By all accounts, 2020 was an exciting year for golf at Rumbling Bald and across the U.S. Amid a global pandemic, golf’s popularity soared to heights not reached since Tiger Woods’ emergence on the scene in the early 2000s.
In keeping with Rumbling Bald’s long-term vision for enhancing the golf experience, Apple Valley closed for three months over the summer for the installation of new Champion Bermuda greens. When the Dan Maples designed layout reopened on Aug. 24, 2020, the overwhelmingly positive feedback from golfers made it all worthwhile.
Now, it’s Bald Mountain’s turn to shine. The storied W.B. Lewis design closed temporarily on February 1 for a series of enhancements to beautify its surroundings, increase overall playability and restore original shot values.
We sat down with Rumbling Bald’s longtime Golf Operations Manager Adam Bowles to talk about what golfers can expect when our favorite mountain-style layout opens this spring.
Q: Ok, first the question that’s on most golfers’ minds, when is Bald Mountain going to reopen?
A: We’re aiming for April 1 and the true start of the spring golf season. Projects like this are somewhat fluid due to the weather and other considerations, but we’re confident Bald Mountain will reopen on or close to that Thursday.
Q: Apple Valley improvements in 2020 centered on the greens. What can you tell us about the changes golfers can expect at Bald Mountain?
A: The Bald Mountain project is more far-ranging. Tree canopy coverage will be reduced throughout the course allowing for more sunlight to penetrate areas around tee boxes and green complexes. On several dogleg holes, tree lines will be restored to their original borders, giving golfers more options on approach shots into greens.
Golfers shouldn’t have to curve their shots around trees in fairways, that’s a tall task. We’re bringing the fun back to Bald Mountain and I’m a big proponent of golf being enjoyable. New turf will also be installed on several tee boxes and in fairways running up to green complexes. Over time, different types of grasses invade and encroach on the turf grass. The changes are primarily aesthetic but will also have a major impact on playability.
Q: What does this mean for the golf “pecking order” at Rumbling Bald? Will Bald Mountain be on par with Apple Valley?
A: From a design standpoint, and as a true test of golf, Apple Valley is our marquee course. But there was a time when play was split about 50-50 between the two courses and we expect that to be the case moving forward. Bald Mountain is loved by so many people. Some people around here grew up playing it and others just love mountain golf. We’re excited to give golfers a fresh look at the course they enjoy so much.
Bald Mountain is a blast to play and has so much character. Where else can you find five par 3s, five par 5s and a scene from the movie Dirty Dancing [the 16th green]? Whether you’ve played it before or are playing it for the 100th time, you’re going to feel like you’re playing a new golf course. Our goal at Rumbling Bald is to give golfers two contrasting but cool golf experiences they won’t soon forget.
Q: There is a sense of “newness” going around at Rumbling Bald right now, including a brand-new website with new logo and images. Can you tell us more about that?
A: Golfers playing either course will encounter new branded signage throughout all 36 holes, at both clubhouses and around the entire 3,000-plus acre Blue Ridge Mountain retreat. Apple Valley and Bald Mountain are sporting new E-Z-GO cart fleets, bag drop areas and water coolers, and both practice ranges have brand-new performance-engineered mats and spacious hitting bays. Overall, we’re committed to making Rumbling Bald the best 36-hole retreat in Western North Carolina.