Looking back on the last 10 months, I have a lot to thank Mel Reid for. She set me right last October, in a way, by kicking my a– in a workout we filmed for this very website. I left that workout, retreated to my Palm Beach hotel room, called my parents and said, “I got a wakeup call today. I am very out of shape.”
It was the end of a full day meeting one of my favorite people in golf. We talked Halloween costumes, snowboarding in the Rockies, why she wears Vans all the time. And here we are now, on the eve of the Solheim Cup 10 months later. I’ve logged 268 straight days of Whoop fitness data, and Mel and me are penpals. The European Solheim Cup vet and I have been trading emails for the last month as she worked her way quite literally all across the world. From Michigan to England to Japan to Scotland to Florida and now Ohio. Clubs, passport, clothes and not much more.
That’s been the LPGA Tour reality this summer. Few golf schedules have ever been more hectic. I wanted to know what that would be like, how daunting the travel would be, what players do when they’re bored, how much they follow the news cycle and more. It also helped that I was doing a bit of travel myself, covering the Olympics in Japan, visiting the American northeast and attending too many weddings in the Midwest. Mel and I were rarely in the same time zone, so e-mail — or E-Mel! — was a perfect avenue to catch up, and for me to toss some questions her way I had been thinking about for too long.
July 30, 6:49 p.m. in Tokyo
Mel! Welcome to Tokyo! I’ve been here a full week now, desperately waiting for your arrival. So, how was the trip? Did you come from England or Jax?
Personally, it took me about three full days to get my body adjusted to local time. But you pros are used to some sort of jetlag with all your travels. I’ve been asking guys this all week, but do you have tips for handling jetlag? I’m sure you’re heading straight to Scotland after Japan. My strategy of staying awake for the entire flight … didn’t work. My body woke me up at 3 a.m. local time.
You would be proud of me, though. Media are not allowed to roam freely around town until we’ve been here 14 days. So I’ve been stuck with bodyweight workouts in my teeny, tiny hotel room. Remember, we are just nine months removed from you kicking my a$$ in the gym. I know you’re probably laughing right now, and I know bodyweight isn’t much, but it’s better than nothing.
ANYWAY, this being our kickoff email, I’ll start with a real softball question … have you pinched yourself yet? I mean, you’re an Olympian. A freakin’ Olympian. Team Great Britain. How have the last few weeks been, getting everything squared away for this week? I’m sure there some stresses along the way, beyond having to pull out from Evian. Have you taken a picture posing with the rings yet?
Oh, and are you staying in the Village? For your own sake, I’m hoping so. Tommy [Fleetwood] has been raving about it all week, and I’ve got some questions …
July 31, 3:17 a.m. in Tokyo
Sean, what’s up?
Trip was pretty smooth. I had to WD from Evian last week due to the uncertainty of travel restrictions which wasn’t ideal, but this was my priority. I mean, to say you’re an Olympian, in my opinion, is a pretty sick feat. So I flew directly from London, which meant I got to catch up with friends and family for a week. And honestly, that was a huge blessing as I haven’t seen them in nearly two years.
Clearly my jetlag techniques aren’t working as I’m writing this at 3 a.m. from my cardboard bed (which btw is surprisingly comfortable). You just have to get on normal time as quickly as possible, a 20-minute run or bike always helps, good nutrition and lots of fluids. I made a mistake having a coffee at 4 p.m. … doh.
Bodyweight for you Sean is very different, lol, skinny thing. Must be all that posh yoga you do in NYC. Seriously though, bodyweight stuff is so good for you and love the ‘no excuses’ mentality. It’s seriously so good for you to exercise. I’m a b*tch if I don’t exercise, ask Carly.
Being an Olympian only sunk in the minute I put my GB kit on to get on the plane here. Honestly, this is one of the proudest moments of my career, this was a huge goal of mine just because I grew up being a multi-sport athlete and have watched the Olympics since I can remember. I never even dreamed when I chose golf as my first love I was going to have this opportunity. It’s been a little stressful, though. I struggled with a weird illness a few weeks ago which wasn’t ideal but there are always bumps along the road and I feel fitter everyday. No picture yet by the rings — didn’t want to seem too keen on my first day.
