El Monte – the English translation is the mountain. They got it right! As you view the course from the clubhouse on the hill, the Wasatch Mountains are all you see. Speaking of the clubhouse – it is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. This beautiful building was a project of the Works Progress Administration and built during the Great Depression. Even if you are not a golfer, if you’re driving through the beautiful Ogden Canyon, it is worth a stop to see the building and the view from the clubhouse.
As you slowly make your way down the hill from the clubhouse to Hole #1, the view continues to be fantastic. Not only are the mountains looming large in the background, two giant cottonwood trees stand tall in the middle of the fairway. Jim, who was working the clubhouse today, said a strong, young fellow like myself playing from the white tees should have no problem clearing those cottonwoods. First of all, Jim needs his eyes checked (strong? young?); second, I hit what felt like a good drive that cleared the first tree but found the second. Once you pass the trees, take time to view the wonderful scenic landscape of this opening hole. My bogey allowed me to spend some extra time here. I’ll take that score on this par 5, 529 yard number one handicap hole.
Hole #2 is a straight par 4 with a wide fairway and no big cottonwoods rising in the middle of the fairway (they are off to the sides). The green disappears from view as you move down the middle of the fairway. Depending on the length of your drive, you may have a blind shot to an elevated green. Hole #3 is a 340 yard, par 4, with a slight dogleg to the right. Throttle back on your tee shot or you could drive it through the fairway. It is a good risk/reward hole. If you try to cut too much off the dogleg, the trees can give you trouble; if you take the safer route to the left, a longer approach with El Monte Springs Creek to carry could be an issue.
The first par 3 comes at the fourth hole. The only danger at this hole is being long. Behind the green is water and overgrown vegetation. The green is very undulating and slopes from back to front. A word to the wise – be short. The views to the east and north of the Wasatch Mountains are outstanding but as we were at about the halfway point, another sight was very welcome to the senior golfer at Hole #5 – a permanent, clean bathroom. At this brief stop, I pondered what club to choose. It’s a short, straight par 4 but the fairway is densely packed with trees from the tee box to the green. You can easily lose your tee shot O.B. both left and right, however, there is a little more room down the fairway to the right. What club can you keep in play?
No worm-burners at the par 3, sixth hole. You need to carry El Monte Springs Creek again to make a three possible. Hole #7 is a dogleg right par 4 of 305 yards. For anyone trying to cut the dogleg there is a tree and pond to thwart your plan, but it would be fun to try if you have the length – I don’t. With a road and out-of-bounds to the left and pond to the right, a shot down the middle will work just fine – duh!
At Hole #8 the historic clubhouse comes into view. The road continue to the left, but it is wide open to the right. So tee it up and let it fly! Everyone should be able to find this fairway. For anyone who may skull their approach shot, there is a pond behind the green awaiting any of those bad swings. I know what you are thinking – I did not find the pond. The finishing ninth hole is a short (299 yards), uphill par 4 to an elevated green. The green is small, so you are looking for a drive that leaves a short iron approach.
Rating – Ace: Now this is what I call a hidden gem. I am so glad we made this stop on our way from Colorado to Oregon. The course and staff are fantastic. After your round, stroll through this historic clubhouse and then pull up a stool at the small diner-style eating area. If you are in the Salt Lake City area, I would recommend traveling north to visit Ogden. Besides this course you have a wide variety of hiking and biking trails, camping areas, and water for fishing and boating.
1300 Valley Drive, Ogden, UT 84401; 801-629-0694; www.ogdencity.com