May 02, 2017 7:37 PM
Home to the celebrated White Birch polo team, Greenwich Polo Club, in Greenwich, Connecticut, is synonymous with the name of founder Peter Brant. A polo icon and team owner exemplar, Brant’s passions extend beyond the boards into the intellectual world of contemporary art. Greenwich Polo Club signifies the intersection of Brant’s two most fervent interests and as such offers insight into a proven visionary. There is more than meets the eye at this modern club situated in the bucolic rolling hills of Conyers Farm. In fact, much like the contemporary art exhibited on its grounds, Greenwich Polo Club diverges from the typical in its function, highlighting a think-outside-the-box mentality paramount to the club’s success.
Brant began his polo career in his late 20s, acquiring a remarkable 7-goal handicap within a ten-year period. “I first started playing polo at Ox Ridge Hunt Club in Darien, Connecticut, and Fairfield County Hunt Club in Fairfield, Connecticut,” recounted Brant. “They were great places to learn and compete, but as I developed as a player, moving from low-goal to high-goal polo, I wanted a club dedicated to high-goal polo in the Northeast. I asked some of my friends who played polo and had teams if they would support a club in Greenwich.” The response was a resounding yes and the club was established in 1981 with no less than eight founding members, including Peter Orthwein, Mickey Tarnopol, Adam Lindemann, Marty Gruss, Charles Johnson, Henryk de Kwiatkowski, Geoffrey Kent and Michael Shure.
On the cusp of their thirty-sixth season, Greenwich Polo Club has become the premier high-goal venue in the Northeast. Attracting world-class polo professionals including a long list of polo hall of famers, teams are drawn to Greenwich’s three immaculate fields used exclusively for United States Polo Association sanctioned tournaments. During their season ranging from June to mid-September, all efforts are focused entirely on upper-level competition (16-20 goal). Staying true to their high-goal foundations, Greenwich has successfully narrowed in and capitalized on a niche sector of the polo industry. Concentrating on a superior polo experience, Greenwich aims to enamor spectators with the sport and serve as a beacon for aspiring players. “At Greenwich we want to whet their appetite by watching the best of the sport,” said Marketing Director Mariana Castro. “If they want to play, we work with clubs in the area to find the program that best fits their needs. There are a multitude of great clubs in many locations in the northeast where beginners can learn polo and play in a club atmosphere with varying levels.” In this way, Greenwich plays a pivotal role in their regional polo ecosystem as well as nationwide.
Greenwich Polo Club has been a staple of the local community for many years. But a concerted marketing effort over the past decade and most notably the last four years, sparked by hosting Prince Harry’s 2013 Sentebale Royal Salute Polo Cup, has generated larger interest and popularity. An ambitious social media strategy, based in content marketing has further aided in cultivating awareness, engaging and educating fans on the sport, the players and teams, along with behind-the-scenes footage. Greenwich Polo Club is revolutionizing the industry by working within the realm of social media and paving the way for other clubs to follow suit. “We are continually trying to break down the barriers surrounding this concept of polo as being snobby,” said Castro. “People are often scared to show up and be inadequate or misplaced. When we show them it’s all about admiring these athletes, human and equine, the whole experience changes. Ultimately, if we don’t have some continuity and exposure for them the sport is not going to grow.”
“People root for either a team or a person, it has to be personal in nature,” said Polo Manager Raleigh Craighead. “And let me tell you, when Audi and White Birch faced off in the East Coast Open, you had people clearly rooting for one team or the other. They were screaming their heads off, and that’s how it should be! It’s the same way at any other sporting event. We love that, and build on that. We help players become more known, because we think that helps the sport.”
Of the 50 matches played over the summer for three prestigious tournament titles (The Monty Waterbury, Silver Cup® and East Coast Open), nine are open to the public. Over 3,000 spectators from New York City, and Fairfield and Westchester Counties descend upon the Connecticut countryside for the featured Sunday 3:00pm ET matches. “Greenwich is the closest field to New York City and New York is the birthplace of American polo,” remarked Castro. “Once we started communicating that, people started understanding the historical context and significance of this opportunity to experience polo.”
The Brant Foundation Art Study Center, which is dedicated to the education and awareness of contemporary art, provides a breathtaking backdrop to all the polo action. The Brant Foundation Art Study Center holds exhibits and educational programs and both the club and the Foundation are wonderful assets for the surrounding community. There are always sculptures or artwork on display outside which can be seen from both the Foundation and the polo fields including the present sculpture, “Big Clay" by Urs Fischer, as well as "Ali Frazier," a sculpture by artist Richard Serra. Admission is free and open to the public Monday through Friday with an appointment, and open every polo Sunday from 1:00 – 3:00pm ET to the public. The juxtaposition of contemporary art in the context of the luscious Greenwich landscape creates an experience that is not likely to be found anywhere else in the country.
“It’s the most affordable sporting event you can experience," asserts Castro. “For $40 you can bring your entire family in the car, I can’t think of anything cheaper. You can’t even see a movie for $40 with four people.” Castro stresses the importance of the polo experience, even before spectators have entered the gate. “For me it’s about making it simpler for people to come to polo, telling them you can take the train, you can take an Uber, now we have even gone a step further and organized a shuttle from New York City.” What more could you ask for?
Tickets sales began on April 3 – so don’t miss the bus (quite literally if you are coming from Chelsea) and grab a ticket to one of the hottest weekend getaways in the Northeast. Not just a phenomenal venue, but incredible polo. Only an hour north of the bustling New York City metropolis, the verdant and cosmopolitan Greenwich Polo Club offers a stark visual contrast to the concrete jungle--with a contemporary art museum to boot. Envisioned by a young Peter Brant, Greenwich Polo Club melds the past with the present in a manner that resonates in the memory of each visitor.
For more information or to purchase tickets visit www.greenwichpoloclub.com, "Like" Greenwich Polo Club on Facebook and follow them on Instagram (@greenwichpoloclub) and Twitter (@GreenwichPolo).
Effective Date: Saturday, May 16, 2020
The suspension of USPA Tournaments and Events will be lifted for USPA Member Clubs in locales where hosting polo matches and tournaments is permitted under applicable state and local laws, executive orders and similar decrees. The USPA Member Clubs in these locales are encouraged to follow all such requirements of their state and local authorities with respect to polo operations. In addition, we also encourage all USPA Member Clubs to take the precautions recommended by the CDC. We are preparing a detailed list of best practices for USPA Member Clubs as they return to hosting USPA Tournaments and Events and plan to circulate these guidelines within the next week. We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely and will notify you if we determine a different course of action is necessary.Read More