It was a bittersweet moment when Mykhailo â€˜Mishaâ€™ Golod stepped off the plane at Orlando International Airport on Friday, March 11.
But his arrival in the US â€“ while it assured his safety â€“ came at a price.
His mother would soon return to Ukraine to be with his dad, who had to remain due to martial law, and his grandparents. Although Golod thinks his grandparents and mother will travel to the US, heâ€™s unsure when heâ€™ll next see his father, Oleg.
Although he appreciates his safety, having the majority of his family back in Ukraine in the midst of Russiaâ€™s invasion of the country has weighed heavily on him.
â€œItâ€™s very devastating, but thankfully, they all have Wi-Fi and a source of internet, food, water, and I can still talk to them and make sure theyâ€™re safe,â€ he told CNNâ€™s Jim Sciutto. â€œAnd I know that once everything is over, Iâ€™ll definitely bring them here to be with me.â€
Golod added: â€œMy father will only be able to leave once the martial law ends. And otherwise, heâ€™ll have to stay in there and weâ€™ll hope for the best.â€
Following Russiaâ€™s invasion of Ukraine, Golod and his family did what many other Ukrainians did and bunkered down in Kyiv with the hopes it would all be over soon.
Golod told CNN that he spent a week and a half in the Russian â€œbombardmentâ€ of Ukraineâ€™s capital because the â€œexplosions were not that close to our house.â€
â€œButâ€¦ the moment we knew that the bombardment was in our town, we knew we had to leave and get me out and then my parents would come back to get their parents out,â€ he explained.
And it was Golodâ€™s ties to golf that offered him a way into the US.
The 15-year-old is one of the best young golfers in Ukraine and has participated in competitions around the world.
Just last year, Golod became the first Ukrainian to compete in the United States Golf Associationâ€™s (USGA) US Junior Amateur, which took place at the Country Club of North Carolina last summer.
After a grueling 5,000-mile journey, which began in a car and ended when he landed in Orlando, taking approximately 54 hours, it was a visa he had obtained from playing in a tournament in the US which helped him re-enter the country.
And safely in the US, Golod condemned what is happening back in his homeland.
â€œSomething thatâ€™s happening in Ukraine should not be happening in the middle of Europe in the 21st century,â€ he said. â€œKids are losing their homes, theyâ€™re dying, theyâ€™re losing their lives.
â€œAnd itâ€™s devastating, and people should know the truth because thereâ€™s a lot of fake news going around. But in reality, whatâ€™s happening is the whole countryâ€™s being destroyed. Itâ€™s not demilitarization or denationalization, itâ€™s actually being destroyed by (Vladimir) Putin, and it has to be stopped.â€
When he was still in Kyiv, Golodâ€™s plight began to be circulated widely on the internet after an interview with Golf Digest highlighted his and his familyâ€™s dire situation.
And the interview led to members of the golfing community galvanizing to try and help his situation.
Jim Nugent, board member at the American Junior Golf Association, and golf instructor David Leadbetter began the process of providing aid.
Nugent told CNN Sport that reading about Golodâ€™s story â€œplayed to my soul a little bitâ€ which is why he and Leadbetter offered their help.
â€œAnd so I called (Leadbetter) and we talked about it and he said: â€˜Well, weâ€™ve got to do something about this.â€™ And I said: â€˜What do you have in mind?â€™ He said: â€˜Weâ€™ll get him out of Ukraine. Weâ€™ll get him into my academy in Orlando, Florida, and Iâ€™ll get him in school and heâ€™ll begin a new life,â€™â€ Nugent explained, saying at first he thought the plan was â€œa bit farfetched.â€
And so, they set about doing what they could to help Golod and his family with their journey.
Nugent explains that he spent time on the phone getting financial commitments from the USGA and the Country Club of North Carolina to aid his journey from Ukraine.
He also started a fundraising page to allow people to donate to Golodâ€™s cause. At the time of writing, the page has almost raised $35,000.
Seeing this outpouring of support â€œmeans the worldâ€ to Golod, says Nugent.
â€œI donâ€™t know that itâ€™s fair to say that weâ€™ve saved a life, but certainly the arc of his life has been changed forever more,â€ Nugent explained to CNN Sport.
â€œFor me, itâ€™s just reaffirmation of something that I think is absolute. And that is in times of need, this game, this golfing community, as you just referred to, always steps up; it always has, and it always will. And this is just in my mind reaffirmation of that very absolute fact.â€
Having arrived in the US, Golod spent his first few days acclimatizing, organizing a phone, bank account and other necessities for life in a foreign country.
His mother, Vita, helped with getting her son settled in before traveling back to be with her husband a few days later.
Leadbetter and his golf academy have provided accommodation for Golod, with the young golfer staying with his assistant as he continues to adapt to life in the US.
Although he is unsure about his long-term future in the US, Golod says he will go to college in the country after finishing the final years of high school there.
And Nugent believes that Golodâ€™s skill with a golf club will help him and his future in the US.
â€œLeadbetter has seen him swing and says this kid has real potential,â€ he explained. â€œAnd so I think the goal is going to be to try and use his ability to hopefully go to college in America and play golf. I donâ€™t know if that means a big-time college school or if youâ€™re talking something smaller or more modest.
â€œBut he does appear to have enough skill to earn some form of financial aid, financial scholarship for an American college. And so, I think thatâ€™s going to be the goal.â€
Golodâ€™s life has been turned upside down with his move across the world.
But attempts are being made to make his time in the US as enjoyable as possible given the situation.
After the PGA Tour read about Golodâ€™s story, they organized for the young golfer to travel to the Players Championship â€“ one of its marquee events â€“ for the final day of play on Monday, March 14.
During his time at the event, Golod met some of the sportâ€™s biggest players, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and even managed to walk with some groups inside the ropes, offering him an unimpeded view of the highest level of golf.
Golod described it as â€œthe best day of his life.â€
But it didnâ€™t stop there. Nugent explained that Golod was lent a set of golf clubs â€“ because â€œhis still havenâ€™t arrived,â€ according to Nugent â€“ and actually played the famous TPC Sawgrass course.
Going through what he has is unimaginable for most, and while heâ€™s safe, his family is never far from his thoughts.
â€œIâ€™m very thankful for everyone that contributed to me being here and itâ€™s great that I can continue to pursue my goals academically and athletically. But at the same time, itâ€™s very, very nerve-wracking having my whole family back in Ukraine.â€