Champion Hills, Rumbling Bald’s Apple Valley Rate Among Best Courses in N.C.

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Traveling golfers have long relished a road trip to the Tar Heel State.

And Western North Carolina is strongly represented in the latest rankings of the best golf courses in the state by the revered North Carolina Golf Panel (NCGP). And Champion Hills, a private club and residential enclave near Hendersonville, and Rumbling Bald Resort on nearby Lake Lure have joined the mix.

Champion Hills, home of Tom Fazio’s seminal “Mountain Masterpiece,” is 35th in the NCGP’s ranking of the “Top 100 Golf Courses in the State,” moving up four spots from last year’s list. Rumbling Bald, a 36-hole golf retreat on Lake Lure an hour east of Asheville, is the No. 4 golf resort in the state. Its Dan Maples-designed Apple Valley is 100th in the “Top 100 Golf Courses” and 30th in the “Top 50 Courses You Can Play.”

CHAMPION HILLS

Fazio’s former home course and club is actually Champion Hills, dating back to his relocation to North Carolina from Florida. The legendary golf course architect devised a brilliant route wending through heavily forested hills, deep ravines and cool mountain streams in a scenic Blue Ridge Mountain setting. He and his team of shapers pulled ridges into valleys and filled hollows to create “playing platforms,” providing golfers with level lies amid 350 feet of elevation change.

Apple Valley is a highly regarded mountain layout that reopened in 2020 following the installation of new Champion Bermuda greens and other agronomic and aesthetic enhancements. In the resort category, Rumbling Bald trails only Ocean Ridge Plantation (Ocean Isle), Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club (Southern Pines), and Pinehurst Resort (Pinehurst).

Founded by beloved public relations specialist Bill Hensley who passed away in 2022 at age 96, the NCGP consists of approximately 175 members from the mountains to the coast. Since its inception, it has emerged as the authoritative source of golf rankings in a state that boasts many of the country’s most highly regarded layouts. The panel’s unique composition includes media, club professionals, general managers, accomplished amateur players, prominent business figures, and others actively promoting golf in North Carolina.

APPLE VALLEY AT RUMBLING BALD

Published annually in Business North Carolina, the rankings are determined by a scoring system in which panelists consider these factors, among others: routing, design, strategy, memorability, fairness, variety and aesthetics. Panelists can vote only for courses they’ve played.

In addition to the Top 100, they also vote on the “Top 50 You Can Play,” plus the best dozen courses in each of the seven regions in the state. For 2022, there are two specialty rankings: “Best Shorter Courses” (under 6,500 yards) and “Best Resorts.” All current rankings will be posted at NCGolfPanel.com.

Shane Sharp

Shane Sharp is a longtime golf writer based in Greenville, S.C. In addition to running his content marketing business, Southbound 4, he's a regular contributor to GOLF Magazine, Golf Inc., Club Management and other golf magazines and websites.

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