By David Droschak
It’s fitting golf course architect Dan Maples spent some quality time with his legendary father Ellis Maples during the designing of Apple Valley at Rumbling Bald Resort, considering generations of families have for decades enjoyed special moments at the mountain retreat along with its splendid scenery and countless recreational offerings.
The elder Maples enjoyed nothing more than walking his layouts during the construction phase, but failing health in the early 1980s prevented that from happening. So son Dan improvised, bulldozing a path so the two could drive through the proposed golf course property together.
“Dad used to always tell me that walking is a slower pace and you can see more things,” Dan Maples said. “I remember taking him around Apple Valley in a Wagonaire because it was the first course that he didn’t get to walk.”
A slower pace at the Lake Lure resort is contagious, with a stunning lake and beach, along with 36 holes of golf just the beginning of all the activities available for families to enjoy during the spring, summer and fall months.
“I was thinking that maybe we should change the national symbol from the bald eagle to a squirrel because we’re all scurrying around all the time, running here and running there,” said Rumbling Bald Resort general manager Jeff Geisler, . “Part of our brain simply needs to shut down. The idea of smoking a cigar and watching the smoke billow up, that ability to kind of disconnect is a vibrant part of who we are. Rumbling Bald Resort is the antidote for all of that. The whole point of this resort 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. We want you to reconnect with the things that make us human.”
At less than 6,300 yards, the Bald Mountain course was designed in 1968 by William B. Lewis, and features five par-5s and five pars 3s to create a unique golfing experience in the shadows of a stoned-faced mountain. A scene from the movie Dirty Dancing was filmed on the 16th hole so make sure to bring your camera to capture this scenic photo opportunity.
Remember, leave your driver in the bag on some of the shorter, tree-lined holes, while putts tend to break toward Bald Mountain on these small greens.
More than a decade later the two Maples designed Apple Valley, one of the better mountain courses in the state.
“A second golf course at the resort made perfect sense because they have new people coming every week, which is great for golf course business,” Maples said. “What daddy and I liked about it was there was enough flat land to where you could get a golf course in. I’ve looked at 6,000 acres before in the mountains, and sure I could put a golf course in there for about $10-$15 million if you blast out enough rock you can build anything.”
Apple Valley measures close to 6,800 yards and water comes into play on 12 of the 18 holes but is not overbearing. Some of the apple trees from a large grove for which the course is named remains along the left side of the first hole.
“I remember producing a golf shot analysis on Apple Valley to see what kind of golf course it was going to be and 75 percent of the shots were either level or downhill, which is a lot of hang time — and everybody loves hang time so we always thought it would be a pretty popular golf course,” Dan Maples said. “So, three-quarters of it played downhill, which is kind of unheard of in the mountains.”
Rumbling Bald Resort on Lake Lure is modestly priced, offering condo rentals along the golf courses and house rentals that wind their way into the mountain setting.
“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 resort has to offer,” Geisler said.
Rumbling Bald Resort on Lake Lure is located in Rutherford County, which is also home to nearby Chimney Rock State Park. One little known fact about the county includes the minting of the first $1 gold coin in the United States in 1831.
“We can’t turn the clock back on TV; we can’t turn the clock back on digital age — not that we want to be because they have created so many wonderful things – but we’ve lost in a large way our ability to connect with the things that are most important,” added Geisler. “I hope people come to Rumbling Bald Resort on Lake Lure and just have time to sit on a chair outside of your house or condo and stare out into the forest and think about nothing. If you do that we’ve succeeded.”