Sue Sally Hale of Carmel Valley had her finest hour last weekend at the Women's Western National Polo Championship matches.
The matches were played at the Carmel Valley Riding & Polo Center for the benefit of the American Heart Association Central Mission Trails Chapter. They were the first such matches to be sponsored by the U.S. Polo Association.
The Carmel Valley team won first place.
Participating with Sue Sally were her daughters, Stormie, who, at 14 is a seasoned player, and 10-year-old Sunny, the youngest player on the field.
Sunny had been a stick-ball player all year, but then two weeks before the tournament, Sue Sally realized her team would be short a player. So Sunny was given a quick course and she came through with flying colors. Fourth member of the team was Susie Welker from Tulsa, Okla.
Women in polo have come a long way largely due to the efforts of Sue Sally. She learned the game as a youngster at the Will Rogers Polo Field near Santa Monica. For 20 years, Sue Sally played polo disguised as a boy, her hair tucked under her hat. In 1972, she became the first rated woman playing member of the USPA.
In the recent play-offs, the Carmel Valley team defeated the Modesto team composed of Susie Walton of Modesto, Oatsy von Gontard and Jan Waller from Jackson Hole, Wyo., and Bonnie Middleton from Santa Fe, N.M.
Oatsy's father, Paul von Gontard, who used to play polo at San Mateo-Burlingame Club before moving to Wyoming in the early forties, came out for the matches with his wife, Connie, and were seeing old friends including the Mac Jasons of Atherton.
Mack and Madelyn were just back from Argentina where they attended the Cup of the Americas championship matches in Buenos Aires. Fay and Connie Humphries of Menlo Park, who were also there, were telling of being invited to an estancia (ranch) for lunch. Gauchos barbecued goat and ribs of beef. Afterwards, the gauchos performed exhibition riding on wild horses which they said made our American rodeos look pale by comparison
The Jason' daughter, Lynn, was a member of the Salinas polo team that won the runner-up title from the Oregon, Salinas and Rancho de las Amigas teams. Lynn inherits her love of the game not only from her father who is vice president of USPA, but her maternal grandfather, the late William G. Gilmore, who played with all the biggies at Riviera Country Club in the 1930s and early 1940s and founded Eldorado Polo club in Palm Desert. On the Salinas team with Lynn were Jan Baines and Vickey Hannan of Salinas and Shirley Mero of Santa Rosa.
There were three special awards. One went to Dr. Tom Schulte of Woodside for loaning horses. A second award was presented to Buzz Welker for being the main push behind women's polo in light of the progress it's made this year. The third award went to May Walton, mother of Susie (of the Modesto team) and Mary Alizon (of the Davis team). Mary Alizon is a student at Davis as are teammates, Kathy Kline and Joan Haley. The fourth player, Susan Stoval, came from Washington....
Marjorie Pierce, Monterey Herald
CARMEL VALLEY WOMEN'S POLO TEAM'S TOPS
Sue Sally Hale
American Polo Pioneer
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