The story of Red Ledges’ Jim McLean Golf School
History of Jim McLean and Tony Burns
Tony Burns, Red Ledges’ managing owner and developer, says that life is “all about friendships and relationships” and the history of the award-winning Jim McLean Golf School at Red Ledges is a perfect example of this. The foundation was laid for the Jim McLean Golf School back in 1987 when Tony Burns was CEO of Ryder System, Inc. in Miami, Florida. This was the year that Ryder System, Inc. began sponsoring the famous Doral Ryder Open.
The Open featured a ProAm Tournament and Tony drew Jack Nicklaus (widely considered to be the greatest golfer of all time and winner of a record 18 major championships) as his partner. Feeling the pressure of playing with a legend like Jack, Tony reached out to Jim McLean (world renowned golfer and instructor) – who was a golf instructor at Doral – for help with his game and thus their friendship began. For 14 years straight, Tony’s luck was magical as he “somehow” ended up drawing Jack’s name in the ProAm Tournament. Throughout these years, Jim and Tony developed a close friendship.
Opening the School
Years later in 2007 when Red Ledges was being developed, Tony knew that the community he was laying the foundation for was going to be about more than just building roads and houses – it would be about delivering high quality amenities and experiences. “I knew that if I wanted Red Ledges to be a winner, we needed to align ourselves with winners,” said Tony. So he talked to the three men that were the best in their respective fields – Jim McLean, Jack Nicklaus, and Cliff Drysdale. Jim McLean created the renowned Jim McLean Golf School, Jack Nicklaus designed our two beautiful golf courses, and Cliff Drysdale started our award-winning tennis program. It was clear that the decision to collaborate with these three men was the right one when at the grand sales kick-off for Red Ledges, everyone wanted to talk to Jim, Jack, and Cliff who were all in attendance.
The Jim McLean Golf School at Red Ledges started in 2009 with an open-air pergola for the building and one instructor – Jon Paupore, current head instructor and Director of Golf. In the winter of 2010, Red Ledges also opened a small indoor golf school on Main Street in Park City, where Jon taught lessons and enticed the ski crowd. As the community began to grow, Tony and Jim knew they needed to create a permanent year-round learning center on property. The building that currently houses the Jim McLean Golf School was built in 2016 and is one of the best facilities in the state. The school includes some of the best teaching technology available including two TrackMan simulators, JC Video for instruction, and body track. The school has grown and continues to develop as more people move to Red Ledges, keeping Jon Paupore and our six other certified instructors busy.
The success of the Jim McLean Golf School is part of the success of Red Ledges.
Our Teaching Philosophy
Jim McLean said that “people come back for lessons if the lessons are good,” and the number of lessons that are being taught at the Jim McLean Golf School at Red Ledges is a testament to the instructors and the philosophy.
The teaching at the school centers on what Jim calls the 25% theory, which divides the game into four different parts: the long game, the short game, the management game, and the mental game. Jim believes that to truly improve as a player, you need to be proficient in at least three out of the four areas. Most of the best players of the game are proficient in all four.
Red Ledges’ instructors teach in a way that creates a progression of improvement in your game and focuses on consistency in instruction. The same fundamentals are taught by the instructors year after year and in all the Jim McLean Golf School locations around the world. The school provides the template of instruction and then it is up to the instructors to apply it to their students – whatever their skill level may be.
All Jim McLean certified instructors go through an intense certification process that involves months of learning, training, testing, and observing. Their training continues through weekly meetings held by Jim that include all his instructors in all the locations. These weekly meetings help the instructors keep up their skills and stay on top of the trends.
The foundation of Red Ledges was built on strong relationships and to this day Red Ledges’ is proud to call Jim, Jack and Cliff friends, and an integral part of the community. Every year, Jim visits Red Ledges where he provides instructors with exceptional training techniques and hosts special clinics and lessons.
To learn more about the Jim McLean Golf School, click here.