A few words about the caddies at McVeigh’s Gauntlet, the seven-hole challenge course at Silvies Valley Ranch in Seneca, ORE.
“They all have personalities and a sense of humor,’’ according to Sandy Campbell.
Those are attributes most golfers look for in a caddy. But in these cases, the caddies don’t walk on two legs – they walk on four legs. McVeigh’s Gauntlet, one of five golf courses at Silvies Valley Ranch, employs goats as caddies. In fact, the ranch recently added two more goats – Chunky and Charlie – to its caddie staff. The duo were selected from more than 300 young goats at the ranch, each vying for a spot on the caddie team.
Campbell has been head of Silvie Valley’s goat program since 2013, starting with teaching them to walk with picnic baskets, and in 2018, graduating to the golf course. Campbell currently has four active goat caddies and four more in training.
“They start out when they are babies,’’ Campbell said. “We have some that have been raised on bottle for various reasons, so they are very attached to people from the beginning.’’
Silvies Valley Ranch has the largest herd of organic meat goats in the world. The goats are used to help improve the sustainable environment at the ranch, and as a healthier alternative to other kinds of protein at the ranch’s gourmet restaurant and other white tablecloth restaurants and homes in the region. The purebred American Range Goats are two-to-eight years old when caddying full time. They work three to four days a week for about four hours per day.
The McVeigh Course is about a half-mile long, and goat caddies get a 20 minute break between rounds, along with a healthy snack of organic antelope brush and juniper. Golfers must take a short training course to have a caddie and are given a two-way radio for questions or to summon a human if any disagreements occur with their caddie.
Like all caddies, they have their own caddie shack (by the clubhouse) where they lounge around until they’re called. At night, they have caddie quarters in the stable where guests can go visit and pet them.
While on duty, goat caddies carry up to six golf clubs, a dozen golf balls, golf tees, and six cans of refreshment, along with a few dozen peanuts for themselves. Silvies caddies are equipped with a custom goat caddie backpack designed by Seamus Golf.
“They’re kind of mischievous and like to be with people,’’ Campbell said. They like their jobs – and I think that really helps the golfers.’’
And best of all, they work for peanuts.
Photo: Sandy Campbell with Chunkie and Charlie. (Silvies Valley Ranch)