From High Goal to Hollywood – the history of polo in the USA – Part 8
By Victoria Elsbury-Legg
Click here for part 7
Now in 2015 the USPA lists over 4500 players at over 250 clubs, colleges and schools. In the 2015 US Open alongside the male patrons whose names (such as Julian Mannix, Marc Ganzi, Camilo Bautista, Victor Vargas, Steve Van Andel and Bob Jornayvaz) like their forebears will too be remembered for their contribution to the world of polo, female players (Melissa Ganzi and Gillian Johnston) also made their mark in US polo history, competing as equals, they continue to inspire future generations of young female players – accounting for one quarter of the patrons playing alongside top Argentine professionals (whose ranks seem to be dominated by the name Pieres). Alongside these players, names which have always been synonymous with American history also still continue to write their polo story and grace the pitches of the International Polo Club Palm Beach. Such as Coca Cola, whose beginnings date just ten years later than the introduction of polo to The States – with the first glass of Atlanta Pharmacist John Pemberton’s Coca Cola being sipped in 1886, the distinctive hand written script font (as first penned by Frank Robinson, Pemberton’s bookkeeper as he logged its name) is the very same one emblazoned on the red and white shirts of one of the eight teams entered into this year’s US Open tournament.
The history of polo in the USA is indeed an eclectic one, with many distinguished individuals and Hollywood greats interwoven in its background, today it is the role of the very latest technology in the form of drones that everyone is also talking about. With technology now finally having caught up with the speed of horsepower, the true skill of the sport can at last be captured (albeit virtually) on film, teams can challenge a call and referees can observe, slowmo and replay action from a revolutionary new angle. Spectators and sponsors also benefit from this on an international level with play being broadcast via the internet, the line of play captured by the drones can be seen more clearly, whilst brand names and their association with the players and sport are seen not just pitch side, but worldwide.
So what next for polo? It has clones and drones, but – like the US high goal has its Triple Crown of polo – all the best things as they say, always come in threes.