Apr 13, 2021 3:40 PM
With the U.S. Open Polo Championship® Semifinals approaching, the 2021 winter season in Florida will soon be coming to an end. They have been great months of polo despite the pandemic that threatened to cancel it before it even started. Played traditionally in Wellington, Florida, the high-goal season has moved back and forth between the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC) and Port Mayaca Polo Club (PMPC), just over 50 miles northwest of Wellington. “The season has been great,” Stevie Orthwein Jr. said. “We have had more polo and better competition than ever before.”
Port Mayaca Polo Club is owned by the Orthwein family and Stevie is not only a player, but the club’s primary operator. “Port Mayaca is a family venture that was started by my father Stephen Orthwein,” Orthwein said. “My mother and brothers are very supportive of the club and are excited about its success.”
What were the main tournaments Port Mayaca Polo Club hosted this year?
"We hosted the Butler Handicap® for the second year at the 18-goal level and other featured USPA national tournaments included the Regional President’s Cup and Heritage Cup™. Also for the third year Port Mayaca Polo Club hosted all preliminary games of the U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship®. We also were awarded the prestigious Monty Waterbury®, which is underway right now.
Aside from those we also hosted two very competitive 14-goal tournaments, with 10 teams in each. One was the Live Oak Challenge, which is our oldest club tournament.”
Being the first year played entirely during the pandemic, how did the club adapt to this situation?
"The last year was challenging for everyone dealing with the pandemic. PMPC, like a lot of clubs, had its season cut short in 2020. We weren’t really sure what to expect at the start of this season, but I think we quickly found our groove and played a lot of great polo."
Did the club make any big changes over the past year?
"The club is still very much in a growth mode. We have a number of new barns under construction and more that are set to begin construction this spring. We also had our cantina up and running, serving food and making a great central gathering place for players to enjoy after polo."
Is there any organization you would like to mention?
"We had a number of new teams playing, which is always exciting. In the Live Oak we had two amazing, new team owners make the finals: Rene Campos with the Eureka team and Stewart Burkland with the Blandings team. Both teams played a great tournament and the finals were incredibly close with Blandings taking the trophy."
What do you think will be the next step for Port Mayaca Polo Club?
"Port Mayaca Polo Club will continue to grow. I’m looking forward to our big focal tournaments becoming more prestigious. For this, we will focus our efforts on promoting some more spectator-focused matches. We also have such a great base of players who have bought real estate to build farms around the club; that gives us a strong foundation to build on. These new farms will most definitely change the landscape and improve the club. It’s very important to us that our lot owners are the focus of the club, they will be a big part in deciding the next steps for PMPC."
Is the club focused on being an important destination for women’s polo in the United States?
"Absolutely. We are very proud to host these two 22-goal women’s events. The Tabebuia is a tournament we started very early on in the club’s history, and it's great to see it turn into such a competitive and prestigious event. The U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship® is obviously an amazing tournament, which gets more competitive every year. We are so proud of the Villages/BTA for winning this year. KC Krueger and her family are lot owners, and Tiffany Busch, Paige Boone and Kylie Sheehan* have all played at Port Mayaca for a long time so it is great to see their success this year."
How do you separate being a player and the owner of Port Mayaca?
"When you are the owner of a club it is easy to get distracted thinking about field conditions, wondering if the other players are enjoying the game or how the club looks to them. Being able to put those thoughts aside and win a tournament like the Butler Handicap® is a great personal accomplishment for me. It is also very special to me because my father won when it was played in Chicago, Illinois, and my brother won it last year. It’s great to have my name on the trophy as well."
*Kylie Sheehan is a Team USPA Alumna. Team USPA is a USPA program designed to enhance and grow the sport of polo in the United States by identifying young, talented American players and providing mentored training and playing opportunities leading to a pool of higher rated amateur and pro players and the resultant giveback to the sport of polo.
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