Norman Brinker's Chili's Team with Miss Texas

About Texans for Polo and the History of Norman Brinker’s Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club

Texans for Polo was founded in part out of respect for Mr. Norman Brinker’s passion for and interest in the sport and camaraderie of polo. Mr. Brinker was loved by countless others and touched the hearts of many including my family’s and mine.

Polo match at the Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club 1973-1996 with the clubhouse with a barn facade
Polo match at the Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club 1973-1996 with the clubhouse with a barn facade

 

The amazing true life story of Norman Brinker’s first wife, tennis legend Maureen Connolly “Little Mo” and her passion to “never give up” inspired me and made a life-long lasting impression on me beginning at the early age of 9 yrs. old.

For her complete story:  San Diego’s Sweetheart: Maureen Connolly by, Joey Seymour

International tennis legend, Maureen Connolly "Little Mo"
International tennis legend, Maureen Connolly “Little Mo”
(For more of the amazing history of love between Norman Brinker and Maureen Connolly please see below my signature.)

 

Norman Brinker the Restaurateur
Norman Brinker the Restaurateur

 

When I first “GOOGLED” the internet for “Norman Brinker” I found plenty accounts of his outstanding, transformative, and lasting impact on the restaurant industry.  Such as “Norman Brinker, helped put casual dining and salad bars on the American menu with the Steak and Ale and Bennigan’s chains, and went on to transform Chili’s from a small regional hamburger chain into one of the world’s largest restaurant companies, Brinker International.”

However I was disappointed to find little content about and not one photo of him enjoying his infamous side-time passion he devoted a lot of attention to, and led to his life-altering injury…POLO!  He loved polo so much and was involved on a national level with the US Polo Association so, to the best of my ability, I wanted to share his and his club’s polo history with you.

Norman Brinker and Nancy Brinker at a trophy presentation at his Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club
Norman Brinker and Nancy Brinker at a trophy presentation at his Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club
Norman Brinker's Chili's Polo team at his Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club action shot
Norman Brinker’s Chili’s Polo team at his Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club action shot

 

In approximately 1972-1973 Norman Brinker purchase an expanse of acreage that had been a turkey farm. Soon he generously opened his Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club (WBPHC) in Plano, Texas. By the early 1980’s hundreds to thousands of polo fans flocked to his Willow Bend Polo & Hunt Club to enjoy polo on any given Sunday afternoon at its fabulous venue with spectacular half time entertainment. Willow Bend not only showcased world-class polo, it was quite an operation!

Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club fans in the grandstands
Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club fans in the grandstands
Norman Brinker's Chili's Polo team at his Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club action shot
Norman Brinker’s Chili’s Polo team at his Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club action shot
As a young member of Mr. Brinker’s Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club from 1981-1987, my family and I got to enjoy the thrill of the beautiful sport of polo first-hand and in the way Mr. Brinker wanted it to be experienced by polo fans.
Norman Brinker's Chili's Polo team at his Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club action shot
Norman Brinker’s Chili’s Polo team at his Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club action shot
Wow! The Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club facilities and all the action it attracted was something else! It had five polo fields (I have been told that in it’s earlier years they had up to 14 polo fields at WBPHC!)  The Hickory Hunt Club was a part of the Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club of which my grandparents were active participants when they were in their 60’s and 70’s.
Charlotte Menke Skaggs, Charlotte Menke, Charlotte Skaggs Taylor
Charlotte Taylor’s grandparents Marjorie Russell Skaggs and Martin Skaggs at the Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club on photo day for the Hickory Creek Hunt Members
The Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club offered equestrian hunter jumper training, polo lessons, boarding stables, tack shop, locker rooms, tennis courts, an Olympic sized swimming pool, and a clubhouse that had a fine two-story restaurant with a barn facade inspired by Mr. Brinker’s popular Steak and Ale restaurants.  They also had a fun summer camp for children that my sister, cousin and I enjoyed attending as little girls.
Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club's Children's Day Camp (Charlotte Menke Skaggs' little sister Heather Menke kneeling, center on front row) in the Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club equestrian arena
Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club’s Children’s Day Camp (Charlotte Taylor’s little sister Heather Menke (O’Neill) kneeling, center on front row) in the Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club equestrian arena
Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club's Children's Day Camp (Charlotte Menke Skaggs in center on front row and her cousin Laura Skaggs in purple shorts center of the back row) on the tennis courts of Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club
Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club’s Children’s Day Camp (Charlotte Taylor in center on front row and her cousin Laura Skaggs in purple shorts center of the back row) on the tennis courts of Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club

