What can I say I love this game! During my recent visit to Aiken, South Carolina I got to see my firest ever polo match. (I decided to share about my polo experience first, rest of Aiken still to come)
Before leaving our hotel for the match, I read through an invaluable resource (Aiken Polo Club magazine) and learned all about the game of polo.
Here are some of the basics:
1) Each players mallet is between 51 and 53 inches long.
2) All players are required to hold the mallet in their right hands (no matter what their dominant hand may be)
3) The first objective is to hit the ball through the set of posts (at either end of the field) The ball can go through at any height.
4) A goal judge (flagger) will wave the flag above his head if the ball went through the posts, or wave the flag by his feet if it didn’t.
5) The main goal of the game is to prevent the players of the opposing team from scoring any points.
When we got to the polo field, first we had to find a place to park behind the white saftey line. Many of the spaces where our fellow tail-gaters were parked were reserved for sponsors of the Aiken polo club… but we had no trouble finding a good spot.
The weather was nice the day we went, but instead of watching from the car we opted for the social tent and we were glad we did. The tent provided shelter from the very sunny day (if you’re going to be there for 2 hours you’re gonna want some shade, and the hat won’t always do it…
You can get all the drinks your little heart desires, and watch the games from the rows of long white tablecloth covered tables. (And you can even bring your pet with you)
Now for the game:
1) Each play begins with each team lined up center-field. (with opposite teams facing each other, much like in every other sports game)
2) The umpire bowls the ball between the two teams.
3) Each team tries to get control of the ball and head towards the opposite goal.
4) Every time a goal is made the teams have to switch directions. (This helps with field conditions)
5) If a ball goes over the boards then the umpire has the teams line up at the point of entry and bowls the ball between the teams again.
6) A polo match is divided into four or six ‘chuckkers’ each lasting 7 1/2 minutes. (The timekeeper stops the clock if there’s a foul, or the ball goes over the boards, at 30 seconds left a warning bell is sounded) At the end of those 30 seconds a horn is sounded… time to get off the field and change horses for the next chukker…
I have to say there was nothing remotely dull about this 6 chukker polo match… from beginning to end I felt at one with the action taking opportunities (when I could) to not only observe the game from the tent but also on either end of the field…
My first polo experience was amazing and I can definitely say it’s one of my all time favorite spots to watch!