The United States Polo Association and participating clubs are eager to announce the inaugural Florida Circuit 16-Goal Series. Spearheaded by Tournament Committee Chairman, Stevie Orthwein, the series will be played across multiple clubs, with the Championship hosted by the National Polo Center – Wellington (NPC). The participating clubs include Port Mayaca Polo Club (Okeechobee, Florida) and Sarasota Polo Club (Sarasota, Florida) as well as the Wellington Polo Tour (WPT) led by Patagones Polo Club (Wellington, Florida) and a series of private fields falling under the WPT umbrella. The USPA tournaments that comprise the series include the Joe Barry Memorial, Ylvisaker Cup, Iglehart Cup and Continental Cup. Each tournament will serve as a qualifier for the Florida Circuit 16-Goal Series Championship, with each winning team moving on to the final event at the beginning of April.
A true testament to collaboration between South Florida clubs, there is a shared benefit in this new endeavor, allowing for participants to experience all the comforts of their home club while also having the opportunity to play in front of a large crowd at NPC. The Joe Barry Memorial and the Ylvisaker Cup will both be guaranteed three Sunday matches on NPC’s U.S. Polo Assn. Field One, while all Championship games will be played at NPC. The innovative medium-goal event is expected to draw more teams into competition than in previous years. “The Ylvisaker Cup, Iglehart Cup and Joe Barry Memorial have not been very well attended in regard to spectators and team participation the past few years,” shared USPA Executive Director of Services Carlucho Arellano. “Often the same few teams play for the first two months. We wanted to make these events National Events to add to the prestige and attract more teams. It will be more exciting to see different teams, and we’re confident that it will bring more people into the stands.”
An initiative that began in June with the USPA’s purchase of NPC, Orthwein and the Tournament Committee were driven to make the most of the new facility. “NPC is an asset that all USPA members want to use, and we had to come up with a way where we could work together to use it,” Orthwein remarked. The Committee’s goal was to involve as many clubs and members in the area as possible to create the best possible medium-goal competition. Located three hours west of NPC, Sarasota Polo Club’s involvement is especially noteworthy given the distance, and enthusiastically welcomed and celebrated in the spirit of improving the level of polo across the circuit.
Intentionally scheduled so that no two qualifiers overlap, the series encourages participation from all interested teams and strives to make playing in any and all qualifiers possible. This also ensures that each host club will have the opportunity to take the spotlight during their qualifier and no participating club gets overshadowed. However, teams are not required to enter all four qualifying tournaments; single tournament entries are permitted. The winning team from each qualifying tournament will qualify for the Florida Circuit 16-Goal Series Championship (which will include four teams) held at NPC from Wednesday, April 5, 2023 through Sunday, April 9, 2023, with the final held on NPC’s U.S. Polo Assn. Field One. Should a team win more than one qualifier, that team will automatically advance to the Florida Circuit 16-Goal Series Championship. To reinforce the idea that all participation is encouraged, players may compete in as many events as they would like on either the same team or on different teams. Yet, if a player triumphs in more than one event but on different teams, that player must choose which team he or she would like to compete with in the Florida Circuit 16-Goal Series Championship and the other team may use a substitute. Qualifying teams must maintain at least two of their original members in order to play in the Championship.
Thrilled that the idea is taking off, Orthwein noted the importance of this series for the future of medium-goal polo, saying, “Medium-goal in the past has lacked a coordinated, prestigious event. It has always been on the back-burner. Here’s the chance to make a very prestigious event. That’s something I’d like to grow and build on at this level. At the heart of it, all the clubs want to have better polo and a more dynamic Florida season.”
The series also opens doors for a wide variety of players, including those looking to transition from low-goal to medium-goal, some who want to play at a competitive level outside of high-goal, as well as many who are eager to test the waters before taking their team to the high-goal level. “The 16-goal level is the crossroads of medium-goal and high-goal. You’re going to have a lot of surprising winners and competitive games and players who don’t normally compete at that level,” added Orthwein. “I think we are going to see some really interesting teams. The Championship being at multiple clubs allows more people to be involved,” he continued. Intended to raise the bar for medium-goal polo, the increased number of participants in the tournaments will force clubs to increase their competitive edge. “It’s a way for clubs to measure themselves and to challenge other clubs,” Arellano noted. “We’re hoping that it’s going to improve the level across the state and across the circuit.”
Another great benefit for professional players, especially Americans, is the visibility and opportunity to showcase their talents which could lead to opportunities at a higher level in the future. Arellano shared, “We’re finding it’s a great step up for a lot of 4-, 5-, and 6-goal American players who are able to play at this level.” He continued, “They can improve their string and they can keep that competitive edge so that if they get an opportunity to play the high goal, they’re right there.” As all of the qualifiers and the Championship are National Events they will follow USPA tournament rules, meaning that many spots will be reserved for Americans, ensuring the continued development of homegrown talent.
The true beauty of the endeavor is not only what it promises for medium-goal polo, but what it promises more broadly for the sport. While the series focuses specifically on medium goal, there is room to expand to other levels. “This series of multiple clubs playing in something that culminates in a championship at NPC is a concept that could easily be translated to other levels of polo,” Orthwein asserted. The USPA’s ownership of NPC, has created possibilities for inclusion and growth in all areas of American polo.
