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Two aces reward lifetime of golf

Joe Sepic, 98, of St. Petersburg now has two holes-in-one at Cypress Links Golf Course.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Joe Sepic, 98, of St. Petersburg now has two holes-in-one at Cypress Links Golf Course.

PINELLAS PARK

Joe Sepic started playing golf when he was 12. He was a caddie at a few golf courses in the Wildwood, Pa., area outside of Pittsburgh and would play for free on Mondays.

That was in 1929.

He has played pretty much every week since then. But in thousands of rounds of golf over a span of 82 years, Sepic never had a hole-in-one.

That finally changed on March 13, 2012, when he aced the second hole at Cypress Links Golf Course in St. Petersburg at age 94. It did not take him another 82 years to get a second ace.

Playing the same hole on Dec. 8, Sepic used a 3-wood from 115 yards. He admits the shot wasn't a thing of beauty.

"It rolled up there the whole way," he said.

But it rolled right into the hole. A second ace on the same hole, this time as a 98-year-old.

"You could see the ball rolling and then it hit the flag," Sepic said. "I thought it bounced off the flag and rolled somewhere. But I walked up to the hole, and there's my ball. You just never know."

Sepic has lived in the Mainlands of Tamarac for the past 20 years. When he first moved to Florida, he said he played as much golf as he could. Now he plays two days a week, Tuesdays in a nine-hole league at Cypress Links and Fridays in an 18-hole league at Mainlands.

At his peak, Sepic was a 6-handicap golfer. He now carries an 11 handicap at the par-27 Cypress Links. The day he aced the second hole, Sepic shot 36. His best score this past year is 30.

Even though he is 98, Sepic refuses to hit from the gold tees, which are reserved for senior golfers. He still hits from the white tees like his fellow league members. While he doesn't hit it as far as he used to, his short game is still stellar.

"His chipping and putting is incredible," said Stuart Hoff, who runs the Cypress Links and Mainlands leagues. "Everybody in our league talks about how they wish they could chip and putt like Joe."

Sepic, born on Aug. 8, 1917, attended Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon) in Pittsburgh. He was cut from the school's golf team. He tried to enlist in the Army but was not accepted because of a heart murmur.

"The doctor said there was nothing you can do about it. Just keep living for as long as you can," Sepic said.

"Well, here I am."

After graduation he went to work as a mechanical engineer for the Curtiss-Wright Corp. in Caldwell, N.J. He mainly developed steel propellers for airplanes and retired to the Tampa Bay area when he was 62.

"Some people want to keep working," Sepic said. "Well, I didn't want to keep working. I wanted to retire and play golf. And I've played loads of golf."

He plans to continue playing as long as he can. Until five years ago, when he injured his left ankle, Sepic never took a cart. His ankle is fine, he says, but his doctor has strongly suggested that he continue riding in a cart. While he would rather walk, if he has to take a cart, so be it. It's going to take more than a sore ankle to keep Sepic off the course.

"I get a kick out of going out there," he said.

Hoff said that is obvious.

"He's like a little kid when he comes over to check for his tee time," he said. "His eyes get real big because it's almost golf time."

Sepic will have to take a week off from the week before Christmas. He is traveling to South Carolina to visit his son and daughter, as well as his 13 grandchildren and great grandchildren.

He will resume playing when he returns.

Sepic's goal now is to be the oldest player to ever record a hole-in-one. That record currently belongs to a player in Sarasota, who got an ace last year at the age of 103.

"Hopefully, it won't take me another 90 years to get another one," Sepic said.

Contact Rodney Page at rpage@tampabay.com. Follow @RodneyHomeTeam.

Two aces reward lifetime of golf 12/15/15 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 15, 2015 5:18pm]
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