Natasha Franks reviews the 2017 Charity Polo Tournament.
Since its resurgence in 2015, the St Andrews Charity Polo Tournament has become synonymous with St Andrews-style excess. Already the 2015 iteration appeared insurmountable: Each VIP guest received a wristband full of free drinks, a novelty for students accustomed to a mere champagne reception. 2016 upped the ante, branded with the now-infamous “unlimited champagne” tagline. As the 2017 tournament approached, guests wondered how the committee could possibly rival last year’s bubbly extravagance.
Much to our surprise and initial apprehension, the committee avoided the expected route of endless champagne. Instead, they provided a restrained twelve bottles per VVIP table, in addition to last year’s afternoon tea spread and a newly established complimentary hot beverage bar. Many students rejected this notion of restraint, particularly as ticket prices had not decreased accordingly.
Fortunately, guests who placed their faith in the polo committee’s effective use of funds were not misguided. Arriving at Errol Park, we witnessed an undeniable increase in production value – most notably, heaters and a food court.
It must be said, on an admittedly grimmer note, that not all guests had such a smooth arrival. After nearly an hour spent wandering through a mostly empty venue, we discovered that it was not traffic delaying the remaining guests. In fact, due to poor communication between the polo committee and the bus company, several buses had gotten lost on the main estate. Eventually, hundreds of guests were forced to walk the remaining half mile to the polo pitches.
The calamity is moderately reminiscent of the 2017 Don’t Walk Charity Fashion Show, which had its share of transportation issues when buses became trapped in the mud. Ultimately, a committee is not responsible for the failings of a bus company; however, it is responsible for the comfort of its guests. A formal apology, at the very least, or partial refunds, at the very most, would have been appreciated by the delayed guests, who lost hours of the event they had paid full-price for.
The lost buses proved to be the only cloud throughout the day. Sunny skies and relatively warm temperatures allowed guests to make use of all the venue’s facilities, most notably the food court. Located in the Standard section and isolated from the pitches, guest attended to a wide range of food vendors. After purchasing strudel from Alplings, or crab-dusted chips from barnacles & bones, or sausage from On The Roll, guests could then relax at one of the many tables, either pitchside or in the quieter vendor area.
Naturally, the Blackhorn food truck proved to be one of the most popular destinations. Aided by its prime location across from the Tesla display, the food truck was never without a queue – even serving many VVIP guests, despite the endless assortment of pastries and finger sandwiches in the Champagne Garden.
Outside of the food court, guests entertained themselves by watching polo, a process facilitated by a rather exuberant announcer. Here, polo truly proved its worth. No other event combines class with casual in such an effective manner, as guests alternated between munching on burgers and posing by sports cars – all in support of Help For Heroes.
As long as the sun shines, it will remain, by far, the most anticipated event on my social calendar – buses and all.