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By Kris Bowman
USPA National Club Development Director
Director of Team USPA Programs
Declining membership numbers in polo clubs are linked
to much more than the declining state of the stock market.
Take a look at successful sports that have had explosive
growth over the past decade like baseball and soccer.
Youngsters progress from youth or recreational leagues
to traveling leagues that prepare a competitor for high
school teams and can lead to scholarships at universities
and take the most talented to professional status.
There are camps and clinics along the way to support
this upward progression. Polo clubs must learn from
these successful sports organizations and offer their
own ladder of progression. Each level along the way
builds a lasting foundation for the young person to be
successful through each transition. Polo clubs that offer
a clearly defned approach to nurturing a new player
from developing riding skills and learning the basics to
competing in entry level tournaments are maximizing the
longevity of their club membership.
The USPA Houston Regional Polo Center has a
recipe for success. Led by a strong team of teaching
professionals, RPC Director Mark Prinsloo and veteran
instructor Barlee Flanders have a proven track record. 
They offer introductory polo school packages on safe,
reliable mounts each spring and fall. These players
then go on to a “Margarita League” where their skills are
refned, and lessons take the form of a lesson combined
with instructional chukkers. There are summer and winter
coaching leagues that prepare these new players for actual
competition. When students are ready, they are assisted
in purchasing the proper beginner level horse and placed
on teams in 2 or 4 goal competition.
Many players remain in the coaching leagues due to
restrictions of ability or fnances, but many progress to
full playing members. Each type of player adds to the culture
of the polo club. The students who remain in coaching leagues
and schools are part of the incubator for new students to play
with and of course the students who progress on to becoming
new members of the club add enthusiasm, new ideas, and are the
right ft for older, reliable polo ponies that may need to retire from
more demanding players. The polo ecosystem is now renewed
in everyway.
Take an objective look at your club and evaluate if your training
program may need an overhaul. It may be missing a few rungs on
the polo ladder of progress!
USPA Regional Polo Center Directors Mark Prinsloo in
Houston, Jolie Liston in
Atlanta and Erik Wright
in L.A/San Francisco are
available to lend valuable
advice to clubs looking
for new ideas. National
Club Development
Director, Kris Bowman
is always available to
get you connected to the
right program or person
to help your club grow.
Please contact Kris at 
Kris Bowman and some of
her protégés
Kris’ Corner
A Ladder of
Kris Bowman is the National Club Development Director for
the United States Polo Association. She has achieved national
acclaim for teaching and developing adult and Jr. Polo programs
across the country over the past 20 years.