The Evolution of Polo in Aiken, South Carolina

Polo, a sport known for its elegance and prestige, has been gaining popularity in Aiken, South Carolina in recent years. This small town, located in the heart of the South, has become a hub for polo enthusiasts and players alike. But when did polo first become popular in Aiken? Let's take a closer look at the history of this beloved sport in this charming town.

The Early Years

The origins of polo in Aiken can be traced back to the late 1800s when wealthy Northerners began flocking to the area for its mild climate and beautiful landscape. These wealthy individuals brought with them their love for polo, a sport that was gaining popularity in the United States at the time. One of the first recorded polo matches in Aiken took place in 1882, organized by Thomas Hitchcock Sr., a prominent figure in the sport.

The match was held on Hitchcock's private estate, which is now known as Hitchcock Woods, and it attracted a large crowd of spectators. As more and more wealthy individuals began to settle in Aiken, the sport of polo continued to grow. In 1884, the Aiken Polo Club was officially established, making it one of the oldest polo clubs in the United States. The club quickly became a popular gathering spot for the elite members of society, who would come to watch matches and socialize.

The Golden Age of Polo in Aiken

The early 1900s marked the golden age of polo in Aiken. The town had become a popular winter destination for wealthy Northerners looking to escape the harsh winters up North.

As a result, many prestigious polo clubs were established in Aiken during this time, including the Aiken Hunt Club and the Palmetto Polo Club. One of the most notable figures in Aiken's polo history during this time was Thomas Hitchcock Jr., son of Thomas Hitchcock Sr. and a renowned polo player himself. He was instrumental in bringing some of the best polo players from around the world to Aiken, making it a premier destination for the sport. During this time, Aiken also hosted several high-profile tournaments, including the prestigious Whitney Cup. This tournament attracted some of the best polo players in the world and put Aiken on the map as a top destination for polo enthusiasts.

The Decline and Revival

Unfortunately, like many other sports, polo in Aiken saw a decline during the Great Depression and World War II.

Many of the wealthy individuals who had once flocked to Aiken were now facing financial difficulties, and the sport took a backseat. However, in the 1950s, polo in Aiken experienced a revival thanks to the efforts of Julian Hipwood, a British polo player who had moved to Aiken. He established the New Bridge Polo Club, which quickly became one of the most popular clubs in town. In the 1970s, another significant figure in Aiken's polo history emerged - Harry "Bucky" Reynolds. He was responsible for bringing back some of the prestigious tournaments that had once put Aiken on the map, including the Whitney Cup and the USPA Gold Cup.

The Present Day

Today, polo is thriving in Aiken, with several clubs and tournaments taking place throughout the year. The New Bridge Polo Club continues to be a popular spot for both players and spectators, with its beautiful grounds and top-notch facilities. In addition to the traditional polo clubs, Aiken is also home to the Aiken Polo School, which offers lessons and clinics for those looking to learn the sport.

This has helped to introduce a new generation of players to the sport and ensure its continued growth in the town.


From its humble beginnings in the late 1800s to its current status as a premier destination for polo enthusiasts, Aiken has a rich history when it comes to this beloved sport. The town's beautiful landscape and mild climate make it the perfect setting for polo, and it's no wonder that it has become such a popular spot for players and spectators alike. So, when did polo first become popular in Aiken? It's safe to say that it has been a part of the town's history for well over a century, and it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Whether you're a seasoned player or a curious spectator, Aiken is the place to be for all things polo.
Lucille Putty
Lucille Putty

Freelance travel geek. Friendly tv enthusiast. Subtly charming internet junkie. Freelance pop culture evangelist. Evil music fanatic.