Manuel de la Torre: Simplicity Counts

Manuel De La Torre was one of the all time greats at teaching the game of golf. A “pro’s pro” as they say. Born in Spain, to that country’s first teaching professional, de la Torre was a standout college golfer at Northwestern before joining his father as an assistant at Lake Shore Country Club near Chicago. He began teaching at Milwaukee Country Club in 1948 and never left. He would go on to mentor thousands of players –amateur and professional – along with hundreds of teachers. He died at age 94 on April 24.

I personally never got the opportunity to meet Mr. de la Torre, but have studied his philosophies in great detail. He came to Chequamegon Bay Golf Club to give a clinic when the golf course expanded to 18 holes. I was told from folks who attended that it was a cold Ashland day, yet de la Torre put on a great clinic. For my column this week, I’d like to remember one of the all time great golf instructors by including some of his greatest quotes. They are filled with simple ideas and simple concepts that still resonate today. Enjoy:

“Swing the entire club (not just the clubhead) with the arms from the end of the backswing to the finish of the swing.”

“If I asked you to draw an apple, you’d keep an image of an apple in your head until you finished drawing. In golf, you have to visualize the club going directly toward the target while you’re actually doing it. That’s far more important than visualizing the ball going to the target. If you visualize what the club must do, the mind takes care of the mechanics that get the ball there.”

“Your only concern in holding the golf club is to do just that: Hold it with a constant attitude and allow the natural reactions of the swing to take place without interference on your part.”

“My teaching is based on what I learned from Ernest Jones. It’s simply learning to use the tool – the club – correctly. If you allow the swing to happen, it will happen correctly. The hips don’t hit the ball. The shoulders don’t hit the ball. The hands don’t hit it. The club does. Ernest Jones was teaching this in 1920, and it’s just as true now.”

“The golf swing is such a simple movement and we humans complicate it to such an extent the it does not work. Our movement in the golf swing is essentially the same as many other everyday motions – the only difference is that in golf we do it with an implement called a golf club.”

“Do you shop? Do you make a list of all the things you don’t want to buy? Of course not, but that’s the way people play golf. They stand over a shot thinking about all the things they don’t want to do, instead of focusing on what they want to do.”

-Matthew Lindberg, PGA