The options for fun and entertainment at Rumbling Bald Resort on Lake Lure stretch as far and wide as the blue waters which surround this golf and vacation destination.
Start with 36 holes: the Apple Valley and Bald Mountain championship courses that offer two distinctly different layouts but similar feels for challenge, playability and the visual pleasures produced by the surrounding water, foliage and mountains.
Settled at the foothills of the western North Carolina mountains in Hickory Nut Gorge, Lake Lure is a little more than two hours from Winston-Salem.
And Rumbling Bald, named after the 2,800-foot mountain that looms over the resort, offers much more for pre- or post-round golfers or those who don’t bring clubs during a getaway.
Lake Lure, a 736-acre, semi-private body of water that features 27 miles of shoreline, offers a sandy beach, boat rentals and cruises along with all other standard lake fare.
A full service spa and salon will pamper and relax guests with massages, facials, nail and skin care and other salon treatments.
The Lakeview Restaurant offers the type of scenery suggested in the name, and the nearby town of Lake Lure has lots of options from casual to elegant dining.
Rumbling Bald lodging includes more than 200 choices ranging from studio efficiencies, motor coach sites, golf course condos and luxurious private homes.
And just minutes away is Chimney Rock State Park, one of the state’s top tourist attractions in addition to the surrounding Chimney Rock village, which is dominated by craft shops and restaurants.
The golf courses are a mile apart but seem further away when you recognize the differences in the two layouts.
Apple Valley is a Dan Maples design that sets its 18-hole tone from the start at the short par-4 first hole.
From an elevated tee, there’s a wide fairway that allows some spraying with the driver, featuring huge, deep fairway bunkers left and right to frame the hole and more sand on both sides of the green.
Those are characteristics that play throughout the valley where the course gets its name – ample fairways on virtually every par-4 and par-5, but stray too far from the short grass and you will find likely a bunker either on the drive or approach shot.
A couple of par-4s, Nos. 5 and 12, have split fairways bisected by water, allowing players generous room and options off the tee.
The downhill par-3 8th hole may be the most scenic, a carry over a pond with a fountain and a dramatic, gorgeous view of the mountains in the background.
The back nine that has the hint of a links layout on several holes begins with the unique par-4 10th, which features a lone, large pine tree in the middle of another wide fairway, and the only option is to go left or right of the obstruction to avoid being stymied off the tee.
Apple Valley closes strongly with an all-carry par-3 17th hole over water and sand, and the par-5 18th which doglegs left and has water all the way down the right side.
An elevated green is protected by water and bunkers which creates a tight landing area for second or third shots.
Jess Lewis of Tryon left Apple Valley with a smile after a tap-in birdie on the closing hole after nearly chipping in for eagle.
“I love a golf course that gives you some room to miss,” he said. “Some of these fairways you would almost have to try to miss they are so wide, but if you just try and blast it off the tee there are enough bunkers out there to make you pay.”
Bald Mountain is a W.B. Lewis design that also sits down in a valley and provides a constant view of the surrounding mountains.
A shot-maker’s course, Bald Mountain provides an interesting contrast of relatively flat holes that can provide birdie opportunities and several reminders that there is some mountain golf by the lake.
The severe downhill par-3 fourth hole is protected by a pond in front and begins a stretch of elevation changes in which holes play both downhill and up.
The front and back nine close with similar flat par-5s that run parallel and can be had with two long shots off the tee and from the fairway.
No. 9 is an absolutely straight shot from tee to the green, while No. 18 slightly doglegs left to the home hole.
The back nine features the par-3 15th hole over water made famous from a scene from the popular movie “Dirty Dancing.”
“That was cool, to play the hole where they shot that movie,” said Austin Hines of Knoxville, Tenn. “(Bald Mountain) started out pretty flat and easy, and all of sudden it tightened up and a whole lot of trees and water started getting in the way.”
A recent visit to Rumbling Bald found both courses in excellent shape and busy with players.
Neither course is an easy walk, with some long cart rides between holes on a couple of occasions.
“All 36 holes are extremely aesthetically pleasing to the eye, with some fabulous scenery,” said Art Colasanti, Rumbling Bald’s director of golf.
“One of the great offerings here is that we have two really separate and distinctly different courses.
“Apple Valley is a very fair course, with some very wide fairways and large greens. It’s very enjoyable to look at and play.
“Bald Mountain is a little more narrow and shorter, and you can hit several different clubs off the tee. Both are very picturesque.”
Bryce Newman of Charlotte recently played both courses on a weekend trip with golfing buddies and left very impressed.
“There’s a lot of variety in the two courses, but we had a blast playing both of them,” he said. “There’s really a lot to do in Lake Lure. You think it’s a small community, and it is a good place to get away and chill, but you can find plenty to get into without looking too hard.”
If resort golf that’s not too taxing and allows some Army golf (left, right) is your preference, Apple Valley is the pick.
The lower handicaps looking for more of a push may want to tackle Bald Mountain, but you better bring your accurate clubs.
Best bet is to make a weekend or longer vacation of the visit and enjoy both courses while soaking in all that Rumbling Bald Resort and Lake Lure have to offer.
For more information: Call 1-800-419-3854 or visit rumblingbaldresort.com.