Tailgating at The Villages Polo Fields

The Villages Polo Club guarantees a memorable day of golf and treatment to the best of what the sport has to offer. It doesn’t matter if you are a participant or fan.

The beautifully crafted course has been a host to unforgettable rounds of championship-level polo played over two seasons each year since 1997.

With its three-level grandstand that attracts more than 30,000 spectators yearly, the club is also considered as the community’s grandest source of entertainment.

While reserved and terrace seating options within the grandstand offer the best views, it is the tailgaters who get closest to the action at The Villages Polo Club.

“We think it’s the best vantage point here,” said Mary Whitt, of Oxford. “You’re right up close to the field, so you get to see the players and horses right in front of you. It really gives you a different viewpoint of how fast the game is played.”

The golf cart-friendly tailgating section, in particular, makes this 250-acre course unlike any other across the nation. With rows of carts stretching over the 300-yard-by-160-yard playing surface, fans line the hedges and comfortably enjoy the action under the shaded tree belt surrounding the field.

“Most polo clubs across the country don’t even have a stadium, and most fans are just watching from their cars wherever they can,” said Paige Boone, director of The Villages Polo Club. “Of course, here in The Villages, that means golf carts. So, I think giving them their own place is something that makes our club special and adds a unique feel to it.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions enforcing socially distanced seating throughout the spectator area, the three-level grandstand could accommodate only a few.

That made tailgating the most increasingly popular part, allowing fans to enjoy from their carts-spaced several feet apart, comfortably away from others.

“Especially over the last year, it’s grown so much and become our most popular way for people to enjoy a match,” Boone said. “With the pandemic, fans could come in and watch from the comfort of their carts and never have to interact with anyone. They could flash their ticket through their window and just go.”

Viewers can also enjoy an idyllic backyard setting of canopy tents featuring comfortable outdoor seating areas and different options of food and drink for purchase at the tailgating scene.

From cheeseburgers and hot dogs to fresh meat-and-cheese spreads and chilled drinks, the family-friendly spot resembles just any other football tailgate.

“It feels like a Packers game,” said Rob Funston, a visitor from Wisconsin, who chose the tailgating section to watch a match last week. “We’ve got chips and dip; we’ve got drinks; we’ve got collapsible chairs. It’s like home.”

And that home-away-from-home vibe is something appreciated by many who frequently populate the section at the club, as some make the tailgating scene a part of their week during the season.

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