The History of the US Polo Women Championship

The U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship® has a profound history dating back to the 1930s in California. The first women’s U.S. Open tournament was presented by the United States Women’s Polo Association (U.S.W.P.A) in 1937 at Golden Gate Field (San Francisco, California), in 1937. Riviera (Louise Tracey, Dorothy Rodgers, Audrey Scott, Ruth Cropp) defeated Santa Barbara 9-4 to capture the inaugural title. The U.S.W.P.A., the first and only women’s polo association in the history of American polo, created a women’s handicapping system mirroring that of the men, with one nine-goal player and several eight-goal players. The U.S.W.P.A. played eight to ten tournaments a year accumulating 300 members and 25 clubs in its ten-year tenure. At the onset of World War II however, the women focused their attention towards the war effort.

Women were officially welcomed into the United States Polo Association (USPA) in 1972 with Sue Sally Hale becoming one of the first woman members. A devoted advocate of women in polo, Hale was alleged to have disguised herself as a man in order to compete in tournaments throughout the 1950s and 60s. The U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship® competition did not resurface until the early 1990s. On the centennial anniversary of the USPA in 1990, a U.S. Women’s Open was officially sanctioned and held at Empire Polo Club in Indio, California. Appropriately, Hale along with her two daughters, Sunny and Stormie captured the title with teammate Caroline Anier. In an electrifying overtime match, Empire defeated Palmera Hanalei Bay 10-9, with Anier scoring the sudden-death goal in the seventh chukker. After a few years of competition at Empire Polo Club, U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship® competition once again lost momentum, this time for only a couple decades. It was officially recognized as a national tournament in 2011, and was hosted at Houston Polo Club (Houston, Texas) until 2018.

The most prestigious cup in women’s polo in the United States, the U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship® relocated to Florida in 2019 with preliminary games played at Port Mayaca Polo Club (PMPC) in Okeechobee, Florida, and the heralded final at the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC) in Wellington, Florida.

It should be noted that 2011 was the year in which this competition was recognized as a national tournament and it was from 2019, when it began to be played in Florida, in the two current sites: the Port Macaya Club and the National Polo Center.