Maj. Mikael Dubois won the Celebrating Service: Fort Jackson Military Long Drive Championship on May 7. His victory earned him $10,000 and a berth in the open division of the 2019 Volvik World Long Drive Championship, to be held in Thackerville, Oklahoma, in September.

Dubois hit a drive of 326 yards on his final ball, defeating his 11 challengers on the greens of the Fort Jackson Golf Club. The event, staged by U.S. Army Installation Management Command, was televised live by the Golf Channel as part of a three-year agreement with event sponsors the Golf Channel and The Exchange.

Dubois' achievement capped a months-long process to find the best military long drive competitors. At 12 qualifying events held at military installations across the U.S., winners earned expenses-paid trips to the championship. Local events were open to active duty, Reserve and National Guard service members, as well as retirees.

As an Arizona Air National Guard officer who flies KC-135 refueling aircraft, Dubois recognized his fellow military members.

"It was an honor to be able to represent the service men and women who are currently deployed in such an amazing event. And to be able to represent my home unit, the 161st Air Refueling Wing, Phoenix Air National Guard," he said. "As a golfer, who just happens to hit it far, it's an awesome feeling and an accomplishment I would have never thought of in a million years."

After his victory, Dubois tied his athletic accomplishment to military readiness. "I was worn out after the full day of swinging hard, so it just reiterates the importance for me to stay in the gym." He added, "I think that physical fitness directly correlates to the battlefield in … making sure you are ready for the fight."

Surprisingly, Dubois' long drive prep did not include long hours hitting the links. He loves golf, but balances the time commitments of his job as an airline pilot and his duties as an ANG officer.

"When I'm home, I enjoy the time I have with my little kiddos and wife," he says. "The little bit of free time I have, I reserve for the gym, which I just think is important in general to stay in shape. With that said, I mainly prepared in the gym, and with being how small I am, I need all the help I can get."

Prior to the championship, Lt. Gen. Bradley A. Becker, IMCOM commander and former Fort Jackson commanding general, linked the attributes of a long drive athlete and a warfighter: "In this event, a few special Soldiers will get to demonstrate the focus, timing and discipline it takes to compete alongside the best in the world, and to showcase Fort Jackson, one of the places where we start the process of training citizens to become Soldiers."

The event also highlighted a larger Army desire to encourage healthy, resilient lifestyles in its Families and communities.

"Events like this are a great way to strengthen communities and deliver programs and services that build resiliency so Soldiers and their Families can meet the unique demands of Army life," said James "JJ" Love, chief of business and recreation for IMCOM G9 Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs.

"The Army and Fort Jackson were proud to host the World Long Drive live broadcast and showcase our talented military long drivers," Love said.

Dubois seemed to agree: "The healthy competitive nature of an event like this gets the juices flowing and is great for the mind. My favorite part [is] the morale and welfare part … If you aren't having fun you are probably not doing it right. And I had a blast!"

Having his winning drive nationally televised was certainly a career highlight for Dubois. But immediately after winning, he was on the phone with his most important audience.

"The best part of it was the FaceTime with my wife and kiddos right after I won … All my emotions set in when I saw their faces and how proud they were of me. It was so cool that they were able to watch me live on TV doing something that I love, hitting the golf ball far."