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Apple Valley Golf Course at Rumbling Bald Resort unveils spectacular new Champion Bermuda greens.

For more than a half-century, one of western North Carolina's only 36-hole golf destinations has welcomed golfers from across the region and the globe.

By Brad King

LAKE LURE, N.C. - In the early 1900s, a Missouri physician named Dr. Lucius B. Morse made his first visit to the foothills of western North Carolina. Instantly, he found himself enthralled by the beauty and therapeutic quality of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains.

Standing high atop Chimney Rock, Dr. Morse peered down upon the rolling hills and largely undeveloped land of the valley below. He envisioned a picturesque resort community constructed around a serene mountain lake.

Inspired by their younger sibling's vision, Dr. Morse's brothers provided the financial support for him to purchase 8,000 acres and bring his dream to life.

The good doctor's wife, Betty, coined the name, "Lake Lure."

Today, nestled on the north shore of Lake Lure, his vision, Rumbling Bald Resort, is named for the towering ridges and cliffs that surround this unassuming, yet charmingly enticing getaway and serve up some of the region's most dramatic scenery.

While the mountains stand tall as Rumbling Bald Resort's most significant natural feature, the lake is, unequivocally, its most appealing manufactured attraction. Spanning 27 miles of shoreline across nearly 720 acres, Lake Lure has been ranked by National Geographic as one of the world's "top 10 most beautiful man-made lakes."

Travelers worldwide visit the sprawling community to soak in the sheer beauty, as well as Rumbling Bald's southern hospitality and commitment to personalized service. The resort's numerous amenities provide all the accoutrements for everything from a once-in-a-lifetime family vacation to an epic weekend with friends; from a romantic, couples' getaway to a relaxing, ladies only spa retreat.

Rumbling Bald is secluded yet eminently accessible from myriad metro areas. Charlotte, Asheville and Raleigh, N.C., Knoxville and Nashville, Tenn., and Greenville and Spartanburg, S.C., are all between one and five hours away.

Carved into the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains, Rumbling Bald's two memorable golf courses, Apple Valley and Bald Mountain, are woven throughout shimmering mountain and lake views.

Apple Valley was designed by Dan Maples, part of the state's first family of golf. His father, Ellis, was a prolific course architect and his grandfather, Frank, was Donald Ross's superintendent at Pinehurst Resort. Apple Valley's back nine tees up expansive views of Bald Mountain and the surrounding Lake Lure area, and features one of the best closing stretches in the western Carolinas. The par-3 14th hole, with its shallow green and back bunker, is reminiscent of Augusta National's famed 12th. The captivating, downhill 15th hole is one of Apple Valley's exhilarating par 5s.

Maples estimates that about 75 percent of the shots golfers hit at Apple Valley are either level or downhill, virtually unheard of for a mountain course.

Bald Mountain, on the other hand, represents what golf aficionados consider a true mountain course. Designed by W.B. Lewis, a protégée of renowned architect George Cobb, Bald Mountain's elevation changes, particularly on the inward nine, offer a beguiling mix of uphill and downhill shots amidst a variety of doglegs and straight fairways. The 16th green on Bald Mountain is famous for serving as the backdrop of a scene from the beloved motion picture "Dirty Dancing" - one of numerous movies filmed in the area during the past half-century.

This year's biggest news around Rumbling Bald is Apple Valley's transition from Bent grass greens to smooth-rolling Champion Bermuda. After exhaustive research and testing, Champion was chosen for its superior performance profile, heat tolerance and maintainability - serving up stimpmeter speeds up to 2 feet faster than similar ultra-dwarf cultivars. Other North Carolina courses with the grass include Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, site of the 2017 PGA Championship, and famed Pinehurst No. 2, host of the 1999, 2005, 2014 and 2024 U.S. Opens.

Apple Valley's greens transition began in June, as play was shifted to Bald Mountain. The summer's ample rain and sunshine, coupled with the agronomic expertise of Director of Golf Course Maintenance Matt Lovell, allowed the popular Southern turfgrass to flourish and quickly take root.

The course's reopening in August, just three months after closing, was nothing short of miraculous. "There was a time just six months ago when we considered shuttering this project until next year," says Rumbling Bald General Manager Jeff Geisler. "But our board and golf team held fast to our commitment of improving the golf product here every year. As it turns out, the timing was perfect. With everything that's happened this year, we feel incredibly fortunate that Apple Valley reopened ahead of schedule."

Apple Valley's new Champion Bermuda greens are a gorgeous, deep green hue and feel like rolling putts on new carpet, allowing consistency from start to finish. "Golfers are going to love putting on these greens and my staff is going to enjoy taking care of them," says Lovell. "Bent grass requires more maintenance throughout the summer, from additional water to fans. With Champion Bermuda, we'll be able to focus entirely on the golfer experience."

Rumbling Bald has completed several golf-focused enhancements across both courses over the past two years, including tree removal and replanting, upgraded landscape, and new E-Z-GO golf carts equipped with USB ports, complimentary coolers and bottled water.

"Our golf courses are an invaluable amenity here at Rumbling Bald, and we've committed to providing guests with an outstanding playing surface from tee to green," says Geisler. "Dan Maples' layout and routing at Apple Valley is so pure from tee to green that smooth, true rolling Champion greens are the perfect fit."

Rumbling Bald offers golf packages combing rounds at both courses with the resort's 150 sparkling clean vacation rental homes, condos and studios. Ideal for social distancing, they feature golf course and mountain views. Golfers can grab to-go meals from Legends on the Lake, the resort's casual dining restaurant overlooking Lake Lure. At Apple Valley, Pinnacle Southern Kitchen serves hot dogs, wraps, snacks and has a full bar.

Resort guest have access to an all on-site amenities and activities, including scenic Lake Lure boat tours, boat rentals, tennis, pickleball, a full-service spa and hiking trails. Families enjoy the Trout Stream Pool and Lazy River, winding its way through the outdoor pool area where guests relax under fan-cooled covered seating. It's the perfect basecamp for exploring the natural wonders of western North Carolina and the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Led by Golf Group Sales Manager J.P. Doran, a veteran tour operator and golf packager, Rumbling Bald's expert golf vacation planners offer a concierge-level experience helping golf groups plan, organize and execute trips and events of all sizes. "Being in charge of a large golf group or even planning a trip for a foursome is challenging on many levels. Our goal is to flip the script, and make the process easy and enjoyable," says Doran. "That doesn't end when the trip is booked. We are here every step, from the first call or email until the last putts are holed out."

For more information about Rumbling Bald's golf courses and packages, visit, or email To book packages directly, or to speak with golf vacation planner, call (828) 694.3072.

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Revised: 10/09/2020 - Article Viewed 9,643 Times - View Course Profile

About: Brad King

Brad King Writer, editor and media relations specialist Brad King is a former Atlanta sports writer and editor of LINKS Magazine - The Best of Golf. After founding Brad King Communications in 2002, Brad penned the golf column for Hilton Head's Island Packet newspaper and his writing continues to be published regularly. Brad has edited and contributed to numerous book projects, He has teamed with the Southern Pines Pilot to produce award-winning coverage of the 2005 U.S. Open, 2007 U.S. Women's Open and the 2014 U.S. Open and Women's U.S. Open.

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