Visit the Wellington home of Marc and Melissa Ganzi, owners of Grand Champions Polo Club.
PHOTOS BY George Kamper
Published Fall 2013
With a turn-key polo facility featuring two regulation-size polo fields for a backyard, it’s easy to understand how passionate Marc and Melissa Ganzi are when it comes to polo.
“It’s like having a baseball or football field in your backyard, only better,” Melissa Ganzi said.
The husband and wife, who grew up around horses, started playing polo more than a decade ago. Since then, the owners of the Wellington-based Grand Champions Polo Club have been changing the face of polo at one of the nation’s fastest growing polo clubs.
“The vision we had was to build a community polo club,” Marc Ganzi said. “We wanted a place where the locals can come and play year-round. We keep the spirit of the club very casual and keep it accessible to year-round residents of Wellington.”
During the January-April high goal polo season in Wellington, they are successful amateur player-patrons of two professional polo teams (20 and 26-goal teams). Marc is with Audi and Melissa with Piaget.
In addition to spending time honing their own game skills with some of the game’s best players and breeding and raising polo ponies, they devote time and money promoting diversity in polo year-round.
They have reached out to the masses by staging and sponsoring tournaments for youth, women and gay polo players in addition to hosting a fall international tournament, medium-goal spring and fall seasons, and polo school for all ages.
Grand Champions Polo Club is host site of the International Gay Polo Tournament, Women’s Championship Tournament, International Cup, and several juniors tournaments, including the Buzz Welker Tournament.
Several of the game’s top players, including Nic Roldan, Miguel Astrada, Jeff Hall, Juan Bollini, Kris Kampsen, and Brandon Phillips, compete at the club on various teams.
“Many of our matches are open to the public and have no charge to be a spectator or tailgate,” Melissa Ganzi said. “We feel polo should be accessible to everyone. We wanted to make polo part of the community.”
Marc Ganzi, one of the nation’s top amateur players and CEO of Global Tower Partners, the largest privately-owned cell-phone tower operator in the United States, has won every major 20- and 26-goal tournament, including the 2009 U.S. Open, playing alongside brothers Facundo, Nico, and Gonzalito Pieres.
Melissa Ganzi is president and fundraiser for the National Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame Board of Directors and secretary-treasurer of the Polo Training Foundation, which has nurtured and developed top junior players, several of whom now play as adult pros.
The Ganzis’ two children, Grant and Riley, are avid polo players. Marc and Melissa want to continue to give them and other children the opportunity to learn the game, compete, and have access to horses and fields.
“It’s a mission of ours because it’s a great game, and kids should have a chance to play,” Marc Ganzi said. “The connection between a child and a horse can be very empowering.”