The 2019 Military Long Drive Championship (MLDC) is comprised of divisions of long-drive qualifier competition offered to the military, sanctioned by World Long Drive Association (WLDA).
On April 27, Fort Bragg garrison golfers were welcomed to Stryker Golf Course, for a new level in competition, at the Military Long Drive qualifier.
The MLDC is a qualifying event for Exchange Celebrating Service: Fort Jackson, that consists of one-day competitions taking place at 12 varying Army installation golf courses across the U.S. The winners from each installation advance to the inaugural Celebrating Service event at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.
In a joint effort between the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (Exchange) and Fort Bragg Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (FMWR), with the support of corporate sponsors, the MLDC qualifying event is open to active-duty service members, Reserve, National Guard, Coast Guard and retired members of all branches. Competitors have to be at least 18 years old with valid identification.
“We have approximately 16 golfers competing today,” said Bill Shoffner, general manager of Fort Bragg/Seymour Exchange. “The Exchange, working alongside FMWR, are honored by this opportunity and hopes it grows. One of the missions is to provide an educational opportunity for the military community to learn more about the Exchange’s lifelong, tax-free online shopping benefit for all honorably discharged veterans, and how the Department of Defense has given this privilege.”
Jeff Johnson, director of golf for both Stryker and Ryder golf courses, expressed his enthusiasm for the rebirth of an estimated seven-year absence of military long drive competition on post.
The competition’s return also brought new opportunity for service members to advance to a televised, long drive, championship-level competition, beyond their installation.
“We are excited for the event and for everyone who has gotten behind it, including The Golf Channel and the World Long Drive Association,” Johnson said. “It is pretty cool that Soldiers get the opportunity to advance and hit side-by-side with some of the longest drivers in the world.”
Positioned at hole 10 of the 18-hole course on-post, the objective of long-drive competition is to hit the ball to a maximum distance down the fairway, between official flag markers. Golfers are allotted eight balls to drive per individual entry, and with several officials tracking and logging the distances, competition remained focused for the four-hour time-cap, through final elimination.
“Our hope here is to see more faces from the local community, and beyond, in championship competition on-post, such as the Fort Bragg Invitation,” Johnson said. “I would be thrilled to have them come out and show us what they got.”
The top three finishers of the garrison military long-drive competition received installation accolades and gift certificates for 2019. These top three finishers in order respectably were Navy 1st Lt. Johny Kozlowski, with a distance of 369 yards; Marine Cpl. Parker Rominger, with a distance of 344 yards; and Army Staff Sgt. Carlos Zuniga, with a distance of 332 yards.
Kozlowski, the first place finisher of the qualifier competition, will advance to the Exchange Celebrating Service: Fort Jackson event, sponsored by The Golf Channel, May 5 through 7, with a chance to win $10,000 in prize money and an invitation to the 2019 Volvik World Long Drive.