May 31, 2016 7:01 PM

meet brandywine polo club

One of the oldest clubs on the East Coast, Brandywine Polo Club’s history is as rich as it is aesthetic. Located on 300 acres settled in the Brandywine Valley of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, Brandywine Polo Club was started in 1950 by James McHugh, a former intercollegiate player at Yale. Impressively, only a few short years after the club was established, the Brandywine Polo Club team won the 1956 U.S. Open Polo Championship® hosted at Oak Brook Polo Club in Illinois. In a close battle, Brandywine took the title with an 11-10 win over Aurora. Their winning team consisted of Dr. Raworth Williams, Ray Harrington, Jr., Clarence C. Combs Jr., and Wm. A. Mayer.

meet brandywine polo club

In 1958, Brandywine was under the management of the late George “Frolic” Weymouth of the du Pont family. Weymouth a fox-hunting, polo, steeplechase, and carriage-driving aficionado, took leadership at just 18 years of age. In that same year he established and won the inaugural Gerald Balding Tournament. Named after Gerald Balding, an English 10-goal player born in 1909, Gerald played with his brothers, Ivor and Barney, throughout the United States during the “golden age of polo” (1920s & 1930s). Weymouth was so taken with the Balding legacy he changed the club’s name to General Balding Polo Association in 1967, however, reverted back to Brandywine Polo Club in 1974.

meet brandywine polo club

Much like other clubs with rich history, Brandywine has also experienced some tragedy. In 1966, the clubhouse was struck by lightning, igniting a fire. The fire spread from the clubhouse to two nearby barns in which stabled a combined 27 horses. Fortunately, Bob Conners, the manager at the time, was able to rescue nine of the horses and an additional seven horses were rescued, however, seriously burned, they required extensive treatment. Eighteen horses were lost that day. A few weeks after, the aptly named Polo Ponies Memorial match took place and gained the attention of over 5,000 spectators. With overwhelming support from the community, the club was able to rebuild the barns. Now, 50 years later, the tournament continues to bring in teams from up and down the East Coast.

After overcoming such misfortune, Brandywine had yet another hardship to face. In the spring of 2013, the club was left to clean up the wreckage after being hit by a tornado. The damage was severe. The roof of the barn built after the fire in 1966 was ripped off entirely, with large amounts of debris strewn all over. The riding arena wall was hit with a large piece of the roof causing major damage to the walls and announcers stand. Once again, the community pulled together in support of the club and helped them to repair and rebuild, however, it has been an ongoing endeavor.

meet brandywine polo club
Brandywine Polo School Students with Instructor Cyril R. Harrison, 1963

Brandywine Polo Club is committed to making polo accessible. With a polo school that dates back as far as 1963, the Brandywine Polo School has continued to offer a comprehensive introductory program that is perfect for anyone interested in pursuing polo regardless of age or experience level. Their “Orientation to Polo” is a graduated program which covers everything from rules to riding skills, as well as training and safety which are key components of their program and the foundation for great players.

meet brandywine polo club

Their season runs from late May to September in which they host regular Friday Night Polo and Sunday polo games. Friday Night Polo is perfect for kicking off the weekend, tailgating with friends and watching a polo match, and not to mention music and food. While Sunday polo games are a fun way to bring the weekend to an end and see some spectacular polo. Brandywine works hard to provide a spectator friendly atmosphere that brings people into the sport.

Despite so much tribulation, Brandywine has proven their resilience in the face of hardship. Their dedication to polo education and tradition has allowed them to prevail despite the obstacles they have faced.

For more information on Brandywine Polo Club, please visit their website, follow them onTwitter, or “Like” them on Facebook.