After raining her LPGA tour card in December LG’s Mark Townsend caught up with Mel Reid for a coffee to talk about her year ahead. In part 2 they discuss the Ladies European Tour and how it could be made stronger
If you missed part one of Mel’s interview read it here
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
I think my strengths are my instincts, I think I’m very good at being a feel player. I’m very good at driving the ball and, instinctively, I am a very good putter. I need to pitch the ball closer and I’m not very good at the easy chips. I’m good at the hard chips.
Will the conditioning in the States help with that?
In my honest opinion, yes. I will always call the LET my home because that’s where I was nurtured, that’s where I developed things but I personally think the players don’t get what they deserve, and it’s frustrating. We don’t play for enough prize money and we don’t play good enough places. And you don’t get that on the LPGA.
So if you were in charge of the LET for a week, what would you try and change?
OK, first of all I would make physio free. Every tour is free apart from the LET.
I wouldn’t make the welcome dinners mandatory and would just make sure that the players understood that, during the pro-am, they need to entertain their guests but I wouldn’t make any dinners the night before a tournament mandatory.
I would certainly get better conditioned courses and I would probably get some sort of set-up for pensions. In fact we have to pay the tour a certain percentage of what we earn.
And you get taxed by the country you’re playing in?
Yes. So, for example, say I play in Australia and win £100k I would get taxed 50 per cent.
It’s a tough market so what about having more pro-am or shorter formats to bump up the number of events?
There has actually been talk of this by the players. I would love to play a two-day event where a player gets guaranteed £500 for example, and the winner takes £20k, you know, OK, it’s not great but if it’s only a couple of days or a one- day event, why not.
The problem is players don’t help themselves because they will just turn up to a €200k event in New Zealand and they will get a full field, so they don’t help themselves.
But if there aren’t that many events…
I know, they just want to play golf. I also think there are way too many tour cards on the LET, way too many.
What’s an ideal number?
I think there should be 60 and that’s it. If the tour grows and we’re playing for £1.2m each week then fair enough you can have a 140 field but you can’t at the minute.
Is this as bad as it’s been?
Yes, I feel sorry for Ivan (Khodabakhsh) because I think he’s getting a lot of stick from the players. He’s trying to do a job which actually needs about 10 people and we can’t afford to employ 10 people.
The LPGA commissioner Mike Whan does an incredible job, he’s very personable, but he’s got a staff of 50, maybe more. He sent a personal Christmas card to everybody, he even sent one to me with a personal message.
People need to understand that Ivan’s job is very difficult and I certainly wouldn’t want it. However I do think that he could have a slightly better relationship with the players.
What part of the blame should the players take on the LET?
Turning up to the not-so-good events, that’s not doing the players any favours. I don’t know, it’s obviously a bit of a Catch 22, if we were getting paid more money then it might be different.
This is the strongest I’ve ever known the LET in terms of talent with the most diverse amount of players. There are so many athletes out there now. When I first came out there were one or two people in the gym, now I could go at 5:30am before my tee time and there would be six people in there.
So how do you up the number of tournaments?
Because the tour are trying to get half-a- million-pound events, which I agree with, I personally don’t think there should be any event under £350k, but there has to be some sort of middle ground. The tour has to go in and say ‘OK, we’ll sign for £300k for the next whatever years but you have to guarantee for three years after that we can have £500k’. That’s what the LPGA do.
The LPGA was also struggling not that long ago?
The person before Mike Whan lost a lot of events and it was in a similar situation to what we are in on the LET but, again, there is no money in Europe as well so it’s a difficult job. When the men are losing events then we’re de nitely struggling. There are too many tour cards, that’s the main issue. There were 30 and ties at the recent Q School and they might get to play in four events.
How many events will you play in Europe next year?
Other than the co-sanctioned events I might play the Spanish. I really like the Marbella area. And then I would obviously play Dubai and that’s my six events that I have to play in.