We are staying in the village, though and IT IS SIIIICK. Been here 12 hours and have never felt so inspired. Just being around the best athletes in the world, it just has a great energy to it. Being in the Team GB block of rooms, someone walks in with a medal and we all cheer. It feels like you’re part of something bigger than yourself. It’s hard to put into words. I already cant wait to go for a run at 6 a.m. I mean, who says that? I will second Tommy’s comment so far “the Olympics is f**king awesome.”
Sunday, Aug. 1 8:55 a.m. in Tokyo
Hell yeah! Loved seeing that 3:17 a.m. timestamp.
I write to you now on the bus out to Kasumigaseki CC for the men’s final round. As you know, the commute isn’t ideal from Tokyo out to the course, but I’m honestly just enjoying all my trips driving through the city, people-watching and seeing what I can see. This city is wild. Between our emails and everything I’ve been doing all week, I think I’m squarely on Team Great Britain, if you guys will have me. I walked with your Team Manager Nigel Edwards a bit yesterday. Been chatting with [Fleetwood’s caddie] Ian Finnis throughout the week. My only worry is that if Tommy or Paul [Casey] win a medal, there’s no alcohol in the Olympic Village! You guys might have to get creative.
You mentioned you grew up being a multi-sport athlete. What other sports did you fancy beyond golf? Are there any sports here at the Games you’re attracted to? Or any athletes in the village you’ve been keen to meet? Rory McIlroy called Equestrian Dressage “mesmerizing,” and I’m still shook by that word choice, but to each their own! My advice for you: peep the Sport Climbing. It’s freaking awesome. (Also, you’re engaged to a hooper! I hope Carly has helped your jumpshot.)
It was Nigel Edwards who told me how Tom Daley and Matty Lee were showing off their gold medals for everyone on Team GB the other night. Nigel said the memory gives him goosebumps, which is epic! I think Tom’s quote afterward said it all: “I feel incredibly proud to say that I am a gay man and also an Olympic champion.” Gotta admit, I couldn’t help but think of you, and hopefully that’s not weird. But I’m curious what emotions you felt seeing Tom on the medal stand, given everyone and everything he represents.
Last thing I have for now is … have you seen the golf course yet? What do you think of it? Can you guys learn anything about it from watching the men? Alright, that’s enough outta me. Time to go watch Tommy Lad win this thing.
Tommy Lad did not go win this thing, unfortunately. His fellow countryman gave it a run, though. Paul Casey played well on the weekend and from the final group qualified for the seven-man playoff for the bronze medal. One more putt dropping during any of the four rounds and Team GB would have another medal added to their count, but eventually it was C.T. Pan who nabbed the last spot on the podium.
Monday, Aug. 2 6:55 a.m. in Tokyo
So I grew up basically playing every sport I could … skiing, tennis, hockey … but my main loves were snowboarding and football and still are when I’m not smacking a white ball around a field. I honestly have been mesmerized by all these athletes and have been making conversations with as many as possible. I think its actually been very humbling and inspiring because we are lucky in golf that we can make a living from it. A lot of these guys and girls are barely funded. Yet, the shape and dedication they give to their sport is what I have found the most impressive. We really take for granted how lucky we really are at times and its really allowed me to reflect on how grateful I really am to make a living from something I love.
It’s actually so cool to be sat in the GB lounge and someone walks in with a medal around their neck and everyone cheers. It’s a pride I cannot describe. I’ve been a huge Tom Daley fan for a while and actually bumped into him at the performance center a couple days ago. He really is a true inspiration of mine, not only an incredible athlete who is changing the sport of diving but also being authentically himself. I was so proud when he finally got his gold and seeing how much it meant to him and so many people was just incredible. Very proud.
I’ve been practicing the last couple days and walked around watching Tommy yesterday. Me and Tommy, I feel, have hit it off straight away. Just an all round awesome guy. I can certainly learn from the likes of these guys because I enjoy picking their brains on things like practice, training, etc. I obviously always want to be better everyday and just being around the best male players in the world like Tommy and Paul all week has been cool. I was gutted Paul didn’t get the bronze but so proud of both the boys for their efforts. Off to the course now. Jodie [Ewart Shadoff] and myself are very determined to get a medal after seeing how close the guys got!