Given the recent success of the Gauntlet of Polo, suspense is building regarding a new winter series in the Florida Circuit 16-Goal Series Championship. Enthusiasm is spreading, and many teams are already getting organized and preparing to enter qualifiers. While spots are filling fast, it is not too late to throw a hat in the ring.
More information on dates and how to enter each event is listed below.
Florida Circuit 16-Goal Series Championship Qualifying Tournaments
Joe Barry Memorial
• Hosted and managed by Port Mayaca Polo Club
• Tournament Dates: January 3- January 22, 2023 (Three Sundays on the NPC U.S. Polo Assn. Field One)
• Final: January 22, 2023, on NPC U.S. Polo Assn. Field One
• Contact Laura Townsend for entry
Phone: (772) 228-0115
• Hosted and managed by Wellington Polo Tour
• Tournament Dates: January 20-February 12, 2023 (Three Sundays on the NPC U.S. Polo Assn. Field One)
• Final: February 12, 2023, on NPC U.S. Polo Assn. Field One
• Contact Juan Olivera for entry
Phone: 1 (561) 601-9316
• Hosted and managed by Wellington Polo Tour
• Tournament Dates: February 10-March 5, 2023
• Contact Juan Olivera for entry
Phone: 1 (561) 601-9316
• Hosted and managed by Sarasota Polo Club
• Tournament Dates: February 26-March 26, 2023
• Contact Mason Wroe for entry
Florida Circuit 16-Goal Series Championship
• Hosted and managed by NPC
• Tournament Dates: April 5-April 9, 2023 (All games played at NPC)
• Entry limited to the four winners of the qualifying tournaments
The United States Polo Association® is organized and exists for the purposes of promoting the game of polo; coordinating the activities of its member clubs and registered player members; arranging and supervising polo tournaments, competitions, and games; and providing rules, handicaps and tournament conditions for those events. Its overarching goals are improving the sport and promoting the safety and welfare of its human and equine participants. Founded in 1890, the USPA is the largest voluntary sports organization in North America for the sport of polo. The USPA is currently made up of more than 200 member clubs and approximately 5,000 registered player members. It annually awards and oversees roughly 50 national tournaments hosted by its member clubs. For more information, please visit uspolo.org.
About National Polo Center – Wellington
The National Polo Center – Wellington (NPC) is located in the heart of South Florida’s legendary horse country. The perpetual home for polo in America, NPC is owned and managed by the United States Polo Association to showcase the finest the sport has to offer. The Association’s premiere event, the Gauntlet of Polo, takes place from February to April each winter season showcasing the world’s preeminent teams, professional athletes and finest horses which come together for three months to battle head-to-head for the coveted C.V. Whitney Cup, USPA Gold Cup and U.S. Open Polo Championship trophies. Throughout the year, the facilities are also used to showcase USPA Member Clubs and prestigious national tournament competition.
The entrance to the club is via a palm tree-lined drive, that leads past tennis courts to the steps of the magnificent pool and Mallet Grille. The natural Florida terrain is augmented by a large lake, lush tropical landscaping and some of the most carefully manicured polo fields in the world. Spectating from the stadium, private boxes, fieldside tailgates and special hospitality tents, all overlooking the U.S. Polo Assn. Field One is an unparalleled experience. NPC invites you to experience the best polo in the country, taking place at one of the most beautiful venues in the world, the National Polo Center – Wellington.
About Sarasota Polo Club
Spanning 170 perfectly manicured acres, Sarasota Polo Club’s world-class facilities include: 45 private equestrian estates, seven Bermuda grass polo fields, a regulation-sized polo arena, a half-mile all-weather training track, stick-and-ball fields, riding trails, on-site stabling for up to 300 horses, an on-site veterinary clinic, a members clubhouse and a midfield polo pavilion.
For decades Sarasota Polo Club has been a popular destination and an important part of the Sarasota and Lakewood Ranch social scenes. In addition to polo, the club’s spectacular grounds and venues are home to a variety of community and social events including concerts, festivals, theater, sporting events, charity fundraisers, corporate meetings and elegant weddings. The entire facility, grounds, clubhouse and pavilion can be rented in part or as a whole.
About Port Mayaca Polo Club
Port Mayaca Polo Club (PMPC) located in Okeechobee, Florida, was founded with the mindset of bringing polo players together to share in the enjoyment and camaraderie of the polo lifestyle. Traditionally polo players traveled to Florida polo clubs to play on great fields and collaborate with other like-minded polo enthusiasts. In many ways, PMPC feels this concept has been lost over the years. Port Mayaca Polo Club takes this idea to heart and keeps it in mind with everything they do. The club strives to promote competition without animosity, quality without pretense, comfort without extravagance, and sportsmanship above all else. Port Mayaca Polo Club welcomes all polo enthusiasts to join in the community they have built to share in the love of the sport.
About Wellington Polo Tour
The Wellington Polo Tour (WPT) was created with the intention of offering fun, friendly and competitive 16-goal polo in the South Florida region. Hosting games across several different private fields, WPT provides the high-goal experience at a medium-goal level. In its inaugural year, WPT was a great success, with 12 teams competing and showcasing the promise of WPT’s original mission. This year, WPT looks forward to participating in the Florida Circuit 16-Goal Series to continue working to create space for competitive 16-goal polo in South Florida.[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”1280″ display=”basic_thumbnail” thumbnail_crop=”0″]