By Larry Atseff
Jim Drury has been President of Oak Brook Polo for 7 years. He has had some very high standards to live up to ever since Paul Butler started the traditions of the game and the Oak Brook Polo Club 100 years ago. Jim has done it very well. While he never knew Paul Butler, Jim knew of him and his love of the game. Photos over the years tell the story, from riders and ponies in action, to the pictures of the players including true royalty, to the pictures of the fans decked out in casual finery, enjoying the games and just getting together on a sunny Sunday afternoon. As Jim wrote in the 2021 edition of SCORE Magazine given to fans who come to the games, “It is with great privilege that I welcome you to experience the magic, pageantry and thrill of polo. The tradition of Sunday polo at Oak Brook has been one of incomparable fun and excitement, the likes of which you may have never experienced-and will certainly never forget.” As he puts it, “I started out in Naperville playing polo in the early 90’s and fell in love with the game. I got to know first-hand how athletic these magnificent animals are, how they instantly respond to your commands, and the skills it takes for horse and rider to work together.” “Over the years, I have had the opportunity to become a ‘patrone’, or a patron of the game and became owner of the Oak Brook team. In an even larger sense, I have also tried to further the game locally.
“I started out in Naperville playing polo in the early 90’s and fell in love with the game. I got to know first-hand how athletic these magnificent animals are, how they instantly respond to your commands, and the skills it takes for horse and rider to work together.”
After all, you have to have teams to play against on a regular basis to keep up and improve skills of horses and riders, and teams.” Put another way, in the tradition of excellence that Butler established, Jim has encouraged the finest polo professionals to come to the Chicago area to play on local teams. When he says “it is with great privilege” he means it. “Where else can an owner of a professional sports team also be a player on the team? I’ve been honored to carry on what Paul Butler started.” Through thick and thin, Jim has carried on. For example, he has worked with the Village of Oak Brook and the Butler National Golf Club to finally return the game to Cecil Smith Field in 2022. “That field is considered to be one of the finest and will go a long way toward attracting the highest rated teams and players from all over the US and the world. He adds, “Polo was the only professional sport that continued to play continuously during the recent pandemic.” In addition to the high quality of the games themselves, he and Managing Director, Danny O’Leary have made sure that people truly enjoy themselves. “Picture taking is highly encouraged. The people that come out are like ambassadors, and they love to show their friends the fun and excitement. From car shows, to ‘best hat contests’, it is a great atmosphere. And you couldn’t be closer to the action on the field.” As Jim says, “Coming to an Oak Brook Polo match is like going to Churchill Downs. And the action is a lot more than a two-minute horse race.” He adds, in conclusion, “If there is one match you must not miss, it will be the match on September 25th, when several members of the Butler family will be in attendance. It should be a very special day.” And, that’s how you do it, in the tradition of Paul Butler, and now, Jim Drury.
2022 Oak Brook Polo Season
June 26, July 17, 24, 31, August 14, 21, 28, September 11, 18, 25 All Sundays. Gates open to ticketed guests at 1pm Go to www.oakbrookpoloclub.com for more details.
*Photos by Andrew Meier