Mikael Dubois – winner of the Military Division at the Exchange Celebrating Service: Fort Jackson event in May – was uncertain of whether he’d even be able to compete in the World Long Drive Championship this week.
With an exemption into the field set in stone courtesy of his 326-yard drive on his eighth and final ball in the Military Division final, the question really came down to timing and logistics working in his favor. Dubois returned home to the United States earlier this week, following a deployment to Afghanistan with the Arizona National Guard.
His deployment was originally scheduled to coincide with this week’s world championship, but after winning in May, Dubois was able to trade with another member of his unit. Despite seemingly clearing the only obstacle keeping him from competing, Dubois’ trip home resulted in multiple unexpected plane changes and delays due to maintenance issues.
“We were riding back with the Topeka, Kansas guys and got to Spain, and that jet broke,” said Dubois. “Luckily, there was another jet on the ramp that was also from Kansas, so we sprinted over there, and they were nice enough to give us a ride. So we flew the 10 hour flight to Kansas and then our jets were going to come pick us up from Phoenix, but they broke, so we were going to have to fly commercial. But with our luggage, you can’t really do that, so fortunately a few Southwest pilots went about eight hours out of their way to come pick us up.”
As much as competing in the World Championship weighed on his mind, Dubois’ primary focus upon returning from deployment was the opportunity to reconnect with his kids.
“Any time you get back from a deployment and look down the ramp and see the kiddos and wife down there, that feeling is hard to explain,” said Dubois. “I spent some time with them and soaked it in, then flew out here Thursday morning with my wife. My parents [also] drove up and a couple of friends showed up today and surprised me. So today was pretty amazing.”
Dubois’ wife, Kara, was able to make the trip to Oklahoma to see her husband compete in person, after she and their two kids watched Dubois win in May at Fort Jackson live on Golf Channel.
“It was quite an experience,” Kara said. “The kids and I were on the sofa, and I was shaking and the kids were glued to their dad on TV. It was amazing to see a lifelong dream of his that came true. It was really cool to watch him experience it and the venue with all the soldiers there probably made it just a little bit more special.”
While Dubois failed to advance out of the preliminary round of 96, the experience was one he won’t forget.
“Competing and meeting all of these guys and coming back from a deployment was great,” said Dubois. “For me, basically rolling out of a jet on the wrong side of the clock, I did better than I thought I was going to do. My goal was to be on the grid, and I did that well. Maybe with a little more practice, I can get a few more yards.”
Even though Dubois didn’t advance, it won’t be his last time on the World Long Drive circuit, as he plans to return not only for the military division competition in 2020, but also has plans to compete in the Open Division at World Long Drive tour events.
“From the day I met him, this has been his passion,” said Kara. “To watch him follow it and be able to participate and be a competitor, I support it 100%. I’m very excited for him.”