Colombian golf legend Julio Bell, 52, plays 56 over for 36 holes on Tour
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Colombian golf legend Julio Bell, 52, plays 56 over for 36 holes on Tour

You couldn't be criticized for not knowing the name of Julio Bell, who was in the field for this week's Club Colombia Championship on the Tour.

Bell is 52 years old, and he doesn't have a place in the Official World Golf Ranking. He doesn't play on any major tour, or even a significant developmental tour. However, Bell managed to snag one of the few unrestricted sponsor exemptions into the event at Bogota Country Club.

Over the course of two rounds, Bell, who is known as "The Machine" or "La Maquina," shot 93, then 105 for a two-round total of 56-over 198. How in the hell did Bell, then, get into this event if he hadn't a prayer of making the cut even if only his best nine holes out of the 36 he played counted?

No Laying Up's Tron Carter tweeted he was getting information to suggest Bell had bought his way into the tournament. Maybe so. Maybe not. But Julio Bell is a rich man. He has a number of Colombian businesses, and he's got more than enough money to buy his way inside the ropes.

How he got in the field is a bit of a mystery, but Bell's journey to the Tour is a fascinating journey from Colombia to Florida and back to Colombia.

Julio Bell spent his childhood loving boxing, training first to be a prize fighter -- that's how he got the Machine moniker -- and later to be a blue belt in karate. After service in the military, he moved to Bogota and got back into fighting before he realized it was no longer for him. All the while, he developed a business in furniture and textiles which he turned into a good fortune. He met and married his wife, Olga.

On Feb. 22, 2013, Julio thought he was heading to a lunch in another part of town, when Olga drove him past the local public golf course, Briceño. According to El Espectador, they went to the course and met the head pro in an arrangement already set up by Olga, unbeknownst to Julio. They worked on some putting and a few basic skills. Bell was hooked, and he told his wife that night he, at 48, would take up golf with the goal of playing on PGA Tour Champions by the time he was 55. He bought all the apparel to look the part, and he showed up at Briceño the next day, drawing laughter from the head pro, who preached patience.

In six months, Bell had made tremendous progress and traveled to Argentina to see what he could learn about Angel Cabrera and his path to two major wins. There he learned about training coach Joey Diovisalvi, who works with, among others, Dustin Johnson. Bell was told that he could make the most progress toward his goal by moving to Florida to be around top teachers and trainers like Joey D.

So, as a man with means and businesses on auto-pilot, he moved to Florida to train with Joey D. That simple. Now living in a home near Disney World in Orlando, he gets up each day, works out, hits the range and plays 18.

In 2015, he played a number of Golf Channel Am Tour events. His best score was 91 at MetroWest Golf Club. His worst was 110 at Reunion Resort's Nicklaus Course. Last May, he played in one Am Tour event, shooting 87 on May 6 at Tranquilo Golf Club, formerly Disney's Osprey Ridge.

He says he's improved from an 18 index to a 1. Obviously that didn't show up in his scores this week.

Bell has formed a business, dubbed La Maquina, around getting better, designed to make a charitable impact, too.

"The Machine pays taxes; it is legally registered in the United States," Bell said to El Espectador. "It is also a social work, because we support foundations for children with cancer and that is why they invite us to play pro-ams."

Bell has taken some razzing for his ambition, and he'll probably get hammered for his performance, but he's committed to his goal.

"Although they laugh at me...I will repeat it a thousand times: I will play a US Senior Open."

About the author


Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for over a decade, working for NBC Sports, Golf Channel, Yahoo Sports and SB Nation. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He used to be a good golfer.

Ballengee can be reached by email at ryan[at]

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