U.S. OPEN WOMEN'S POLO CHAMPIONSHIP®
The U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship has a profound history dating back to the 1930s in California. The first women’s U.S. Open tournament was presented by the United States Women’s Polo Association (U.S.W.P.A) in 1937 at Golden Gate Field in San Francisco, California. Riviera (Louise Tracey, Dorothy Rodgers, Audrey Scott, Ruth Cropp) defeated Santa Barbara 9-4 to capture the inaugural title. The U.S.W.P.A., the first and only women’s polo association in the history of American polo, created a women’s handicapping system mirroring that of the men, with one nine-goal player and several eight-goal players. The U.S.W.P.A. played eight to 10 tournaments a year accumulating 300 members and 25 clubs in its 10-year tenure. At the onset of World War II however, the women focused their attention towards the war effort.
Women were officially welcomed into the United States Polo Association (USPA) in 1972 with Sue Sally Hale becoming one of the first woman members. The modern U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship competition did not resurface until the early 1990s.
On the centennial anniversary of the USPA in 1990, a U.S. Women’s Open was officially sanctioned and held at Empire Polo Club in Indio, California. Appropriately, Hale along with her two daughters, Sunny and Stormie captured the title with teammate Caroline Anier. In an electrifying overtime match, Empire defeated Palmera Hanalei Bay 10-9, with Anier scoring the sudden-death goal in the seventh chukker.
After a few years of competition at Empire Polo Club, U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship competition once again lost momentum. It was officially recognized as a national tournament in 2011, and was hosted at Houston Polo Club (Houston, Texas) until it found a permanent home in South Florida in 2018. Recent champions since relocating to the Sunshine State include Hawaii Polo Life (2019, 2020, 2022) and BTA/The Villages (2021).
In 2023, newcomer La Fe (Winifred Branscum, Pamela Flanagan, Hope Arellano, Hazel Jackson) faced-off against returning contender Dundas (Ana de la Fuente, Erica Gandomcar-Sachs, Mia Cambiaso, Nina Clarkin). Relying on nonstop offensive firepower, especially from Arellano, La Fe launched an impressive effort that ended in a dominant 12-6 first-time victory and $40,000 in prize money. Read article here.
The most prestigious tournament in women's polo in the United States, the 2024 U.S. Open Women's Polo Championship will be hosted by Port Mayaca Polo Club (PMPC) in Okeechobee, Florida. Preliminary games will take place at PMPC, with the final slated for Friday, February 23 on U.S. Polo Assn. Field One at the National Polo Center - Wellington (NPC). Friday’s finale will include free food on the 7th Chukker’s veranda, as well as an after party at the Mallet Grille immediately following the final horn.
All games of the U.S. Open Women's Polo Championship will be livestreamed exclusively on the USPA Polo Network. Additionally, the final will be available on the ESPN family of brands. Check your local listings for times and channels.
This year's edition of the U.S. Open Women's Polo Championship presented by the Brad and Kathy Coors Foundation will feature many familiar faces and past champions spanning eight talented teams including 90210 Polo, BTA/Lazy 3, Buena Vibra, Iconica, La Fe, Mint Eco Car Wash, Parrotheads Polo and Work to Ride/Grand Champions.
Reigning victors, 10-goalers and former U.S. Open Women's Polo Championship Most Valuable Player recipients Hope Arellano and Hazel Jackson will team up once more for La Fe. Fellow champion Winifred Branscum will continue her steady rise in women's polo alongside four-time (2011, 2013, 2014, 2015) victor Maureen Brennan for Iconica. 2023 finalist Mia Cambiaso will attempt to earn her fourth (2019, 2020, 2022) U.S. Open Women's Polo Championship title joining 90210 Polo, as the competition's third 10-goaler Nina Clarkin will compete for Work to Ride/Grand Champions.
BTA/Lazy 3's Sarah Wiseman will seek to add to her impressive U.S. Open Women's Polo Championship record, vying for her fifth (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017) title, as Mint Eco Car Wash's Kylie Sheehan looks for a return to the podium for the first time since 2021. Former champion Lia Salvo (2017) will attempt to deliver Parrotheads Polo their first victory, as fellow newcomer Buena Vibra will round-out the impressive competition.
Representing Team USPA is Active Member Hope Arellano (La Fe), Sophie Grant (Parrotheads Polo) and alumna Kylie Sheehan (Mint Eco Car Wash).
The U.S. Open Women's Polo Championship will award $25,000 in prize money. The prize will divided between first ($17,000) and second ($8,000) place teams. U.S. Polo Assn. will continue to encourage the spirit of philanthropy this winter season by providing $2,500 to both the winning team and the runner-up to donate to the polo charity of their choice.
2023 U.S. Open Women's Polo Championship Winners: La Fe - Hazel Jackson, Hope Arellano, Pamela Flanagan, Winifred Branscum. ©David Lominska