PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA (AP) — Mykhailo “Misha” Golod, 15, and his mother arrived in Orlando, Florida, on Friday evening, after a four-day trek to flee war-torn Ukraine.
According to a Golf Digest story published last week, Golod and his family were hiding in the basement of their Kyiv home as Russian troops approached the capital when golf instructor David Leadbetter contacted him via email with a plan to bring him to the United States and enroll him in the Leadbetter Academy.
“It was a harrowing experience,” Leadbetter said on Saturday. “On the route to the border, they had to pass through military checkpoints. The Russians are now headed west, and [Golod] believes they would not have gotten away if they had delayed a week or two.”
Golod, together with his mother and father, escaped west to Hungary and crossed the Hungarian border on Thursday. From there, Golod and his mother went to London before continuing on to Florida. His father was not allowed to leave Ukraine because he is of fighting age.
It took 4 days and they traveled 5,000 miles but Misha and his mom have safely made it to the US 🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/j56AqNX8av
— Joel Beall (@JoelMBeall) March 12, 2022
Following weeks of uncertainty since the Russian invasion, Leadbetter said Golod was looking forward to coming back to the range on Saturday. The Russian military had taken over Golod’s home course and was using it as an encampment, according to Golod.
Golod, whose mother was scheduled to return to Ukraine on Monday, will live with one of Leadbetter’s helpers and continue to take online classes while at the Leadbetter Academy.
“Talking with him was a dream come true. He mentioned returning to Ukraine and establishing a school, as well as helping with the youth program,” Leadbetter stated. “It’s pretty impressive that most kids his age desire to turn pro and win majors.”
A fundraising page has been set up to aid Golod’s travels, and Leadbetter hopes that the funds will be used to assist other Ukrainian juniors fleeing the conflict.