f you want to see a professional baseball team play, you’ve got to head
to Los Angeles or beyond. Same thing for basketball, baseball, soccer,
tennis and golf. Don’t even ask about football.
But there is one sport in which some of the very best players in the
world compete against each other right here in Montecito’s backyard.
It’s polo, of course.
The Sport of Kings has been played here since the first decade of the 20
century, and while there have been some ups and downs through the years,
the high-goal season at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club on the border
between Carpinteria and Summerland consistently attracts many of the
world’s top players.
Which is not at all surprising, because the consensus among polo
enthusiasts is that there’s no better polo anywhere in the country, or quite
possibly the world, during the summer months than in Santa Barbara.
Undoubtedly, the club’s location is a big boon. The SBP&RC sits just across
the 101 freeway from the Pacific Ocean, and benefits from cool sea breezes
that keep the heat index to a perfect polo-playing temperature even while
the San Fernando and Santa Ynez Valleys are sweltering.
“Our polo fields are considered among the highest class in the United
States,” says Dan Walker, president of the polo club since 2012. “The ocean,
the mountains, the clubhouse, the weather – it all brings the best players.
Which is why we’re able to run tournaments that are highly competitive,
maybe the most competitive 20-goal play during the summer in the whole
Having everything in one place helps too. Lots of players stay at the
condominiums that face the polo fields; the stables are right next door,
and there are three fields at the club and a couple more less than a mile
by Steven Libowitz
photos by Kim Kumpart
SUMMER IS POLO’S SEASON
PATRONS AND SPONSORS
Walker, whose family has been playing polo at the club since
1958, is also a patron, or team sponsor. Those are the folks who put
the teams together and hire the professional players – most of whom
hail from Argentina or other South American countries – to come to
Santa Barbara for the summer. But he’s also a longtime player. Because