Polo veterans will tell you that the horse is 80% of the game, and that the safety of the horse is paramount to the age-old game, but equally important is the field on which they play.
A properly designed and maintained polo field can insure the safety of the horses, the roll of the ball and the lifespan of the playing surfaces themselves.
Argentina’s Alejandro Battro is considered to be the maestro of polo fields. With over 35 years of experience behind Battro Polo Fields, and an international resume that lists over 700 fields from China to England, from Morocco to the United States and featuring the revered polo fields at Palermo in Argentina, Battro is looked upon as the dean of the fields.
Earlier this year, the Empire Polo club brought him in to review their fields and prescribe a maintenance program for them.
“It’s encouraging to have the kind of understanding and support for the fields that we get from the ownership here at the club,” said Empire Polo Club Manager, Vicky Owens. “Improperly maintained fields can take their toll on players and horses. Mr. Haagen is a former player himself,” she added, “and knows the importance of proper footing in this fast-paced game.”
Alejandro Battro, Jr. was in Indio in March to do an initial assessment on the fields and make recommendations on the upkeep and maintenance. Ignacio Martinez, a member of the Battro team returned this week to monitor the current condition of the field as the winter season gets underway.
The Empire Polo Club boasts ten fields, and has action beginning in November with stick-and-ball sessions going on as players and horses prepare themselves for the upcoming months of tournament play.
“The quality of the fields is of utmost importance to the horses and the players alike,” said Kevin Ittig, Director of Operations. Properly constructed and maintained fields make the play more enjoyable to the players and safer for the horses.”
The Bermuda fields at Empire are over-seeded with Rye as the more tropical Bermuda grass goes dormant during the winter months.
“We get a lot of play on the fields over the course of a laying season,” said Owens. “Last year we logged in 1,275 chukkers on the fields, so the maintenance and upkeep of them is a daily challenge.
The most important aspects of the field, according to Battro, are the surface and choosing the right type of grass.
“The greatest challenge is making sure that a good surface can be achieved using materials from the local area. Safety is the highest priority. Polo players must be able to concentrate on the match and be sure that they are playing on a level and predictable field.”
The arrival of Martinez this week will insure for world-class fields for each and every chukker of the coming season.
The 2017-2018 Empire Polo season attracts players from across the country and around the world and offers fourteen weekends of fast-paced polo in the beautiful and relaxed setting of California’s winter playground.
The Empire Polo Club is located at 81-800 Avenue 51 in Indio, CA. For further information go to the club website at http://www.empirepolo.com or call 760-342-7755.