Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011

Pony Up for Polo--Without Too Much Ponying Up

By Trudie Gauerke
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In some families, the key to a fun weekend outing is leaving the kids at home. Someone's always bored, bothered by crowds, or breaking the budget. For these reasons, visiting a Milwaukee Polo Club game just may be the most family friendly event in southeastern Wisconsin.

Polo may have once been the sport of kings but forget any misconceptions of champagne and caviar, Gucci and glitterati here and think beer and brats, flip-flops and friends instead. On Sunday afternoons and select Friday evenings, an average of 300 spectators--from babies to grandmas to the family dog-- head to Waukesha County to join the Milwaukee Polo Club for tailgating, a fast-paced outdoor polo match, a divot stomp, music, and animated commentary by area entertainer Dan Dance. There's even interactive trivia and prizes for kids. And for the aeronautics buff, be sure to check the schedule for their annual fly-in when planes will land on the field and open for tours.

It's not just the spectators whose ages span 50 years though--three generations of one family played against one another for the first time in July of 2011. Milwaukee Club president Jim Huber took on his son Tom and his thirteen-year-old grandson Tommy, both players for Baltimore. There are many family ties among players, which is not surprising considering polo is the oldest team sport. Visitors are also likely to see Milwaukee player Megan Batha on the field with her husband, umpire and PoloU training center owner Tom Goodspeed.

Whether sprawling on the grass or mingling with neighbors, every spectator along the 300-yard field is courtside, a viewpoint that impresses upon visitors the full power and grace of the ponies. It's a sport that can be rough--some say it's like hockey on horseback. Similar to body checking, players can bump their horse into the side of the opposition in order to move their competition from the line of the ball in what Dance calls this "game of angles." Unlike hockey though, don't expect any fights in the field or crowd--just lots of affordable time-honored family fun.

Hold Your Horses--What to Know Before You Go

*Admission is just $5.00 per person and kids under twelve are free. Spectators can bring in food and drinks or purchase some on site.

*The grounds are located on Hwy VV, three miles west of downtown Merton.

* For more on how the game is played, arrive early to a match for an explanation of the basics and--often--a short demonstration. To catch every detail, bring a pair of binoculars--there's no JumboTron or InstantReplay.

*For more information, visit www.milwaukeepolo.com or call the Polo Hotline at 414-434-0020.

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