Polo in Sotogrande – What You Need to Know

Follow the Sotogrande Guide on InstagramFacebook or Twitter, to experience all the great places, corners and venues in and around Sotogrande.

Sotogrande offers a unique opportunity to enjoy the Sport of Kings. Naturally, a Mojito, G & T or even a Pimm’s are great accompaniments to the action.

Have you ever wondered about the Rules? Or even where the game came from?

It’s an old sport, dating back over 2,000 years and with its origins in Persia. By the 16th Century it had established itself in India and spread to China and Japan. Nowadays, when we think of professional Polo players, we think of Argentinians and British – both of whom take part in the Ayala and Santa Maria teams.

Chukkas, Goals and Handicaps.

You’ve heard the word, ‘chukka’ and maybe even used it. But how long is each one?

The answer is seven minutes. And there are six of them in a game, plus up to 30 seconds extra time in each round. The teams switch ends after each chukka – as you’ve no doubt noticed. (Or maybe you’ve just got yourself another cocktail.)

Anyway, as you know, there are four players in each team. The No. 1 and No. 2 play up front. The No. 3 and No. 4 hang back.

The players mark their opposite number. So, the No. 4 marks the No. 1, and so on. There is no ‘offside’ rule. The rules are common sense based on a player having the ‘right of way’ in order to eliminate danger. That is why the players can’t hold the mallet in their left hands.

Play starts from a line up in the centre by one of the two umpires throwing the ball.

The team that score the most goals wins – any time the ball crosses the line between the posts it’s a goal, even if it came off the horse and not the mallet.

All registered players are rated on a scale of –2 to 10 (the higher the better). The handicap of the team is the sum total rating of its players, and in handicap matches the team with the higher handicap gives the difference in ratings to the other team.

If you’d like to learn more, Santa Maria Polo Club offers a unique opportunity to learn the basic rules of polo, and how to play. You even get to hit the bocha from the wooden practice horse.

Ayala Polo Club, with its 35 hectares of fields and facilities also offers lessons. Just get in touch to brush up, hone or to start from scratch.

If you’re an adrenaline junkie this is the sport for you.