Tuesday, Aug. 3 12:02 a.m. in Tokyo
Okay it is entirely unsurprising that you and Tommy got along well. But since you mentioned football … I told Tommy how I recently decided to support Everton FC, his favorite club. I’m sure I sound like an American right now … but he told me I signed up for a lifetime of mediocrity. Did I make a good decision? Who’s your squad?
Back to the Olympics. I must know — have you been making the most of the food quarters? Per your caddie’s Instagram, he seems to be getting on with the offerings just fine. I’m stuck doing Uber Eats each night. For the people at home, just how amazing is the Olympic Village food setup, and what have you been eating?
I see you’ve got an 8:03 a.m. tee time with Caroline Masson and Anna Nordqvist. Couple Solheim Cup teammates of yours, and a comfy grouping, I’d guess? Please solve this riddle for me, though. I never understand if groupings actually matter. Does it make a difference to be grouped up with someone you’re friends with? Are good group vibes a thing? Maybe I’m over-thinking it, but this is what happens when you spend 12 nights straight in a tiny hotel room.
Last thought for tonight. There’s been plenty of discussion during these Games about Simone Biles and how important mental health can be for athletes. You’ve got a mental coach yourself. When you look at your personal performance, how important is that thing people often don’t want to talk about: mental health? Do you do things, or avoid things, to stay healthy on that front? Are there things that people like me, or people watching on TV, just don’t quite understand? I know that’s deep, and if it is, feel free to punch me in the arm tomorrow. I plan to actually find you out there on the course!
It’s 12:02 in Tokyo, time for bed.
Mel’s Olympics didn’t quite go as planned. She finished 55th, shooting a 68 on Sunday to cap off the Olympic experience. Surely not what she would have chosen, though. From there, it was off to Scotland for the Women’s Scottish Open, where after a solid weekend she finished T34. Unlike most stops on this epic, jet-setting journey, she was able to stay in Scotland for a couple weeks. The Women’s Open was at Carnoustie.
Sunday, Aug. 15, 6:12 a.m. in Scotland
Firstly, that’s a very random football club to support. Secondly, he’s absolutely correct, a lifetime of mediocrity is now in your future. My club is Derby County, born and raised, and was given my first kit at like two years old. I also used to play for the boys academy when I was a kid until 11 years old. Have had season tickets on and off my entire life. We have been on the decline unfortunately the last couple years, which is so sad to see as everyone in Derby gets behind the team.
The Olympics food hall was legit crazy. Two huge floors, and it has to accommodate 11,000 athletes. I’ve never seen a system like it. Most of Team GB ate on the top floor (the cool floor, obviously) and there’s all kinds of food. Dez (my caddy) was having dim sum most mornings for his breakfast, but had curry one day. I feel his weirdness has just been able to grow even more in the village food hall. Seriously though, any food you want, it’s there and it’s 24/7 and it’s never empty. It’s actually fascinating to watch what some athletes eat. I saw some Belarus guy have like four chicken breast and like eight eggs one morning!!
When it comes to groupings or pairings, because you’re focusing on your own game I really do not care who I play with. You cant let who you play with affect you. Obviously it’s nice when you get a good group or are paired with one of your friends as it just makes it that must more enjoyable. And yes, before you ask, there are certain people I don’t enjoy as much playing with but lets not get into that. So, yeah, definitely lucky my first couple days to play with some Solheim teammates. And as for punching you Sean, I would never. You wouldn’t be able to get back up.
Honestly, mental health is huge. It’s huge in all walks of life and I feel that athletes sometimes get a bad rap for speaking about it because we are seen as ‘superhuman.’ And I think there are some people out there who don’t know what we go through to be one of the best at what we do. I think social media has a lot to answer for also. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Instagram and I really think there are some huge benefits from it, but I can certainly tell if I’m on it too much. I need to keep an eye on that.
