OGDEN -- It was Friday the 13th and Mt. Ogden Golf Course was enveloped by dark, misty clouds. The course's back nine was eerily silent except for the steady thump, thump, thumping of raindrops on the roof of my golf cart.
It was anything but scary.
In fact, it turned out to be a perfect day.
Cut out of the foothills above the city, Mt. Ogden's hilly, tree-lined fairways can be a bit spooky for the average golfer. Since its inception in 1984, the course has developed a reputation for gobbling up lost golf balls like some sort of a hungry underworld beast.
It's true, it helps to have an extra dozen or so in the bag when playing Mt. Ogden. Shoot, in the pro shop they even refer to the used golf balls they sell as "rentals." But don't be fooled by the frightful reputation. It's a beautiful 18-hole, 6,326-yard track complete with numerous natural challenges and some incredible views.
And in recent years the course has been trimmed back in places to make it more user friendly for scratch players and high-handicappers alike.
Golfers who haven't played Mt. Ogden in a while will find it more forgiving than it once was. Take it from me, it's now much easier to find those "occasional" errant tee shots and sliced approaches.
It's still a challenge, no doubt. But with more open spaces and better sight lines it's much less likely penalize a well-struck shot.
"I think we're slowly coming out of a reputation we developed in the early 80s, from being that ball-gobbling monster," head pro Todd Brenkman said. "We have taken a lot of trees out over the years and made it a lot more playable for the average player and a lot more friendly on the miss-hits."
Brenkman points out the terrain at Mt. Ogden provides some of its biggest challenges. There are fewer trees (though it's far from barren) but the hills and odd angles still exist.
When playing Mt. Ogden, resist the urge to grab that $400 driver on every hole. As Brenkman points out, there are indeed some drivable holes, but given the terrain and angles to the green, some shots require more finesse than others.
I'm not sure if I'd ever have the guts to test it out, but I've got a theory that a golfer using only a 5-iron, a sand wedge and a putter could probably score just as well if not better than one using a full bag.
That certainly is the case on hole No. 15, my favorite on the course.
Most of the holes require a certain amount of creativity; No. 15 requires that, plus some serious thought and perhaps a good windsock.
It's a par 4, playing just 323 from the back, 256 from the middle and 242 from the forward tees. There are trees on either side and a left-hand dogleg to a mid-sized green, which is protected by a sand trap on the left.
In almost any light, it's a gorgeous little hole.
But perhaps the real beauty of No. 15 is its risk-reward value. Better players can cut the dogleg, sending their tee shots over the natural brush toward the green. If conditions are right, a well-played shot will find the putting surface and reward the golfer with an eagle putt.
And if conditions aren't right? Well, good luck ...
Average players who are less inclined to take the risk usually hit a fairway wood or even an iron off the tee, hoping to leave themselves with a good look at the green from the middle of the fairway. From there a decent approach can leave a birdie putt.
Of course not all birdie putts find their home, especially on Friday the 13th when they're being struck by a rain-soaked golfer on a soggy green. Even so, par is a good score on No. 15, and it gets even better once you retrieve your ball from the cup, step back, take a deep breath and soak in the panoramic view of the valley as the sun begins to break through the rain clouds.
That's what happened to me last week and it wasn't scary at all -- it was Mt. Ogden.
Contact reporter Jim Burton at 801-625-4265, firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jmb247.