OGDEN -- The clubhouse at the El Monte golf course is neither spacious, luxurious or particularly modern.
And that's the point.
Much of El Monte's charm comes from its connection to the past, which is significant considering it's one of the oldest courses in the state. The course itself -- a hilly, tree-lined nine-hole track on Ogden's east side -- is a great place to spend a few hours. Its clubhouse, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is indeed a must-see.
"The clubhouse was built in 1934 and it was a WPA project, one of the New Deal programs, as several buildings in Ogden were," said Todd Brenkman, director of golf at El Monte and Mt. Ogden. "The stone was all hand-quarried down by the Ogden River. The archways are really unique around the building. It's one of only 13 golf course clubhouses around the country to have that designation."
Brenkman happily points out that El Monte is joined on that list by such major championship-hosting national treasures as Oakmont Country Club (in Oakmont, Pa.) and Merion Golf Club (in Ardmore, Pa.).
"Oakmont and Merion are on that same list with little El Monte, the nine-hole golf course," he said proudly.
There is plenty of history inside the El Monte clubhouse, both inside and out. Of course there are the collectors items and little mementos from days gone by but there is also the sense a visitor gets from simply walking around in the footsteps of golfing legends, both local and national.
"The one thing about El Monte, a lot of the game's best players -- at least in this area -- all came out of this place," Brenkman said. "This and the Ogden Country Club back in the day were all you had. There were a lot of very good players that honed their games here."
El Monte isn't a bad place to hone a golf game. Of course there are larger and more challenging places to tee it up, but few places provide the same combination of history, charm and playability.
Each of the nine holes has its own unique feel but the signature spot is hole No. 1, the only par 5.
Anyone who has ever played it knows No. 1 by the giant trees in the middle of the fairway. The look from the elevated tee is incredible, with the mountains in the background and those trees in front.
"People that have played it one time always remember it," Brenkman said. "It's a very unique hole with two huge cottonwood trees, which you've got to step up and hit the shot over it, around it, under it or accept your fate."
Hitting over them certainly isn't an impossible requirement, though they can be distracting. More than a few golf balls have been knocked down and scattered along the fairway; others have miraculously found their way underneath the branches.
Brenkman insists a few have never come down.
Indeed, No. 1 is listed as a par 5 on the scorecard but golfers who aren't careful -- or are simply unlucky -- have walked away with 7s, 8s 9s and higher.
I hesitate to mention this, but what the heck? True story: I once took a 14 there and felt somewhat fortunate it wasn't worse.
Granted, it was a rainy and somewhat cold autumn afternoon, so the conditions were hardly optimal. But an errant tee shot ended up in the pond down the right side, nowhere near those big trees in the fairway. A few more shots rattled around in the trees that divide the first and ninth fairways. Add a few soggy chunks and three or four putts and, sure enough, it added up to a pair of touchdowns and a couple extra points.
Sure, 14 is a big, embarrassing number even for a hole as challenging as No. 1 at El Monte.
But, c'mon, it's not historic.
Contact reporter Jim Burton at 801-625-4265, firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @jmb247.