With almost 300 polo clubs in the U.S., there is something for everyone.
Published Fall 2013
Though polo is said to have been played by the Persians thousands of years before the founding of our country, today America’s polo clubs represent a plethora of ways in which the sport has developed and adapted to the diverse landscapes, cultures, climates, and communities across the U.S. Many clubs have games available to the public, with ticket prices ranging from the cost of a movie ticket to extravagant VIP packages. The following represent only a very small cross-section of polo clubs in the U.S. today.
The Hamptons, N.Y.
Celebrating its 17th season, the Bridgehampton Polo Club is the quintessential way to spend summer afternoons in the Hamptons. Every July and August, the club hosts a roster of internationally acclaimed players, celebrities and socialites on the wide fields below Two Trees Farm. The sea breeze and iced cocktails are enjoyed field-side in comfort, among the stylish, yet relaxed attendees. Luxury brand sponsors have VIP seating under catered tents, across from the tailgating spectators, all of whom are dressed to the nines, and sprinkled with famous faces. Anyone is welcome to attend, and matches are accessible to those new to the game, thanks to a running commentator offering explanations of the rules and plays as they happen.
Palm Beach, Fla
Wellington, Fla., and the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC) have become one of the premier destinations for polo players worldwide, hosting the largest field of high-goal teams and some of the most prestigious polo tournaments in the country.
Polo enthusiasts descend upon the area each winter season to play and enjoy polo surrounded by equestrians of all disciplines, who also flock to Wellington for the warm weather. Many of the country’s best polo players live and play in Wellington, which is an epicenter of the polo world and home to many polo clubs, including the Grand Champions Polo Club, as well as the National Polo Museum and Hall of Fame.
The season runs from January through April each year and concludes with the U.S. Open Polo Championship final. Polo matches are open to the public, with a wide range of hospitality and guest seating that includes elegant grandstand viewing, field tailgating, lawn seating, field-side champagne brunch, and exclusive sponsor boxes.
Palm Springs, Calif.
Empire Polo Club of Indio, Calif., has been an intricate part of polo history in the California desert since its establishment in 1987.†The mild winter weather and incredible mountain backdrops attracts players from across the country and internationally. The club is home to a variety of leagues and competitions of all levels, such as the Gay Polo League, international tournaments, and arena competitions. The club was host to this year’s USPA Open National Interscholastic Championship Tournament.
The season, which runs January through March, is filled with competitive polo and social events of all kinds. The grounds, rented out to the Coachella and Stagecoach Music Festival each year, include 12 grass polo fields, a regulation-size polo arena, as well as two exercise tracks, several barns, a restaurant, and a night club.
Each Saturday during the summer, spectators gather to see polo matches at the Quechee Polo Club in a beautiful, quiet Vermont town with a covered bridge and hiking trails that overlook the scenic Quechee Gorge. Polo here is without pageantry. Spectators come to enjoy the drama of horse and rider and to see teamwork, not to dress up or to sip cocktails. Adults who remember being able to sit on a polo pony after a game now bring their children to enjoy the same experience. To see polo up close and without the distractions of celebrities or caterers can be the experience that attracts more players to the exciting sport.
The Greenwich Polo Club is considered the best venue for high-goal polo in the Northeast. Nestled in the beautiful backcountry of Greenwich, Conn., and internationally recognized for its rosters of legendary teams and players, Greenwich Polo Club hosts public USPA high-goal polo matches on Sundays in June, July and September. Old-fashioned country style and high society meet relaxation and sunshine along the field at highly competitive matches. Founder of Greenwich Polo Club and entrepreneur Peter Brant plays for and owns the White Birch Polo Team, which has won more high-goal polo tournaments than any other single team in the past 25 years.
The Aiken Polo Club is one of the oldest and most historic polo clubs in the United States. It held its first game in 1882 on Whitney Field, which today is the longest continually used polo field in the country.
The town of Aiken is a hub for a variety of equestrian sports, and its temperate climate allows for two extra-long playing seasons in spring and fall. Aiken’s polo community, which has been the home of many of America’s 10-goal polo stars, has grown to extend beyond the club itself, and today there are several USPA recognized polo clubs in the area, that help to host the increasing number of polo matches.
“The profusion of world-class polo clubs and the cluster of private polo estates that grew up around them have attracted a year-round resident community of top professionals, patrons and gentleman players not matched anywhere else in the U.S,.” says Alex Tyrteos, polo enthusiast and real estate developer in Aiken. He is creating a community of small farms and homes to surround and access the Farmfield Plantation, a private polo farm that holds many charity matches and tournaments throughout the season.