Looking for a fun, unique way to spend an afternoon in Sarasota? Why not check out the Sarasota Polo Club in Lakewood Ranch, Florida! Here you can enjoy the sport of kings and watch some truly amazing athletes in action. Whether you’re a polo enthusiast or just looking for something different to do with the whole family! In fact, polo is a fun spectator sport that’s easy for any first-timer to enjoy. No matter if you are just visiting the area or if you live in Sarasota, it’s a great way to spend the day!
What is Polo?
Polo is a sport that has been around for centuries and originated in Persia, in fact, it’s considered one of the oldest sports in the world (around 2,500 years old). It’s now enjoyed by people all across the globe. The game is played on horseback with two teams of four players each. The objective is to score goals by hitting a ball with a mallet through a goalpost.
Polo is a very physical and technical sport that requires a lot of skill, speed, and agility. But if climbing up on a horse to play is not your cup of tea, then don’t worry. You don’t have to be able to play polo to enjoy it. It’s definitely an exciting sport just to watch in person!
A Brief History of the Sport of Polo
The first recorded game of polo took place in 600 BC. The sport quickly spread to other parts of the world, and by the 1800s it had become very popular in England. In fact, Queen Elizabeth II is a big fan and has been playing since she was a child.
Today, polo is enjoyed by people all over the world. There are professional leagues in countries such as Argentina, Australia, India, and the United States. In Florida, one of the top places to watch (or play) polo is the Lakewood Ranch Polo Club in Sarasota.
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Polo – Basic Rules of the Game
Before we dive into attending a polo match at the Sarasota Polo Club, first let’s explain just a bit about the rules of the game.
- Polo is played on a 10-acre grassy field
- The field is 300 yards long by 160 yards wide — which is about the size of 10 football fields!
- There are four players on each team
- The game is played on horseback
- The ball is hit with a mallet
- The object is to score goals by hitting the ball through a goalpost
- There are goalposts at each end of the field, which are 8 yards wide
- Teams score points by hitting the ball through the goalpost
- Teams change direction after each goal
- The game is divided into six periods called “chukkers” and each is 7 and a half minutes long
- Only penalties or injuries stop the play clock (there are no timeouts or substitutions allowed)
- Whichever team scores the most points by the end of the match wins
About the Sarasota Polo Club in Lakewood Ranch Florida
If you are in Florida, then the Sarasota Polo Club is a great place to watch (or learn how to play) the game of polo. The club is located in Lakewood Ranch, Florida and was founded in 1991. It has two regulation size fields and can accommodate up to 500 spectators. There is also a clubhouse where you can enjoy refreshments while watching the game.
The club dates back decades, but even before that, polo was played in the area around Sarasota by the cowboys and ranchers who used to challenge each other on horseback and the losing team buying drinks for the winners!
The club holds polo matches during the season that are open to the public, as well as a number of fun themed matches too. For example, you could attend a match on Wild West Day, Kids Days, Holiday matches, Disco Party Days, and in the Spring they also have “sunset” polo happy hour matches!
They also have private event facilities that can be rented, and they also hold a number of public events and festivals throughout the year. Lastly, the club also has a school for those who want to learn how to play polo.
Watch Our Video About the Sarasota Polo Club!
Click below to watch our complete video on YouTube to see what it’s like attending a match here at the Sarasota Polo Club.
How to Attend a Polo Match in Lakewood Ranch, Florida
You don’t have to be a member of the club to watch a polo match. During the regular season, there are many public matches where everyone is welcome to come and enjoy the game! You can visit their website or Facebook page for more information on upcoming dates.
You do need to purchase tickets, either in advance online via their website or you can also buy tickets at the gate.
Schedule: When are Polo Matches in Lakewood Ranch?
The club hosts several matches throughout the year, but mostly during the polo season from December through April. Most of the public matches are held on Sundays, but later in the Spring they also have Sunset Happy Hour polo matches during other days of the week.
You can find a schedule of upcoming matches on their website.
Polo Seating & Ticket Options
There are many types of tickets available for purchase. There is reserved in a variety of areas as well as general admission at different price points. One of the more popular ticket seating options are the tailgating spots! These are a lot of fun and can accommodate larger groups and have a big space to set up all your food, drink, and chairs under tents.
If you prefer to buy just a general admission ticket, this allows you to bring your own chairs and coolers so you can set up wherever you want on the grass in the spectator area with your own picnic. Or you can sit on the general admission bleachers they have available (for those who didn’t bring chairs). The general admission area is large and grassy toward the end of the field.
If you want to have a reserved area or a tailgating spot, be sure to buy your tickets in advance! They do sell out, and if you show up the day of the event then they might only have general admission spots left.
What to Bring to a Polo Match – An Outdoor Picnic & Party!
When attending any polo match, there are a few things you’ll want to bring with you: sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, and water. The sun is intense in Florida, so it’s important to protect yourself from harmful UV rays.
