Oct 23, 2023 10:08 PM

2023 USPA Fall Committee and Board of Governors Meetings.

The USPA Fall Committee, Board of Governors and Annual Member Meeting was held from Wednesday, September 27 through Saturday, September 30 at La Quinta Resort & Club in Indio, California. The meetings were held both virtually via Zoom and in-person to allow for optimal member participation.

The USPA Fall Committee, Board of Governors and Annual Member Meeting provides USPA members and staff with the opportunity to audit committees and become more involved with the governance and future direction of the Association. During the Fall Meetings, members were able to voice their opinions, seek advice from USPA leadership and pose questions relevant to the sport.

2023 I/I Young Alumni Award recipient Jenny Schwartz, presented by USPA Governor-at-Large Cindy Halle. NYTS Chair and Executive Committee Secretary Chrys Beal. ©USPA
2023 I/I Young Alumni Award recipient Jenny Schwartz, presented by USPA Governor-at-Large Cindy Halle.

The week of meetings commenced on Wednesday morning, and later that evening, the Chairman's reception was hosted. In addition to welcoming everyone to the meetings and Indio, the guests had the opportunity to honor the recipients of the I/I Service Awards, including Clyde Waddell, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award, Megan Judge, honored with the Service Award, and Jenny Schwartz, the recipient of the Young Alumni Award. Following three days of productive meetings, the week culminated in the Board of Governors meeting on Saturday. The Board heard reports from many of the divisions, LLCs’, and committees. Additionally, the Board approved the 2024 Operating Budget, USPA By Law changes, revisions to the Rules and Tournament Conditions, and several other amendments to programs and initiatives.



The Arena Committee discussed implementation of the arena rules changes to go into effect immediately upon publication by the USPA. Bradley Biddle, Umpires LLC Arena Umpire Director, will be working with arena clubs to begin applying these changes.

Kaila Dowd, USPA Tournament Coordinator, reviewed the 2023 tournaments: 80 tournaments were awarded with 54 using USPA tournament support programs. Dowd also highlighted the upcoming U.S. Arena Open Polo Championship, which currently looks to include eight teams, making it the largest tournament at that level in the history of the event.

Ed Armstrong, Event Manager of the Buddy Combs International Arena Challenge, discussed the success of the inaugural international event, won by Guatemala, and held at Middleburg Polo Club in Middleburg, Virginia in September.

Arena Committee Chair, Robin Sanchez, shared an overview of USPA arena clubs which showed growth across all areas. This growth was attributed to the increasing popularity of collegiate polo, which has been made more accessible and in which arenas are safe and can accommodate heavy traffic. Sanchez noted that arena polo is growing nationwide due to its affordability and profitability, making it an excellent choice as an amateur sport. Heather Perkins and Denny Geiler shared information on the Orange County Polo Club and how the club has utilized their space and resources to become a successful, arena-only club in Southern California.

Sanchez and Biddle discussed how to capitalize on the recent success of arena polo by analyzing statistics and the possible creation of a more effective way to support arena polo within the USPA. An Arena Strategic Planning Committee has been created to develop this project and will have further reports to present at the USPA spring meetings.


The Armed Forces Committee gathered to discuss the growth and success of military polo events. The Committee reported that 2023 has been a record-breaking year for military polo with 41 circuit events awarded. Highlights include when American polo players traveled to Querétaro, Mexico, to participate in a friendly exhibition game this past May. Following the success of this international Armed Forces event, the Committee announced plans to host a reciprocal match in 2024. The Committee discussed “Military Polo Week.” The inaugural event, which took place from Monday, October 3 to Sunday, October 8, served as an extravaganza of polo games and activities with invited guests from the United Kingdom. The Committee and Chairman also highlighted the support of General John Richardson who was instrumental in inviting military personnel to the finals of the Churchill-Roosevelt Cup.

USPA Chairman Stewart Armstrong. ©USPA
USPA Chairman Stewart Armstrong.


The BASDC discussed two new agenda items: Arena Polo’s Strategic Plan and Carlucho Arellano’s personal pursuit of an Executive MBA. The Committee reported that executive development and professional training continues with positive results. The BASDC clarified the Governors’ attendance policy (for those Governors on the Board) as follows: three consecutive absences at a Board meeting automatically disqualifies one as a Governor. Regarding the National Polo Center – Wellington, the Committee reported NPC continues to grow towards managing their own business ventures.


