The idea behind the formation of the Singapore Polo Club (SPC) was first initiated in early 1886 when a group of civilians and several officers of the “BUFFS” (a regiment from Kent responsible for manning the British garrison in Singapore) decided that playing polo be established in Singapore.
The Singapore Sporting Club, the predecessor of today’s Singapore Turf Club had graciously agreed to allow polo-playing at the centre portion of their racecourse at Farrer Park.
Apart from his patronage, the Sultan of Johor also availed the field in his 65-acre Royal Palace in Singapore known as Tyersall. For many years, the SPC used this beautiful Tyersall grounds for polo games, paper chases, gymkhanas (miscellaneous sports and races on horseback) and equestrian activities.
The beginning of the 20th century saw the club’s strength wane due to the frequent “comings and goings” of British regiments, from which many of the polo players came from.
In January 1913, the SPC rescinded its consent for polo playing on its grounds. Polo playing was to shift to the Sultan’s palace grounds at Tyersall. By 12 March 1914, the SPC’s committee announced the site of a new club in an area bounded by McNair Road and Balestier Road. A grand opening was held on 13 April 1914.
Polo’s increasing popularity prompted the club to search for a new and suitably-sized ground, resulting in the selection of three acres of land (later to be supplemented by a further 24 acres) at the corner of Thomson Road and Mount Pleasant Road. This new facility had a full-sized ground, a 40-foot exercise track, a practice ground, stables, a riding cum training school and a comfortable clubhouse.
Fortunately for the SPC, the grounds at Thomson/ Mount Pleasant Roads survived WWII despite being badly damaged by the ravages of war and having been poorly dug for use as vegetable plots by squatters. On the orders of Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, the Supreme Allied Commander of South East Asia, the club’s grounds were restored to playing condition soon after the war ended.
Tremendous amounts of work went into resurrecting the ravaged Polo Club to make it playable again. Also, about this time, the club sanctioned the building of a new clubhouse. Finally, in 1947, play resumed, although inter-club tournaments would only go underway in 1948.
The newly-built clubhouse was opened only in 1955. It consisted of a building of substantial size and proportions, with changing and showering rooms, a covered veranda for viewing purposes, an attractive bar and a hall for social events.
Today, the old clubhouse has been replaced by a spanking new multi-million dollar complex comprising a foyer, administrative offices, changing rooms, toilets, a long bar, billiards room, committee room, tennis and squash courts and a swimming pool. This new clubhouse can accommodate 700 members and guests within its exquisite Mount Pleasant Road location.
The Singapore Polo Club, in comparison to other sporting and social clubs in Singapore, will always be considered a smaller and select club under the relatively “exclusive” nature of the game of polo.