By K.C. Beal Krueger
As women’s polo grows in popularity, many clubs globally wish to host a women’s tournament of their own for their growing numbers of female club members and polo school students. After several years of helping the Houston Polo Club manage one of the most highly attended women’s tournaments in the world, the club has identified five handicap flights of play that offers every level of competition for everyone from juniors, beginners and Open level professionals and sponsors to enjoy.
The levels that we have found to work are:
- Open- 20-26
- Handicap Flight – 10-14
Originally it used to be 14-18, but it’s too close to the Open rating and we didn’t have even high rated players to make the teams. Dropping it to 10-14 keeps it very competitive but also doesn’t require the local sponsors to have to spend a ton of money to make a team.
Farish Cup – unrated but generally teams are 2-4goals in women’s, plus the club puts these teams together so everyone just signs up individually. These ladies are either using this league as a stepping stone to the handicap or they just don’t want to be super competitive (they only play 2 days and have 1 umpire).
Bayou Cup – unrated, very beginner league, usually on smaller field and with arena ball. We try to get a pro from the open or handicap to play on each team.
WCT (Women’s Championship Tournament) Junior – Sunday only before finals of the open. Hosted on a smaller field where we try to get a younger higher rated girl to play on each team.
Other clubs in the US and around the world are using a variety of handicap levels for their tournaments. As time passes, it would be great to see reoccurring handicap levels remain consistent across the US and around the world to help make possible the opportunity for one team to play together in multiple tournaments of the same handicap. A popular number that has emerged globally is 18 goals. Currently, the Women’s East Cost Open is 18-20 goals.
There will be three to four 16 goal tournaments in the 2019 Women’s Florida Circuit. The Port Mayaca Tabebuia, the Villages Women’s Challenge, and Grand Champions WCT Finals. Grand Champions WCT Finals will also host an 8 goal and an Open level simultaneously. The 2019 Women’s US Open Championship will be moved from 26 goals to 18-22 goals. 18-22 goals will include more teams, reduce expense, share the higher rated pros with multiple teams rather than just three or four teams given we only have 35 or so players rated at 6 goals or more in the entire world. That will change as more countries adopt the women’s handicap scale. As women’s polo continues to grow, and as up and coming players develop their skills, building 16-18 goal teams has the potential to become more popular and eventually align with the handicap levels hosted in other countries.