Manuel de la Torre, the longtime head pro at Milwaukee Country Club and a much-decorated teaching pro, died Sunday in Mequon, Wisconsin. He was 94.
De la Torre, a member of the World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame, was the first recipient of the PGA of America’s Teacher of the Year Award, in 1986. His students included World Golf Hall of Famer Carol Mann and 1973 Masters champion Tommy Aaron.
“All of us at the PGA of America are saddened by the passing of Manuel de la Torre, our first PGA Teacher of the Year, and one of the most respected golf professionals in our Association’s history,” said PGA president Derek Sprague. “His lifelong study and understanding of the golf swing translated into transforming players from the high-handicapper to a Hall of Famer. Manuel never asked for the attention, but those students fortunate to have come under his wing walked away forever changed and inspired.”
De la Torre’s father, Angel, was head pro at the Real Club de la Puerta de Hierro in Madrid and a five-time Spanish national champion. He became friends with English pro Ernest Jones, who lost his right leg while serving in World War I. Jones’ “swing the clubhead” concept made a great impression on Angel, and subsequently Manuel, who made it the foundation of his long teaching career.
De la Torre was also a fine player. He was runner-up in the 1942 NCAA Championship while attending Northwestern University. He also won five Wisconsin State Opens, five Wisconsin PGA Championships, the 1973 National Open Seniors Classic and the 1987 Wisconsin PGA Senior Championship.
He is survived by his daughter, Lynn; grandson, Ryan Gill; granddaughters Carrie Gill, Jamie Gill and Stephanie Junker; and great grandchildren, Bryanna, Caleb and Addison.