By Sharon Robb
The Grand Champions Polo Club is the only polo club offering medium and high-goal polo tournaments during the fall in Wellington, much to the delight of polo fans.
With five well-manicured fields and a turnkey facility, Grand Champions is one of the busiest and most innovative, cutting-edge clubs in North America, offering polo eight months a year. There is open access for kids, beginners, medium and high-goal players to enjoy polo in a relaxed and friendly environment.
The club, celebrating its ninth fall season since its 2008 opening, caters to men, women and youth polo players of all ages at all levels, and also serves as a tune-up for top professional players for the winter season.
“The vision was really to extend the Wellington season,” co-owner Marc Ganzi said. “The idea from the beginning was to create a place for the people to come and play relaxed polo in the fall.”
The club has an added advantage that no other club has in the nation, which is that Wellington-based ChukkerTV live streams every game at the club.
Marc and Melissa Ganzi, owners of the Grand Champions Polo Club, along with their children Grant, a freshman at Lynn University, and Riley, a junior at St. Andrew’s School, have become ambassadors for the sport and Village of Wellington at various U.S. and international events.
Over the last 10 months, Melissa Ganzi competed in the St. Moritz Snow Polo World Tournament in Switzerland; Marc Ganzi played the East Coast Open in Greenwich, Conn.; Melissa, Grant and Riley Ganzi competed over Labor Day Weekend in the inaugural Polo America Beach Polo Cup at the historic Hotel del Coronado near San Diego; and Melissa Ganzi competed in the Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships, the nation’s largest polo event, in late October.
Grand Champions attracts players from around the world, including England, Argentina, Mexico, India, Canada, Ecuador, Uruguay, Brazil, Chile, South Africa, New Zealand and particularly the U.S., where several pros, amateurs and sponsors are based in Wellington.
“Our vision was always to see that medium-goal sponsors could transition into the high goal, and we are creating access,” Marc Ganzi said. “If we don’t create that access point where people can come into the low goal and then transition to the medium goal, U.S. high goal will die.”
Grand Champions has created a nine-tournament schedule that features seven medium and two high-goal tournaments.
In addition, legendary Hall of Famer and former 10-goaler Carlos Gracida is honored each year at Grand Champions with the Carlos Gracida Memorial Legends of Polo game, followed by the International Cup featuring Team USA against various international polo teams. The Nov. 26 season-ender is considered the social highlight of the fall.
The club’s fall season opened with the Tackeria Invitational held Sept. 27 through Oct. 2. Other October events included the U.S. Trust Cup, the Fall Classic, the USPA North American Cup, the Eastern Challenge and the Pedro Morrison Memorial.
Held Oct. 25-30, the Pedro Morrison Memorial is always a popular event. Morrison, born in Spain and a University of Miami alum, died Dec. 11, 2003 in Wellington at age 49. He was an avid polo player, patron of the Sympatico polo team and helped develop Wellington into a thriving polo community. Morrison was active in several local and area charities and businesses, touching countless lives. He remains an inspiration. His work on behalf of the YMCA of the Palm Beaches continues on through Polo with Pedro.
Grand Champions is also a hotbed for youth polo through its Polo School and also youth tournaments it hosts throughout the year. Several up-and-coming pro players have gotten their start at Grand Champions.
Grand Champions’ casual, relaxed atmosphere and great fieldside views for tournament action has appealed to fans over the years and keeps them coming back. Admission is free except for a few special events.
There is the Grand Champions Polo Club Boutique for clothes and souvenirs, and the club hosts a free Argentine asado at every championship final.
Grand Champions Polo Club is located at 13444 Southfields Road in Wellington. For more info., call (561) 644-5050, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.gcpolo.com.