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FOUR-legged caddies: Goats pack clubs on new Silvies challenge course

Goats pack clubs on new Silvies challenge course.
Angel Carpenter

Blue Mountain Eagle

Published on July 17, 2018 4:48PM

The first golfing group to try out McVeigh’s Gauntlet July 10 at The Links at Silvies Valley Ranch are, left, golf course architect Dan Hixson, who designed all four golf courses at the ranch, Michael Williams of golfWRX.com and Akbar Chisti of Seamus Golf. The men lead the goat caddies along to the next hole. In back is ranch owner Sandy Campbell.

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The first golfing group to try out McVeigh’s Gauntlet July 10 at The Links at Silvies Valley Ranch are, left, golf course architect Dan Hixson, who designed all four golf courses at the ranch, Michael Williams of golfWRX.com and Akbar Chisti of Seamus Golf. The men lead the goat caddies along to the next hole. In back is ranch owner Sandy Campbell.

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Mike LeChevon, in front, and Bruce LeGoat are Boer goats that have been trained as golf caddies for the McVeigh Gauntlet golf course at The Links at Silvies Valley Ranch.

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Mike LeChevon, in front, and Bruce LeGoat are Boer goats that have been trained as golf caddies for the McVeigh Gauntlet golf course at The Links at Silvies Valley Ranch.

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Architect of The Links at Silvies Valley Ranch Dan Hixson takes a swing at McVeigh’s Gauntlet July 10. In back, from left, are Akbar Chisti, Sandy Campbell, Sheryl Miller and Colby Marshall.

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Architect of The Links at Silvies Valley Ranch Dan Hixson takes a swing at McVeigh’s Gauntlet July 10. In back, from left, are Akbar Chisti, Sandy Campbell, Sheryl Miller and Colby Marshall.

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Corey Hulse, an assistant at the Silvies golf course, stands under the shade of the ‘Beer Tree’ on the challenge course.

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Corey Hulse, an assistant at the Silvies golf course, stands under the shade of the ‘Beer Tree’ on the challenge course.

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Akbar Chisti of Seamus Golf talks about the leather golf carriers he designed specifically for the Silvies goat caddies, as Colby Marshall and Sandy Campbell listen.

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Akbar Chisti of Seamus Golf talks about the leather golf carriers he designed specifically for the Silvies goat caddies, as Colby Marshall and Sandy Campbell listen.

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Goat caddies Mike, front, and Bruce stand at their hitching posts at the McVeigh Gauntlet golf course at Silvies Valley Ranch, as Akbar Chisti finds a golf club. Chisti designed the golf bags the goats are packing. In back is owner Sandy Campbell.

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Goat caddies Mike, front, and Bruce stand at their hitching posts at the McVeigh Gauntlet golf course at Silvies Valley Ranch, as Akbar Chisti finds a golf club. Chisti designed the golf bags the goats are packing. In back is owner Sandy Campbell.

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Dan Hixson takes a swing at the McVeigh Gauntlet golf course, which he designed for the resort at Silvies. In back are the goat caddies that are available for the McVeigh Gauntlet course.

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Dan Hixson takes a swing at the McVeigh Gauntlet golf course, which he designed for the resort at Silvies. In back are the goat caddies that are available for the McVeigh Gauntlet course.

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Sheryl Miller leads Bruce the golf caddie along on a trail at the McVeigh Gauntlet course at Silvies.

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Sheryl Miller leads Bruce the golf caddie along on a trail at the McVeigh Gauntlet course at Silvies.

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Michael Williams hits the ball down a bumpy bonus hole, Akbar Chisti at left. Dan Hixson, right, retrieves a stray ball.

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Michael Williams hits the ball down a bumpy bonus hole, Akbar Chisti at left. Dan Hixson, right, retrieves a stray ball.

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Sandy Campbell and Sheryl Miller lead caddie goats Mike and Bruce along the new challenge course at The Links at Silvies Valley Ranch.

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Sandy Campbell and Sheryl Miller lead caddie goats Mike and Bruce along the new challenge course at The Links at Silvies Valley Ranch.

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A view of a portion of McVeigh’s Gaunlet at Silvies.

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A view of a portion of McVeigh’s Gaunlet at Silvies.

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Michael Williams and Akbar Chisti walk the bonus hole at McVeigh’s Gauntlet, Corey Hulse at left.

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Michael Williams and Akbar Chisti walk the bonus hole at McVeigh’s Gauntlet, Corey Hulse at left.

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Akbar Chisti golfs at McVeigh’s Gauntlet.

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Akbar Chisti golfs at McVeigh’s Gauntlet.

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A golfing group walks down a trail at McVeigh’s Gauntlet to the green below at Silvies. The challenge course includes some paths inaccessible to golf carts.

