An Unbroken Tradition
By Jane Roberts
Thirty years ago, on a cool and windy January day, the first polo match was played on the Gulfstream Polo Club's new field in Lake Worth. an estimated eight hundred spectators injoyed a lunch of fried chicken while listening to a concert and then were entertained by a sky-diving exhibition prior to the inaugural game.
The game was held for the benefit of the American RedCross and featured the Palm Beach team of Glenn Hart, Jim Kraml, Jr. and Max Nemec. The Palm Beach team was victorious by a score of 10-9 and was presented the Major Frederick Collins trophy by the highly respected polo player Laddie Sanford. The Collins Cup is still contended for each year in the January 10-Goal League.
Palm Beach, The Winning Team in Sunday's inaugural polo match at the new Gulfstream Polo grounds, is shown here after the victory. They are (from left) Glenn Hart, Keith Bailey, A. Orthwein and James Kraml Jr. Stephen Sanford, one of the great names in polo, presents the trophy to the team. More than 800 persons turned out to watch the match.
(Bert and Richard Morgan) - Newspaper Clipping, Jan. 1966
This event, as momentous as it was, did not mark the beginning of a new polo club but signified a major transition for one formed forty three years previously. In 1923, the legendary Phipps family joined forces with other polo enthusiasts from the northern climates and established their own winter club in the tiny community of Gulfstream just north of Delray Beach. The following year this group of eager gentlemen began playing on two polo fields along the intracoastal waterway. In the years preceding World War II it was a common occurrence to see teams rated at 20 goals or more competing.
The war years put a halt to polo but the club's stables were not left vacant. The Shore Patrol leased the facilities to house the horsed used to patrol the area's Atlantic beaches against possible invasion. In 1946, Stewart Iglehart, George Oliver and Michael Phipps resurrected the fields and once again polo players migrated south from such notable clubs as Meadowbrook and Blindbrook in New York, Chicago's Oakbrook and Arlington clubs, and the Milwaukee and Detroit clubs. Professional players were few and corporate sponsorships were unheard of.
Winning Team- The annual Major Frederic C. Collin polo match was held Sunday at the Gulfstream Polo Club. The teams competing were Gulfstream and Palm Beach. Mrs. Arthur Burck presents the trophy to the Gulfstream team who won the match 10 to 3. Photographed from left are Keith Bailey, Bob Connors, Mrs. Burck, Maj. Frederic Collin, Butch Butterworth, Skee Johnston. A cocktail party was given by Major Collin following the game in the Gulfstream Club House.
(Bert and Richard Morgan) - Newspaper Clipping
By the early 1960's the property values began to skyrocket and the Phipps decided to sell the polo grounds. Undaunted, Philip Iglehart spearheaded the search for a new location for a club he refused to let die. In 1965, Philip and eleven others who shared his dream, purchased the large, undeveloped tract of land where the club now sits. Among these individuals were such polo patriarchs as Jim Kraml, Sr., Noberto Azqueta, Sr., Robert Uihlein, William Taylor, Will Farish, Jim Binger, George Sherman and Paul Butler. Many of their descendants still play at Gulfstream.
Philip Iglehart not only absorbed a great deal of the cost for developing the fields and stables, but also directed all aspects of the club's design. During those early days in Lake Worth, it was Philip's indefatigable energy and determination which drew the players in every winter, set up teams, and established leagues and tournaments. Under Philip's guidance the club's roster grew from less than twenty members to eighty plus. Philip believed in accommodating as many members as possible by scheduling all league and tournament games over weekends. Polo playing businessmen would commute from their offices on Thursday evening and be back at their desks on Monday morning.
Winning Palm Beach Team - Scoring a 7-4 victory Sunday , Palm Beach team members get a drink from champagne cup offered by Maj. Fred Collin who escorted Mrs. Robert Wickser onto the field for the presentation. From left are Maj. Collin, owner of the Palm Beach Polo Club, George Sherman Jr., chairman of the US Polo Association, Mrs. Wickser, Jules Romph, Al Marenholz, and Robert Wickser.
Staff Photos by Gary Gooder
Newspaper Clipping, late 1970's
With the establishment of the Royal Palm Polo Club in Boca Raton and later, the Palm Beach Polo Club in Wellington, Gulfstream's focus went from high-goal polo to medium and low-goal polo. The change drew an even greater number of players and those who hadn't already purchased the adjoining parcels soon did so. In rapid order there were barns and homes built and today there are 25 privately owned properties surrounding the club's 90+ central acres. Combined with the club's three barns there is stabling enough for 600 horses.
Initially the club had only three fields, the "Sunday" or Iglehart field and two practice fields. Several years later, Iglehart built a field at the entrance to the club on land once owned by Jim Binger. When Norberto Azqueta, Sr. decided to sell his small stick and ball field with adjoining pasture, the club bought it and transformed it into another regulation field. The last field to be added was in 1988 when a parcel, once belonging to Andres Rodriguez and long used as a groom's stick and ball field, was plowed under and leveled off. This field was named the Bostwick Field in 1991 in honor of legendary polo player and longtime Gulfstream member, Pete Bostwick.
For two decades the club continued to prosper with as many as a dozen teams competing in the 8 and 16 goal leagues every January and February. The USPA Delegate's Cup (8-Goal) was awarded to the club in the mid-70's and has continued to be the most hotly vied for trophy in the club's history. The USPA Bronze Cup (12-Goal) was added to the schedule in the early '80's followed by the Heritage Cup (16-Goal) in 1987. These tournaments are played throughout March and into early April and draw teams from all over Florida and nearby states.
Gulfstream today is often overshadowed by its more publicly known rivals but nonetheless remains a compelling force in winter polo. Its community-like atmosphere and low-key style continues to attract players who prefer playing competitive polo without a lot of hoopla. The tradition lives on.
The fast riding Delray Beach Polo Team paused for this picture after their victory over the Palm Beach riders Saturday at the Polo Grounds. Left to right are: Keith Bailey, Juan Rodruguez, Pedro Silvero and Frank Butterworth III. The Palm Beach team was comprised of Major Frederic Collins, nine-goal player George Oliver, Walter Hayden and Robert Uihlein.