How to Be a Part of the Polo Club
As the 2013 season kicks off in Palm Beach, polo expert Georgette Escobar and pro player Kris Kampsen tell us how to watch and learn.
The sport of kings has returned to International Polo Club Palm Beach, and every Sunday afternoon through April 21 promises to be an exciting mix of celebrity, society and sport. This year, Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach lets you be a part of the game with a number of unique opportunities available through the Polo in Paradise package. From personalised lessons to gourmet picnics to the ultimate VIP Sunday brunch experience, you can get a taste of polo life both on the field and from the sidelines.
We asked Georgette Escobar—wife of a professional polo player, mother of two junior players and member of International Polo Club Palm Beach—to give us the scoop on attending the 2013 winter polo season like a veteran spectator, while Kris Kampsen, one of Wellington’s own high-goal players, offers a glimpse inside the world of the pros.
What to Wear
Spectator attire runs the gamut from casual to couture. For the ladies, Escobar suggests a dress with wedges—heels are impractical on the field—and, if you’re so inclined, a big hat (though she tends to forgo that accessory herself). Sunblock is a must. Gentlemen can pair dress shirts with designer jeans, adding a sports coat or blazer if they’re feeling extra dapper. You can’t go wrong with the likes of Ralph Lauren, Gucci, Chanel and Louis Vuitton, all of which have boutiques along Worth Avenue.
How to Tailgate
Pre-match dining and socialising is one of the sport’s most favoured pastimes. A prime experience is the gourmet Champagne brunch served on the veranda at the IPC Pavilion. Indulge in cocktails and creative cuisine while enjoying a great view of the game. In partnership with IPC, Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach offers a variety of polo excursions, including preferred veranda seating at this exclusive Sunday brunch. If you prefer more casual fare, try Wellington Zone, adjacent to the grandstand.
Another option is to reserve a tented tailgate spot alongside the field and serve your own refreshments—whether Champagne and caviar or beer and burgers—and play host to family and friends. When not on the field, this is pro player Kris Kampsen’s favourite way to watch a match. “You can’t get closer to the action,” he says. (Expect a long waiting list for the coveted spaces, though, each of which must be reserved for the entire season.)
The flat field gets roughed up by fast-galloping ponies, so spectators—aided by a complimentary glass of Veuve Cliquot—help repair the grass during the half-time divot stomp. “When you see a big chunk of grass missing, push it over with your foot and pat it down so they can play a cleaner game of polo in the fourth chukker,” explains Escobar.
The fun doesn’t end with the final score. Escobar and her fellow IPC members often retire to the private Mallet Grille for more socialising, drinks, dinner and an invitation-only poolside after-party that is a favourite stop for players and celebrities. Package holders are granted access to the after-party, along with other exclusive perks. Unable to snag an invite? Nearby Graffito South, as the newest après-polo hot spot, welcomes everyone.
Getting in the Saddle
If you’re feeling more inclined to pick up a mallet than that glass of Champagne, the Polo in Paradise package also offers a Stay & Play With the Best option, giving you exclusive access to some of the sport’s best talent during a private hour-and-a-half lesson. “I work one on one with each individual client, so the lessons are privately tailored to skill level,” says Kampsen, one of the leading pros on hand to show guests the ropes. His advice for beginners heading to their first lesson? “Wear jeans, a pair of boots . . . and take an aspirin.”
If you’re looking for further inspiration, there’s no better way to get a feel for the sport than by watching the pros at work. “Keep your eye on all-time favourites Adolfo Cambiaso—he’s a legend—and Facundo Pieres, who just won the U.S. Open,” says Escobar.