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Original Issue

Relics of the past

The diehards of Blind Brook and the remaining resorts of polo begin another season

These three riders pounding along the turf of the Blind Brook Polo Club in Purchase, N.Y. on a Sunday afternoon are pursuing a sport that only a few years ago was thought to be as obsolete as the Pierce-Arrow. But a handful of diehards from coast to coast refused to let this fast and violent game expire. From Blind Brook and Meadow Brook on the East Coast to Santa Barbara and Yakima in the West, a new kind of polo has taken root. It is no longer the breathtaking game that used to draw upwards of 40,000 fans to the matches on Long Island, for only a handful of truly superior players are still active. Yet in the 85 polo clubs across the country, approximately 750 players still whack away at the four-ounce willow ball. The grandstands may be empty most of the time, but the dedicated poloist is quite content to woo his sport in a vacuum of indifference.

In the '20s the rich men who dominated the game would think little of paying $10,000 for a pony, and they could scarcely compete with less than six or eight such animals. Today a man can play a whole season for the cost of that one pony. At Blind Brook, for instance, the 15 active players pay only $250 or so in dues. It costs another $95 a month (for the four-month season) to board a horse, and the average player can get by easily with three. If he needs an extra horse he can rent one for $5 a chukker. Polo is by no means a sport for the poor, but it is no longer the exclusive preserve of the rich.