The United States Polo Association recently awarded its top national tournaments — the U.S. Open Polo Championship, the USPA Gold Cup, the C.V. Whitney Cup and the Butler Handicap — to the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington for the years 2019 through 2021.
The USPA Board of Governors, along with committees, subsidiary boards, club delegates, members and staff, met in Stevenson, Wash., Sept. 27-30 for the 2017 USPA Board of Governors and Annual Member Meeting.
The decision to keep the tournaments at IPC continues similar decisions dating back to 2004. That year, for the tournament’s 100th anniversary, the U.S. Open Polo Championship relocated to IPC, where it has been held ever since.
The U.S. Open is the final leg of the Florida high-goal winter season, which regularly attracts the top players and teams from around the world. The USPA is pleased to announce that the U.S. Open Final will be televised on CBS Primetime from IPC for the next three years.
It was also decided that these four top national tournaments will move from 20-26 goals to 18-22 goals for the years 2019 through 2021. This is a significant change for polo in the United States intended to support growth of the sport by increasing the number of teams participating, thereby resulting in more competitive tournaments.
“We were advocates and big supporters of this move from the beginning. It is critical for us to re-energize the sport and get more teams involved. This is a step in the right direction,” said Mark Bellissimo, managing partner of Wellington Equestrian Partners, which owns and operates IPC. “It is going to increase the number of participating teams, and I believe we’ll see the tournament become more competitive. In addition, this will provide more opportunity for American players and lower the cost of fielding a high-goal team. We’re looking forward to hosting the U.S. Open again at IPC for 2019 through 2021.”
USPA CEO Robert Puetz said the change was not a decision taken lightly.
“As the U.S. Open is the most respected and prestigious tournament played in the United States, we continually strive to keep the handicap level as high as possible,” he said. “However, based on recommendations from the High Goal and Tournament committees, and input from team owners, the association decided to lower the handicap level for a three-year period. We will monitor and revisit this decision over the course of the next few years.”
Together with IPC, the United States Polo Association will host the 2018 national high-goal tournaments, which will remain at 20 to 26 goals, with the U.S. Open Polo Championship Final culminating on April 22, 2018.
Founded in 1890, the United States Polo Association is the national governing body for the sport of polo. The USPA is currently comprised of almost 300 member clubs with thousands of individual members and oversees 40 national tournaments. For more information, visit www.uspolo.org.
The International Polo Club Palm Beach hosts the largest field of high-goal teams and the most prestigious polo tournaments in the United States. Polo enthusiasts descend upon Wellington each winter season to enjoy their love of the sport at the most prominent polo facility in the country.
The 2018 season opens Sunday, Dec. 31 and concludes 17 weeks later with the USPA 114th U.S. Open Polo Championship Final on Sunday, April 22.
Polo matches are open to the public, with a wide range of hospitality and guest seating. For more information, visit www.internationalpoloclub.com.