Enjoy Friday Evening Polo Matches at Hickory Hall Polo Club
Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
Photographer / Jon Ellegood
If you’ve never watched eight horses on a field, simultaneously charging toward a little ball the size of a baseball, you’re missing out. The good news is that you’re in luck because it’s polo season, and you don’t have to travel far for this fun, recreational treat. Hickory Hall Polo Club, located in Whitestown, is the only field and polo club in the state.
Greg Chandler and his wife Donna started the club 20 years ago. When Chandler was 10 years old, his father and three other men started a polo club at Fort Benjamin Harrison.
“About the time my brother and I were ready to start playing, my dad got out of polo, but I liked polo and horse racing equally,” says Chandler, who was a jockey for many years and fox hunted prior to playing polo. In his youth, he traveled to other states to play but grew weary of the travel and decided to build a field of his own.
“It’s like ‘Field of Dreams’ – I built it and they came,” Chandler says. Over time the sport has increased in popularity.
“As word has spread around the community, more people have become interested in coming to check it out,” says Chandler, noting that they have two police officers there each weekend to manage crowd control.
Matches begin at 6 p.m. on Friday evenings and last approximately two hours. Chandler highly recommends that folks arrive by 5 p.m. to be sure they get in and get a good location.
When Hickory Hall Polo Club first opened, Greg and Donna hosted a couple of charity events. Once he and his family realized the good they were doing, they endeavored to determine how to host weekly charity events so they could help more charities. To date, they have raised more than $8 million for various charities.
Each year they invite nonprofit organizations to submit applications for the upcoming season. Chandler and his family make up the board. This includes Greg and Donna Chandler, Austin and Shannon Chandler, Nick and Audra Plopper, Reagan and Charley Plopper, Trace and Zack Plopper, and Charity Coordinator Ethan Zimmerman. The board annually pours through applications to select 25 charities for the season, which runs from early June to early October. They vet the charities thoroughly to ensure they can handle an event of this magnitude because with any given match, between 1,000 and 1,200 people attend.
“That’s a lot to manage so we make sure they have an ample volunteer base – if I’m going to tear up my front yard, the charity better make money,” Chandler says with a chuckle.
Chandler recognizes that nine times out of 10, charitable events are not kid-friendly or designed for families, and that’s not at all what he is going for.
“Polo has a stigma of being a hoity-toity kind of a sport where people assume if you don’t wear a fancy hat, you can’t attend,” Chandler says. “I want people in this community or any community around us to feel comfortable coming.” Therefore, they make the gate fee reasonable for everyone to attend – just $40 a carload provides an entire evening of entertainment. Besides the fun of seeing the horses run during the matches, at halftime a plane flies over the 10-acre field and throws out bags of candy wrapped in mini parachutes.
“There can be hundreds of kids on the field vying for treats coming out of the sky,” Chandler says.
The Hickory Hall Polo Club is a labor of love, and the family is thrilled to be a part of it. Their favorite aspect of owning the polo club is giving back to the community.
“Unfortunately, COVID crippled a lot of charities,” he says. “We are so happy to be helping these charities not only survive, but thrive.”
Charities Benefitting During the 2022 Season
Boys & Girls Club of Boone County
Children’s TherAplay Foundation, Inc.
Riverview Health Foundation
Rugby Indiana Youth
Oxford House Inc.
Ascension St. Vincent Foundation
Hendricks Regional Health Foundation
Morning Dove Therapeutic Riding
Indiana Canine Assistant Network, Inc.
Circle City Relief
IMPD Mounted Patrol Association
Hemophilia of Indiana, Inc.
Special Olympics Indiana
Circle City Clubhouse
Zionsville Education Foundation
Isenhower Family Education Fund
Assistance League of Indianapolis
Indiana Hands & Voices
Jacob Pickett Response Organization
Hickory Hall Polo Club is located at 7551 East 100 North in Whitestown. For more information, call 317-223-4281 or visit indypolo.com.