MANUEL DE LA TORRE
Five minutes. That's the margin by which 15-year-old Manuel de la Torre, along with his mother and brother, made it out of civil-war-torn Spain and onto a ship to America. That was 1936, and Manuel's father, Angel the first Spanish golf professional was in New York awaiting his family's arrival. In contrast to that wild journey, de la Torre's five decades as a club pro have been all about consistency. Milwaukee Country Club hired him in 1951, and that's where you'll find him today . His good fortune has kept him humble, with his lesson rate of under $100 per hour ranking among the lowest of golf's top instructors. But his standing is now officially among the highest: in May 2011, his peers voted him into the World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame. De la Torre's teaching philosophy derived from that of the late Ernest Jones, whose book "Swinging Into Golf" is gospel to many teachers. De la Torre is the foremost practitioner of the Jones method, which tells golfers to use a swinging motion, not a hitting motion. Read more on Manuel De La Torre
Seymour Dunn, an American of Scottish descent who died in 1968, was an outstanding architect and teacher. As an architect, he worked primarily in upstate New York, designing courses such as Locust Hill and the Links at Lake Placid. He also built courses in Europe. As a teacher, he established the modern idea that an inclined plane from the target line through the shoulders dictated the correct manner of swinging the club. Realizing this concept might be difficult to grasp for many people, Dunn created a plane out of canvas, then cut out the center so he could stand inside it. Thus he showed how the club could simply move along the plane. Dunn visually presented this to the masses in his landmark book, "Golf Fundamentals," published in 1922. In effect, what Dunn established was an iron-clad fundamental that made teaching easier for those who came after him. All golfers have idiosyncratic aspects to their swings that don't affect the overall outcome, and teachers have to sort through them to determine which ones to ignore. But the plane, as established by Dunn, was non-negotiable. You can hit the ball with an off-plane swing, but not well enough to beat those who swing on plane.
He may be the hardest working man in golf instruction. Even in his 70s, Flick usually teaches or travels seven days a week, always up for the challenge of helping the next golfer, no matter his or her level of play. A native of Bedford, Ind., Flick began teaching in his home state and later moved to Cincinnati. In 1972 he started working in golf schools, and over the past 30 years he has taught more than 1,000 three-day programs. Since 1991, he has been the principal instructor for the Nicklaus-Flick Golf Schools , an affiliation that developed from his relationship coaching the Golden Bear himself. Besides Nicklaus, Flick has been a longtime instructor to 1996 British Open champion Tom Lehman. In all, more than 200 Tour pros have sought out Flick for advice. When not on the lesson tee, Flick is usually inspiring other instructors: He has been a speaker at more than 100 PGA and National Golf Foundation seminars. At the heart of his methods is the idea that feel is golf's soul. "Golf has been taught as an exercise in mechanics," he explains, "when in fact it is a game of feel." For Flick, this means helping golfers reduce tension and raise awareness for what the clubhead is doing during the swing. Read more on Jim Flick.
CLAUDE HARMON SR.
Born in Savannah, Ga., Harmon died in 1989. He was as accomplished as a player as he was as a teacher. He won the 1948 Masters, and he's the last club pro to have won a major championship. He famously worked at Winged Foot and Seminole. He tried to keep his lessons simple, and he had hawk-like eyes and could often spot swing faults that other teachers wouldn't notice. Harmon's close friendship with Ben Hogan was well known and helped guide his own teaching ideas. Harmon is also well known for having had four sons Bill, Butch, Craig and Dick who have all found great success as golf professionals, mainly as teachers.
Born in 1925 in England, Jacobs is the son of a golf professional. He served in the Air Force during World War II and then became an assistant professional at a club. By the early 1950s, he had started competing as a tour pro and earned a spot in the 1955 Ryder Cup (winning two matches). He won the Dutch Open and the South African Match Play in 1957. Jacobs then became the tournament director general of the European tour and was instrumental in helping to grow that tour. He captained the 1979 and '81 Ryder Cup teams. Jacobs is best known, however, for his teaching prowess. He taught droves of players from rank amateurs to top professionals, and he established one of the most successful golf schools, which now operates throughout the U.S. Jacobs's teaching ideas were based on starting with observing ball flight and then determining what a golfer did to cause that ball flight, and what might need to be corrected or modified in the swing. Jacobs wrote several instructional books, including the famous "Practical Golf" (1972), which he authored with Ken Bowden. Jacobs's influence in golf teaching is global and widespread. "There is not a teacher out there who does not owe him something," said Butch Harmon. Much of the information on Jacobs comes from the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Jones was one of a handful of instructors during the 1920s and '30s who earned a worldwide following. Until World War I, Jones was one of Great Britain's leading young players, with aspirations for a successful tournament career. But he lost one of his legs during the war. One week after returning home from the hospital, he shocked the golf world by posting a remarkable 70 at his home club. His loss turned out to be a gain for golfers everywhere as Jones focused his keen mind on teaching. In 1924, he moved from England to New York, where he taught for more than 40 years. Many of his lessons were given at an indoor studio in Manhattan, where he was based for 20 years. He was also the professional at the Women's National Golf Club on Long Island. Jones was one of the first instructors to use the media to disseminate his theories. He was a contributor for many years to the The American Golfer magazine, and he wrote two instruction books. Jones tutored Virginia Van Wie for many years, including during her stretch of three consecutive U.S. Women's Amateur Championships from 1932-34. He also worked with Glenna Collett Vare, Lawson Little and other top players of the era. Jones is best remembered for his central theme: "swing the clubhead. Read more on Ernest Jones.
The first instructor to become an international brand name, Leadbetter, an Englishman, began his career as a tour player in Europe and South Africa, but he had little success. He then turned his attention to teaching, and he made his early mark after rebuilding Nick Faldo's game in the mid-1980s. Ever since, scores of world-class players have flocked to his lesson tee, including Nick Price, Greg Norman, Ernie Els, David Frost, Scott Hoch, Mike Weir, Frank Nobilo, Se Ri Pak, Bernhard Langer and Charles Howell III. To his credit, Mr. Leadbetter's contributions to the game go far beyond his client list. He has authored numerous top-selling books, including " David Leadbetter's Lessons from the Golf Greats " and "The Fundamentals of Hogan ". He has used his considerable talent to develop many other top teachers, including Patti McGowan and Robert Baker, both members of Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers. His David Leadbetter Golf Academies dot the globe in 30 different locations , and they continue to serve as leading training grounds for golfers young and old, novice and professional. He is based at Lake Nona Golf Club in Orlando.
DAVIS LOVE, JR.
Love was one of golf's most revered teachers when he died in a plane crash in 1988 at 53. Love earned two letters in the mid 1950s on the golf team at the University of Texas, with Harvey Penick as his coach. Love was moderately successful on the PGA Tour, with one of his best finishes being a tie for sixth at the 1969 British Open. But it was as a teacher that Love distinguished himself. Drawing on lessons learned from Penick and Seymour Dunn, among others, Love had a relatively simple teaching style. It was a less-is-more presentation. Love was a lead instructor with Golf Digest's golf schools in the 1970s and '80s, but it was the tutelage of his son Davis III that motivated him more than anything. Davis III was blessed with enormous power, and his father helped the son utilize the power in proper ways. "I never saw a father-son relationship that was as good as Davis Jr. and Davis III's," Bob Toski told golf Digest in 2008.