Staff Sgt. Ian Milne's path to becoming the Army's top golfer
By RODD BAXLEY | The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. | Published: August 23, 2018
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (Tribune News Service) — Staff Sgt. Ian Milne never imagined he would be in this situation.
Milne, a 36-year-old Florida native and soldier within the 83rd Civil Affairs Battalion at Fort Bragg, will be representing the Army and the nation next week at the World Military Golf Championship in Germany.
“It’s going to be like, ‘Wow, how did I end up here?’ The path has been pretty cool,” said Milne, who won individual honors in the All-Army trials in July and proceeded to win the overall Armed Forces tournament to help him secure a spot on Team USA.
"It’s pretty cool to go play golf competitively with the rest of the world’s military that is sacrificing for their country.”
The tournament, organized by the International Military Sports Council, will bring together top golfers from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines to compete against the rest of the world in a stroke-play event.
“I definitely want to win individually, but I want the team to win, too,” Milne said. “It’d be nice to win individually, but mainly it’s about getting Team USA the win.”
Milne’s journey started in Deland, Florida. As a youngster, he played more basketball than golf.
That all changed once he joined the Army in 2000, which brought him to Fort Bragg. Because "it gave him something to do," Milne honed his golf skills for four years and caught the attention of former Fayetteville State golf coach Raymond McDougal.
“I got really competitive and I ended up getting a golf scholarship,” he said.
During his tenure, McDougal led the Broncos to 15 CIAA titles and six PGA National Minority Division II titles. Milne had a part in helping to secure some of the trophies.
“We won a lot of those,” Milne said with a laugh.
“In golf, it’s all on you. I really like that and it’s a good way to compete in things. When I got to Fayetteville State, I was a good player but there are a lot of things you learn after playing four years of college. The big difference I saw was mentally. You learn how to handle your golf game better and college golf kind of prepares you for that.”
After an All-American career with the Broncos ended in 2008, Milne took a job at Stryker Golf Course as an assistant to Jeff Johnson, who has been the head golf professional at the course for 14 years and counting.
Milne won a couple of sectional events and even qualified for the Web.com Tour’s Rex Hospital Open in Raleigh, but decided to rejoin the Army in 2011 to better provide for his two children – Caleb and Cadence – and his wife Megan.
Aiming to “look for something more,” Milne went on to become a civil affairs specialist, which took him to El Paso, Texas before a return to Fort Bragg in 2016.
All the while, he was balancing the life of a family man, solider and golfer.
And he was still winning tournaments.
Johnson has been impressed with Milne’s accomplishments on the course considering the obligations of a solider.
“I think he might be the best golfer in the area that no one has heard of,” Johnson said.
“Ian ranks right up there. He’s top notch. He’s such a talented player; he just kind of needs a sounding board. What impresses me the most is his consistent ball striking. He very seldom misses a shot.”
Johnson added that he’s “very proud” of Milne, who is representing not only the nation, but Cumberland County, Fort Bragg and Stryker Golf Course.
“That’s a huge feather in our cap. It’s nice to know that we have the best Army golfer right now and the best all-services golfer here at Fort Bragg,” he said.
“I’m proud to call him a friend. It’s outstanding what he’s accomplished and it’s about time he’s been recognized.“
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