From a distance it looks like any old yardage book – white leather with embossed black text on the cover. But look closer 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 says “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 really 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 teamed up with Skratch and Grant Thornton for me to help design the footage books.
“It was a bit loud last year. I wanted it to be a bit quieter, but powerful message. And that’s what we found. It’s a project I’m proud of, and I’m really proud to be part of it with Grant Thornton and Skratch.
Reid came out publicly 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 sport. Since then she has been a role model and advocate for her community, working hard to make sure people from all walks of life feel welcome in the golf space, and collaborating on this project with her sponsor Grant Thornton was a another way for Reid to continue these efforts. in inclusiveness.
“There’s still a lot of discrimination, especially in the game of golf, and I try to be the voice for a lot of people who think they don’t have a voice even though they do or something. one that has a little bit of a struggle with their identity or whatever,” Reid said. “I think golf could definitely be more inclusive. If I go to golf courses and sometimes I feel a little bad comfortable, imagine someone from a certain background, religion, sexuality or race, think about how it feels for the first time to come to a golf club. is a stigma that I want to try to change.
—Mel Reid (@melreidgolf) December 10, 2018
Reid’s fellow Grant Thornton ambassadors, Nelly and Jessica Korda, also wore the distance book throughout June, a time of year that sees two of the biggest tournaments in the women’s game contested – the US Women’s Open presented by ProMedica and the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. For the elder Korda, the message on the cover truly represents the LPGA Tour in its entirety and captures what it means to be a member of a global organization.
“That’s kind of one of the most interesting things about being out (on the LPGA Tour). You’ll find just about anyone if you’re looking for inspiration. Lots of similar stories, but very different paths,” Jess said. “At the end of the day, we’re all trying to be ourselves, to be accepted. I’ve never looked at anyone other than just for who they are, and that’s one of the cool things to be here. There are so many different personalities every week, different communities represented. That’s 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 how to make the LPGA Tour. Last year, Sagstrom shared his story of surviving sexual assault for the first time via the Tour’s #DriveOn campaign and received overwhelming support from his peers and the organization. As she views Pride Month as a time to celebrate living freely and being yourself, Sagstrom believes it’s even more important to show people that they belong and are welcome in all spaces.
“It’s important to show that everyone is welcome. Everyone is welcome to play sports and be part of society and it’s so easy to feel out of place so I think it’s so important to focus on that and make sure everyone to feel included,” she 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 huge honor to be part of an organization like this, and I really think it’s is wonderful to be yourself here.
To have that kind of encouragement and alliance week in and week out on the Tour is something Reid is incredibly grateful for. But she’s also grateful for how her fellow Grant Thornton Ambassadors have embraced this project and its message, proudly wearing the book of distance in support of the LGBTQ+ community.
“The whole team that we have on the Grant Thornton Ambassadors team are nice people and they’ve all kind of been supportive of that,” Reid said. “Obviously Nelly is wearing it and it’s a great message for us, but Jess also messaged me right away saying, ‘Hey, I just saw your pieces. It’s unreal. It’s really cool.’
“That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?” You don’t need to get paid to support the community and for other Grant Thornton Team Ambassadors to support it, and being proud to use it is something we wanted to create. Seeing them kind of behind it means so much to me, it really does.
As Pride Month draws to a close, the meaning of “Be Proud. Be you. won’t lose its shine for Reid. Rather, it will propel her forward as she continues to strive to make the golf community a more inclusive and welcoming space – one step, one stroke, 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’ve always wanted to use my platform for the greater good. Because I’m in this community, I’ve seen the harm it can do. People still die just because of who they love. This is not how the world should work.
“I’m just trying to be a small part of a huge problem that’s definitely changing. I want to use my platform to try to help people. Ultimately, if more people were just themselves, I think the world would be a better place.