On a working ranch in Eastern Oregon and officially named The Retreat and Links at Silvies Valley Ranch, it’s located five hours southeast of Portland and three hours west of Boise. Veterinarian and entrepreneur Dr. Scott Campbell sold his large veterinary clinic business, returned to his roots and purchased the 140,000-acre (218 square-mile) ranch more than a decade ago.
The Retreat at Silvies Valley Ranch
With the natural beauty and stunning vistas as a foundation, the luxury western adventure business opened in 2018. They couple upscale ranch cabins, a full-service spa and premier dining with a serious customer-satisfaction focus. Current activities include a cattle drive, goat herding, hiking, biking, fishing, golfing and photography with more ideas on the horizon. Each guest is given a radio for communication on the property as there is no cell phone coverage. And every cabin is assigned a golf cart for transportation on the property.
Silvies Ranch Golf – Reversible course direction
Adding golf to the entertainment mix is brilliant. Campbell enlisted the architect Dan Hixson noted for designing the other Bandon course called Bandon Crossings and the great Wine Valley course in Washington State. Hixson began Silvies Ranch Golf with the notion to develop only the second reversible golf course in America. They reverse the course direction each day to create a different layout. The course has twenty-seven greens of which nine are double greens, and eighteen are one-directional greens. Six holes play in only one direction. A course with reversible holes played in different directions causes wide fairways, unique bunker locations, forced carriers and other obstacles. There are no water hazards. But Hixson makes up for that with ample bunkering. With many tee boxes and pin-placements on double-greens, many courses are configurable. They name the two eighteen-hole courses Hankins and Craddock after the Pioneer families who homesteaded the site in the early years.
Silvies Ranch Golf includes Chief Egan, a 9-hole short Par3 course that features water on every hole. A most unusual addition is the seven-hole McVeigh Gauntlet course carved into a razor-back. A series of challenging Par3’s one of which only requires a putter, short Par4’s that require a wood and a wedge and the first Par2 we’ve seen. Golfers need few clubs on the McVeigh course, which is best for their goat caddies. Outfitted with specially designed golf bag harness, they carry six clubs, twelve balls and six cans of refreshments. And the goats work for peanuts, literally.
The Hankins Course at Silvies Ranch Golf
First-time golfers should observe the signage directing the play for the reversible course. Cart paths are dirt and gravel. Hence, paths to greens and tees are not obvious. With three teeing grounds on each course, it’s easy to mix up. Fairways and rough are fescue and bluegrass with hearty bentgrass on the greens. As expected with a western links-style course, the conditioning is excellent but not immaculate.
Par3’s are short but dangerous. Most bunkers are protected by thick grass, which is often a worse position than the bunker. We enjoyed the rural atmosphere and the remote, solitary feeling between the golf course and us. Because the fairways are generous, the rough is thick and narrow. Short bushes, bunch grass, and pine trees are close to the fairway. Tremendous views make it challenging to concentrate on golf.
With the reversible eighteen, the Par3 along the water and the seven-hole short course with goat caddies we can confirm the fun factor at Silvies Ranch Golf. Adding in a plethora of other adventure activities, luxurious cabins, fine dining with the tremendous beauty of the terrain, creates a unique golfing adventure.
Explore other Northwest golf course photographic profiles from Quintessential Golf Magazine.