Rumbling Bald’s Apple Valley Golf Course Review
Apple Valley at Rumbling Bald on Lake Lure
Teachers’ Comments: A nice mountain resort course
That I played Apple Valley in a rainstorm in mid-March and still thoroughly enjoyed myself speaks both to the quality of the design, and to the care with which the course is maintained.
The photo at top shows the twelfth as I played. The one below shows Apple Valley’s twelfth in high summer.
It looks like quite the contrast, but real golfers know that brown is not a bad thing, and the measure is in whether the fairways are evenly covered and the greens run true. Even in the off season, my balls found favorable lies on the fairways, traps that were playable and greens that let the balls roll smoothly.
Kudos to the maintenance crews.
As befits a resort course, Rumbling Bald’s Apple Valley offers a challenge, but will not beat up the bogey golfer (provided they are playing from the correct tees). Play from tee to green is relatively straightforward (although not usually straight). There were no hidden dangers and it was always clear what I needed to do (even if I could not pull it off)
That’s good for a resort course, where people might play just once or twice.
The greens at Apple Valley also were what I would call resort style. They were generous in size, relatively flat and only moderately difficult. Again, this is a good thing for a resort course, where players likely will not have the opportunity to develop intimate local knowledge.
You still need to execute the putts, though. Moderately difficult doesn’t mean that they are gimmies.
Interest at Apple Valley comes from elevation changes (all but three of which are downhill in a clever bit of routing) and from creeks and ponds that define the edges of and sometimes interrupt the fairways.
The short par four eleventh is a good example of both. From an elevated tee, the first shot must be carefully measured. The ball must go far enough to enable a player to lob a high shot into the green, but not far enough to roll into the pond. It is a good hole for a fairway metal or iron off the tee.
Rumbling Bald’s Apple Valley golf course reminded me very much of a couple of the Boyne courses in Northern Michigan. It has dramatic vistas off the tees, tree lined fairways, interesting elevation changes and a classic sharply downhill par 3. I felt right at home.
Of all the holes, thirteen was my favorite. This uphill par three was beautifully framed by a mountain backdrop and by trees around the greens.
The landing zone off the tee is generous, but the hole tightens toward the green. There’s a large fairway bunker on the right, but shots really need to play away from that to the left side. From that left side, it’s a straight, slightly uphill line to the green.
Apple Valley was designed by course architect Dan Maples, a native of Pinehurst. Maples is part of a long line of North Carolina golf architects and superintendents. His grandfather, Frank Maples, was superintendent and construction engineer for Donald Ross in his work in the Sandhills. Dan’s father, Ellis Maples, designed more than 70 courses in his architectural career.
Dan Maples likely is best known for his work on Myrtle Beach’s Grand Strand.
From the back tees, Apple Valley stretches to 6, 756 yard and plays to a 70.9/135. Other tees are at:
I think Rumbling Bald would be a great place for Midwesterners to visit in March, April or May when they just can’t take any more winter. As I write this in Mid April, it is snowing here in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It is a pleasant 69 degrees at Rumbling Bald on Lake Lure.
Yes, the grass is dormant in March, but there were quite a few people out playing. By the end of my round, the parking lot outside the clubhouse was very busy and the warmup driving range packed.
There also is a second course at Rumbling Bald on Lake Lure — Bald Mountain. I did not have the opportunity to play that one. Bald Mountain’s sixteenth green was the backdrop for a scene from the movie Dirty Dancing.
There are also some neat nearby Lake Lure attractions that you can read about at the link.
The Apple Valley golf course review was published April 15, 2021, based on photos and notes taken on a round played March 28, 2021. For all of GolfBlogger’s Golf Course reviews, follow the link.
A photo tour of the Apple Valley course at Rumbling Bald on Lake Lure follows. I have included photos of the course as I played in mid-March, as well as stock photos of the course in summer.