The Constitution Committee proposed five changes to the USPA By Laws for 2024, and the Board of Governors approved all recommendations. First, a set timeline for Circuit boundaries was established. USPA Circuits will undergo a review every six years beginning in 2027. Next, the term limit for USPA Officers was extended from two 3-year terms to three, three-year terms. Similarly, language was added defining Advisory Committee Chairs terms as three, three-year terms as well. A provision was put in place to allow the Board to not accept a member for moral turpitude or proven animal abuse. Finally, additional language was added to the attorney’s fee clause.

Beth Beeghly (M) and Jennifer Harper (R) accept the 2023 I/I Lifetime Achievement Award posthumously on behalf of their father Clyde Waddell, presented by USPA I/I Funding and Awards Chair Miranda Luna. ©USPA
Beth Beeghly (M) and Jennifer Harper (R) accept the 2023 I/I Lifetime Achievement Award posthumously on behalf of their father Clyde Waddell, presented by USPA I/I Funding and Awards Chair Miranda Luna.


The Club and Membership Administration Committee (CMAC) presented a formal Circuit Review Process, as well as a $50 rush fee for any member paying within 72 hours of playing, both of which were approved by the Board.


The Equine Welfare Committee provided an update on the Board approved Equine Drugs and Medications Rule changes for 2024: the word “drug” will be removed from the rules to rebrand the program as the Equine Medications Testing Program. The Committee also provided an update on the status of the 2023 testing program: 190 horses played by 120 players have been tested at 14 clubs in 10 of the 11 USPA circuits. Of the 190 horses tested, eight yielded positive results (4%).

©David Lominska
©David Lominska


USPA Global Licensing Treasurer and USPA Finance Committee Chairman Sam Ramirez Jr. introduced Michael Prince, USPA Global Licensing’s President and CEO, who highlighted the performance of the U.S. Polo Assn. brand in comparison to its industry peers. The U.S. Polo Assn. brand executed an impressive 77% growth rate, which was significantly greater than its peers in the industry ranging from top sports brands to fashion brands. Prince also provided a financial update on the U.S. Polo Assn. brand, which is targeting a long-term goal of $3.0 billion as the brand expands into additional global markets and categories.

Representatives from the Meketa Investment Group, Larry Witt and Shawn Bowen, provided an overview of year-to-date returns which showed a sound recovery in 2023 following a challenging 2022 fiscal year. The potential for a recession, as displayed by the continued inversion in the yield curve depicted by current data, remains a concern. A stress test and risk analysis have been performed on the investment portfolio, indicating that the USPA maintains sufficient reserves to meet the covenants of the loan used to acquire the National Polo Center – Wellington. Committee Chairman Ramirez Jr. and USPA Treasurer Steven Rudolph expressed the need to maintain a conservative stance on significant financial expenditures.

The Finance Committee endorsed the USPA operating budget of $20,908,841 for approval by the Board of Governors at its meeting on Saturday, September 30. The operating budget includes the not-for-profit entities of the USPA, Inc. (Corporate, Communications and Services), USPA Umpires, LLC, USPA Polo Development, LLC, USPA Sunday Field, LLC and NPC Polo Operations, LLC.

NYTS Chair and Executive Committee Secretary Chrys Beal. ©USPA
NYTS Chair and Executive Committee Secretary Chrys Beal.


The Rules Committee approved final recommendations for 2024 rule changes, which were later approved by the Board of Governors on Saturday, September 30. The approved recommendations include minor changes to the USPA Arena Rules and Optional Tournament Conditions which will become effective when they are published to the membership and will apply in the 2023-24 I/I season.

The USPA Outdoor Rules changes include the following, which will become effective on Monday, January 1, 2024:

  • A revision to Outdoor Rule 1.f (American Rule) to allow for a designated sponsor or playing sponsor who is an Affiliate Player Member to use an immediate family member as a substitute.
  • The elimination of Outdoor Rule 3.g due to inconsistency with the American Rule.
  • A revision to Outdoor Rule 4.b to require teams to wear jerseys made up of at least 75% dark or light color which adequately distinguish the players on one team from the players on another.
  • A revision to Outdoor Rule 5.d to clarify Umpire-initiated horse removal procedures.
  • A revision to Outdoor Rule 6.a to require issuance of a red card to the responsible player (rather than team forfeiture) for violations of the heel calk limitations.
  • Revisions to USPA Outdoor Rule 14.d and Tournament Condition Section VI B.2.g to standardize shootout procedures.
  • Revisions to the USPA Outdoor Rule 17 and Tournament Condition Section VI B.2.c to standardize round-robin procedures.
  • Revisions to Outdoor Rule 21 specifying that forfeiture is the penalty for returning a horse that has been excused under provisions f(1)(ii) or f(4).
  • Additional Interpretations and Examples for Outdoor Rule 24.d (Right of Way) specifying in detail the standard of enforcement for turning on the ball.
  • Revisions to Outdoor Rule 33 to modify yellow and red card procedures.
  • A revision to Outdoor Rule 36 to provide for a Penalty 1 when a yellow card is issued on a Penalty 2.
  • An additional Interpretation for the Penalty 7 description in Outdoor Rule 37 to explicitly allow the fouling team to substitute back up to the original non-removed players’ handicap limit after it is reduced to three players.

