When Kenny Storm, a resident at PRCC asked if we have been to a polo match, we were all intrigued. Polo is one of the world’s oldest team sports and is played by two opposing teams with the objective of hitting a hard ball using a long mallet through two goal posts while riding on horses.
As a resident of PRCC, we enjoy living here because there are so many things to do in the desert and residents at PRCC seem to like getting together to enjoy an afternoon filled with drinks and snacks. When we heard there was a caravan heading to Indio on Sunday, we jumped on the bandwagon. We all met at the PRCC Clubhouse on Sunday morning and headed out to the Eldorado Polo Club located in Indio. It was only a 10-15 minute drive down Fred Waring to Jefferson. Sandwiched between La Quinta and Indio, the Eldorado Polo Club was a big grass field with plenty of parking. Sunday tailgating costs just $10 per car load and we brought patio chairs, blankets, umbrellas, drinks and snacks. It was the perfect tailgating party on a Sunday afternoon. Some folks there had pop up gazebos and tents, making it a full blown picnic with mimosas and hors d’oeuvres.
Kenny and Carol have been to many polo matches before and so they were the ambassadors for the day. Kenny suggested to us to stroll down to where they keep the horses to get an up close and personal view of the rider and his horses. There we had a chance to check out the hard ball that they hit around the field with. Grant Hicks, another resident at PRCC said the ball was not perfectly round and it looked like it was stitched up like a leather medicine ball. Regulation balls are 3 to 3-1/2 inches round and weighs about 3-1/2 to 4 ounces.
When the ball was tossed, the first of two polo matches was underway. It was about 12:00 noon and there are 6 periods called “chukkers”, each lasting for 6-1/2 minutes. That doesn’t sound like much but the clock is stopped whenever there is a penalty and like hockey, there are penalty shots. A single player tries to hit a stationary ball through the goal post guarded heavily by the opposing team. This reminded me of a field goal attempt in football but it’s like hockey as well. When the ball is in motion, it’s like watching soccer or rugby. The field is full of horses but each team only had 4 players on each side. Kenny said when we visited the horses earlier, it was of one player’s horses that we saw meaning that each player needs about 6 horses per game. That’s 24 horses needed for each team per game.
To make things more interesting, teams will switch sides on every goal. One moment you are sitting on the side of the home team and next moment, you have the opposing team in front of you. Kenny said it was to switch it up for the horses rather than for the game. We watched the teams go back and forth, cheering on for the Centurions who we were told were Canadian. After 3 chukkers, the announcer called for an intermission. Spectators were invited down to the field to help fix the divots which was the game’s oldest tradition. With all the stop and go, you would expect the field to be all torn up but surprisingly, the divots weren’t that deep.
The match resumed and the Centurions were right at it. They tried to chase down Rodriguez from the opposing team but at the end, the Centurions lost by 2 goals. It was a great match and a very entertaining event. No wonder they call this the sport of kings.
For your interest, polo matches run every Sunday between January to April. Sunday tailgating is great when you can get a group together but if tailgating isn’t your bag, you can reserve a seat at the Clubhouse where you can enjoy a full service menu and bar under a large tent. And the Clubhouse is conveniently located at the center of the field and in front of the presentation where the trophy is handed out. This is definitely a thumbs up and a must-see event in the desert. Check the schedule at Eldorado Polo Club’s website.