Sarasota Polo Club is focusing their off season on upgrading the fields, track and club barns. The track will be rebuilt by removing existing soft material and creating a road grade gravel base to lift the track’s elevation which will allow for proper drainage. This will also secure a foundation for the soft surface on top and provide a safer and more durable surface for both horses and riders. The field crew and turf expert are working diligently to bring the fields back to premium playing condition. The club has also upgraded the field maintenance program through use of different herbicides and pesticides, aerating to deeper depths, and mowing with reel mowers. In doing so, the turf has developed deeper and stronger roots which creates a safer, more hardwearing playing surface. In order to ensure the fields are maintained at premium playing condition Miller has also upgraded the irrigation system and will be adding underground irrigation to the main field. The club stalls are also being renovated and stall grid will be installed in all three barns. Stall grid prevents digging and uneven surfaces, allows for better drainage and its shock absorbing technology makes is easy on the horse’s joints.
Joining Miller, Sarasota also has several new team members on staff this year. David Eldredge, former head coach of Cornell University’s polo team, has been brought on as the Director of Polo for the winter season bringing over 30 years of Intercollegiate/Interscholastic (I/I) coaching experience. “Bringing in David we are going to put more emphasis on growing a younger player base and focus on doing more with interscholastic and intercollegiate polo,” James Miller revealed. “We are building an interscholastic team this upcoming season and Stuart Campbell already has students lined up.” Eldredge is also excited for the opportunity to utilize his years of knowledge at the Florida club, with a combined 14 national titles to his credit. “Sarasota is a great venue and has been a strong presence in Florida polo for years,” Eldredge said. I’m happy that the club is jumping into the I/I scene, it is always great to see new young polo players get to experience the benefits of the I/I program.”
As part of the field upgrades the club hired turf expert Phil Mclellan as Polo Turf Consultant. Phil currently maintains the fields of many top organizations such as Orchard Hill, White Birch, Tonkawa and Jan Pamela. Helping support him and managing the field crews is Ronnie Jeglie. Although Ronnie is new to Sarasota’s staff, he has been a player and member at the club since its inception in 1991. Ronnie and his team will ensure mowing, watering, repair and soil applications will be properly implemented.
Offering a variety of options for polo players of any level, Sarasota Polo Club has polo for the beginner as well as higher level 10- to 12-goal tournaments. Moving forward, James Miller’s vision is to expand upon the rise in women’s polo and become a better destination for women’s tournaments. “I want to show women’s polo more support than what Sarasota has in the past and grow that aspect of the sport,” Miller said. “We have some solid female players at our club and it’s something everyone wants to see.” In addition to polo, Sarasota also hosts regularly scheduled member parties and activities to maintain and build the close relationships and familial atmosphere the club is known for.
Sarasota has much to offer its seasonal members and guests. A short drive from the club puts you in the heart of the city where you will find premier shopping, first class dining, the country’s best beaches, ballet, opera, theater, entertainment and so much more. For more information on Sarasota Polo Club, please visit sarasotapolo.com.
All photos ©Eric Nalpas