The Re­treat & Links at Silvies Val­ley Ranch

Golf’s New­est Fron­tier, Rev­ersible Golf Cour­ses, and do they have a fu­ture?

Golf Vacations - - Golf Vacations - by David R. Hol­land

Silvies Val­ley Ranch is rugged, dusty, hay rich, sage­brush cov­ered and ex­pan­sive. It is filled with wild crit­ters and do­mes­ti­cated an­i­mals. It has tow­er­ing Pon­derosa pines, starry skies, trout-filled ponds and the Silvies River. It has chuck-wagon din­ing and a Lodge with gourmet meals. It even has a run­way for pri­vate air traf­fic.

SENECA, Ore. – Silvies Val­ley Ranch is rugged, dusty, hay rich, sage­brush cov­ered and ex­pan­sive. It is filled with wild crit­ters and do­mes­ti­cated an­i­mals. It has tow­er­ing Pon­derosa pines, starry skies, trout-filled ponds and the Silvies River. It has chuck-wagon din­ing and a Lodge with gourmet meals. It even has a run­way for pri­vate air traf­fic. “To­day the ranch is made up of 140,000 acres of deeded and leased Na­tional For­est and BLM lands in and sur­round­ing Silvies Val­ley. Of the more than 60 square miles of deeded prop­erty, there are 6,000 acres of moun­tain mead­ows, 14,000 acres of Pon­derosa pine for­est, 20 miles of the Silvies River, over 20 named creeks and drainages, goats, cat­tle and horses, as well as a rapidly grow­ing pop­u­la­tion of na­tive wildlife,” said owner Dr. Scott Camp­bell, a born and bred Ore­go­nian, vet­eri­nar­ian, en­tre­pre­neur, job cre­ator, rancher, Scotch lover and vi­sion­ary.

The Ranch is big­ger than Sin­ga­pore.

So what makes it ever bet­ter? Easy an­swer – a golf course, nope, scratch that. In this case a ver­sion of four golf ex­pe­ri­ences. The Hank­ins Course, Crad­dock Course, Chief Egan par-3 lay­out and the yet to be fin­ished McVeigh Gaunt­let, a seven-hole course that will perch greens on knobs or hills mi­nus fairways. But the main attraction gain­ing world-wide press is the sec­ond rev­ersible 18-hole golf course in the USA. Ar­chi­tect Dan Hix­son, au­thor of award­win­ning Wine Val­ley in Walla Walla, Washington, and Camp­bell, a non­golfer, de­cided on the rev­ersible na­ture af­ter dis­cus­sions back in 2010. Camp­bell wanted an Ore­gon de­signer, and he had two for­mi­da­ble choices – the other be­ing David McLay-Kidd. Af­ter a whirl­wind of me­dia vis­its this sum­mer I asked the Silvies Val­ley Ranch golf-course ar­chi­tect what ques­tion he hasn’t heard yet about his “rev­ersible” de­sign. “I think the dis­cus­sion that has not hap­pened con­cerns what is the fu­ture of rev­ersible cour­ses,” Hix­son mused. “Here in the USA there’s only two – mine and Tom Doak’s – The Loop at For­est Dunes in Michi­gan. Most golf purists know that The Old Course at St. An­drews in Scot­land can be played as a re­verse course, but no one re­ally knows if rev­ersible cour­ses are go­ing to be a trend or not.”

The ben­e­fits seem to be im­pres­sive. “First, you get two golf cour­ses for the price of one,” Hix­son said. “Sec­ond, you can have one crew main­tain it in­stead of crews for two 18-hole cour­ses. Third, en­vi­ron­men­tally, you only use 100 acres in­stead of 200. And, fourth, you have the op­por­tu­nity to do some­thing truly unique.” So what are the chal­lenges? Picture a typ­i­cal golf course with bunkers that flash up or present a low point and a high point go­ing to­ward the green. Well, in a rev­ersible course, you must en­vi­sion bunkers that you can eas­ily see and play from go­ing both di­rec­tions. “I was fas­ci­nated by the bunkers in a rev­ersible de­sign – it just pre­sented so many ways to be cre­ative,” said Hix­son. Bunkers on The Crad­dock, 7,035-yard, par-72, and Hank­ins Course, 7,075-yard, par-73, are played “through the green” mean­ing you can ground your club and take prac­tice swings that pass through the hard-packed na­tive sand. Also one dis­tinct dif­fer­ence in Silvies and The Loop (opened in 2016) was the fact the Michi­gan course is on flat land. Hix­son had el­e­va­tion changes. So in­stead of a down­hill hole be­com­ing an up­hill trudge go­ing the op­po­site di­rec­tion he de­cided to go with 27

