“Playing polo is like trying to play golf during an earthquake.” – Sylvester Stallone
San Diego Polo Club
This past Sunday, after the Padres game, we stopped by the San Diego Polo Club (SDPC) in Del Mar to catch the tail-end of the polo match. Polo is a crazy sport played by men and women on horseback where they hit a small ball with a long mallet in an attempt to score through a small goal on a large field…while expertly riding the horses, of course. The SDPC was founded in 1986 by Harry Collins and Willis Allen. Polo matches are presented to the public most Sundays from May 31 -September 27, beginning at 1:00 pm. The SDPC also offers polo lessons for those interested in learning how to play.

Check out the video San Diego Polo Club: Where Summer is Meant to Be Spent to see some of the fun at the polo matches.

In addition to the game, some of the cool things we saw were a tailgating section on the far side of the field, and people dressed to the nines in the main event stands. It is definitely a worthwhile event to attend at least once. The skill of the horses and the riders is amazing to watch.

San Diego Polo Club

Interesting Facts about Polo

According the Museum of Polo, polo today, the game, players, horses, and clubs have continued to evolve. To help you follow the game more easily, and make you sound smart about it, I’ve taken the liberty to share what the Museum says about the modern game.

The Game

  • Polo is a team sport played on horseback. The objective is to score goals against an opposing team. Players score by driving a small ball into the opposing team’s goal using a long-handled mallet. The traditional sport of polo is played at speed on a large grass field up to 300 yards long by 160 yards wide. Outdoor polo is played with a solid plastic ball. The modern game lasts roughly two hours and is divided into periods called chukkers”. The game is played in six chukkers (periods) of seven-and-one-half minutes.

The Players

A polo team consists of four mounted players. Each numbered position has certain responsibilities:

  • Number One is the most offense-oriented player on the field, and also covers the opposing team’s Number Four.
  • Number Two has a vital role in offense, either running through and scoring, or passing to Number One; defensively, they cover the opposing team’s Number Three, generally the other team’s best player.
  • Number Three is the tactical leader and must be a powerful hitter to feed balls to Number Two and One as well as maintaining defense.
  • Number Four is primarily a defensive player. They can move anywhere on the field, but they usually try to prevent scoring, freeing their teammates for offense.

San Diego Polo Club

The Horses

Polo mounts are called “ponies,” although the term “pony” is traditional and the mount is actually a full-sized horse. They range from 14.2 to 16 hands (58 to 64 inches) high at the withers, and weigh 900–1,100 pounds. The polo pony is selected for quick bursts of speed, stamina, agility and maneuverability. Polo players must have more than one pony, so tired mounts can be exchanged between or even during chukkers.

The Clubs

Polo is actively played in 77 countries, but professionally in fewer countries, most notably Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, the Dominican Republic, France, Germany, India, Iran, Jamaica, Mexico, New Zealand, Pakistan,Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

In the U.S., there are more than 275 polo clubs registered with the United States Polo Association with more than 4,500 members.

The world’s oldest active club is the Calcutta Polo Club in India, established in 1862.


The Polo Handicap System

All players registered with the United States Polo Association are given a handicap by the association.  The handicapping system, in effect a ranking list, is based on a natural estimate of the number of goals a player is worth to his team.  His handicap has nothing to do with his expected scoring in a game.  It is based on horsemanship, team play, knowledge of the game, hitting ability, game sense and quality of horses.  For instance, a handicap of 10-goals, which is the highest ever given, implies a player of the greatest talents and in constant practice.  The lowest handicap possible is -2, and is usually carried by the beginning player.  A high rating is so difficult to attain that 90% of the US players are rated at 2-goals or below.

Fun Facts about Famous People that Play Polo

Argentinian polo player, Nacho Figueras is also known as the “David Beckham of polo”, but there are a number of other “10” point players around the world. Some of the most famous people to play polo include Winston Churchill, Martin Garrick, Tommy Lee Jones, George Patton, and Francis Boulle,  Members of the British Royal Family that play polo include Prince Charles, Prince Philip, Prince William, and Prince Harry.

San Diego Polo Club

The Surf Cup – This is Soccer, not Polo

The San Diego Polo Club fields are also used for the Surf Cub club soccer events. Now that is a creator of traffic much more significant than polo on Sundays!

Please share your polo experiences with us! Do you play? Do you enjoy watching?