Located halfway between Bend in Oregon and Boise in Idaho, the boutique eco-resort of Silvies Valley Ranch lies inside an enormous 218 square-mile working ranch that nestles within extensive tracts of designated National Forests in the isolated central region of the Beaver State.
One of the owners, Scott Campbell, grew up in nearby Burns. In 2007, after offloading his shares in the veterinary practice he had established twenty years earlier, he set about the renovation and development of the ranch’s infrastructure.
The resort is now an integral part of the overall operation: with thirty-four lodge rooms and a few luxurious cabins as accommodation options; together with environmental tours, fishing, shooting ranges and a spa. Evening dining is of the gourmet variety in a communal lodge.
The golf courses took eight years to build, with Washington-based Dan Hixson laying out thirty-six reversible holes that play to twenty-seven greens. The two 18-hole layouts (Craddock and Hankins) share nine greens and only eight holes – four on each course – are stand alone.
Hixson was on site for nearly six months of every year as the project evolved, doing much of the manual work himself, from clearing the site to roughing out fairways, leaving the skilled shapers to further refine the barren landscape.
The course direction is reversed every day to create a different layout with a variety of pin placements and tee box options, creating thousands of unique rounds. While the course is free of water hazards, there are over a hundred bunkers incorporated into the course design.
“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.”
The Hankins course might just have the better views from tee boxes and greens that sit high above the valley floor and the best position of all may well be the 11th tee box on Hankins, set back in the trees and facing uphill to a green with 20-mile views of the distant hills.
Silvies Valley Ranch also features Chief Egan, a 9-hole par three course and a 7-hole short course named McVeigh’s Gauntlet, which has its own team of goat caddies. The ranch has the largest herd of organic meat goats in the world so a few have been trained to carry clubs in small bags strapped on their back – some might say their distant cousins in Lahinch have it too easy!