It’s very important to switch off from golf during tournaments but scrolling Instagram isn’t switching off, so I like watching shows or finding live music or a cool restaurant for dinner. That’s actually been one of the harder parts of life on Tour during COVID. All that was taken away, so it made switching off even tougher. At the end of the day I look at it like this: as athletes, I feel we are constantly judged on performances, and that can take a toll on you sometimes, and you can feel it defines you. Which, in my opinion, is a slippery slope. The one thing me and Howard (my mental coach) constantly work on is knowing your worth, and the human comes before the athlete. Be a good person and work hard and good things will happen. Everyone should work on their mental health, though. It’s the foundation to everything. I’m really proud of the likes of Simone who is using her platform to speak about these issues that so many people can relate to. She has 100% of my support and I’ve been there and so I get it. And a side note: I’m also incredibly proud of the likes of Matt Wolf, too. It’s not an easy thing to do as people see it as a weakness. However I think the opposite: it’s strength beyond measure!!
The human comes before the athlete. Be a good person and work hard and good things will happen.
Monday Aug. 16, 11:22 p.m. in Freeport, Maine
“The human comes before the athlete.” That not only feels like a great thing for you to remember, but everyone else as well. Myself included, and all the fans at home. It’s so simple and sufficient.
Let’s get nitty-gritty for a second … I know the golf in Tokyo didn’t pan out the way you wanted. So, is there something you learned about your game over there, or something you’re currently working through — what’s the top priority with your game right now? Or the part of the game that currently has you most puzzled. When I watched you practice in Japan, I couldn’t help but think, “I wonder how dialed she feels right now.”
And then not-so-nitty-gritty: did you buy any souvenir(s) from the Olympics? It looked like your caddie Ryan hosted a nice little after-party hangout with some Japanese beers for anyone remaining in the Village who wanted to take part.
And now you’re across the world in Carnoustie, after a T34 a the Scottish Open over the weekend. Have you played Carnoustie before? Is it looking fierce? I know you were there working for Sky in 2018 when the men played and when it looked like Tiger might end his major drought. But what stood out to you that week, as an elite pro, while you watched Tiger play? I’m sure it was something different than what I took away from the action.
I’ve been dying to ask you this during a major week, by the way. After you shot 67 and held the first round lead at Olympic Club for the Women’s U.S. Open, you told reporters you’re “just trying to be a bit more like Brooks” Koepka during majors. I asked him what he thought that meant, and he said he wasn’t quite sure. But clearly you two have talked about what it takes to win, how to get extremely focused, etc. … So what exactly did you mean to “be a bit more like Brooks”? And whatever that is, do you think it’s helping you?
Okay that’s plenty of questions out of me. I’m sure I’m boring you by now. And finally, good luck this week!
Wednesday, Aug. 18, 6:02 p.m. in Scotland
Honestly, I was pretty disappointed with my performance at the Olympics. I don’t know. Looking back, I would have probably done a lot of things differently. I went home back to the UK for the first time in nearly two years and my priority was, honestly, just seeing my family. Of course I practiced but my mind wasn’t quite there. Lots of other factors, like I hadn’t seen my coach in a few weeks and that doesn’t help. But yeah, as you could tell I couldn’t quite feel what was happening with my swing and then I was overthinking. It happens, that’s why golf is THE toughest sport on the planet in my opinion. I think the main thing I took away from it is just that I hope I get to play another Olympics!! I loved the whole experience and I will definitely prepare differently next time. But yeah, haha Dez will always find some beers if you ever need a hook up. I think Dez took most of the souvenirs (not joking — he took everything, including his duvet) but it’s not really my thing. I’m going to frame a cool picture with my golf shirt though, think that will be a cool souvenir!
Carnoustie is one of my favorites. I think when the weather is how it should be, it really is a beast. I really hope the weather comes in, because that’s how it should be experienced, in my opinion. I actually have a lot of really fond memories from when I commentated and I actually did pay a lot of attention to how the guys played it, hopefully that pays off! This is always my favourite week of the year and if I could choose one event to win, of course this would be it.
