IF YOU GO
What: Polo matches.
When: 10 a.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Bendabout Farm, 3818 S. Lee Highway, McDonald, Tenn.
Admission: Free (Sunday donations go to 6th Cavalry Museum).
Mallets, flags, ponies and chukkers -- it must be polo time in Tennessee.
Those knowledgeable about the sport and the curious alike are invited to the annual tradition of polo matches at Bendabout Farm in McDonald, Tenn., on Saturday and Sunday.
"The [Summerfield K.] Johnstons are wonderful to open their farm and invite the public to this magnificent facility," said spokeswoman Kay Hutcherson. "They've been so gracious and so kind [to offer] a sport most people will never see. And you're right at field side."
The matches, featuring two members of the Johnston family, South African star Whistle Uys and Juli Arellano, arguably the best player in the United States, will be Saturday at 10 a.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Donations at the Sunday match will benefit the 6th Cavalry Museum in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., as they have for the past several years, according to Hutcherson.
Bendabout Farm and a team from the Army's 6th Cavalry, once stationed in Fort Oglethorpe, played matches from the mid-1930s until World War II began, alternating sites between the Army post and the farm.
While polo picked up at the farm between the 1950s and 1970s -- the post closed after the war -- matches open to the public did not begin until about 20 years ago, she said.
Among the players expected, Gillian Johnston and her nephew, Will Johnston, are area natives.
Gillian, "one of the best [female players] in the world," according to Hutcherson, recently competed on the Wyoming summer circuit and next will head to Aiken, S.C., for matches there.
Will, "a very excellent player" who competed in England and Wyoming this summer, will play in Argentina this fall.
Arellano played here a year ago.
"He's something to watch," Hutcherson said. "He'll really give the public an idea of what top-rated players look like."
Bendabout Farm has bleacher seating available, but spectators also can bring folding chairs. Parking is free and plentiful.
Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...