However, at the Sarasota Polo Club in particular the venue is set up so you can really enjoy yourself in more of a “tailgate party” kind of way. While you can reserve chairs, most people bring their own folding or camping chairs. They will also bring cooler filled with food and drink. Some will also bring grills to cook food and turn it into a full-day event.
Bring Some Games Too!
The gates open to spectators hours before the match begins. So prior to the start, people will be hanging out for hours eating and drinking and playing games. You’ll find people playing cornhole, tossing balls around and much more. We even saw kids running around and flying kites on the field before the match begun!
Attending a polo match in Sarasota really is a family event and fun for everyone on a beautiful day.
Spectator Attire: What to Wear to a Polo Match?
Polo matches are typically very formal events. Men should wear jackets and ties, while women should dress in skirts or dresses. However, if you’re not comfortable dressing up that much, there is no need to worry – many people attend polo matches in more casual attire.
Just be sure to avoid shorts and tank tops, as they’re not appropriate for this type of event.
Is There Food available at the Lakewood Ranch Polo Matches?
Yes, the Sarasota Polo Club has a concession stand where you can purchase food and drinks. There is also usually a barbecue grill set up near the concessions stand, so you can enjoy a delicious meal while watching the game. However, as mentioned many people choose to bring their own food and drink and turn the day into more of a picnic event.
Can I Bring My Dog to a Match at the Lakewood Ranch Polo Club?
Yes! Well-behaved dogs are allowed at the public matches at the Sarasota Polo Club in Lakewood Ranch. We actually brought our dog with us during our visit, and she really seemed to enjoy the experience too! She loves meeting other people (and dogs) and she was truly fascinated by the horses running up and down the field.
Just be very careful to watch your pet and keep them secure!
When we visited, there was one dog in particular that kept getting loose from his family. At one point, he ran out onto the field while they were playing and they had to blow an emergency whistle and stop the entire event while the owner ran out there to grab their dog.
Don’t be that person. Plus, it’s super dangerous!
What to Expect at a Polo Match in Lakewood Ranch
When attending a polo match, you can expect to see some of the best players in the world competing. The games are fast-paced and exciting, and there is always plenty of action on the field. You can also expect to see some very impressive horsemanship – these horses are truly amazing athletes!
For most matches that are held on Sundays during the season, the doors will open at 10 am to spectators. That means you can come into the venue and set up your spot and have a few hours to hang out! That’s why it’s a fun option for those who enjoy a “tailgate party” because you have plenty of time to enjoy yourself before the match starts.
Before the match you can play some games, eat and drink, and walk around. Kids especially enjoy running around on the field and playing on the grass.
At some point, the horses and players will come out and begin to practice. So be sure to watch your step if you go onto the field after this time!
Half-time and Stomping Divots!
There is a halftime break after the 3rd chukker. And YES – this is when all the spectators are invited to come out onto the field and “stomp the divots.” This basically means that you help put the divot chunks of grass that get torn up by the horses back into the holes in the grass to help maintain the field. This is actually a fun tradition that dates way back in the sport.
However, be careful where you walk because during halftime there is bound to be some “steaming divots” (horse droppings) that you do not want to step in!
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Horses and Polo
Horses are an important part of the game of polo. Even though they are often called “ponies” they really are small horses. They provide speed and agility, and players must be very skilled in riding them. Horses used in polo are typically thoroughbreds often with race track experience and are some of the most athletic. They’re well-trained and able to handle the physical demands of the sport.
Players MUST change horses after each chukker, due to the physical demands on the horse during the period! So every team needs to bring at least 24 horses with them to a polo match.
Who Can Play Polo?
Polo is a physically demanding sport, so not everyone can play. You need to be in good shape and have excellent horseback riding skills.
Want to Learn How to Play Polo in Sarasota?
The Sarasota Polo Club does have a school and provides lessons for those who want to learn how to play polo.
Other Polo Clubs in Florida, Besides Lakewood Ranch in Sarasota
If you are interested in watching or playing polo all around Florida, then there are several other polo clubs in Florida that you may want to check out. Here are a few of them:
- The Palm City Polo Club
- The Villages Polo Club
- Polo Club of Boca Raton
- The International Polo Club Palm Beach
- Hobe Sound Polo Club
- Ocala Polo Club
- Everglades Polo Club
- Grand Champions Polo Club in Wellington
- Indian Mound Polo Club
- Cypress Polo Club
- Port Mayaca Polo Club
Enjoy This Family-Friendly Activity in Sarasota!
The Sarasota Polo Club is a great place to watch polo in Lakewood Ranch, Florida. There are many things to do in Sarasota throughout the year for all ages, but what we also love about it is that it is a family-friendly activity that’s perfect for a winter or spring sunny day! During the season and on a beautiful day, it is a wonderful way to spend time outside together with your family and friends — including children. So bring the whole family and make an entire day out of it. Bring some chairs, some games, food and drink and have a picnic outside and play together while waiting for the match to start.
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