of ellesse's new golf range, been making waves speaking out on behalf of gay rights, fighting for equality in golf and generally just being her brilliant best and making the world a better place.
Real and relatable
Mel speaks plainly and honestly no matter how personal the subject.
She doesn’t pretend to be perfect and she’s talked in the past about “not feeling worthy” of things. She’s not afraid to admit she’s human.
She said that before her mother’s death, she was programmed to be a “golfing robot” but the tragedy made her realise who she wanted to be.
“Before, I thought I was pretty much invincible and all I thought about was golf," she said.
"So if there is any positive that's come out of it, and it may sound clichéd, I've certainly discovered myself. I'm certainly not a robot, I'm a human being and I want to be the best person I can be as well as the best golfer."
Seeing what she has gone on to achieve both on and off the course, we have no doubt that her mum would be so proud of her.
Speaks her mind
Mel has certainly ruffled a few feathers over the years.
When she sees something she disagrees with, or that’s blatantly unfair (often against women or the women’s game), she says it.
We love that she retweeted the idiot saying that she would “bottle it” at the ShopRite Classic, too (he's now deleted it, obvs).
Good on you, Mel!
One of the girls
Mel is a party girl, and we can imagine that her post-win blowout will have been absolutely epic!
She’s hugely popular on Tour too, with so many friends who all rushed to congratulate her on securing her title.
The pics of her swigging champagne straight out of the bottle on the green are brilliant.
Basically, she’s the kind of person you want around on a night out, as well as on the fairways.
An LGBTQ idol
Mel came out as gay in 2018, stating she wanted to encourage everyone to be “proud of who they are.”
Speaking to the Athlete Ally website she said: "I protected my sexuality for a long time because I thought I had to in order to help my career and to get more sponsors."
She hoped speaking publicly about her sexuality would help reassure others, in out of the world of golf, that whoever they loved, they had nothing to be ashamed of.
She said to Sky Sports Golf:
"I got a huge amount of messages from parents, from siblings, from people in general coming out that it made an impact on, and that to me is why I did it. It was just my way of giving back to my community and saying it is OK to be who you are."
Fighting for equality
As well as supporting gay rights, Mel has long been one of the most outspoken players when it comes to getting more recognition and respect for the women’s game.
She’s been saying for years that she wanted to see more female players in ads and commercials, and when she became an ambassador for the new golf range from ellesse, American Golf finally listened and included her in their billboards.
On top of that, the Florida-based golfer called on male pro golfers to show more support for the women’s game, and sure enough this year has seen big improvements in that area, too.
A few months ago she also addressed what most of us were thinking and asked why no female players were included in the TaylorMade Driving Relief charity event.
On Twitter she said:
“Yet again, today we show the disparity between men’s and women’s golf. What an opportunity golf has let slip once again, to represent equality.”
At least some of the progress we have this year is down to intelligent, articulate players like Mel who won’t be chastised into keeping quiet.
We’ve said it before but we’ll say it again, we can still be grateful for what we’ve achieved whilst at the same time asking to be given more and eventually the same opportunities as the men.
Best of all, she's just getting started
Mel knows what it is to suffer setbacks, huge loss and be judged for who she is.
It makes her achievements all the more amazing and her fantastic attitude all the more incredible.
She might be older than many of the players on Tour, but we think this is just the beginning of her career.
That, like Laura Davies, she’ll go on to become one of the most significant role models and influences that golf has ever known.