Despite the praise heaped upon this past week’s European and LPGA Tour’s co-sanctioned event, the Victorian Open, a high-profile LPGA Tour player is lamenting the inequality gap between men’s and women’s professional golf.
Mel Reid, the English-born pro who made headlines earlier this year when she announced she was gay, told The Independent that contrary to popular belief, the inequality gap between golfers at the highest level is growing, not shrinking.
“If I’m completely honest, I think it’s getting worse,” Reid said. “People have no idea this is going on. It’s an absolute joke.”
Reid’s main qualms come with the equipment industry. Requesting a pair of fairway woods from a major OEM, Reid said the response came that they do not support women’s golf. Another company from whom Reid requested irons told her that it only supports men on the European Challenge Tours.
Exclusive interview: LPGA Tour star @melreidgolf on the biggest companies in golf refusing to support women, being the highest profile player to come out as gay, and her rise from rock bottomhttps://t.co/qSK6a4WR7L
— Tom Kershaw (@trlkershaw) February 4, 2019
Last year, the inequality conversation was brought to light when Inbee Park, a seven-time major champion, Olympic gold medalist and former world No. 1, requested some new fairway woods and hybrids from TaylorMade, but was told she could only get them at cost because of a new stipulation that only offered free clubs to those who play TaylorMade drivers.
“Imagine that happening in the men’s game to the best player in the world,” Reid continued. “I understand the pay will never be the same, I understand the value of the product, but two of the very biggest companies openly don’t support women’s golf. People don’t know about the struggles LPGA players have to go through just to get equipment.”
I’m proud of how far we’ve come and thankful for ALL the support we do get. We are appreciative….but hope even more companies will lean into all the great things the @LPGA is and will continue to be. https://t.co/Dqd5WF2VaW
— Mel Reid (@melreidgolf) February 4, 2019
Reid said that part of the problem comes from players’ hesitancy to speak out about the inequalities.
“I think girls are scared to come out and name companies because what we get given is already so fragile,” she said. “We have a lot more to lose by being outspoken. Companies can just turn around and be like ‘well go do one then’. They don’t promote women’s golf.”
Reid is currently ranked 276 in the world, and she recently moved from England to Jupiter, Florida after nearly losing her LPGA Tour card last year.