Set down in the wild, rolling ranch land of eastern Oregon, there's a place called Silvies Valley Ranch. A luxury resort built on working cattle land, Silvies Valley, like Oregon itself, is a funky little paradox. There's your traditional spa, lavish "glamping" cabins, and a quartet of rustic, links-style golf courses snaking through the brushy bluffs and occasional pine stand. But dig a little deeper—or, better yet, book a tee time on the 7-hole McVeigh's Gauntlet—and you'll quickly see not everything is as ordinary as it seems.
Why? Because on McVeigh's Gauntlet, your caddie isn't some John Doe who's more interested in talking about his kids' grades than your yardage, it's a goat—a four-legged, bull-headed, actual freakin' goat.
The bi-products of Silvies Valley's American Range Goat breeding program (in case you're as confused as we are), goat caddies come with a host of goat-related complications, however, so we sat down with Seamus Golf's Akbar Chisti to get an inside look at what went into crafting the world's first-ever goat-specific golf bag for the world's first-ever goat golf caddie. From peanut holders to beer holsters and everything in between, this is the story of the strangest, coolest, craziest golf accessory know to
man mammal, so sit down, settle in, and take some notes. Who knows, maybe if you ask nicely, they'll even make one for your llama.
Let's start at the start. How did this project with Silvies Valley Ranch first come about?
Akbar Chisti: Well, we started out making headcovers here in Portland, Oregon, that’s how we got our start. After that, we expanded to bags—craft, special, and often times one-off. Then we got a call from the folks at Silvies Ranch about making a golf bag for a goat. We got a little excited and thought it would be fun to try to figure out to make a goat bag.
What was your first reaction when you were asked to create a golf bag for a goat?
Well, I was pretty excited, because I had never heard of anyone doing something like that. So it seemed like a super outlandish request, but the concept of creating a golf bag for a goat sounded like a great challenge, because you can’t simply take a golf bag and put it on a goat—you have to figure out how the goat moves and behaves. But in reality, we just thought the whole thing would be so much fun to have a goat carrying a golf bag, so we were all over it. We just didn’t know how to do it, so obviously that was the part we had to figure out.
What special considerations/challenges came with the bag?
Our first challenge was that we were never really able to get close to the goats because it was the dead of winter and the golf course was covered in snow. We ended up designing the bag with our dog, because he’s a big dude, but not nearly as big, as it turns out, as Bruce [Silvies Ranch's chief coat caddie/unofficial mascot/de-facto bossman] who weighs about 250 pounds. So when we went to go put it on him, we realized we totally missed the dimensions of the goat. We also QUICKLY learned about how goats are either continuously eating or pooping, so we had to re-tilt the bag to accommodate that.
How many tries did it take to get right?
So the first time we totally missed it, and the second time I brought my buddies Erik and Christian Hafer out. So that was the first time we actually really tried it, when we were all just showing up. Fortunately we had a made a lot of little special latches and stuff like that to make sure it would stay on this time and somehow it worked.
Did you have to add any special features to the bag to accommodate the goats?
Yes. The main thing about goats, is that you have to keep them interested in what you’re doing. These guys out at Silvies Ranch, they raise like 2,000 goats a year and it just so happens they have these folks from Peru who know to train them. The primary thing they use to keep the goats interested while training them are peanuts. So we made a special pouch for the peanuts, based on feed and treat pouches for equestrian applications...that also just so happens to feature a little magnetic bottle opener on it. Honestly, I think it’s one of the coolest little pouches we’ve come up with.
Finally, the owner of the property also wanted us to have cup holders, so we integrated three cup holders on each of the bags.
Yes. But you could use soda, too…
Beyond the novelty factor, the bags just look incredible. What sort of materials did you use in the build process?
We looked at feed bags and equestrian equipment, so there’s a lot of bridle leather. Bridle leather is traditionally used for saddle making and is the heartiest of the leathers. It’s really thick, probably about 12-14 oz per square foot, so it’s a pretty heavy material, which we then paired with some waxed canvas. But although we used waxed canvas first the couple times around, it turns out Bruce sheds a lot, so we might go back to a natural canvas on the next iteration. It’s definitely going to be an ongoing experiment because, frankly, while we’re only making it for two or three goats, each goat is going to have its own setup based on size and stuff like that.
How do the goats seem to like the bags?
The goat did fine with the bag, but our first time putting the bag on the goat was also the goat’s first time on the golf course and goats are, umm, interesting. Bruce really needed to be around the place for a little bit before he was cool with it and he had to be around me a little bit before he was cool with me, too. But ultimately what ended up happening is he started following me around and by the end of the days I was good buddies with this pack goat.
The funniest thing that happened, however, was when Bruce was on the green when we were trying to putt and just decided to use it as his bathroom. We were like, “Are goats even allowed on the green?” We didn’t even know. It’s a whole new thing with a whole new set of rules. It’s different for sure, but there will be definite charming moments when you’re with the goats. Trust me, it’s NOT like having a human caddie.
Finally, any other wild projects coming up for Seamus?
Nothing is going to be as crazy as this goat project. Ever. But we’ll be at Shinecock for the U.S, Open, and if you’ve never seen what we do in the merchandise tents, we bring an anvil—this one is like 150 pounds—and we’ll be hammering on that, personalizing metals right there on site. We’ll do that at the Players as well. Aside from that, it will be really hard to follow up the goat. I don’t know if we’ll get to do something as cool as this again.