The Tournament Condition changes include the following, which will become effective on Monday, January 1, 2024:

  • Elimination of Optional Tournament Condition XII (for USPA Outdoor Rule 19 –treatment of half goals in High Level Polo).
  • A new Optional Tournament Condition (modifying Outdoor Rule 8.a) allowing for the use of one Professional Umpire (rather than three Officials) in tournament games at 8 goals and below.
  • A new Optional Tournament Condition (modifying Outdoor Rule 19) to allow the rounding down of half-goal handicaps in Club Events only.
  • Revisions to Tournament Condition VIII (Instant Replay) to update instant replay procedures.
  • Revisions to Optional Tournament Condition IX (Fair Play Thow-In) to use a Fair Play Free Hit procedure instead.
  • A revision to Optional Tournament Condition XIV (the “Buzzer-Beater”) to clarify that the ball is dead where it stops or is touched after the whistle.
USPA Mid States Circuit Governor Jorge Vasquez and Governor-at-Large Erica Gandomcar-Sachs. ©USPA
USPA Midstates Circuit Governor Jorge Vasquez and Governor-at-Large Erica Gandomcar-Sachs.


The Safety Committee featured a lecture from renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Thorkild Norregaard, MD, who presented the 2021 Injury Survey Data. Results from the survey, which received 104 responses, indicated that the more one plays/rides and the higher one is rated, the less likely one is to have an injury. Of the respondents surveyed, 95% reported wearing a helmet at the time of the injury.

In relation to these findings, the Committee presented a new document to be placed in the Policies section of the Rulebook created by the American Academy of Neurology which provides information on how to recognize sports concussions in athletes, which was approved by the Board to be added into the 2024 Rulebook.


The Tournament Committee reported that more USPA tournaments have been awarded to more USPA Member Clubs than ever before. The Committee’s data showed that 95% of host clubs utilized the Tournament Support Program (TSP) or the Prize Money Matching Program (PMMP), with more prize money awarded in 2023 than in previous years. The Bridge to High Goal (B2HG) initiative and Legacy Series program were also reported as successful: since their inception, tournaments played between the 12-to 16-goal level have increased by more than 100%. The Committee discussed the new format for the Regional and National President’s Cup, which was announced earlier this year. Eight Regional President’s Cups have been awarded to qualify teams to compete in the 2024 National President’s Cup, which will be played at the National Polo Center – Wellington in April.

Additionally, the Tournament Committee and Board approved the 2023 and 2024 National and Sanctioned Tournament applications.


The Women's Committee discussed the formation of the Women of Wellington (WOW) medium-goal polo league. WOW will offer three 10- to 14-goal USPA tournaments in the Wellington, Florida, area. The 2024 tournaments will be played January through April with a break in the schedule to pause for the U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship. The series aims to provide a platform to promote female players to advance to the U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship while creating additional playing opportunities for amateurs and professionals. The committee noted that the 2024 U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship will be played in February, with the final being played at the National Polo Center – Wellington on U.S. Polo Assn. Field One and will serve as the featured match on Sunday, February 18.

2023 U.S. Open Women's Polo Championship victors La Fe's Hope Arellano and Pamela Flanagan. ©David Lominska
2023 U.S. Open Women's Polo Championship victors La Fe's Hope Arellano and Pamela Flanagan. ©David Lominska


Chairman of NPC Hospitality Operations Tim Gannon spoke about the changes made to the club during the 2023 season and summer. The property has undergone renovations that include revitalizing the Mallet Grille and Pavilion building. The club has started construction of a storage facility that will allow for better cost control of property storage throughout the year. Gannon also discussed the 2024 season in terms of member events, the introduction of a concierge program, a social calendar and new communication efforts to ensure member satisfaction. The Polo Club at NPC is looking at improving operating cash flows in each year of its fiscal forecast driven primarily by membership increases and revenue growth.


