A “piper” is a marsh bird known for walking among the shallows, but Piper Glen does not give them as much real estate as other Palmer designs, or other modern courses in the Charlotte area. Instead, the architect uses the terrain and large bunker complexes to defend against par. That said, many of the photos you’ll see from the course will be from its closing hole, a 540-yard par five that features a forced carry from the tee, with the lake remaining along the entire left side of the hole.
Palmer is not necessarily an architect associated with the template holes of C.B. Macdonald, but there seem to be some short holes that draw inspiration from the National Golf Links at Piper Glen. Is it possible that No. 8 is a daring take on the Redan, or that No. 12 is a quiet tribute to the Eden?
The course hosted the PGA Champions Home Depot Invitational for 11 years, beginning during 1990.
With its combination of great weather and gentle topography, along with its reputation as a financial services industry hub, it is no surprise that Charlotte is loaded with so many excellent golf courses. The market is competitive, though, so it can be hard to stand out. Even with almost 10 other private clubs within a few miles, TPC Piper Glen’s phenomenal layout and immaculate course conditioning produce a round that is memorable for a visitor while never boring the membership.
In my experience, Arnold Palmer designs exhibit noteworthy balance and variety. This is especially true at TPC Piper Glen, making the course nearly impossible to pigeonhole into any particular category. Some key features the player encounters include:
• Rapid, unpredictable elevation changes: Even in the first four holes at TPC Piper Glen, the holes are routed over flat land (1), straight uphill (2), uphill and then downhill (3), and back downhill (4). This variability is a preview of challenges to come, and it forces golfers to get their footing immediately.
• Deceptive, daunting bunker schemes: Many Palmer course’s pay homage to classic architects with deep sand traps whose flashing faces can totally alter the player’s depth perception and strategy of attack. Many of these hazards also sit centerline. Examples of such illusory threats can be found on six holes.
• Strategically-angled putting surfaces: With such miscellaneous shaping, TPC Piper Glen’s greens often present significant risk-reward opportunities. Frequently, the player must choose between taking the longer, safe route to a deep green versus a more direct path to the shallow side of the hole.
Perhaps the most compelling aspect of TPC Piper Glen from a competition perspective is the tempo of the round. Both nines open with strategic, yet gentle scoring opportunities. Then, bursts of tough stretches pepper themselves throughout the routing. Each nine ends on holes loaded with visually intimidating penalty areas. Players have the opportunity to ease into their round, encountering challenges that ebb and flow.
If you ever receive an invitation to play there, TPC Piper Glen is a solid option in the competitive Charlotte golf market. Whether experiencing the course for the first or fifteenth time, the player will constantly be presented with differing obstacles and options. Especially with the addition of its new greens, TPC Piper Glen will not disappoint on your next visit to the Queen City.