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Eldorado Polo Club a golden stop in the California desert

The beautiful and mythical South American city of gold sought after for almost a century by conquerors from Pizarro to Cortés. That name is especially fitting for the Club now known as the Eldorado Polo Club. Located in the hot, flat desert of the Coachella Valley, it sits between the small towns of La Quinta and Indio, California, nestled against the San Jacinto Mountains. Some call it a tropical paradise. Others an oasis in the desert.

Polo arrived in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century and the ancient sport took root in the United States. In the west it first became popular in the San Diego area, where it was played on Coronado Island. The desert became a popular destination for many famous Hollywood celebrities and others starting 20 years earlier, when only a few knew that La Quinta had become popular in its own right.

By the early 1950s polo in Palm Springs had begun to attract the interest of polo players from all over the country. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, with whom my mother and I had the honor and pleasure of spending time with him and Mrs. Eisenhower in her limousine, truly brought fame and attention to the desert.

The original fields were located much closer to Palm Springs, near the location of today’s Palm Springs International Airport. Then, due to urban sprawl and rising property values, the Club was forced to relocate and the next stop was Palm Desert and from there to its third and current location in La Quinta, where I visited for the second time. Once again, due to the hunger for development and the same rise in property values ​​surrounding the Palm Desert location, now the Vintage Club, it had happened twice before, as is typical of any activity that requires a large amount of of land and attracts many people. and interest

The reason for my visit was the 1986 US Open Polo Tournament hosted by the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, who attended the festivities, played bravely and put on a magnificent gala as a tribute to the progress of the Eldorado Polo Club. and the US Open as he did several times thereafter. More recently, Prince Harry, Harry Wales, as he is known to his Special Forces comrades in Royal Maines and third in line to the throne of England, organized and played in a charity tournament at the Club. The Club is home to many additional charities including the College of the Desert located in Palm Desert for which the Club raises tens of thousands of dollars a year. Perhaps the best known of these charities is the Barbara Sinatra Skins Polo Game, which supports charities for neglected and abused children.

My most recent visit to the polo fields, which by the way is only a two hour drive from Los Angeles and a half hour from Palm Springs, was an eye opener for me. On my first visit to the Club as a child there were only two pitches and a few players. Now, as the winter capital of polo in the country, due significantly to the weather, there are twelve fields, ten owned by the Club and two leased from the nearby Empire Polo Club, and during my visit there were twenty-nine teams playing consecutively in three formats. , low, medium and high score events with eclectic groups of players, it is truly a “players” club, as it was from the beginning and includes all members of the family, including children. Overall, my recent visit to the California desert reinforced my interest, appreciation and love for “paradise in the desert” and I know you will too, whether playing or watching.


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