Charles Smith, Chair of the NPC Polo Operations LLC Advisory Committee, spoke about NPC’s successes in its first year of operation and things to come in year two. The committee has finalized the schedule for the 2024 season, adding one week of polo while also providing polo at various levels from 8- to 22-goal, including women's polo. The NPC fields have been significantly improved since the USPA purchased the facility, and NPC Polo Operations will continue to maintain them to the highest standards. Box office revenue projections indicate a healthy increase for 2024. The NPC Polo Operations team has worked hard to enhance the facility, aiming to improve the NPC experience for both players and spectators. The Committee worked closely with the Communications Division to build out the final brand and logo for NPC. Looking ahead, NPC Polo Operations plans to further leverage sponsorships and off-season events to grow revenue.


The presentation from USPA Polo Development, LLC focused on program and project updates for the Advisory Committees that make up Polo Development LLC: Team USPA, Junior Polo, Intercollegiate/Interscholastic (I/I) and Polo Development Initiative (PDI).

Polo Development LLC invited Team USPA member Ryan Kerley to discuss his player development and how the financial support from Team USPA has been vital to his upward mobility as a player. Kerley’s development included participating in the Young Players Opportunity (YPO) program and the National Youth Tournament Series (NYTS), both of which are a part of Junior Committee programming. Following Kerley’s presentation, Hayley Heatley and NYTS Chairman Chrys Beal reviewed the recently concluded 2023 NYTS Championships, hosted by New Bridge Polo & Country Club in Aiken, South Carolina. The Committee noted the crossover of many players from NYTS to I/I polo. Between NYTS and I/I, these young individuals have a 12-month season to compete and develop as players.

In I/I Polo, the Intercollegiate/Interscholastic Committee presented changes to the 2024 I/I Tournament Conditions and explained the summer review process, as well as topics used to determine said recommendations. Chairman Liz Brayboy reported on the activities of the I/I program throughout the summer including the I/I “Ask the Expert” series, the summer review process, the intercollegiate scholarship recipients and 2023 I/I Service Award recipients. The award service awards were presented during the Chairman’s reception and were awarded to Clyde Waddell (Lifetime Achievement Award), Megan Judge (Service Award) and Jenny Schwartz (Young Alumni Award).

The Committee reported on fall event planning, the new middle school league point system, the intercollegiate clinic program as well as funding opportunities. The I/I report concluded with highlighting the achievements of I/I alumni in various USPA events throughout the year, including five of the six players who recently competed in the Buddy Combs International Arena Challenge.

Justin Powers and Chairman Bob McMurtry reflected on the impact the PDI has made on the critical infrastructure needed to develop the sport of polo. Now in its fifth year, the PDI program has partially supported infrastructure projects estimated at $8.5 million. The PDI presentation included testimonials from various clubs that have benefited from PDI capital investments and a synopsis of the data the PDI Committee utilizes during its review process.

Michael Foster of the International Polo Academy (IPA) led the audience through a virtual tour of the recently launched USPA Polo Development E-Learning platform, which is now available to all USPA members. The extensive E-Learning platform contains content from top players and instructors, serves as the new home of Poloskilz and provides another tool to be utilized in the development of the sport.

2023 National Youth Tournament Series Cecil Smith Cup Champions: Western - Ryan Kerley, Micaela Saracco, Will Schneider, Piers Bossom. ©Kaile Roos
2023 National Youth Tournament Series Cecil Smith Cup Champions: Western - Ryan Kerley, Micaela Saracco, Will Schneider, Piers Bossom. ©Kaile Roos


Matt Baran, Executive Director of Communications, and Cristina Fernandez, Communications Manager, discussed highlights since the USPA Spring Committee and Board of Governors Meetings and covered topics such as USPA Polo Network viewership, social media engagement, USPA tournament coverage and National Polo Center – Wellington (NPC) marketing efforts. POLO magazine Editor and Publisher, Gwen Rizzo, provided a status update on the magazine’s archival project, which aims to digitize every publication dating back to 1975. To date, the project has successfully scanned over 30,000 pages of content and is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Baran discussed the continued growth of the USPA Polo Network and the success of livestreamed events. The channel reported an 828% increase in YouTube video views and an increase in subscribers, with more than 2,000 new YouTube subscribers in 2023 alone, increasing the network’s total subscribers by 82%. The Communications Division reported the success of other USPA Polo Network developments, including increased efforts to highlight horse information, additional player interviews and behind-the-scenes content, game insights and player statistics, as well as historical context via in-depth tournament information during livestreamed events.

Social media continues to be one of the division’s most effective engagement tools, allowing the USPA to directly connect with fans. 2023 social media highlights included a continued emphasis on Instagram reels and user-generated content from USPA Member Clubs. The Communications Division detailed the success of several viral videos which included a groom’s race montage, hot-mic moments from NYTS Championships and various USPA Club reposts. Overall social media engagement increased by 81% across all three social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter/X).

