By Bill Bauer
It was 1987 and in the award-winning movie Dirty Dancing, actress Jennifer Grey, as “Baby,” asks her father for money on the putting green at Kellerman’s, an upscale Catskills resort. The memorable scene was actually filmed on the signature 16th hole of the Bald Mountain golf course at Rumbling Bald on Lake Lure, a par-3 whose green is marked with a sign denoting its role in the film.
It’s now 2021 and Bald Mountain remains a spectacular setting for golf. Along with its marquee second course, Apple Valley, Rumbling Bald continues to be the go-to venue for magnificent mountain golf in North Carolina. A highly amenitized, 3,000-acre community on the northern end of Lake Lure, Rumbling Bald is current in the midst of a five-year, $8.5-million capital improvement project and the two 18-hole golf courses are reaping the benefits.
While both courses are sporting new E-Z-GO golf carts, new branded signage, bag drops, water coolers, and spacious practice areas with performance-engineered hitting mats, each has also seen major course upgrades.
In a recent conversation with Jeff Geisler, Rumbling Bald’s general manager, he pointed out that a lot of work was done on Bald Mountain, which reopened in April of this year. Tree lines were restored to their original borders on several doglegs, allowing for better shot angles, and new turf was installed on several tee boxes as well as in fairways running up to greens. The new Champion Bermuda greens that were installed on Apple Valley in March 2020 have matured and are rolling fast and true. Both new and returning golfers will be amazed at the condition and playability of Bald Mountain and Apple Valley.
“Similar but different” is the best way to describe the two championship courses, according to Adam Bowles, PGA Golf professional operations manager at Bald Mountain and Apple Valley. “They are two unique, fun, golf courses that are always in great condition with Bermuda grass from tee to green,” he says. “But they are so different that you can enjoy playing them all week and never get tired of them. The only real similarity is that you will have a great time visiting us and enjoying the entire property.”
Apple Valley catches your attention as you approach the entrance to Rumbling Bald and Bald Mountain is located within the lake’s complex, alongside the Legends on the Lake Restaurant and check in center. “While there are some flat holes on Bald Mountain it is a true mountain course with uphill and downhill holes. Apple Valley is the longer of the two and plays more difficult with wide open fairways and landing areas but undulated and tricky greens,” says Bowles.
The elder, Bald Mountain, dates back to 1968, and was designed by W.B. Lewis, a protégé of golf course architect George Cobb. “Lewis built a great mountain course that has 5 par 5s and 5 par 3s which makes it exciting with birdie and eagle opportunities but also some very tough holes,” says Bowles. At 6300 yards, Lewis’ philosophy is reflected in Bald Mountain’s playability from tee to green.
Dan Maples, son of the great designer Ellis Maples, put his signature on the Apple Valley course, which stretches to nearly 6,800 yards and features expansive views of Bald Mountain and the surrounding Lake Lure area.
“Apple Valley has to be one of Dan Maples’ finest designs,” claims Bowles who gives it a 10 for shot value and calls the back nine. “One of the best I’ve ever played.” It is definitely a course where you will hit every club in your bag and complete with risk/reward opportunities. Bowles adds, “The views at Apple Valley are more vista like and simply spectacular.”
The golf courses are only part of Rumbling Bald on Lake Lure, which takes its name from the 3,200-foot mountain, Rumbling Bald, whose towering cliffs hover above the lake. In addition to golf, the retreat offers activities and amenities for the entire family including over 150 vacation rentals, tennis, spa and salon, wellness center, swimming, boating, and hiking.
“The whole point of Rumbling Bald is to get you outside—it is to get you to the lake, to get you on a boat, to get you hiking or on our two golf courses,” says Geisler. “We’re not here to do anything other than have families connect with each other, put the phone down, forget about the emails, and enjoy what the retreat has to offer.”
Golf stay-and-play packages are numerous at Rumbling Bald and combine rounds at both courses with sparkling clean vacation rental homes, condos, and studios. Ideal for social distancing, they feature golf course and mountain views. Golfers can eat-in or grab to-go meals from Legends on the Lake, the retreat’s casual dining restaurant on Lake Lure, or grab a hearty sandwich and cold drink at Pinnacle Southern Kitchen at the Apple Valley clubhouse.
Rumbling Bald on Lake Lure
112 Mountains Blvd.
Lake Lure NC 28746
Call 828.694.3072 to book packages directly or to speak with a golf vacation planner.
– Photos courtesy Rumbling Bald on Lake Lure
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