THE HISTORY OF POLO IN WESTPORT AND TOMMY GLYNN.
What draws so many to polo? Is it the sport’s gentile style or the rush of galloping ponies towards the goal with mallet in one hand and reins in the other? Polo players founded the Fairfield County Hunt Club in 1923 and the sport flourished here into the 80’s. Dignitaries and celebrities like New York Governor Averill Harriman (banker, ambassador, and presidential hopeful) and Peter Brandt (billionaire paper manufacturer, publisher, art collector and real estate investor) played on our field. In the 90’s and up through 2007 polo was revisited as a featured charity event for Save the Children, the P.T. Barnum Festival, Near and Far Aid and most recently The Gold’s Dragoons, attracting hundreds of festively dressed tailgaters.
Local horsemen began knocking a ball around on the field across from the current DuPont property on Hulls Farm Road and started to get serious in the summer of 1928 when Tommy Glynn came to the club. The four - goal captain of the Harvard Junior Varsity team was hired to teach interested members over the summer. Tommy graduated several months before the October 1929 Crash and opted to return to run polo since his chances on Wall Street were dashed.
Glynn felt privileged to have pupils and teammates like Joe Buckley, George Oliver, Roy Chapman Andrews, and former club president Lawrence Cornwall in the 30’s. Lawrence “Larry” Cornwall’s daughter and club member Aline Gillies recounts that these men enjoyed great camaraderie, playing mainly for fun. “Joe Buckley was quite good, very athletically built”, says Aline, and one of Tommy Glynn’s closest friends for decades. The Buckleys lived on Pequot Avenue and daughter Bessie was inseparable with Tommy’s daughter Sandy.
Shortly after taking the polo position at the club Tommy married Mabel Jennings and the couple moved into the gatehouse next to the club’s Long Lots Road entrance. Mabel’s father Erwin Jennings had been part of the club’s founding syndicate, the first commodore of the Pequot Yacht Club and a successful entrepreneur involved in car dealerships and manufacturing. Mabel grew up in a mansion above Burying Hill Beach next to club member and great philanthropist Fred Bedford on Beachside Avenue. She and her sister Francis enjoyed fox hunting with the Fairfield County Hounds.
Since his work running Syfo Water Company kept Tommy from going south for the winter, he moved indoors to keep the game going. At one time or another he ran indoor polo at Blind Brook, Ox Ridge, Greenwich, Boulder Brook as well as managing the Fairfield program. “My father mentored young and middle aged people” remembers Sandy, Tommy’s daughter, “They liked his connection to the past while they strove in the 70’s and 80’s to bring back polo’s glory days”.
A prized trophy, The Tommy Glynn Cup, proudly sits safely in one of the trophy cases in the club lobby. It is this cup which honors Tommy for his great service to the Fairfield County Hunt Club, that the two teams will both strive to win using their equestrian Prowess on August 26.