Once again, numerous polo players are staying in Aiken for the summer, and there are several players who will be hosting informal, private chukkers on their own fields to give their green horses some experience and keep their hand-eye coordination up to par. At least two clubs will be offering organized games and practices. One is Overbrook in Wagener, and the other is Aiken Polo Club, which has not had a summer polo program for about 20 years.
According to Overbrook's Clint Nangle, the polo at his club will be casual and laid back. "If you want to go charging down the field, it's probably not the right place for you - we have a style of play that is more easy-going," he says. Practices are currently scheduled for Wednesday evenings at 6:30 pm and Saturday mornings at 9:00 am, but the schedule could easily be modified to accommodate players' schedules.
Overbrook is also offering coaching chukkers with pointers on rules and plays, and has been running a full lesson program with private and semiprivate sessions available for riders of all types, beginners through advanced. Clint says that the lessons have been quite successful, bringing in numerous new players, both from the greater Aiken equestrian community and from Lexington and Columbia. The chief instructor is Christine Cato, who brings a wealth of polo experience at all levels, from low goal club chukkers up to the 20 goal and beyond. (For more information, check out the website: www.overbrookaiken.com or call 803-646-8350.)
Aiken Polo Club's summer season is not just the first summer polo it has offered in a long time, it is also the first arena polo the club has ever had. The club will be using the new polo arena at Hilltop Farm east of town on Hatchway Bridge Road. Practice chukkers are scheduled for Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 9 am, with more practice days if there are enough people who want to play.
Aiken polo club's manager, Craig Fraser, says that there are plans to have lessons, lease horses, clinics and a progression league. The practice season starts June 18 and will conclude in mid August or carry on until the fall outdoor season starts in September if people want to play. For chukkers, call the regular APC hotline: 803-643-3611. For more information, contact Craig: firstname.lastname@example.org or 803-292-3377.
In other polo news, this spring New Bridge Polo Club decided to encourage more participation at their club. They are lowering their dues by almost 50 percent, bringing them more in line with other club dues in the area. Now, homeowners at New Bridge can play polo for $3,000 per year, while outside players can join for $3,500 per year. New Bridge holds three practices a week and maintains practice and stick and ball fields. Members are welcome at the practices, can use the stick and ball fields, and get a discount on club tournaments. They can even use the other club amenities, which include a swimming pool and tennis courts. Practice days are Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, so they mesh perfectly with Aiken Polo Club, which holds practices on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. If you join both clubs, you will have somewhere to play six days a week!
Willie Hartnett, who manages the club says that there are a few other changes on the horizon this fall. For instance, the club always holds an 8 goal, the Copa de Plata in the fall, but this tournament is usually just a club event. Now it will be a USPA event, and a qualifier for the National Presidents Cup, held each April in Palm Beach. There is a lot of enthusiasm for this tournament and for all the other fall tournaments. In fact, Willie says that there are already a handful of entry forms in the office from teams that are either very organized or very eager for the season to begin. "We expect a big season on the 8 to 12 goal level," he says.