While temps across most of the U.S. are ideal for golf in May and June, July and August will bring heat, humidity and their not-so-distant cousins: gnats, no-see-ums and mosquitos. Golfers planning their summer sojourns often look to the mountains for a reprieve from the heat, not to mention adding a few yards to their tee shots.
In the Southeastern U.S., the Blue Ridge are the predominant mountain chain and longest segment of the Appalachians. Named for their blueish hue when viewed from a distance, this storied stretch of metamorphic rock runs from northern Georgia through the Western Carolinas, East Tennessee and the entire length of Virginia.
Their scenic hills and dales are home to vast majority of the region’s high altitude golf destinations, many boasting multiple courses and a variety of lodging types ranging from luxury hotel rooms to mountain lodges.
So when it comes time to grab the clubs and head to cooler climes, here are three must-play mountain golf getaways to check out this summer, as well as couple mountain golf communities for golfers who fall in love with the mountain lifestyle.
Rumbling Bald, the 36-hole golf retreat on North Carolina’s stunning Lake Lure is just over three hours from Knoxville and five hours from Nashville. Open year-round, this 3,000-acre golf panacea offers golf packages customized for golf groups of any size and is ideal for those looking to unplug from the hustle and bustle for a few days.
Starting at $345 per person, Rumbling Bald’s “Hole-in-One” package features a two-night stay, two rounds of golf, breakfast both days and complimentary, unlimited range balls. Lodging options include the recently updated Apple Valley Studios and two- and four-bedroom Fairway Villas.
Two contrasting, 18-hole layouts grace the property: W.B. Lewis-designed Bald Mountain and the Dan Maples-designed Apple Valley, which reopened last August with new Champion Bermuda greens. Apple Valley is Rumbling Bald’s marquee offering, stretching to nearly 6,800 yards and offering jaw-dropping views of Bald Mountain and the surrounding Lake Lure area.
Bald Mountain, at 6,300 yards, is more of a true mountain-style layout with numerous doglegs, up and downhill fairways and diminutive greens. The course is renowned for its unique configuration of five par 5s and five par 3s, as well as its par-3 16th hole, the setting for a scene in the moving Dirty Dancing. It reopened in April following a series of enhancements to tee boxes, approaches and the surrounds.
Golf packages combine rounds at both courses with 150 sparkling clean vacation rental homes, condos and studios. Ideal for social distancing, they feature golf course and mountain views. Golfers can eat-in or grab to-go meals from Legends on the Lake, the retreat’s casual dining restaurant on Lake Lure.
The highly-decorated small city of Greenville is home to Cherokee Valley Course and Club, the Upstate’s premier golf destination. Its P.B. Dye designed, mountain-style golf course and collection of on-site cottages make for an enjoyable and efficient stay-and-play experience.
With wrap-around front porches and all the comforts of home, the cottages are conveniently located just a few steps from the golf shop and first tee. Full cottage rentals start at $400 and single rooms at $130, per night (tax not included). Golf can be added for $30 or $50 all-day subject to availability.
Cherokee Valley’s routing is fascinating, and Dye effectively provides golfers multiple layouts within a single course. The first five holes are relatively flat and laid out in proximity to the brand-new golf shop and full-service restaurant, Core 450.
Holes six through eight take players right up to the base of the Glassy Mountain. Nine and 10 level off around the golf shop, restaurant and practice range, offering a brief reprieve before the 300-foot climb into Cherokee Valley’s mountainous five-hole stretch. The par-5 16th plunges back down the hill, followed by two of the toughest par 4s on the course in 17 and 18.
Ideally located 30 minutes north of bustling downtown Greenville (home to more than 100 restaurants), Cherokee Valley is the perfect basecamp for exploring the beauty and adventure of this amazing four-season corner of the Palmetto State. For those who fall in love with the cub and community, affordable memberships are available across a variety of categories.
Situated just five hours from the Washington D.C. metro area and an hour north of North Carolina’s Triad region, Primland is a boutique luxury resort in the southwestern Virginia section of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Designed by Donald Steele, the resort’s Highland Course showcases breathtaking views at every turn. This challenging-yet-fair circuit makes its way through the peaks and valleys of the Dan River Gorge and is framed by rough ridges that offer no quarter for wayward shots.
Nationally ranked by Golfweek, GOLF Magazine, and Golf Digest, its unique configuration of five par 5s and five par 3s was dictated by the land. Tee times are in 15-minute intervals to allow golfers time to soak up the serene setting and to plot a proper strategy.
The Highland Course is known for its immaculate conditions, true-rolling bentgrass greens and “core golf” experience devoid of surrounding development. It’s truly a masterful effort by Steel, whose design philosophy highlights nature and golf tradition. Check the website for the availability of select golf packages throughout the season.
Mountain Golf Living
Golfers with the freedom to live and work where they choose, or nearing retirement, are flocking to golf communities in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Champion Hills in charming Hendersonville, N.C., is a prime case in point. Situated just minutes from downtown, Champion Hills offers a
beguiling blend of luxury resale homes and custom-building lots. Its magnificent, mountain-style clubhouse sits atop one of the area’s highest points, affording members and guests unobstructed views.
For avid golfers, Champion Hills’ Tom Fazio-designed mountain masterpiece pitches and rolls through heavily forested hills, deep ravines and cool mountain streams. Fazio and his all-star team of shapers deftly pulled ridges into valleys and filled hollows to create “playing platforms” that provide golfers with level lies amid 350-feet of elevation change.
While real estate is heating up throughout the Southeast, Western Carolina, generally, and Champion Hills, specifically, offer golfers a lot of bang for the buck. Building lots typically range from .5 up to 1.5 acres, with prices from $50,000 to $300,000. Move-in ready luxury residences range from $500,000 to $2 million featuring golf course, mountain and wooded views.
In addition to its prowess as a golf destination, Rumbling Bald is also a highly-amenitized golf community homeowners have access to an onsite spa and salon, wellness center, three restaurants, beach and lakefront swimming and water activities and 125-slip gated marina. Some of the best hiking east of the Mississippi is only minutes away, and day trip options to myriad quaint Blue Ridge Mountain towns abound.
Residential offerings include single family homes and condos both on and off the golf courses. A quick check of inventory during this writing uncovered a one-bedroom condo under contract for $59,000, a fully-renovated condo for sale for 69,000 and a small selection of single-family homes in the $400s.
Rumbling Bald’s lot inventory is ample compared to neighboring communities, with most land offerings in the 0.8 to one-acre range, priced from $5,000 up to $79,000. Several lots have golf course views, while others offer lake views and direct even lake access.