Could Savannah take on the sport of kings?

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Polo is a game played on horseback between two teams of four players, each using racquets with long, flexible handles to propel a wooden ball across a grass field and between two goal posts.

According to the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame, the sport of polo predates recorded history. Its origins lie in the inspiring relationship between man and horse.

This special bond and the unique mixture of sporting talents between horse and rider have contributed to polo developing into the so-called sport of kings.

Cyril Harrison, Honorary Member of the Hall of Fame, dedicated his life to polo, recognized as an accomplished player, gifted trainer, beloved mentor, respected rider and exceptional trainer of polo ponies. (provided by the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame)

Polo has a strong heritage in the city of Savannah that began with Georgia National Guard soldiers who loved the sport so much that they decided to do something about it.

They organized the Savannah Polo Club on November 3, 1924 to promote and enjoy polo. Membership was open to members of the United States Army and Navy. Members paid dues to be part of the club.

This is not surprising since, according to the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame, the Army supported polo for many years beginning in 1896 in Fort Riley, Kansas. In addition to improving cavalrymen’s riding skills, polo taught leadership, teamwork, and strategy.

West Point introduced polo in 1901. By 1914 there were 17 army posts playing polo.

In 1928, the Army team reached the finals of the US Open, and there were Army polo teams in the United States, Philippines, Hawaii, and Panama.

(Getty Images)

Unfortunately, the last game for the Savannah Polo Club was played on February 24, 1929. The club was succeeded by the Artillery Polo Club, which existed for only a few months.

Since then, Savannah has not been entirely free of polo, as the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) has an equestrian program. Her team attended a polo game in South Carolina honoring the Polo 4 Heroes, a nonprofit organization that assists wounded military heroes.

Charity polo competitions are not uncommon around the world. For example, the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, attended a Royal Charity Polo Cup hosted by Out-Sourcing Inc. at Windsor Great Park to raise funds and raise awareness for various organisations.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge plays the Out-Sourcing Inc. Royal Charity Polo Cup at Guards Polo Club, Flemish Farm on July 9, 2021 in Windsor, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

There aren’t many opportunities to play polo for fun in Savannah. That’s perhaps because some locals agree with the People of Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which says, “We can bond with horses in our care and have a meaningful and mutually beneficial relationship with these sensitive animals without on to climb them.”

Or maybe some think that the sport in general is too expensive. After all, it is known as the sport of kings.

“The sport of polo is often thought of as a sport for the wealthy, but polo can be enjoyed by horse lovers from all walks of life and all ages, from youth to retirees,” said Barbara Parker, club manager of Overbrook Polo in Aiken County, South Carolina.

Overbrook Polo Club Clinic of the US Polo Association. (Photo provided by Overbrook Polo Club)

She continued, “Polo can be an adrenaline rush or just played for the pleasure of horses, teamwork, camaraderie, fresh air and healthy outdoor exercise.”

“In Overbrook, local players travel from all over South Carolina and Georgia to join local players and enjoy a relaxing day of casual, friendly polo that welcomes all levels,” said Parker. “Polo can be full of glamor and glitz, but at Wagener it’s played by everyday community members just for the love of horses and the joy of the sport.”

Brenda Lynn, Director of Development at the Museum of Polo & Hall of Fame, said of reigniting Savannah’s fire in sport, “Savannah is a wonderful city of great historical importance.

“I can’t think of anything more fitting than reviving the oldest surviving organized team sport in the world there,” she added.

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