Francisco Grande Golf Course

Duane Roepke, 79, of Casa Grande drained his fourth career hole-in-one at Francisco Grande, pictured above, in late April.

CASA GRANDE — Duane Roepke turns 80 years old this month, but he still golfs all the time. And he’s been known to sink a hole-in-one or two — or more.

In late April, the Casa Grande resident sank another hole-in-one at Francisco Grande, a course he first began playing in 2006. But this one was especially significant. There are four par-3 holes on the course, and Roepke had previously drained holes-in-one on three of those four holes.

The most recent hole-in-one completed the cycle, as he finally accomplished the feat on the one par-3 hole he had yet to conquer with one shot.

“I have a hole-in-one on each of the par-3s at Francisco Grande,” he said in a phone interview.

The hole that vexed him for so many years was the 13th. With all the unlucky and foreboding baggage that number carries with it, maybe that’s no surprise.

The main issue was Roepke had trouble reaching the green on No. 13. He said he would always come up short and to the right. His son, also an avid golfer, suggested he use “a little more club” than he was used to on that hole.

Roepke said he used a “No. 4 rescue club” on the 13th hole, which he said is about 176 yards. It worked to perfection on that occasion, resulting in what he called a “pretty neat” achievement.

But Roepke won’t sit and tell you that it’s all about his high level of skill on the golf course.

“It’s pure luck is what it is,” he said. “To have it go in the hole that many times is pure luck.”

Examples of that luck include him banging his shot off a palm tree into the hole — an unintentional ricochet — and another time during inclement weather, he couldn’t even see the flag. He gave it his best guess on hole location and swung away.

He has achieved holes-in-one on other golf courses as well. The first one, he said, came at a golf course in Kansas just five weeks after he first started playing golf.

In 1975, Roepke began playing golf at the age of 33. His father-in-law told him he could have a set of his clubs if he would actually use them.

That began a lifelong love affair with the game, one that he has largely shared with his son and has helped forge an even stronger bond in their relationship.

Roepke said he’s been retired for about 20 years. He began his career as an electrician and then owned his own business before working for ADP, an architectural engineering firm in Tucson.

He lived in Tucson, San Diego, Albuquerque and Chandler before settling in Casa Grande in 2006.

Retirement does not mean sitting around for Roepke. He plays golf five days a week. He said the key to staying in good shape as one advances into older age is simple — be active in any way possible. He suggested people put their energy into a hobby — preferably golf or some other active pursuit — and stick with it.

Roepke sees plenty of people similar to his age who sit on the couch all day and don’t have activities planned. He said they look to him like the zombies on the TV show “The Walking Dead.”

“Have a purpose in life,” he said. “Don’t just sit around and turn into a prune. Get out and do something.”


Brian Wright is the sports editor at PinalCentral. He can be reached at