Different Strokes

Professional golfer Patrick Reed—playing soon at the Shell Houston Open—treats golf as a team sport.

By John Lomax March 3, 2014 Published in the March 2014 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Patrick Reed won his first PGA tournament title at the Wyndham Championship at the age of 23.

Patrick Reed had come so close. The 23-year-old from Spring had been neck and neck with 20-year-old rival Jordan Spieth of Dallas—considered by many to be the wunderkind future of American golf—throughout the entire Wyndham Championship. It had been within grasp: Reed’s first PGA tournament title—not to mention the purse that came with it—something he’d been working toward for years, right up until the moment at hand, his second playoff hole, when he sent a disastrous tee shot straight into the North Carolina pines. 

It seemed obvious that Spieth, who’d reached the green in two strokes, would become the youngest golfer ever to win two PGA Tour tournaments. After all, Reed’s ball lay in pine needles near a TV cable, mere feet from being out of bounds. Worse: between Reed and the pin stood a pine tree with an overhanging branch, blocking his angle of attack. Even worse: it was a straight shot, “the hardest shot in the game of golf,” he says. 

A disappointed Reed consulted his caddy, who told him to aim his shot for a tent behind the green. “That’s where the flag is,” she said. “Keep it just left of the tree, hit a straight shot, and let’s hope we get the right distance.” The caddy offered moral support too: “This is your shot. We’ve practiced this before.” Reed pulled out a 7-iron, stepped up to the ball, uncorked a baseball-type swing, and…sent the ball within seven feet of the pin. In his excitement, Reed picked up his caddy, whirled her in the air, and planted a big kiss on her lips. He could do that, because Justine is also his wife.

Reed went on to win that August day, bringing in more than $950,000 in prize money. Then, in January, he did it again, taking home an even larger purse after winning the Humana Challenge in California. That title, he also claimed in electrifying fashion, astounding onlookers by setting a PGA record with three consecutive 9-under-par scores of 63, entering the last day of competition at 27 under. After it was over, Reed got a congratulatory phone call from none other than former President Bill Clinton, whose Clinton Foundation helps run the tournament. “Get in that zone more often,” Clinton advised, “because it sure was fun to watch.”

A professional writer will tell you that you aren’t a real pro until you’ve sold your second story. Does that apply to golf too? “Definitely,” says Reed. “When you win your first, people wonder if this is a one-and-done deal. But when you win twice in 46 starts—and twice in the last eight events I’ve started—it just shows that we’re doing the right things and we have things going in the right direction.”

Reed often says “we” where others would say “I,” as in, “We had a good round out there today.” He firmly believes that golf is a team sport. There’s his swing coach, his club company, and, of course, his caddy, who’s taking a temporary break. She has a good excuse, as the couple is expecting a baby on Memorial Day. (Reed is still keeping it all in the family, though; his caddy at the Humana Challenge was Justine’s brother.) After their daughter’s birth, Justine plans to return to work and her mother will become the nanny, after which they’ll home-school while on the road. “There’s nothing like [this family set-up] on the PGA Tour that I know of, and I can’t think of anything like it in any other sport either,” Reed says. “I am always big into a team. That’s what I really push on. Yes, I am out there shooting the numbers, but it’s not all me. That’s why my putters don’t say ‘Patrick Reed.’ They say ‘Team Reed.’”

Team Reed started coming together in Baton Rouge, where the couple met. Reed, a San Antonio native, attended Augusta State, while Justine, a Klein native, attended LSU. After he graduated from college with two NCAA championships under his belt, the couple started the mind-bogglingly hard trek to make the PGA Tour. “That was insane,” he recalls. “We worked so hard not just on practicing but driving every week, getting into another town, getting two hours sleep, playing Monday qualifiers, and there’s a hundred guys competing for four spots to get in the event. You’ve got to shoot 6-, 7-, 8-under every time, and we did that six out of eight times and made almost a whole season out of it on the PGA Tour.” 

After Reed’s win in January brought Team Reed over a million dollars, he and Justine bought a new house in Spring and a pair of new cars. “The hard work we put in is paying off now, and we are working harder and harder,” he says. “We want more wins, more of that feeling.” Whether he’ll get that feeling at the Shell Houston Open this month is anyone’s guess. In fact, all he can say with certainty is that come Memorial Day, Team Reed will have one more member. What will the little one’s role be? “She will probably keep me in line,” Reed laughs.  

The Shell Houston Open takes place at Humble’s Golf Club of Houston, March 31–April 6. For more information, visit

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