Ukrainian junior who came to U.S. last year signs to play college golf at UNC

When Misha Golod first arrived in the U.S. after escaping his home in war-torn Ukraine in March 2022, his mother, Vita, told Golf Digest’s Joel Beall, “This is all just a dream.”

Last Wednesday, that dream continued.

Golod, now a 17-year-old senior at Windermere Prep and residing full-time in Davenport, Florida, signed his national letter of intent to play college golf at the University of North Carolina, which is considered one of the top men’s golf programs in the country.

“Coming to the U.S. a couple years ago, I mean, I didn’t consider the fact that right now I would be signing with what right now is the No. 1 college team in the country,” Golod told “It’s amazing. I’ve worked really hard to get to this point in my game, and I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved. … I couldn’t have gotten here without the support from the Leadbetter Academy, all the coaches, everybody who helped me get over to the U.S., David Leadbetter, I mean, I could not be happier right now to be signing with UNC.”

A year and a half ago, Golod, Ukraine’s top junior golfer, made the 5,000-mile journey with his mother to evacuate Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, for Orlando, where he enrolled in the David Leadbetter Academy on a full scholarship. Leadbetter was among the instrumental figures in getting Golod out of Ukraine, and he joined a large welcome party for Golod at Orlando International Aiport, where Golod landed 20 months ago.

That night, Gold gave a message to Golf Digest to relay to his many supporters: “I know I’m very lucky. I can’t say thank you to everyone who helped. Tell them I won’t let them down.”

Since that night, Golod says he’s improved in every part of his game. “Like a lot,” he added. He’s now up to 112 mph clubhead speed and 290 yards of carry with his driver, though he appreciates his new instructor, Zach Parker, for continuing to push him.

“He told me that if I want to play top collegiate golf, I have to be faster, I have to hit it farther,” Golod said.

Golod is currently ranked No. 159 in the AJGA junior rankings and No. 1,977 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He’s coming off a victory earlier this month at the Notah Begay III Junior Golf National Championship, which he also won last year along with the Sunshine State Amateur. He’s part of the Tar Heels’ ninth-ranked Class of 2024 signing class, according to, which also includes signees Ethan Paschal, Grant Roscich and Sihan Sandhu.

After taking part in his school’s signing day festivities last week, Golod headed up to Chapel Hill for a visit, and his father, Oleg, met him there. Oleg and Vita, who is supposed to visit the U.S. over the holidays, are back full-time in Ukraine, where Golod says, “Thankfully, it’s safe to be there right now.” Golod’s older sister, Vitalina, is a fifth-year senior on Sacred Heart’s tennis team.

Stanford boasts both the top class and signing of the Class of 2024’s early signing period

When he thinks back to March 2022, Golod can’t help but feel a great deal of gratitude.

“The amount of support in everything that I would ever need. … I’m just really happy that I made the decision to come over here,” Golod said. “This setup and opportunity to grow. I also learned one of biggest lessons in my life at the Leadbetter Academy in that without hard work you’re not going to really achieve anything. You have to put in the hours and the sweat.”

He adds that while signing with North Carolina is another “dream come true,” he’s not done yet.

“From here,” he states, “it’s just keep working hard, keep improving.”

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