greens in­stead of 18. That way he be­came more cre­ative and able to skirt hav­ing too many up­hill holes. The lay­out plays to nine shared greens and nine sep­a­rate greens. Both lay­outs are named for the orig­i­nal pi­o­neers who home­steaded the land in the 1800s. “The Hide­out”, a hill­top club­house, is pow­ered by so­lar pan­els and fea­tures three garage doors that open to an out­door pa­tio over­look­ing the 18th hole of the Crad­dock 18. The nine-hole par-3 Chief Egan course is also in the panorama. The club­house also has food and drinks along with typ­i­cal pro shop hats, shirts and logo items. The cen­ter­piece of the Hide­out is an an­tique golf club piece of art that hangs from the high­est point of the club­house. Tygh Camp­bell, an ac­com­plished metal worker de­signed it along with the bunker rakes each with dif­fer­ent golf say­ings or phrases. He also heads up the Ranch’s hay­mak­ing busi­ness. Ad­ven­tures away from the golf cour­ses As ex­cit­ing as any roller coaster ride, Dr. Camp­bell and Colby Mar­shall took my group of jour­nal­ists on a RA Po­laris RZR Ra­zor off-road ter­rain tour of Silvies Val­ley Ranch, showing us dips, swales, pas­tures, rugged hills, Pon­derosa forests, an old home­stead, and wet­lands. We walked among the South African Boer goats (tasty chevon we en­joyed at the Lodge), and made friends with the Bor­der Col­lies and Great Pyre­nees. The wildlife you can see in­cludes an­te­lope, bald ea­gle and the usual sus­pects of elk and deer are also abun­dant. We also stopped off at the Pis­tolero Range and fired the Colt Peace­maker – the six-shooter that tamed the old west. But there’s also the Ri­fle­man Range and the Sharp­shooter Range, where you can ex­pe­ri­ence long range buf­falo hunter-style shoot­ing. Other ac­tiv­i­ties in­clude goat herd­ing, bik­ing, hik­ing, fish­ing at Ot­ter Lake in front of the The Re­treat at Silvies Val­ley Ranch. Another im­pres­sive amenity is that you are is­sued your own golf cart to nav­i­gate The Re­treat. Most are “hunter” cam­ou­flage, but the staff and own­ers are mostly Ore­gon State Beaver fans or grads so if you show up wear­ing a Ore­gon Duck golf shirt you’ll get a pink golf cart.

