The first polo game in South Carolina was played on March 27, 1882, in Aiken, which has remained a major center for the sport.
Polo has been played in South Carolina nearly as long as it has existed in the United States. Polo began in modern-day Iran sometime between 500 b.c.e. and 100 c.e. The sport spread east and was encountered by the British military in India in the 1860s. In 1876 the sport was brought to the United States.
The first polo game in South Carolina was played on March 27, 1882, in Aiken, which has remained a major center for the sport. Attracted to South Carolina’s congenial winter climate, American polo pioneers such as Thomas Hitchcock, W. C. Eustis, and Harry Payne Whitney made Aiken their winter home. Whitney Field in Aiken, built by Hitchcock and sold to Whitney, may be the oldest polo field in America in continuous use. Aiken has also been a training center for polo ponies since the 1910s. The Aiken Polo Club, founded in 1882, is one of the nation’s oldest. The Camden Polo Club was founded in 1900.
During what was known as “the golden age of polo,” through the 1950s, Aiken was the winter capital of polo in the United States. During this time polo was also an active sport in Columbia and Camden, with regular Sunday afternoon matches.
Polo continued to have a strong showing in the early twenty-first century. In 2004 there were fourteen polo fields in Aiken, which hosted sixteen-and twenty-goal tournaments during the fall and spring, some drawing entries from throughout the United States.
Thirty polo professionals made their home in Aiken in that year, and there were active United States Polo Association clubs in Aiken, Charleston, and Columbia.
Daniels, John H. Nothing Could Be Finer. Camden, S.C.: John Culler, 1996.