This laidback Oregon resort boasts top-notch golf — complete with goat caddies

Jack Hirsh and Kyle Koziol with their goat caddie Harry.

At Silvies Valley Ranch, you're treated to high-end food, dynamite golf, a relaxing getaway and, of course, goat caddies.

Jack Hirsh/GOLF

Short golf courses at destination golf resorts are all the rage these days. Silvies Valley Ranch is no exception.

But while most short courses are of the par-3 or nine-hole variety and usually require only a Sunday bag and a few clubs for a relaxing round, you’ll want to take a caddie at Silvies’ seven-hole McVeigh’s Gauntlet.

Our caddie, though, was stubborn and shockingly baaaaaaaaad at recommending the right club, despite multiple previous loops around the course. But that’s only because our caddie was a goat. Seriously.

We met our looper, Harry Houdini, at his caddie shack (a.k.a. pen), a short cart ride up from the main resort part of the working ranch in Eastern Oregon’s high desert. There, Harry’s handler, Baker, one of the ranch hands at Silvies who does a number of jobs all over the sprawling 150,000-acre property, saddled Harry up with a custom-designed Seamus Golf pack that allows him to carry eight golf clubs, tees balls and even a few beverages.

Knowing we were in for a challenge, my friend Kyle and I loaded up Harry’s twin golf bags with a split set of our own clubs, only repeating our putters to give us the most options.

And boy did we need it. The first four holes at the Gauntlet jump from hilltop to hilltop with 50-foot chasms in between. There are no bridges either. It was the hardest walk of any golf course I’ve ever seen — and it’s only seven holes.

The first hole is straight uphill to a tiny green you can’t see. Given the difficult terrain, the greens aren’t cut super fast like the big course, which was running well above 10 on the stimpmeter during our early October visit. But, with the severe slope on McVeigh’s, you wouldn’t want them fast. The course is hard enough.

You miss that green, the only way you find your ball is if it ends up next to the grass your caddie chomps on.

Jack Hirsh and Kyle Koziol with their goat caddie Harry.
We were in for an adventure with Harry on the bag. Jack Hirsh/GOLF

The second hole plays across a chasm from the first green, and while it’s only about 140 yards, you better make sure to hit the green and grab your putter quickly. It took Baker a good bit of effort to get a stubborn Harry down into the valley and then back up to the green.

But otherwise, Harry kept up with us for most of the afternoon. He even joined us for a cold beer from the cooler that’s left on the tee of the bonus hole between the third and fourth holes. (No, he didn’t actually have a drink). The bonus hole was quite a challenge too, as it’s played over a long skinny green that goes across a ridge to the next tee.

The fifth hole — where Harry took the liberty of relieving himself while we were hitting tee shots — has one of the best views on the property. It’s an elevated tee that provides panoramic views of the ranch that sits in a valley encircled by the Malheur National Forrest. It’s about three hours from both Bend, Ore., and Bosie, Idaho, the two closest major airports.

A view from a high point at Silvies Valley Ranch.
A view from a high point at Silvies Valley Ranch. Jack Hirsh/GOLF

During our stay, Silvies owner Scott Campbell personally took us on a Razer Tour of the property, showcasing the incredible views that started in fog and then, thanks to the elevation change, allowed us to see over the clouds.

Of course, the crown jewel of the property is the reversible Craddock/Hankins golf course, which changes based on the day and feels like two completely different golf courses until you see greens and tees you played the previous day. One day you’re faced with an uphill, difficult par-4, and the next day it becomes a rollicking, downhill par-5.

A tee shot at Silvies Ranch's Craddock course.
A tee shot at Silvies Ranch’s Craddock course. Jack Hirsh/GOLF
Silvies Ranch Claire's putting course.
Claire’s putting course. Jack Hirsh/GOLF

The golf is great, but don’t sleep on the food. It’s a cattle ranch, so all the grub is sourced from the ranch, including award-winning beef, chevon — we are assured none of the caddies are ever on the menu — and bread made from a sourdough starter more than 100 years old.

The resort has only about 100 beds and rarely are they full, by design. They want you to have the feeling that the whole ranch is your playground.

That’s how it felt out there with Harry toting our clubs around. Playing both routings of the big course, the seven-hole McVeigh’s, the nine-hole par-3 Chief Egan — where you can also take a goat caddie — and the reversible putting course, Claire’s, we never waited for a group ahead once.

And just as we would for a regular caddie, we made sure to include Harry in the traditional final hole handshake. Then it was back to the caddie shack, where he was reunited with his partner in looping, Chunky.

Silvies is a cashless operation; you present a credit card at check-in and it’s then linked to your ID. Uniquely the caddies are cashless too, although they don’t accept Venmo either. Instead, we treated Harry and Chunky to some heaping cupfuls of peanuts for a hard day’s work.

As for us, it was off to a whiskey tasting to experience more of what ranch life has to offer.

Jack Hirsh Editor

Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is a 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and recently returned to the program to serve as head coach. Jack also still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as a Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at