This Oregon Golf Course Uses Goats as Caddies

The Links at Silvies Valley Ranch is a whimsical place to play golf
The Links at Silvies Valley Ranch is a whimsical place to play golf | © Silvies Valley Ranch

It’s a warm, summer morning in Eastern Oregon, and you’re ready to conquer McVeigh’s Gauntlet at The Links at Silvies Valley Ranch. You’re all ready, fully equipped with clubs, golf balls, tees and…a goat?

In July 2018, the Seneca-based golf course is officially opening McVeigh’s Gauntlet. The seven-hole challenge course designed by Dan Hixson sees players winding through a ridge course carved into a razorback, with their faithful caddies by their sides. Those loyal helpers were born and bred on the ranch and professionally trained. They’re the G.O.A.T.—literally.

When Silvies Valley Ranch unveils the Gauntlet, it will also be revealing its new caddie program: American Range Goats. Each animal will be saddled up with a custom-designed caddie pack that carries drinks, golf balls, tees and a few clubs.

Load up your goat caddie saddle!

“The idea came from the goats themselves,” says Colby Marshall, Vice President of Livestock and Guest Services at Silvies Valley Ranch. “They have been seeking other career opportunities on the ranch, so we developed a new career path for them. Quite frankly, they’re stampeding to it!”

Playing a grueling course becomes much less intimidating with a goat by your side, and that was the goal at Silvies. McVeigh’s Gauntlet is meant to be a difficult yet fun and care-free short course, designed to settle bets and test accuracy with a series of par 3s and par 4s.

“We’re taking the golf experience to a new level in 2018,” explains Dr. Scott Campbell, veterinarian and owner of The Retreat & Links at Silvies Valley Ranch. “We’ve been developing an unprecedented caddie training program with our head caddie, Bruce LeGoat, to ensure that he and his team are ready for the opening of The Gauntlet this summer. We’re truly redefining both goat and golf operations at the ranch.”

He adds, “Can you think of another course where its caddies were literally born, raised and fully educated on-property? We will get you a caddie who really knows the course and won’t give you any bad advice—and they work for peanuts!”

Goats grazing at the ranch

The staff’s fun-loving attitude is a result of hard work and care for the animals they raise on the ranch. Silvies Valley Ranch is an ecologically sustainable Western livestock ranch and guest retreat housed on 140,000 acres of deeded and leased National Forest and BLM lands that are lush with mountain meadows, the Ponderosa Pine forest, the Silvies River and a dozen creeks and drainages.

The ranch prides itself on quality, freedom, efficiency, and responsibility, and now it can pride itself on its goat caddie program too.

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