Less than an hour south of tech-savvy downtown Seattle lies the Seattle Polo & Equestrian Center in the quaint town of Enumclaw, Washington. Known simply as “The Claw” by locals, it is also branded nationwide as “The Gateway to Mount Rainier.” The last town you pass before heading to the majestic Mount Rainier, the highest mountain in the state, it is also home to a budding club determined to grow the sport and centralize polo in the Pacific Northwest Circuit.
Exemplifying the modern polo club owner, Cameron Smith worked tirelessly over the past few years, establishing a polo school and launching a polo event dubbed the Seattle Polo Party.
“Players in the Northwest are accustomed to just going to a small ranch, playing and then going home,” says Smith, “They don’t ever get the opportunity to play in front of a crowd.”
Held annually at the beginning of August, the event has grown steadily in the last two years, reaching almost 1,000 spectators this year. The Polo Party also serves as a means to garner the attention of new talent.
“Building a club and sustaining it with existing polo players doesn’t seem very feasible to me, unless you’re in an area rich with polo players,” asserts Smith. “I have to generate revenue to support the club (through) events or bringing people into the sport through the polo school.”
Seattle Polo Club’s season runs from June through September and in stark contrast to Washington’s winters, the summer climate is nothing short of extraordinary.
“In comparison to some other places, we get on average 85-degree days. We have zero humidity, we don’t have bugs, we don’t have mosquitos, it’s a nice place to be in the summertime,” Smith says.
And while locals are the target pool of potential members, Smith strives to develop Seattle Polo as a premier summer destination. Seasonal members already hail from California, Texas and Canada who take advantage full advantage of turn-key polo accommodations.
“If you’re a minus one or a zero and you want to get better, then this is a great environment. You can come, we have pros that are coaching type pros that are here because they want to promote polo and they want to teach people. Play good polo, get better and have fun—that’s the environment that I’m trying to build.”