ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — As the war in Ukraine reaches its 450th day, a Ukrainian teenager is finding peace on the golf course. And this weekend, he’s competing at the 39th annual Scott Robertson Memorial tournament in Roanoke.
“I always loved the game of golf. It never went away,” Mykhailo “Misha” Golod said. “Here I just got presented with an opportunity to pursue that love for the game of golf and that passion.”
Golod has gotten his golf routine down pat. But a little over a year ago, his life was turned upside down when Russia invaded his native home, Ukraine. Golod was living in the capital of Kyiv when the war began.
“When I was there, I got to a point where I understood there’s no opportunity for me to grow in that environment. I love my home, I love my country, I love Ukraine, I love everything about it,” Golod said. “But I got to a point where my parents and me got together and we figured out that there’s no reason for me to stay in Ukraine because golf in Ukraine is not going to develop for the next couple of years. School in Ukraine is not going to be as good.”
Golf had always played a special role in Golod’s life. Before the war, he was a four-time Ukrainian junior champion. But then the sport became his lifeline. An article in Golf Digest detailed the dire situation which eventually led to his escape from the warzone with the help of famed golf instructor David Leadbetter. The teenager made Orlando, Florida his home as he started a new life in the United States on his own.
“It was really hard but I’m very thankful for David Leadbetter and the whole Leadbetter Academy for providing a good environment for me to grow in,” Golod said.
Since his arrival in America, Golod realizes he’s living a dream come true. He’s won four tournaments and earned a Top Ten finish ten times. Plus, he’s already committed to playing collegiate golf at the University of North Carolina.
“It’s been pretty hectic because I’ve been in the U.S. for just over a year,” Golod said. “It’s all been just going to the range, working on that routine, working on my game, the technical aspects, the mental aspects. Then bringing it onto the course and balancing all of that with sort of learning to live on my own, plus school. Learning to live away from my parents.”
Golod knows he’s not your typical 16-year-old living in America. But being on his own this past year has forced him to grow up.
“Just trying to have fun. Trying to have a good week,” Golod said. “You can’t really think about the uncontrollables but whatever happens happens. I’m trying to stick to my routine, play three good days of golf, and then we’ll see on Sunday.”
“I tried not to think about the things that are hard. Just trying to embrace the challenge and if anything is challenging it will make me better in the future,” Golod said. “But it has been hard kinda managing everything on my own like every single thing day to day. Fortunately, all the coaches and staff that work at the academy have been able to help me with that.”
While war rages in Ukraine, Golod is finding peace on the golf course, focusing on his game. The sport has brought him around the country this past year, including to Roanoke, where he’ll be competing in the Scott Robertson Memorial tournament for the second straight year, this weekend.