Pro golfer George Bellino was Valley legend

By Steve wilaj


George Bellino’s golf career made him well-known throughout the Mahoning Valley.

“He was probably the best in terms of all-around aspects — from playing to running [Tippecanoe Country Club],” said Jonah Karzmer, a former golf professional who writes a Sunday golf column for The Vindicator. “George was top-notch on all components of being a golf professional.”

Bellino, an East High School graduate, passed away on Saturday at the age of 81 after a massive heart attack.

He was Tippecanoe Country Club’s head golf professional until his retirement in 2004 and known for many tournament wins.

“Growing up in Boardman next to Tippecanoe Country Club, George was unquestionably the golf pro of the area,” Karzmer said. “He was definitely the most well-known pro. Every time I went there, he was always super nice and always on us kids to get out to the range and practice.”

His tenure as a golf professional began in 1959. Bellino received many honors, including being inducted into the Curbstone Coaches Hall of Fame, the East High School Hall of Fame, the Northern Ohio PGA Hall of Fame and The Ohio Golf Hall of Fame.

Success in golf came early for Bellino, as he qualified for the National Caddy Tournament in 1950. Two years later as a member of the East High School golf team, he led the Golden Bears to a state championship.

After a stint in the army, he attended Ohio State University before turning professional.

From 1963-1975, Bellino was the head golf professional at Henry Stambaugh Golf Course before joining Tippecanoe Country Club. In 1980, he was named Northern Ohio PGA Club Professional Player of the Year one year after being named the Player of the Year.

He played several tournaments on the regular pro tour for a number of years, with some notable events including: qualifying for the United States Open three times; the PGA 11 times; the British Open at St. Andrews in 1970; the Canadian Open in 1971; the Senior PGA 14 times; and the United States Senior Open.

Some of Bellino’s top tournament victories included: winning the Ohio Senior Open Championship in 1987; the Erie Classic in 1976; the Youngstown Open; the Cleveland Open; the Akron Open; and the Tigertown Open. Although he never won the Ohio Open, he was runner-up three times.

Bellino also qualified for the Ohio Challenge Cup for 15 consecutive years, winning the Open Title four times. His outstanding record qualified him for the PGA Club Professional Tournament several times. He also won the Northern Ohio Championship in 1968 and 1988 and was named The Senior Player of the Year in 1986, 1988 and 1997.

Bellino leaves his wife, the former Mary Ann Wydick, and two sons — Robert and Ronald. His oldest son, Dr. Richard Bellino, died last July.

He was one of four brothers who had outstanding amateur and professional golf careers, the others being Dr. Frank Bellino, Pete Bellino and Joe Bellino.