Jan 03, 2018 1:00 PM


At the end of September, the USPA Board of Governors had a meeting in Stevenson, Washington, for its Annual Member Meeting. Joseph Meyer confirmed that he'd focus on his own business and would no longer run for USPA Chairman, allowing Chip Campbell to assume the role. When CLICKPOLO asked Campbell about why he thought he had been selected for such an important position in American polo, this player, who spends his time in Point Clear, Alabama, and Shreveport, Louisiana, said, “I would like to think that former and present USPA board members observed me during my previous service capacities as the South Eastern Circuit Governor, Treasurer and President and saw how I handled, voted on and asked the proper questions concerning difficult issues and my attempt to be logical, pragmatic and value-oriented in answering and solving these issues. In an organization such as this with the number of people and committees involved in the decision-making process, there is never a clear-cut answer or a single opinion. There are 29 Board of Governor positions and 29 votes for the officers of the Association. Needless to say, there are many factions of the sport of polo represented on the board including outdoor and arena, low-goal, medium-goal and high-goal, snow, beach, women’s, and more. Everyone has equal votes and opinions. The leadership of the Association requires a steady hand that is open to all views, but willing to talk straight, be candid and ultimately make decisions which benefit the overall sport."

Image of USPA Chairman Chip Campbell
USPA Chairman Chip Campbell

What are your priorities in this position for the USPA?

The immediate priorities since my election in September 2017 have been to appoint personnel to the various subsidiary LLC’s and committees within the USPA and to get a new/revised job description and compensation arrangement agreed upon by our interim CEO Bob Puetz so that we can bring him to a permanent status. Once this is accomplished, we will begin to formulate individual tasks, directives and set goals and determine time lines for each LLC and committee in 2018 and beyond. Practically speaking everything has to be approved by our board after being vetted through its committee or LLC, so it is my duty to keep things moving forward, demand results and accountability, and get it to a board vote so that we can get things done and act in an appropriate manner for the betterment of the sport.

What objectives do you have in terms of promoting polo among young people and students?

I generally feel that given the structure and membership of the USPA we have no choice but to implore a “shotgun” approach to allocating resources of the USPA in a broad manner. This is very dilutive and inefficient in certain respects and frustrating as results are not immediately seen. Basically, you are touching as many as possible in all walks of life and hoping that it sticks to a few in the end which may not be for 10 years or longer, usually when economics allows that individual to invest in the sport and participate in a proper way. There are many people within the USPA that would prefer a “rifle” approach– target a few to allocate resources and try to get them to a high-goal handicap status. I think a blend is probably appropriate for the USPA, however that requires realigning our budget, thought and directives, and curing a lot of “politics”. The PTF focuses on young players. Ultimately, and due to overall efficiency, I would like to see joint, well-organized, and defined collaboration among our two entities for the youngsters and for the development of our up and coming polo players in the country.

USPA Constitution Cup Winners Clearwater (L to R) Mikhal Newberry, Gonzalo Teves, and Chip Campbell. ©Caroline Bramlett
USPA Constitution Cup Winners Clearwater (L to R) Mikhal Newberry, Gonzalo Teves, and Chip Campbell. ©Caroline Bramlett

What do you think about the high handicap and the decision to lower the limit to 22 goals in 2019?

I think it is the best thing at this time in the “Polo Cycle” because it will provide more opportunity to American patrons and professionals to participate and compete for highly revered USPA cups. The costs and expenses of participating, competing and having a chance to win in high goal polo may have reached an imbalance and more participants are necessary to improve the parody. From the USPA perspective, we are dealing with the “cards we were dealt” so I think lowering the handicap was the right thing to do at this time. When and if things change then the handicap issue can always be reconsidered.

Nic Roldán and Jared Zenni said in our last issues that they wanted to play Palermo. Does the USPA have any way to support them?

I think if you asked any outdoor grass player in America that has played polo in the 8-20 goal handicap level they would all say that playing at Palermo in the Argentine Open would be their goal! I would also think that any of these players would include the U.S. Open in that conversation. Our problem is that we have not had the same venue hosting our tournament for as long as theirs. Palermo is a government owned facility whereas ours have been privately owned facilities. Historically, once a certain time period has passed and for whatever reason we had to change the venue, thus our tradition and venue prestige has had to change and rebuild. To answer your question, and again due to membership structure and the makeup of the USPA, it would be very difficult to directly financially subsidize any player to any great amount sufficient to compete and play at Palermo.

Perhaps on a team with USPA branding?

On that vein though, I am very interested and hope to set in motion in 2018 the ultimate and adequate funding of an entity that the USPA and its Chairman is indirectly involved of which the sole mission is to support international play. I would like to see the proper funding of an entity to support consistent American play within FIP, The Cup of the Americas, The Westchester Cup, and The Camacho Cup. I think there is a way to do this with past polo enthusiasts, who are still passionate about the sport, through charitable giving. This is one of my goals as Chairman to get this directive moving forward.

Chip Campbell takes the ball on the nearside with Mario Maldonado going for the hook. ©Caroline Bramlett
Chip Campbell takes the ball on the nearside with Mario Maldonado going for the hook. ©Caroline Bramlett

As a player, what were your best achievements in 2017 and what are your expectations for 2018?

I would say on a tournament perspective it was nice to win the USPA 16 Goal Eastern Challenge splitting a team with Michael Bickford in the Spring at Grand Champions Polo Club. Over the course of the year I had a couple horses win Best Playing Pony in some nice tournaments and I brought my first two 5-6 year-old horses out of my breeding program into my string and had the opportunity for Adolfo Cambiaso to ride one of them in a game. That was especially rewarding to the guys that broke and trained the mare! When I finish her in 2018 then maybe I can get him to sit on her again! Next year I will continue to improve my string and reach that elusive 3-goal handicap that I am seeking at 53 years old while dreaming about the prospect of playing in the U.S. Open and at Palermo one day like Jared and Nic!