It’s funny you mention Tiger — me and Claude Harmon were talking about this on his podcast and we both had the same examination of Tiger. The most impressive part of Tiger’s game (aside from his mental strength) is how he is always pin-high. Like, his distance control is a joke!! Back pin, front pin he’s always around pin-high. Now I’ve brought this to your attention, I bet you notice.
When I read the Brooks note, I had to laugh a bit. I kinda just said that in a casual comment because I was getting asked so much about it and deflected questions instead of going into detail of our conversation. But yeah, he’s actually helped a bunch. Like, seriously. It’s not showing in my majors this year but each time I play one I’m trusting and learning more about them than I ever have before, and that’s a huge thanks to him really. He just gave me some advice on prep and game plan. I have really appreciated his time and I feel we are similar in that we aren’t your ‘stereotype’ golfer. It’s refreshing to be around.
Mel’s good vibes in Scotland didn’t totally make the trip up from Dumbarnie to Carnoustie. She shot 75-74 in the final women’s major of the year and missed the cut. Back home to Florida she went for her first actual break in seven weeks.
Thursday, Aug. 26, 11:59 p.m. in Chicago
You’re a busy person these days! Solheim Cup next week, and a media day in New Jersey where you won last year. First, how’d you spend the week off? What does Mel Reid do during a (badly needed) week off?
As for your win last year in Atlantic City, how long ago does that feel? The answer is 11 months, but time doesn’t seem to exist on the same continuum these days. Do you think back to that week often, perhaps when searching for a swing thought or a positive memory? What do remember most?
You go from Jersey to Ohio for your FOURTH Solheim Cup. Four is a lot! I forgot you were just a little, 24-year-old baby on that 2011 team in Ireland. But now you’re the second oldest on the squad, so do you feel like a vet? Is experience meaningless … or meaningful during these intense team weeks?
Last question I have has to do with the individuality of golfers. Y’all are always playing for yourselves! And then during Solheim Cups, when the intensity is through the roof, suddenly you’re playing for a team. I wanna know — do you find it hard to drop that individualistic mindset for these weeks? Is it easy or difficult to forget your own performance when the team result matters most?
Mel, congrats! You’ve made it to the end of emailing me for a month. This is the last time I’ll be bothering your inbox, I promise. At least until snowboarding season. Hopefully it wasn’t a drag. Good luck this week. My money is on Team Reid/Ciganda to bag a couple points, so get to it.
And P.S. Everton are unbeaten in three matches thus far.
Wednesday, Sept. 1, 8:16 a.m. in Toledo, Ohio
Yeah I don’t think people understand how much playing, traveling, etc. takes it out of us, mentally and physically. I am not the type of person who does nothing. I can’t sit still very easily. We just moved into a new house about three months ago so there’s always something for me to do with that, which I love. Otherwise the beauty of living in Jacksonville is paddle boarding or my new hobby of surfing. Surf wasn’t the best this week, though.
Honestly, I don’t really think back to that victory a lot. I mean obviously it’ll be nice to go back somewhere that I have positive memories at. I’m excited to defend my title — I think it’s a huge privilege. But seriously, it feels a lifetime ago. So much has changed and happened during that time. It’s weird, though. It feels like time stands still during all this!
Solheim is my jam. It gets my juices going like nothing else. I definitely feel more of a leader role this year. I want everyone on the team comfortable, and I feel that’s where I can come in and try to make the rookies feel that way. The Americans are always stronger on paper and it’s especially hard for us to win here in the U.S., so we know our biggest asset is the bond we have in the European team room. We need that more than ever this year. We’re probably the strongest team we’ve had but with COVID we will not have the support we normally do. So it’s even more important to create a bond and comfort in the team room.
The individual aspect — I feel it’s easier for some players than others. For someone like myself, I find it natural. I’ve always loved team sports and that certainly helps in this environment. But at the end of the day it does really come down to the singles and that’s where you have to just focus on your match, your point, your game. So it’s a switch. I think that’s why we are so mentally drained at the end of the week — or maybe it’s just the best party every two years. Hopefully this year we will be drinking champagne out the cup once again!