The following is an excerpt from the press release by the United States Polo Association.
By: Kimberlyn Beaudoin
All 20-26 Goal Tournaments Will Drop to 18-22 Goals in 2019
Wellington, FL – October 11, 2017 – The United States Polo Association® (USPA) Board of Governors, Committees, Subsidiary Boards, Club Delegates, Members and staff met in the Pacific Northwest Circuit in Stevenson, Washington, September 27-30, for the 2017 USPA Board of Governors and Annual Member Meeting. Following much discussion, the top USPA national tournaments: U.S. Open Polo Championship® along with the USPA Gold Cup®, C.V. Whitney and Butler Handicap were awarded to the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC) in Wellington, Florida, for the years 2019-2021. In 2004, the tournament’s 100th anniversary, the U.S. Open Polo Championship relocated to the IPC, where it has been held since. The U.S. Open is the final leg of the Florida High-Goal Winter Season, which regularly attracts the top players and teams from around the world. The USPA is pleased to announce that the U.S. Open Final will be televised on CBS Primetime from IPC for the next three years (2018-2020).
It was also decided at that these four top national tournaments will move from 20-26 goals to 18-22 goals for the years 2019-2021. This is a significant change for polo in the United States intended to support growth of the sport by increasing the number of teams participating, thereby resulting in more competitive tournaments.
“We were advocates and big supporters of this move from the beginning. It is critical for us to re-energize the sport and get more teams involved. This is a step in the right direction,” said Mark Bellissimo, managing partner of Wellington Equestrian Partners (WEP), which owns and operates IPC. “It is going to increase the number of participating teams and I believe we’ll see the tournament become more competitive. In addition, this will provide more opportunity for American players and lower the cost of fielding a high-goal team. We’re looking forward to hosting the U.S. Open again at IPC for 2019-2021.”
“The USPA did not take this decision lightly,” said USPA CEO Robert Puetz. “As the U.S. Open is the most respected and prestigious tournament played in the United States, we continually strive to keep the handicap level as high as possible. However, based on recommendations from the High Goal and Tournament Committees and input from team owners, the Association decided to lower the handicap level for a three-year period. We will monitor and revisit this decision over the course of the next few years.”
Together with IPC in Wellington, Florida, the United States Polo Association will host the 2018 national high-goal tournaments which will remain at 20-26 goals, with the U.S. Open Polo Championship Final culminating on April 22, 2018.