After 15 months without public attendance, the prestigious Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club is back and welcoming members of the public to attend polo matches once again on Fridays and Sundays.
The Polo & Racquet Club, which is celebrating its 110th anniversary this year, is known around the world as one of the most prestigious equestrian venues on the West Coast. During the competitive high goal season that runs from July through August, the club is home to some of the world’s most competitive polo matches, featuring some of the most talented polo players from around the world.
With the high goal season currently in full swing, the club has a full lineup of tournaments and matches planned every Friday and Sunday from now through the end of August.
On Sunday, the club welcomed about 1,500 community members to take in the final match of the Robert Skene Tournament. Two local teams, Klentner Ranch and Farmers and Merchants Bank, competed for the Robert Skene Memorial Trophy.
With polo being a family sport in many regions, both teams featured talented father-son duos. The Farmers and Merchant Bank Team was composed of two father-son duos – Lucas and Luquitas Criado, a father-son duo from Argentina, and Danny and Matt Walker, two polo professionals from California. The Klentner Ranch team featured the father-son duo Jake and Justin Klentner.
After six action-packed chukkers, Klentner Ranch clinched a hard fought victory at the end of the match, taking home the prestigious trophy.
Throughout the pandemic, the club offered very limited attendance at matches, allowing only members of the club to attend. But at the end of June, the club reopened its general seating, allowing members of the public to enjoy the social atmosphere and thrilling competition once again.
David Sigman, the general manager of the club, told the News-Press that after 15 months of the pandemic, he’s happy to be able to host competitive matches in front of a crowd once again.
“It just feels so good to see smiles on people’s faces,” Mr. Sigman said. “And it feels so good to have life brought back into the club. We did play Polo last year under some strict guidelines. And we had a lot of fun playing Polo, but without the ability to share it with everyone. So it’s just wonderful to have everyone back (with) the members.”
The same excitement was shared by event attendees on Sunday, as many reunited with friends for the first time in months at the club.
Mindy Denson, a member of the club for 18 years, was ecstatic to be back at a polo match surrounded by members of the public and long time friends on Sunday. She told the News-Press that she was thankful she could still attend polo matches during COVID-related shutdowns, but she is happy to see friends from afar back at the grand stands again.
“We’re in heaven again,” she said. “Polo is paradise.”
“You can see so many smiling faces here today,” she later added.
Club members Gail and Gary Kvistad shared a similar sentiment on Sunday, noting that it feels good to be back socializing in a safe, outdoor environment.
It’s all outside, so we feel safe,” Mrs. Kvistad told the News-Press. “It’s a safe way to have fun and come out and see the community.”
Toward the end of the summer, the club will host the Pacific Coast Open tournament and the United States Polo Association Silver Cup tournament, both of which will feature excellent matches and competition, Mr. Sigman said.
Once the high goal competition season wraps up, the club is planning to host events like the Montecito Motor Classic Car Show, lacrosse tournaments and even a country music festival.
The Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club is located at 3300 Via Real in Carpinteria. For more information on the club and upcoming events, visit sbpolo.com.
The club’s Friday polo matches are free to the public, and tickets for Sunday matches can be purchased in advance at sbpolo.com.