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A golfing group walks down a trail at McVeigh’s Gauntlet to the green below at Silvies. The challenge course includes some paths inaccessible to golf carts.

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From left, Michael Williams, Dan Hixson and Akbar Chisti finish up their round at McVeigh’s Gauntlet.

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From left, Michael Williams, Dan Hixson and Akbar Chisti finish up their round at McVeigh’s Gauntlet.

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From left, Akbar Chisti, Michael Williams and Dan Hixson look at another part of the course.

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From left, Akbar Chisti, Michael Williams and Dan Hixson look at another part of the course.

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Amy Kerle, executive sales director for Silvies, and golf course architect Dan Hixson, pose with Bruce, a goat caddie.

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Amy Kerle, executive sales director for Silvies, and golf course architect Dan Hixson, pose with Bruce, a goat caddie.

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Mike the goat caddie is on the trail at McVeigh’s Gauntlet.

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Mike the goat caddie is on the trail at McVeigh’s Gauntlet.

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Akbar Chisti putts as Michael Williams and Dan Hixson shake hands.

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Akbar Chisti putts as Michael Williams and Dan Hixson shake hands.

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Descriptions of McVeigh’s Gauntlet, the fourth golf course at The Retreat & Links at Silvies Valley Ranch south of Seneca, ranged from “beautiful” and “amazing” to “intimidating,” but the golfers trying out the course on opening day most frequently described the seven-hole challenge course as “fun.”

Two goat caddies, Mike LeChevon and Bruce LeGoat, stole the show July 10, taking their maiden voyage on the course with new friends.

The happy-go-lucky Boer goats are trained to be caddies for visitors from all over the globe.

Two more caddies are also prepared for the task, and the owners said they eventually would like to have six to 10 goats ready to pack clubs and beverages on the course.

Sandy Campbell, who owns the ranch with her husband, Dr. Scott Campbell, assisted with the goats during the opening event.

“The golfers walked them, and they did well,” she said, adding the only problem was running out of the goats’ favorite treat: peanuts.

Surrounded by hills of sagebrush and juniper trees, a unique feature of the challenge course is the need to drive the ball from ridgetop to ridgetop.

Some golfers may wonder if they should have packed hiking boots, as the trails from hole to hole involve walking up and down paths that are inaccessible to golf carts.

The goat caddies may seem like an odd idea, but Campbell said, with the higher altitude, at almost 5,000 feet, the help of four-legged friends comes in handy for golfers.

Golf course architect Dan Hixson said McVeigh is designed to give golfers a difficult, but not impossible, game.

“The intent is to get someone on the tee to see something they haven’t seen before,” he said.

If golfers hit a bad shot, he said, it’s going to end up in the sage brush, but it’s still playable.

Hixson designed the other three courses at Silvies — Craddock, Hankins and Chief Egan — and he is the vice president/golf and resort general manager.

He’s also known for building the Bandon Crossings Golf Course on the coast and the Wine Valley Golf Course in Walla Walla, Washington.

The opening day was the first time Hixson had tried the course since grass was added, and he managed to make it through the course without losing his ball.

A bonus hole at the halfway point of the course gave players a brief reprieve under the shade of the famous “Beer Tree,” which had a cooler waiting for the participants.

An approximately 8-by-60-foot bumpy stretch of green on the hole gave players a unique experience.

Three teams of three enjoyed that first round.

“I think this course is a lot of fun,” said Akbar Chisti of Beaverton. “It’s basically a fantasy golf course with lots of chances to rejoice and grimace.”

Chisti, who owns Seamus Golf with his wife, Megan, designed the golf caddie packs the goats were testing.

“It’s about as cool a project as we could have done,” Akbar said.

He said he was looking forward to returning to Silvies soon and bringing his family.

PNGA member Jay Brandt and his wife, Cynthia, of Bend enjoyed the morning at McVeigh.

“It’s beautiful and a delight,” Cynthia said of the course and scenery, but added with all the nonplayable, out-of-bounds areas, “it’s not for the faint of heart.”

Choosing the right club is important.

“I used my 7 wood a lot,” she said.

Michael Williams, who is director of travel and lifestyle with golfWRX.com and host of the podcast “The 19th Hole,” was also out enjoying the game.

“You get a look at these holes as something you’re not going to see anywhere else, and that’s the fun of it,” he said. “The goats are what these guys are about, making the land better and using the resources better — that’s Silvies Valley.”

Silvies Valley Ranch includes the resort with a spa opening soon, but it is also a working ranch, raising over 1,000 goats a year as well as a herd of cattle.

Colby Marshall, vice president of livestock and guest services, said the team is excited to open their fourth course.

“Our focus is to make destination travel fun and unique,” he said. “That is what the McVeigh Gauntlet golf course was designed to be.”

The cost for a round at McVeigh is $77, and for a goat golf caddy, the price is also $77.





































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