Nate Ingram (second from left) with just a few of his many supporters at the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund banquet. Boomer Erick (left) of Boston Golf Club and Dan and Kari O'Donnell with their daughter, Regan.
Mar 27, 2024

Nate Ingram's story tugs at your heart; his line of supporters put you in awe

In which world would you discover people with unyielding compassion to answer calls for support, even if they didn’t know you that well?

In which world would you find mentors and role models to make repairs to much of an adolescence that had been stolen and compromised?

Nate Ingram was where no child should be. “I was born into chaos.”

There were parents who separated when he was 7, a mother who got custody, but abused alcohol, drugs, and Nate. “She lacked critical life skills,” he said.

And when finally some stability entered his life and he was able to live with his father, John Ingram, in Pembroke, Mass., a move that brought structure, Nate was able to experience beautiful things in life. “Because of him, that was the key moment of going one way or another,” said Nate.

Entrenched at Boston College High School, Nate was happy. His golf produced wonderful results – an AJGA title and a Massachusetts High School Championship with coach Chris Hayes’ unflappable guidance.

Then, unfathomable heartache interrupted. John Ingram died on Oct. 12, 2019 after a grueling fight against squamous cell carcinoma.

“My world,” said Nate, then 18, “flipped upside down and I was fighting off everything in my head.”

But because there is a beautiful corner of the world where you’ll find people who won’t let others fight alone, where those with the means to help will do so unconditionally, the Nate Ingram story doesn’t just tug at your heart. It implores you to applaud this young’s man’s strength and character, yes. But then it demands you stop and give thanks to that world which might revolve around a game but it is so intertwined with life at so many levels.

We’re talking the golf world.

“It is a culture,” said Nate. “It is a world that opened up a whole group of people who did wonderful things for me.”

There are a parade of heroes in this story, many of them having come to light thanks to the remarkable night of March 21. That evening, a crowd of nearly 1,500 benefactors and supporters of the Francis Ouimet Scholarship Fund heard from a student speaker who poured out his heart and oozed with immense character.

Nate Ingram told his story “because I’m not scared of it anymore . . . I want to show that great things happen to kids who work hard.”

Consider the pain that Nate Ingram felt when his father died in 2019, then remind yourself of what soon followed – the pandemic and all the isolation it spread. “He was just floating,” said Ryan Richards, Nate’s half-brother who is 10 years older and definitely relates to the despair that was the mother they shared.

With John Ingram gone, Nate needed a place to live. Richards opened his home in Plymouth, Mass., and in Cohasset, Mass., where Nate’s best friend and BC High teammate, Jack O’Donnell, lived, another loving home was offered by Dan and Kari O’Donnell.

The parade of people who love golf and never hesitate to say yes steamrolled. Boston Golf Club in Hingham, Mass., where the O’Donnells are members and where Nate often went as Jack’s guest, stepped up. Not only could Nate use the facilities to polish his game, “but we gave him (working) opportunities and he ran with them,” said Boomer Erick, the club’s Director of Golf.

Nate caddied, worked outside ops, did whatever was asked of him. In short time his infectious personality endeared him to members who made sure more doors would open.

It wasn't just that Nate Ingram had a compelling story. It was his willingness to stand before a room of 1,500 people and tell it that left people in awe.

Having played competitively for years on the Challenge Cup, a junior golf circuit with a loyal following, Nate was well known to Dave Adamonis Jr., who has been devoted to this endeavor for nearly 40 years. Without hesitation, Adamonis called University of Rhode Island golf coach Gregg Burke and pitched Ingram, not so much for the young man’s golf (which was very good) but for his impressive comportment (which is off the charts). Burke, to his credit, saw all the upside to Ingram, who after a gap year, entered URI in the fall of 2020.

Enter the Ouimet component (Ingram was provided a scholarship). Mix in an unheralded member of BGC, Brian Murphy, who coordinated additional financial support for Ingram. Then consider a sounding board with the wisdom of Kari O’Donnell.

“I know I’m a hard-working kid,” said Nate. “But I can be hard on myself and there are times when I’ve wondered why all this great stuff was happening to me. It’s crazy. It’s probably not the ‘Imposter Syndrome,’ but it’s sometimes hard for me to understand why so many people have done so much for me.”

And what did his confidant say?

“Mrs. O’Donnell told me that it’s a testament to me.”

Brilliant woman, Kari O’Donnell, and Amen to her assessment. Amen, also, to a big picture that Dan O’Donnell painted beautifully when his words were included in a touching video shown the night of the Ouimet dinner. (Here is a link – – to the video.)

“It’s amazing that Nate has been able to harness all the help he’s gotten from the golf communities – at URI, at Boston Golf Club, at the Ouimet. To harness all that, take advantage of it and not mis-step . . . it’s Nate’s awesome journey.”

Awesome, indeed, but it hasn’t been without its bumps and bruises. What speaks to Nate Ingram’s impeccable integrity is his willingness to take ownership. “I’ve screwed up and I’ve made bad decisions,” he said. “But it was 100 percent important for me to start making my own decisions.”

The choice to leave the URI golf team after his sophomore year is a prime example. “I know I might have disappointed some people. I know not everyone agrees with my decisions, but it was my decision and I’ve lived with it,” said Nate.

The flip side of that picture is vintage Nate. It was painful to quit, but it opened up his summers for quality internships that have helped mold his future (after graduating in May he has a job with a private equity firm in Newport, R.I.). More importantly, “it opened me up to a whole host of groups (to help him deal with parts of his life).”

Asked if he could have stood up in front of 1,500 people five years ago and told his life story, Nate Ingram said, “No, absolutely not. I was a different person; I’ve changed developmentally.”

In awe of the support he’s received and overwhelmed by the doors that have been opened, Nate Ingram left an audience of 1,500 speechless, until it was time for all to rise and offer a standing ovation.

“He’s honest. He’s full of integrity,” said Richards. “He knows what it’s like to not come from much and to have a lot of opportunity, he’s certainly not going to fall short of that.”

A long line of supporters would second that sentiment. And Kari O’Donnell is correct, Nate. This is all a testament to you.