When third generation pro Joey Casey checks out the grass at Palm City Polo Club, he can’t help but smile in satisfaction. That’s because not only did he pour his life savings into buying the land and building this new club (it opened in 2014), he also gambled on a type of turf that no one else in the world is using: Latitude 36. When you look closely, it’s lichen-like, and springs back after every footfall.
“It doesn’t seem to tear up as much,” he tells me. But that’s just the green icing on the cake, which Joey promises will be even greener once he starts fertilizing again for the season.
“Grass is there to tee up the ball, but the most important part about a polo field is the footing,” says Joey. “When you stop and turn, it’s the footing that’s providing support, not the grass. That’s part of the reason I got this property. It’s perfect soil for a polo field. And it almost plays better wet than it does dry.”The 35-acre club is in Boynton Beach, just a few minutes south of Wellington. In addition to the 60 stalls, 14 paddocks, hitting cage, club house and fire pit, there’s a regulation-sized arena between the two full-sized fields. People play here every month of the year, although the main season is November through June. Amy Waters is a regular, and so devoted to her signature color that even the vet wrap on her stirrups is pink.
Of course, it’s often easier to give tips while on horseback. Before the game, I was lucky enough to have a hitting lesson with him in the cage. Mike broke down my swing down in amazing detail, and videoed me to show me that I wasn’t letting myself follow through for the whole stroke. Nor was my wrist straight when I made contact with the ball. Key basics I didn’t realize I wasn’t doing. We made progress…… although I’m not sure I managed to retain everything once I mounted up. At least I kept my elbows in during this ride-off. Six-year-old Coppertop, the mellow yet energetic pony I borrowed from Joey, was up for it.Despite my best efforts to bump Gwen Rizzo, Editor of Polo Players Edition, she never missed the ball. She’s a crack shot.It’s a casual atmosphere at Palm City Polo. Why have grandstands, when a tractor will do just as well? Although these folks will have to give up their seats at half time when the tractor will be used to drag the arena, smoothing out all that silty soft Florida sand.Joey’s out with an injury right now, but that doesn’t stop him from helping to capture the moment, including the shots of moi. Thanks Joey!Meanwhile, Mike’s dad is on air horn duty. Look at those palm trees bordering Field One! Wonder why this club looks as if it’s in the heart of a Costa Rican jungle? Turns out, it’s bordered by nurseries on either side. Who have promised not to cut down the mature palm trees lining Field One. Palm City Polo has three levels of play: Coaching League, 4-6 goal and 8-12 goal. They provide horses, grooms and offer boarding. Even better: the Palm City Polo gang are not strangers to the post-game asado.