Polo in The Palm Beaches: The Ultimate Sunday Funday for All Ages

January 24, 2019

If you’ve never been to a polo match, you’re missing out. But not to worry—we’ll tell you everything you need to know.

It’s 12 o’clock on a Sunday in Wellington, Florida—the Equestrian Winter Capital of the World—and the traditional #SundayFunday is just getting started as I attend a Palm Beach polo match. The sun is glistening as I walk across the perfectly groomed turf at the International Polo Club, where socialites, local and international celebrities, families and friends gather to watch some of the world’s greatest athletes and horses compete in world-class polo tournaments every January through April. The tailgates on the sidelines are buzzing, and the ponies are saddled up and ready to take to the field. The excitement and energy are palpable.
 

Polo in action

If you’ve never been to a polo match, you’re missing out. But not to worry—we’ll tell you everything you need to know, from what to wear and what to bring, to ticket options and the traditions you won’t want to miss out on, all so you can experience this exhilarating sport that’s fun for all ages.
 

What to Expect

Known as The Sport of Kings, polo originated through the relationship between horse and rider. The sport demonstrates extreme athletic ability, teamwork, game strategy, mental strength, physical toughness and a depth of horses, with ponies being rotated frequently during “chuckers.” Instead of halves or quarters like in most sports, the segments in polo are divided into seven-and-a-half-minute chuckers, typically six or more in one match.
 
Feeling 1,200-pound ponies breeze by close to the field’s edge is quite common, as they reach speeds of up to 40 mph. The term “polo pony” stems from polo horses historically measuring in on the smaller side, between 13 hands to 15 hands. But nowadays the ponies on the field are closer to full-size horses, with some over 16 hands.  
 

What to Wear

We encourage you to wear your “Sunday best” to polo matches at IPC. If you’re a lady, a sundress or crisp white pants and a printed top are typical. Wedges or sandals are great choices for footwear, since you may be walking across the grass field. And sunglasses and hats are essential for looking chic while keeping you comfortable in the sun. Get into the spirit of the Wellington atmosphere and sprinkle in equestrian accessories like horse-bit earrings or a printed carousel cashmere scarf by Rani Arabella.

Men typically dress in business-casual wear such as khaki slacks or chino pants paired with a button-down shirt. Peter Millar makes a great performance sport button-down shirt if you’re looking to stay cool in the warm sunshine. If you like sporting a fedora or bow tie, this is definitely the sport to break those out.

What to wear at a Polo match
An example of what to wear to a Polo match

 

What to Bring

If you’re tailgating, theme parties are always popular at polo matches. Some spectators bring elaborate tablescapes and linens with fine sandwiches and champagne, while others keep it casual with coolers of beer and lounge chairs. Bring a picnic in a wicker basket, along with a beach towel or blanket to lounge in the sunshine. If you’re brunching in the pavilion, you don’t need much aside from your handbag and phone—so you can text your friends to meet up or post the fun on social media (don’t forget to tag us @palmbeachesfl and use #ThePalmBeaches).
 

Traditions

Champagne toasts and divot stomping are two traditional activities that take place on the field. During halftime, fans are encouraged to come out onto the field and stomp the patches of grass (divots) that were torn up by the polo ponies’ hooves making fast turns and galloping at high speeds. Typically music is playing, and some young polo players in the making may practice on the field with “foot mallets,” miniature mallets to practice their polo swings.
 
Cheering from the sidelines for either side during the match is typical. Polo players and grooms are quite friendly, and those interested in learning about the horses are encouraged to ask questions (and you may even get some photos with them, too!).

A view of the crowad at a polo match

 

Ticket Options

The gates open at noon, and the matches begin at 3 p.m. General admission tickets are $10; with those, you can choose from the bleachers and picnic areas. Just bring your own chair and know it’s first-come, first-served!
 
Stadium tickets get you an assigned seat for $30 each. Stadium seats, those closest to the action on the west side of the field, are spread out over three sections—south, center and north—with full-service bars located on the north and south ends.
 
Box seats are located above the stadium seats, giving members a higher-level view of the action. The boxes have limited availability and can seat eight. A seat costs $150; however, boxes are typically purchased as a set, with a limited number of individual box seats available for each match.
 
The Pavilion Champagne Brunch is the easy ticket choice for those wanting to see and be seen. It’s the prime ticket to the action, with a west-facing field-side view of the field and a fun atmosphere that includes an indoor-outdoor experience complete with a buffet brunch and additional beverage package add-ons. Individual seats and group tables may be purchased, and ticket prices vary depending on the match.
 

Brunching at a Polo match
#SundayFunday brunch at a Polo match

Inside the pavilion, the Celebrity Cruises Polo Lounge is the ultimate VIP experience which includes a specialty food buffet, a gift item, table and field-side lounge seating, one complimentary specialty drink, and more. Ticket prices vary depending on the match.
 
The East Side Tailgate is alongside the same side of the field as the pavilion. One 10-foot-by-10-foot tent can be reserved for the season for $6,000 and comes with 12 complimentary tickets.
 
If you’re a member of the International Polo Club, other members-only ticket options are available, along with perks like valet parking.
 

What’s New for 2019

2019 marks the inaugural year of the Gauntlet of Polo, the ultimate polo competition for a total prize of $1 million. Sixteen teams are competing with the hopes of winning all three tournaments—the C. V. Whitney Cup, the USPA Gold Cup and the U.S. Polo Championship—in order to collect The Gauntlet.
 
Don’t miss your chance to be part of the action!

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Ashley Cline
Ashley Cagle
Ashley Cline Cagle of EquestrianStylist.com is a lifestyle and fashion blogger based out of Wellington, Florida. Growing up living in fast-paced South Florida and competing at the Winter Equestrian Festival planted a seed for her love of fashion at a young age. With a degree in Fashion Merchandising from Florida State University and an M.B.A. in entrepreneurship from Nova Southeastern University, Ashley is committed to connecting the mainstream fashion industry to the equestrian community.