Situated in South Florida, surrounded by vast sugar cane fields and the popular fishing body of Lake Okeechobee, Port Mayaca Polo Club (PMPC) has steadily become a destination for winter polo. Located on more than 600 sprawling acres, the club has eight regulation fields, club barns with 220 stalls, an exercise track, a stick and ball field, a clubhouse and several acres of pastures for turnout and trail riding.
Aerial view of Port Mayaca Polo Club.
Established by the Orthwein Family in 2006, PMPC began as a family operation, and continues to function as one to this day. The family has been very involved in the sport for three generations playing at the St. Louis Polo Club in St. Louis, Missouri, and with the Gulfstream Polo Club in both its original location in Delray Beach, Florida, as well its most recent location in Lake Worth, Florida. In 2006, when it appeared that Gulfstream was going to close, the Orthweins decided to establish a new location where polo athletes could gather for the long term. According to club director Steve Orthwein Jr., “We developed the property because we believe the space, location and great soil make it an excellent location for winter polo, and because we strongly believe in a polo club concept similar to the Gulfstream of old. We knew if we wanted to create a polo club, we would need more land than what was available in Wellington and at a price that makes sense to run polo.”
Sunset at Port Mayaca Polo Club.
Port Mayaca Polo Club is a full-service facility meaning everything is housed directly on the grounds allowing a player to simply arrive with their horses and groom, park their trailer and play polo all winter long—in many cases, never even needing to move their trailer. The club truly is a one-stop shop with everything needed to prepare horses, as well as practice and play competitive polo. In addition to stabling, the club sells hay and shavings and can easily arrange farrier/veterinary services.’
Players, spectators, grooms and officials enjoy lunch served at the clubhouse pavilion. Lunch is served after every practice.
The sense of community is strong within the club, and staff are always available to make the experience fun and rewarding. Club Manager Laura Townsend, keeps operations meticulously organized, while Property Manager Chad Jones maintains the 600-acre property. “Part of what makes people keep coming back year after year is the club’s organization and commitment to quality polo,” said Orthwein Jr. “We have guaranteed three-day a week practices that you can set your clock to and our tournaments are always competitive, well organized and on great fields. We take a lot of pride in the experience we provide.”
Women’s Championship Tournament (WCT) Qualifier at Port Mayaca Polo Club.
The club has a wide range of playing and practicing options that make it attractive to many different levels of polo professionals. Neels Uys has trained many young horses at the club over the past few years. “I love stabling and training at Port Mayaca,” said Uys. “It is a wonderful place to bring along a young polo prospect. The abundance of turnout is really good for a young horse and I like that there are various elements outside of the polo field to expose them to. There are many other riders that bring along young horses at the club, so organizing a young horse practice, such as three on three, is so helpful. It gives the young ones a great confidence boost.”
89th Federation of International Polo (FIP) Ambassadors Cup at Port Mayaca Polo Club.
The club hosts a range of tournaments from fun weekend chukkers to competitive world-class polo. Every year during the December holiday season PMPC holds the Holiday Family Tournament. Each team entered must consist of at least two family members to be eligible to compete. It is a fun start to the season and always draws in several teams. Weekend tournaments offer pros and sponsors competitive fun, and the club is also no stranger to international competition, having hosted the Federation of International Polo (FIP) Ambassadors Cup several times.
Benjamin Avendano races down field during 2016 Holiday Family Tournament competition.
PMPC has recently been granted the opportunity to host a large international tournament. The FIP has awarded the United States Polo Association® (USPA) the World Championships Zone A Qualifying Tournament (FIP Zone A Playoffs). The tournament will be played April 22-30, 2017 in South Florida. The USPA in conjunction with PMPC and the International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC) will co-host the tournament. PMPC will stable all of the horses for the tournament, all team practices, as well as the first two days of competition. “We are looking forward to working with Port Mayaca to help co-host the tournament.” said Bob Puetz, Executive Director of Services for the USPA. “They have great facilities and will provide the FIP international players with professional games and great practices.”
Port Mayaca club barns.
While consistent, quality polo is at the forefront of the club’s objectives, a tight-knit sense of community supports it. The club hosts a lunch or cookout after every club practice. A beautiful pavilion style clubhouse provides an enjoyable gathering place for players to congregate and discuss their latest game. Club manager Laura Townsend said, “I feel like Port Mayaca is a place where players can play hard, be competitive, but still come to barbeque, talk and socialize. Everyone knows each other, and we all support each other learning and improving our polo games.”
Sammie Uys, Manager of Franklin Polo Academy in Franklin, Tennessee, worked at the club for a winter season as a groom and echoed Laura’s sentiment, “Everything is all in one place, so everyone gets to know eachother well. The grooms all hang out and barbeque. Taking exercise sets in the morning is not only work, but fun to see your friends and talk. It is a close group.”
Port Mayaca Polo Club offers competitive playing opportunities for all levels of polo players.
The success of the club has also provided the Orthwein family, as well as PMPC players and members an opportunity to give back to the community. The club holds an annual Molly’s House Polo Classic that raised $60,000 last year alone for Molly’s House – an organization that aims to provide short-term, affordable accommodations for the families of hospitalized loved ones and hospital outpatients. A great Florida polo charity event, the Molly’s House Polo Classic includes car shows, exhibitions, contests and more.
When asked about the future of Port Mayaca Polo Club, Orthwein Jr. responded, “We want to keep growing. We just added three new fields, and we want to build more onto our clubhouse. There is so much land and opportunity here. We will continue to host large tournaments and could even expand on our facilities. It would be fantastic to see more polo families and breeding/training operations in this area in the future.”
Three generations of polo players (Max Secunda, Finn Secunda, Julian Hipwood) christen the new PMPC fields.
The future is bright for PMPC. In only ten years, they have transformed hundreds of acres of raw land into a quality club with a supportive community of players and professionals. South Florida is widely considered one of the top locations for winter polo, and Port Mayaca stands out amongst the group of clubs in the area. If you haven’t visited the club, feel free to do so. All are welcome! To learn more about Port Mayaca Polo Club, please visit their website at portmayacapoloclub.com and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.