At Trumbull, it’s a golf pro homecoming

By Jordan Boitnott

Greatest Golfer staff


Golf season has begun, and this year, Trumbull Country Club’s 6,288-yard, par 70 course will be overseen by a new golf staff, and it’s kind of a homecoming of sorts.

Dominic Chiarella will be leading the team as the Head Professional. Alongside him will be Lead Assistant Golf Professional and Director of Instruction Andy Santor. They will be aided by Assistant Professional Emily Heikkila.


Chiarella, who last served as the Lead Assistant Golf Professional at The Country Club in Pepper Pike, Ohio, said it’s good to be back home.


“Yeah, I mean this was always the plan. My wife and I live in Champion with our two kids, and being this close to home is nice,” he said.


Chiarella’s route to becoming a Head Pro is different than most. Unlike many others, he didn’t golf in high school or college.

“I played football in both high school and college, so I have a different background,” he said. “I (golfed) with my dad on the weekends and played with my friends. When my college football career was over, I wanted something to be competitive in, and have fun. After college, I started working at courses. It grew from working outside on a grounds crew, to working inside, to becoming a golf professional.”


As a golf professional, Chiarella thinks golf is in a great position as a sport, and COVID-19 has played a huge part in that.


“It’s definitely grown,” he said. “In the past three years, part of that stood to the people having more free time and not being able to travel as much. People are enjoying getting outside and playing. It’s our job to kind of set the whole look to keep them involved and engaged.”


Not only does Chiarella think golf is in a great place, he thinks the Trumbull Country Club is as well.


“It’s a great private country club,” he said. “They have a great membership that loves to play golf and it shows in the growth and health of the club. Cory (Pagliarini) has done a great job growing the membership in the past three to four years he’s been here. Nick (Province) the superintendent is fantastic. He and his staff have the course in great condition all year long. They keep the greens fast and the fairways tight. It is a great course to be involved in.”

Santor is a very familiar name coming to Trumbull. He’s well known for qualifying for the Ohio Cup three times, USGA Public Links National Tournament and a load of other tournaments as a player. He also received the 2018 Teacher of the Year Award from the Northern Ohio PGA. After spending many years at Mill Creek Golf Course, he worked the last few at also The Country Club in Pepper Pike. He’s excited to be back in the area.


“I was at Mill Creek for a long time,” he said. “I just felt like from a career standpoint, I needed to make a change. It was a little over an hour commute. We weren’t going to move up there. I’m at the point in my life where I’m kind of on the back nine, so it just made sense. It was an easy decision to come back.”


Santor’s advice to young golfers is to get into competitive golf as much as possible to grow your game. Along with that, he feels technology has changed the game in a lot of ways since he began playing competitively.


“When I grew up, we were taught not to swing so hard,” he said. “Now, you’re taught to generate as much club head speed as possible and worry about getting your swing down after that. I think part of that is that the heads have a larger sweet spot today and the balls aren’t as hard to get in the air as they used to be.”


Heikkila’s name also rings some bells in the valley as her family owned the Vienna Short Holes Golf Course. She has been golfing since she was 9 and played for Tiffin University’s golf team. After her playing career, she served as the PGA Works Fellow for the Northern Ohio PGA.


Not only has the professional staff undergone some changes, but so has the course.

Currently, the club is working on a new cart path. They are also updating their carts with 2022 Luxury Club Cars. These are among many projects that will cost the club nearly $600,000.