It’s a green ribbon for everyone who is feeling blue.
Vernon professional golfer Brady Stead lost a family member to suicide in October 2018. He’s lost friends to mental illness and seen a lot of people suffer with it.
Nor is Stead exempt. He’s battled the illness at times.
After the family member’s death, Stead decided he could no longer sit idly by as people suffered. He decided then to throw a green ribbon onto his golf hat.
Since that day, Stead, 26, who has competed the past two years as a professional in the United Kingdom on the European Challenge and PGA Europe Tours, wears the ribbon every time he tees it up.
He’s launched a GoFundMe campaign under the name #GreenForEveryoneBlue which has a dual purpose. Half the funds raised, Stead will donate to mental health charities. The other half will be used for his goal of reaching the PGA Tour.
“Every year, professional golfers like me begin fundraising for their season to pay for entry fees, travel costs, lodging, etc,” said Stead, home in Vernon for a visit with his parents. “Quite often, the costs are staggering. This year, I’m going to fundraise differently. I want to help others as well.
“I’ve seen first hand how raising awareness can help people who are suffering to find the courage to seek help. I’ve had people reach out to me to tell their story and say thank you; people who I never would have guessed suffer from this health condition. That’s the thing about mental illnesses; you can’t always see them. And that’s why we need to do everything we can to tackle the problem.”
Throw in not being able to go outside and work on his game because of COVID-19, and cancelling tour events which is how he makes his living, and Stead’s anxiety amps up a few levels.
“Obviously it’s been challenging as there is so much uncertainty,” he said. “You don’t ever know what’s coming next. It can be overwhelming. But put things in perspective: by staying home you’re helping others. And that’s hard when you want to get going. A lot of people are struggling with that.”
As a golfer, there’s a lot of pressure. A missed fairway, an ill-advised shot into the water or a missed short putt for par can be the difference between making the cut and playing for cash or going home empty-handed.
Stead is reminded by his mom, who grew up around horses, not to get “ring sour.”
“A lot of the pressure, I put on myself. Mom tells me when a horse is overworked, it doesn’t perform well or gets ring sour. She tells me not to get ring sour,” laughed Stead. “I try not to overwork myself before a tournament.”
Mom was rewarded on Mother’s Day with a four-pound rainbow trout grilled up for dinner, caught by Stead on a fishing excursion to Shuswap Lake.
Stead will be getting out this week with longtime friend and former Vernon junior golf rival Brad Jones of the Vernon Golf and Country Club to work on his game. Stead will listen intently as Jones has a way of seeing some things in his game that Stead needs to tweak.
His plans for the summer are to stay in Canada and play events on the Vancouver and Mackenzie Golf Tours, but only if safe to do so. Stead wants to compete to be sharp and ready for tour qualifying schools later in the year.
Since turning pro, Stead twice lost in playoffs on the Vancouver Tour and the PGA of BC championship and has finished third three times.
His highlight of 2019 was taking part in the British Open Championship’s regional qualifying event for a spot in the Open field. Stead lead after 17 holes of the 36-hole event, but a mistake on the 18th of Round 1 cost him dearly. He tied for eighth.
“That proved to myself I belonged out there with those guys,” said Stead, who played with two-time tour winner Julian Suri of the U.S. “It was a great experience.”
A former club champion at Spallumcheen, Vernon Golf Club junior champ and two-time Vernon City Champion, Stead attended Camosun College in Victoria, helping the Chargers win the 2015 CCAA national championship. He was an all-Canadian that year, a Pacwest Conference All-Star and Pacwest Conference Player of the Year.
Stead is hoping a local company or organization would like to partner up in his mental health campaign. He can be reached through his own website, bradystead.com, for more information.
He also invites others to wear a green ribbon on their golf hats in support of the campaign.