By Alex Webbe
On Tuesday morning, April 15, Peter Rizzo, the General Manager of the Royal Palm Polo Club announced to the staff, club members, players and borders that the Royal Palm Polo Club was officially closing its polo operations. The staff was given notice, and the boarders were informed that they had to be off the property by May 15.
For more than fifty years the sport of polo was a part of the fabric of the Boca Raton area. Promoted as part of the Boca Raton lifestyle by Addison Mizner, the sport never really arrived until aluminum industry giant Arthur Vining Davis introduced it in 1955. He constructed playing fields on the land adjoining his Boca Raton Hotel and Club, which is now the home of the Royal Palm Yacht and Country Club.
Two years later the grounds were moved to an 80-acre site on Glades Road. There were four playing fields, plenty of room for practice and stabling for 240 ponies and polo every day. Don Beveridge ran the club for nearly ten years. By the mid-sixties declining attendance and money problems forced Beveridge out, and shortly thereafter, John Oxley entered the scene.
Uncomfortable with the year-to-year lease on the Glades Road property with the Arvida Corporation, Oxley began field construction at the current site on Clint Moore Road in 1977. Oxley built an impressive stadium complex, seven polo fields, stalls for 320 horses and a reputation for international level polo that continued for years.
Sons Jack and Tom purchased the club from their late father in the 1970s, and continued to operate the facility after his death in 1996 until the present. The interest and participation in high-goal polo in Boca Raton, however, began to wane over more recent years, and with the expansion of so many clubs in Palm Beach and Martin Counties the club had difficulty drawing top caliber teams..
“My father was always proud of the high-goal polo program that we developed and presented here,” said Palm Beach resident Jack Oxley. “We hosted the US Open, the USPA Gold Cup, The International Cup, the Monty Waterbury Cup and the Sunshine League,” he added, “but when we had trouble fielding quality teams for these prestigious events, and we saw the quality of polo at the club eroding we decided that it was time.”
Like his father, Jack is a member of polo’s Hall of Fame. He played nationally, with wins of such prestigious tournaments as the US Open, the USPA Gold Cup and the C. V. Whitney Cup, and internationally winning the British Gold Cup in England with his father.
The Oxley family has continuously supported and promoted the game of polo nationally and internationally. They have made friends all over the world, and the memories of International Polo at the Royal Palm Polo Club will not ride off into the horizon.