From a distance, it looks like any old yard book: white leather with embossed black text on the cover. But take a closer look and you will realize that it has a much deeper meaning. There are decorative lines in the colors of the Progress Pride flag on the front, representing all members of the LGBTQ+ community, and the text reads “Be proud. Be you,” a four-word message of support and encouragement that means a lot to the book’s creator, LPGA Tour winner Mel Reid.
“Grant Thornton Design thought it would be cool to do a yardage book for Pride Month, which we did last year,” Reid said. “This year, we thought we’d do something a little different, so we collaborated with Skratch and Grant Thornton to have me help design the yardage books.
“It was a bit noisy last year. He wanted it to be a bit more of a calmer but powerful message. And this is what we came up with. It’s a project I’m proud of and I’m very proud to be a part of it with Grant Thornton and Skratch.”
Reid publicly came out as gay on Twitter in December 2018 after becoming an ambassador for Athlete Ally, an organization dedicated to creating safe and inclusive spaces for LGBTQ+ people in sports. Since then, she has been a role model and advocate for her community, working hard to make sure people of all backgrounds feel welcome in the golf space, and collaborating on this project with her sponsor Grant Thornton was another way. in which Reid continued those efforts. in inclusion.
“There’s still a lot of discrimination, especially in the game of golf, and I’m trying to be a voice for a lot of people who feel like they don’t have a voice even though they do or someone who is struggling a little bit with their identity or whatever,” Reid said. . “I think golf could certainly be more inclusive. If I go to golf courses and sometimes I feel a bit uncomfortable, imagine someone of a certain origin, a certain religion, a certain sexuality or race, think how it feels for the first time coming to a golf club. That is a stigma that I want to try to change.”
Sharing my story in the hope that it will help someone else share theirs. I have always believed in fighting for equality and I am beyond excited to join the @AthleteAlly equipment. #Be brave https://t.co/QCCKERZlD8
— Mel Reid (@melreidgolf) December 10, 2018
Reid’s fellow Grant Thornton ambassadors, Nelly and Jessica Korda, also kept the yardage book throughout the month of June, a time of year when two of the biggest tournaments in the women’s game are contested: the US Women’s Open. Presented by ProMedica and the KPMG Women’s PGA. Championship. For the elder Korda, the message emblazoned on the cover truly represents the LPGA Tour as a whole and captures what it means to be a member of a global organization.
“That’s one of the cool things about being out there (on the LPGA Tour). You will find almost anyone if you are looking for inspiration. Lots of similar stories, but very different paths,” said Jess. “At the end of the day, we are all trying to be ourselves, to be accepted. I’ve never looked at anyone any differently than just for who they are, and that’s one of the great things about being here. There are so many different personalities every week, different communities represented. This is how it should be. A human is a human. That’s how it is.”
Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom shares Korda’s sentiment and has first-hand experience of what it can be like to embrace the LPGA Tour. Last year, Sagstrom shared her sexual assault survival story for the first time through the Tour’s #DriveOn campaign and received an overwhelming amount of support from both her peers and the organization. While she sees Pride Month as a time to celebrate being free and being yourself, Sagstrom believes it’s even more important to show people that they belong and are welcome in all spaces.
“It is important to show that everyone is welcome. Everyone is welcome to play sports and be a part of society and it’s very easy to feel like you don’t belong, so I think it’s very important to focus on that and make everyone feel included,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who you are and who you want to be. You can be here competing against the best players in the world. It’s a great honor to be a part of an organization like that, and I really think it’s wonderful to be yourself here.”
Having that kind of encouragement and partnership week in and week out on Tour is something Reid is incredibly grateful for. But she is also grateful for how her fellow Grant Thornton ambassadors have embraced this project and its message, proudly carrying the yard book in support of the LGBTQ+ community.
“The whole team that we have on the Grant Thornton ambassador team are great people and they all got behind it,” Reid said. “Obviously Nelly is wearing it and that’s a great message for us, but Jess also texted me right away saying, ‘Hey, I just saw your pieces. That is unreal. That’s really cool.’
“This is what this is about, right? You don’t need to be paid to support the community and to be supported by the other ambassadors on the Grant Thornton team, and being proud to use it is something we wanted to create. Seeing those guys back him up means a lot to me, it really does.”
As Pride Month draws to a close, the meaning of “Be proud. Be yourself. won’t lose its shine for Reid. Rather, he will propel her forward as she continues to strive to make the golf community a more inclusive and welcoming space – one step, one shot, one day at a time.
“I’ve never been one of those people who just wants to take a check and go home and sit down. I have always wanted to use my platform for the common good. Because I’m in this community, I’ve seen the damage it can do. People keep dying just for what they love. That is not the way the world should work.
“I’m just trying to be a small part of a big problem that is definitely changing. I want to use my platform to try to help people. At the end of the day, if more people were just themselves, I think the world would be a better place.”