Situated a three-hour drive from either Bend in Oregon or Boise in Idaho, Silvies Valley Ranch is a boutique eco-resort which is set within a huge 140,000-acre working ranch, surrounded by vast areas of designated National Forests in the remote central region of the Beaver State.
Scott Campbell, one of the owners, grew up in Burns, around 30 miles further south, and after selling his interest in the Pet Hospital animal veterinary practice to PetSmart in 2007, he turned his attention to repairing and developing the infrastructure of the ranch.
The resort is now a component part of the overall set-up; operating thirty-four lodge rooms and a few luxurious cabins, along with guided environmental tours, fishing, shooting ranges and a spa with indoor lap pool. Evening dining is high-end in a communal lodge.
The golfing element of the project took eight years of construction and grow-in to complete, with Dan Hixson designing 36 reversible holes that use 27 greens, with two 18-hole courses sharing nine greens and each having nine stand alone greens. Only eight holes, four on each course, share no common ground.
Hixson spent almost six months a year on site for the best part of a decade, carrying out much of the manual work himself: clearing down sage; roughing out greens and bunkers; as well as overseeing shapers with greater experience who were transforming the desert landscape into a golf course.
The course direction is reversed every day to fashion a different layout which also has a new set of hole locations and tee box options, creating a multitude of unique rounds. The course is free of water hazards but there are more than a hundred bunkers in play.
Bounded by natural vegetation, the fescue fairways on both courses are wide, sometimes nearly a hundred years – indeed, the combined fairways of #17 and #18 on Craddock and #1 and #3 on Hankins offer a 240-yard wide playing corridor, with bunkers defining the holes.
“I think the reversibility of the course, being able to have two courses for slightly more than the price of one, is brilliant,” said Campbell, “You can come closer to capacity if they are reversible, because they’re different and they’re more fun. Golf needs to be fun.”
Feature holes on the Craddock – named after one of the early settlers in the area – include the 125-yard 4th (the shortest par three on the property), the 260-yard 7th (which drops around 40 feet from tee to green), and back-to-back par fives on the 13th and 14th.