Photo by Shannon Jayne, Courtesy of Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club
May through October the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club buzzes with glamorous action as the best polo players in the world descend upon The American Riviera® to compete in the “sport of kings.” Founded in 1911 and steeped in tradition, the club is the third oldest polo facility in the United States. Polo legends and glitterati from every corner of the globe have played here including the likes of Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, who participated in a charitable, star-studded event on his whirlwind 2011 California visit with Duchess Kate. Santa Barbara’s newest royal residents have even made appearances on the field and in the stands.
The picturesque 87-acre grounds nestled between the Santa Ynez Mountains and Pacific Ocean feature three playing fields, one stick and ball field, stables, an arena and exercise pen, plus a historic Polo Clubhouse and tennis and swimming facilities.
The typical polo season includes a 12 Goal Series, 16 Goal Series, Eight Goal Series and Pro-Pool League. The Gulfstream Pacific Coast Open is considered a highlight of the summer season as the only Open on the U.S. West Coast and it takes place here every year.
During the annual season, the club is open to the public on Fridays for happy hour and Sundays for polo matches. The Sunday matches are a signature Santa Barbara experience not to be missed and a highly entertaining way to spend an afternoon à la “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous.” You can choose from four levels of seating— Grandstand, Polo Lounge, Mountain Lounge, and Luxury Fieldside Cabana—with ticket prices ranging from $15 up to $300. The halftime divot stomp is a must-do between the third and forth chukker, when spectators are invited onto the field for a scene straight out of Pretty Woman. Sunday matches also feature an After-Party with DJ Fab spinning tunes for a dance party on the field.
There is no dress code but “Derby Attire” is encouraged (and more fun). Think flowy sundresses, seersucker suits, colorful pants, blazers and statement hats—and don’t forget your sunnies!
If being a spectator isn’t enough, the Santa Barbara Polo Academy offers immersive instruction for those looking to learn the game. Their weekend clinics are the perfect option for out-of-towners seeking a crash course.