Last weekend we had the great privilege to watch our first polo match; a summer Sunday tradition in Oak Brook, Illinois. They’ve been doing this here at one of America’s oldest polo clubs, Prince of Wales Field, since 1922. We also competed in our first ever Rolls Royce tailgate competition. Both events were exciting, challenging, rewarding, and require a team of four.
Being our first polo match, we learned quite a bit about this sport played on a field about as long as a football field but twice as wide. We were surprised to learn that polo is the oldest team sport in the world. It originated in Persia and was played in the Middle East as early as the 6th century BC. Along with the spiffy uniforms, the festive spectators, and the fanciful classic cars, we were honored to be a part of this historic match.
Four riders and their mounts compose a polo team. Each match has six periods called “chukkers” and the horses tails are tied into “ponytails” so that the riders mallets won’t get tangled up in the tail.
Like golf, teams are handicapped so that every player on a team has a goal handicap which allows for adjustments to the scoring. For instance, in this match the home team lead 1-0 before either team even rode onto the field. And a bit like golf, after the third chukker (halftime), spectators are called to the field to replace the divots.
Just opposite the grandstand, across Prince of Wales Field, showcased thirteen Rolls Royces from the Lake Michigan area. Our Rolls Royce team consisted of Woody, who came up with the tailgate theme- From Farm to Table. Catherine, who provided the Rolls Royce, a 1958 Silver Cloud, and most of the farm fresh food. Hali created the farm on the table and tailgate, staging the total affair, From Farm to Table, around our Rolls. And Ruth, who completed this foursome with her proper polo party attire.
Having visited the farmers market the day before, not only was our tailgate spread locally grown, it was fresh and most was the first of the summer harvest: cauliflower, beets, sunflowers, peppers, and tomatoes. More importantly, polo fans were most impressed with our charcuterie board: paté, pickles, olives, edible flowers, and a variety of meats and cheeses. Not over the top, no, it was all delicious- Simple Elegance.
With a magnum of Veuve Clicquot on the line for the first place prize, it was time to put on our fancy pants and hats and take home the trophy with our Simple Elegance. Members of the Rolls Royce community along with polo spectators who crossed the field at halftime judged and voted on the winner.
We Won! Not only were the wheels we rode in on classically handsome, but the From Farm to Table Tailgate won the judges over, by a landslide.
Hali did not have a speech ready. She didn’t need one. She just smiled and took the bottle. The four of us will be celebrating America’s Independence this weekend by drinking our trophy and finishing up the leftovers.
Going into this event none of us knew what to expect. We were simply there to have a splendid* time and enjoy a perfectly played polo match with a tailgate party- Simple Elegance.
* Word of the Day