Manuel de la Torre R.I.P.
Golf instructor extraordinaire – Manuel de la Torre – passed away this week. He was 94 and had been the Golf Professional at Milwaukee CC since 1951. In 2005, Manuel became the 12th member of the World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame … and Jim McClean said that Manuel should have been the first inductee.
Why was Mr. de la Torre such a great golf instructor? Because he passionately believed that golfers needed to learn how to use the “instrument”.
Though he could talk at length about the geometry and physics of the swing, his philosophy “was based on the knowledge of what to do with the tool that is used to propel the golf ball”.
“You don’t think about your elbow when you’re brushing your teeth,” de la Torre said in a recent interview. “And yet, you’re very successful at brushing your teeth. But in golf, people are not concerned enough with what they have to do with the club. They focus either on the body or on the ball, and neither of those things produces consistency”.
Manuel was born in Madrid, Spain – his father Angel, was Spain’s first golf professional. The family fled Spain because they were on Franco’s hit list. They landed in Chicago and Manuel won the Illinois High School Golf Championship, and finished runner-up at the 1942 NCAA Championship while at Northwestern University.
He played a little on the PGA Tour – but teaching was his passion. I went to one of his seminars in Mesa, AZ in 1977. Yes – it blew my mind. I’d been obsessed with the body movements of the golf swing – not swinging the golf club. Many years later (2010) I went to one of his lectures during the week of the PGA Show in Orlando. The room was full of serious golf instructors, and Manuel’s questions made them very uneasy. For example, he asked the room why a student would be hitting their shots “high and right”. A typical answer was “that the student was keeping too much weight on their back foot”. After more answers referring to faulty body movements, Manuel then explained the problem was an open clubface. Silence.
He taught up until he died. I hope his emphasis on learning how to use the “instrument” doesn’t die with him.
GM and Head Golf Professional