The beautiful and mythical South American city of gold sought after for nearly a century by Conquistadors from Pizzaro to Cortez. That name is uniquely apropos for the Club now known as the Eldorado Polo Club. Located in the warm, flat desert of the Coachella Valley it lies between the small cities of La Quinta and Indio, California snuggled against the San Jacinto Mountains. Some call it a tropical paradise. Others an oasis in the desert.
Polo came to America at the turn of the 20th century and the sport a millennia years old took root in America. 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 beginning 20 years earlier when known to only a few that La Quinta had become popular in it’s own right.
By the early 1950’s Polo in Palm Springs had begun to attract the interest of Polo players from around the country. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, with whom my mother and I had the honor and pleasure of sharing a moment with him and Mrs. Eisenhower in his 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, because of urban sprawl and rising property values the Club was forced to move and the next stop was Palm Desert and from there to it’s third and present location in La Quinta where I visited for the second time. Once again because of the hunger for development and the same rising property values surrounding the Palm Desert location, now the Vintage Club, had happened twice before as is typical for any activity which requires a large amount of land and attracts a lot of people and interest.
The occasion of my visit was the 1986 U.S. Open Polo Tournament hosted by the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles who attended the festivities, played valiantly and hosted a magnificent gala as a tribute to the progress of the Eldorado Polo Club as well as the U.S. Open as he did several times thereafter. More recently Prince Harry, Harry Wales as he’s known to his Special Forces comrades in the Royal Maines and third in line to the throne of England, hosted and played in a charity tournament at the Club. The Club plays host to many additional charities not the least of which is the College of the Desert located in Palm Desert for which the Club raises tens of thousands of dollars annually. Perhaps the most well know 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 incidentally is a mere two hour drive from Los Angeles and a half hour from Palm Springs, was an eye opener. On my first visit to the Club as a child there were only two playing fields and a few players. Now, as the nations winter capital of polo, 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 score, medium and high scoring events with an eclectic groups of players, it’s truly a “players” club, as it was from the beginning and includes all members of the family including children. All in all my recent visit to the California desert reinforced my interest, appreciation and love of the “paradise in the desert” and I know you will as well whether playing or watching. 다낭 에코걸