Lodg­ing and Din­ing

The Re­treat at Silvies Val­ley Ranch is a 36-room re­sort with a con­fer­ence cen­ter, full-ser­vice fit­ness cen­ter, pool and spa open­ing in sum­mer 2018. Flex­i­ble guest room plans al­low for cus­tom­ized con­fig­u­ra­tions, cre­at­ing so­cial liv­ing spa­ces for groups large and small. The pri­vate re­treat pro­vides the ideal lo­ca­tion for fam­ily re­unions, buddy trips, and gath­er­ings. Who would not love the “log cabin” two-be­d­room units with view of Ot­ter Lake and pas­ture that was hav­ing night-time hay bail­ing ac­tiv­ity un­der a full moon. The units have wifi, a be­d­room at the en­trance, then a liv­ing room com­plete with fire­place, TV view­ing, and kitchen con­ve­niences, and another be­d­room at the far end. There’s also a hot tub on the deck and large picture win­dows to take in the ranch panorama. The bath­room had sky­lights, metal work ev­ery­where with sym­bols of the old west, an­i­mals, and golfers (done by Tygh Camp­bell). The cop­per bath­room sinks and rain show­ers were per­fect. Other units aimed to­ward golf four­somes will be ready by fall. Even­tu­ally the ranch will of­fer 34 gue­strooms with a real es­tate phase also planned. As much as pos­si­ble con­struc­tion ma­te­rial has been re­cy­cled from the ranch lend­ing a smaller car­bon foot­print. Din­ing op­tions at Silvies Val­ley Ranch in­clude The Din­ing Room, The Gun Room, and The Porch at the Lodge, as well as The Hide­out. In-suite din­ing and out­side cater­ing are also avail­able, as well as nu­mer­ous Griz­zly Ranch en­ter­tain­ing spa­ces for rus­tic, gourmet pic­nics and gath­er­ings. Per­haps the most unique din­ing op­tion is the full-ser­vice chuck wagon, avail­able both day and night for spe­cial oc­ca­sions. All on-site restau­rants serve

western-in­spired fare, in­clud­ing Silvies Val­ley Ranch Cer­ti­fied Or­ganic “Her­itage Naked Beef” and chevon (tasty goat). How’s this for a din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence – ranch-made sour­dough bread, French mush­room bisque, smoked sal­mon cake, cu­cum­ber mint gaz­pa­cho, dill crème fraiche, cit­rus roasted chicken with grilled ar­ti­chokes, nicoise olives, le­mon jus, di­jon chevon rib chops with apri­cot mostarda, browned but­ter cau­li­flower potato puree, gar­lic braised kale and Swiss chard and to end flour­less choco­late cake. Are you kid­ding? This is a 134-year-old ranch.

A Fam­ily Suc­cess Story

This story could be end­less. Dr. Camp­bell has ex­ten­sive re­search of the ranch’s his­tory dat­ing back to 1883 and even an­cient his­tor­i­cal thoughts. He gives homage to the Paiutes, U.S. Cal­vary, the early home­stead­ers and more re­cent own­er­ships that went bust. Dr. Camp­bell, whose ex­tended fam­ily dates back to 1863 in Ore­gon, bought roughly 140,000 acres in 2007 af­ter cash­ing in his stock of the Ban­field Pet Hos­pi­tal, where, as com­pany CEO, he over­saw growth to more than 700 clin­ics in sev­eral coun­tries and many which are lo­cated in PetS­mart stores. And the en­tire fam­ily pitches in – mom San­dra heads up the goat herd­ing op­er­a­tion, son Tygh does metal work and heads the hay­mak­ing and son Rand does any­thing and ev­ery­thing along with get­ting his law de­gree. The op­er­a­tion also wants to be known for its eco or green stance in im­prov­ing the en­vi­ron­ment. Four thou­sand bird and bat houses were hung to at­tract birds who will dine on in­sects and mos­qui­toes. Ponds were stocked with trout and stream im­prove­ments in­clude 300 ar­ti­fi­cial beaver dams to re­store wa­ter­ways. River ot­ters have re­turned and more than 600 miles of fences re­paired. The fam­ily has been busy as beavers (and once upon a time SVR’s acreage had 200,000 beavers be­fore 1820s trap­pers came through). If you are look­ing for an up­scale boon­docks es­cape this is it. It’s a three­hour drive from air­ports in Red­mond (near Bend) or Boise, Idaho. Take some ad­vice from me and my driv­ing com­pan­ion. Fill up your rent car on the way to the ranch. Whew, I’m tired just think­ing of all the in­cred­i­ble work that went into this spe­cial place in the boon­docks of no-cell tower eastern Ore­gon.

photo by Brian Oar

Hank­ins 18, from be­hind the green.

Silvies Ranch #12 Crad­dock #5 Hank­ins green

Liv­ing room at The Re­treat & Links at Silvies Val­ley Ranch

Tygh Camp­bell’s metal art is ev­ery­where at The Re­treat

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