USPA Launches New Florida Circuit 16-Goal Series & Championship

NPC’s U.S. Polo Assn. Field One in Wellington will offer 16-goal teams the opportunity to experience the true feeling of high-goal polo. Photo by David Lominska

The United States Polo Association and participating clubs recently announced the inaugural Florida Circuit 16-Goal Series. Spearheaded by Tournament Committee Chair Stevie Orthwein, the series will be played across multiple clubs, with the championship hosted by the National Polo Center-Wellington (NPC), previously known as the International Polo Club Palm Beach.

The participating clubs include the Port Mayaca Polo Club (Okeechobee) and the Sarasota Polo Club (Sarasota), as well as the Wellington Polo Tour (WPT), led by Patagones Polo Club (Wellington), and a series of private fields falling under the WPT umbrella.

The USPA tournaments that comprise the series include the Joe Barry Memorial, the Ylvisaker Cup, the Iglehart Cup and the 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,” USPA Executive Director of Services Carlucho Arellano said. “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 explained.

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’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.

“Medium goal in the past has lacked a coordinated, prestigious event. It has always been on the back burner,” he said. “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,” Orthwein said. “I think we are going to see some really interesting teams. The championship being at multiple clubs allows more people to be involved.”

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.

“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,” Arellano said. “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 championships 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 said, noting that 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.

Joe Barry Memorial — Hosted and managed by the Port Mayaca Polo Club. Tournament Dates: Jan. 3 to Jan. 22, 2023, with three Sundays on NPC’s U.S. Polo Assn. Field One. For entry, contact Laura Townsend at (772) 228-0115 or

Ylvisaker Cup — Hosted and managed by the Wellington Polo Tour. Tournament Dates: Jan. 20 to Feb. 12, 2023, with three Sundays on NPC’s U.S. Polo Assn. Field One. For entry, contact Juan Olivera at (561) 601-9316 or

Iglehart Cup — Hosted and managed by the Wellington Polo Tour. Tournament Dates: Feb. 10 to March 5, 2023. For entry, contact Juan Olivera at (561) 601-9316 or

Continental Cup — Hosted and managed by the Sarasota Polo Club. Tournament Dates: Feb. 26 to March 26, 2023. For entry, contact Mason Wroe at (432) 559-7169 or

Florida Circuit 16-Goal Series Championship — Hosted and managed by NPC. Tournament Dates: April 5 to April 9, 2023, at NPC. Entry limited to the four winners of the qualifying tournaments.