May 15, 2016 7:00 PM

nwa polo

Although they recently opened their doors in 2013, Northwest Arkansas Polo Club (NWA) is certainly not new to the game. Operated by husband and wife duo, Bob and Susan Koehler, NWA Polo Club is breaking ground in Bentonville, Arkansas. Bob, a professional polo player and former club manager in Colorado, alongside Susan, creator of “Chicks with Sticks” (a WCT tournament), manage the only current USPA club in the state of Arkansas.

The Koehlers were originally brought to the area by Susan’s career in corporate communications and public relations. Following their relocation, the Koehlers founded the NWA Polo Club in collaboration with local junior rodeo star Chris Becker, and polo enthusiasts; Orla Engstrom, Verity Cameron, Kevin Gardner, Byron Wilson, John Wilson, Manuel Gomez, Kevin Wilson, Mark, Ann, and Jessica Killenbeck, as well as, Samantha, Speer, and Robson Macartney. With support from Polo in the Ozarks’ Dr. Brian and Donna Buell, similar to the city of Bentonville, the club is continuing to grow.

polo nwa

As a developing club, NWA is continuing to engage more juniors, grow polo awareness, and create polo sustainability within their equine community. Head instructor Bob, is dedicated to teaching polo rules prior to mounting any new players. Through foot mallet scrimmages and hitting practice on wooden horses, followed by mounted practice, he builds the foundation for strong players. Bob says that he is “most proud of seeing people and horses enjoy polo and go on to play the sport for a lifetime.”

The Club’s goals to promote the sport of polo and serve the community have led them on a new endeavor creating and developing a “High Goal Leadership Program.” According to Susan, the idea began when, “The USPA shared a Wall Street Journal story in 2014 about Tim Gannon, Peter Brant, and other highly successful polo team sponsors who all credited the sport with making them better leaders off the field through strategy and leading teams.” Susan also stated that, “In addition, given polo’s role in military officer training, it made sense we could repurpose it for a corporate audience.”

polo arena

The concept was then developed further over coffee with Blake Woolsey and Gina Miller, two team members who work at the public relations agency Mitchell. Susan explained, “They have a training center, so it made sense to bring them to the table to think through the opportunities to blend training with polo.” The experts at the Center for Training, Business, and Leadership Excellence at Mitchell spent hours reviewing polo history they held a few dry runs with their staff, along with Bob Koehler, to document the experiential learning during the intro to polo portion. “We believe the concept and content is scalable for other clubs to recruit new players or fans,” said Susan, “High Goal Leadership is another tool in our tool box to growing revenue and exposing people to polo in new ways.”

polo nwa

Located in a rapidly growing community NWA Polo Club is aiming for polo to take a seat alongside major attractions such as the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Their 2016 season schedule already boasts several events such as their “Taste of Wine and Polo,” Benton County Fair Invitational (Aug 12-13), and “Chicks with Sticks” WCT Tournament (Oct. 1-2). In an effort to engage more youth players, the club is also adding a Middle School Junior Polo Tournament in conjunction with their WCT Tournament. NWA Polo Club welcomes and encourages out of town guests to visit their club and can accommodate players for tournaments.

polo nwa

Their mission to promote the sport of polo and serve the community is clearly demonstrated in their innovative programs and steadfast efforts. For more information check out their website and “Like” them on the NWA Polo Club Facebook page to stay up to date with their event and tournament schedule.