Fernandez reviewed USPA tournament coverage efforts, noting the division’s continued emphasis on the prestige of national tournaments and a renewed focus on highlighting tournament initiatives. Since January 1, 2023, the division’s weekly newsletter “This Week In Polo” has featured 83 USPA Member Clubs in its Trophy Section and covered over 180 USPA tournaments.

Leading the rebrand of NPC, Baran provided a status update on the latest projects and developments. The division presented the new NPC logo, which will be integrated across NPC related communications and imagery. Baran also discussed changes to the NPC website, which has been refreshed to provide a more cohesive and accessible user experience while showcasing all the amenities that NPC has to offer. Baran also detailed the success of the department’s outreach efforts which yielded nearly 3,000 media mentions this year, as well a potential overall reach of 1.46 billion web users. Regarding NPC media channels, the division reported 34,857 unique website users between January and April, with an overall increase across social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter/X) and a combined 8,688,770 impressions. The communications team concluded with a brief overview of the 2023-2024 NPC advertising strategy, which the team is already underway with implementing ahead of the winter season. Other developments include continued ideation and creative direction of the NPC brand, expanded media opportunities and increased promotions surrounding NPC’s ticket launch in mid-October.

National Polo Center - Wellington (NPC) rebranded logo.
National Polo Center - Wellington (NPC) rebranded logo.


USPA Umpires, LLC Executive Director Fergus Gould reported that their metrics have risen in every field of Umpires LLC. The number of games and tournaments officiated by professional umpires in 2023 has risen significantly from previous years, with Umpires LLC visiting over 120 clubs. Gould reported that as a result, game attendance is up nearly 9% (the highest since 1998), and noted 31 professional umpires and two new recruits in 2023.

Gould explained that game times have, on average, been reduced by 21 minutes per match due to less lame horse change timeouts. The average game time is now one hour and 33 minutes. Gould also reported that yellow cards are down 22% from 2022, largely due to the success of the cumulative yellow card system. Gould stressed that radio communication remains vital to how officials on the field communicate with one another.

USPA Umpires, LLC Assistant Director Joe Henderson reported on the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO) summit in Riverside, California, which was attended by Umpires LLC staff and three professional umpires. Henderson also attended the leadership program Echelon Front in Dallas, Texas, along with Gould and three other professional umpires.

Arena Umpire Director Bradley Biddle discussed the increasing popularity of arena polo and the success of arena clinics. Biddle reported that to date, there have been seven clinics with 118 total participants. Currently, Umpires LLC have five newly certified arena umpires and six arena umpire certifications pending.

©Kaile Roos
©Kaile Roos


The American International Polo Foundation (AIPF) is a 501(c)(3) registered charity whose mission is to foster national and international amateur competition in the sport of polo. The organization helps to raise funds for the U.S. team competing in the Federation of International Polo (FIP) Zone and World Championship, and most recently, has supported U.S. teams playing in India, Chile and the U.S.

The AIPF Committee reviewed its current financial status and discussed various fundraising proposals. Of the current financials, fundraising for the Westchester Cup training represented most of the 2023 income; it was noted that legal and tax preparation expenses made the profit negligible.

Fundraising efforts for a team participating in the 2024 Gauntlet of Polo, as well as in any international event, was also discussed. After questions were raised surrounding financial transparency and the team selection process, it was established that the USPA International Committee bears the responsibility of said team selection, as was the case in 2023. It was determined that further information would be sought before any decision was made on the matter for the upcoming 2024 season.

The AIPF also discussed the potential meeting of a Chilean youth team and how additional funds can be raised to support such a team, such as through the donation of horse rentals, field usage and related expenses, in addition to cash contributions. A portion of the Stephen A. Orthwein Amateur Polo Fund remains in an AIPF account and may be used to organize fundraising around the event. The Committee proposed that a high-goal Chilean team may be invited to compete against a U.S. team on “International Day,” the Sunday following the U.S. Open Polo Championship final at the National Polo Center – Wellington. The Committee also proposed that the youth team, to be selected by the USPA Junior Polo Committee, share the day of competition with the high-goal players, thus bringing together high-goalers and juniors in an international showcase for both levels. AIPF is expected to present the outlined proposal to the USPA International Committee for further consideration and planning.


The Board approved Tony Coppola to continue to serve in his role as the President of Services. The Board additionally approved all the Advisory Committee Chairs and LLC Committee Chairs to continue in their current positions. While the selection of locations for the upcoming Fall Board of Governors meeting was a topic of discussion, a final decision has been postponed pending further details. The next Board of Governors Meeting will take place on April 20, 2024, in Wellington, Florida.