 

In 1980 and as the club developed and grew, Mr. Brinker and successful Oil & Gas businessman Robert Payne Sr. and his beautiful, equestrian riding wife, Rosemary Gowen Payne, became business partners of Mr. Brinker’s Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club. Mr. Payne’s devoted and outgoing wife Rosemary, a former beauty contestant that competed in a Miss Texas Pageant, was an accomplished equestrian hunter jumper and was a member of the Hickory Creek Hunt Club along with my youthful grandparents Martin & Marjorie Skaggs and other horse-loving friends – “Tally Ho!”

I remember when I was a little pre-teen “Willowbender,” my mom pointed out Mrs. Payne to me. Mom asked my sister and me, “Do you see that pretty lady with the black elegant bouffant up-do? . . . She runs this place (the Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club).”  I remember thinking, “Wow!  She is so glamorous!!!”  Today, Rosemary Payne is still just as beautiful and so very nice.  I have to humbly admit, I am still a little star-struck whenever I see her.  Funny how childhood pedestals last the test of time…

Norman Brinker's business partners since 1980, Robert Payne, Sr. and his wife Rosemary Payne at the Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club
Norman Brinker’s business partners since 1980, Robert Payne, Sr. and his wife Rosemary Payne at the Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club
Charlotte Menke Skaggs with Rosemary Payne at a Mokarow Farms party
Charlotte Taylor with Rosemary Payne at a Mokarow Farms party

 

Rosemary Payne and her daughter Sue Payne played an essential role in developing the clubs popular children’s summer camp and special events for the club and its members. Meanwhile their son Robert Payne, Jr. was busy developing and honing his skills to become the fine professional polo player that he is today.

Robert Payne, Jr. in peach jersey of the Willow Bend Polo Club. Photo by Kristen Armbruster
Robert Payne, Jr. in peach jersey of the Willow Bend Polo Club. Photo by Kristen Armbruster
Norman Brinker owner and founder of the Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club, Est. 1973
Norman Brinker owner and founder of the Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club, Est. 1973
Actor, Texan, and polo player Tommy Lee Jones relaxing while at the Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club
Actor, Texan, and polo player Tommy Lee Jones relaxing while at the Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club

 

After Mr. Brinker’s unfortunate and dangerous polo accident in Florida during the year of 1993, he was forced to retire from active polo play.

Soon afterwards Norman Brinker invited the Payne family that he trusted to take over ownership and management of his Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club.  As Dallas and Plano developed and grew rapidly, former country road FM 544 developed into what we know today as Park Road. A former railroad easement turned four lane black top road is where the busy, congested North Dallas Tollway now stands. As a result, the demand and need to develop residential and retail real estate in the area began to escalate quickly.

Willow Bend Polo Towne Crossing Polo Statue
Willow Bend Polo Towne Crossing Polo Statue

 

In 1996, the owners of the Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club elected to sell its large expanse of acreage and closed its doors as a private country club.

Willow Bend Polo Estates Entrance
Willow Bend Polo Estates Entrance

 

A popular and upscale neighborhood now stands where the club’s polo grounds used to be (north of Park Road between the North Dallas Tollway and Preston Road). The original Willow tree that greeted the members at the former entrance to the Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club in its glory days is still located right where it originally stood, facing Park Road on the north side.

In 1996, active and dedicated men and women of the former Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club, fondly known as “Willow Benders”, helped to form the Las Colinas Polo Club on land managed by the city for equestrian use. The Las Colinas Polo Club was lead by loyal and dedicated CMC Realty executive and polo patron Jesse Pruitt who served as president of the Las Colinas Polo Club through 2011.

Norman Brinker was elected to the Polo Hall of Fame in 1998.

Las Colinas Polo Club Tropy Presentation CMC Realty with Barry Zindel, Jesse Pruitt's daughter, Katheryn Pruitt, polo pro, and polo pro Billy Mudra
Las Colinas Polo Club Tropy Presentation CMC Realty with Barry Zindel, Jesse Pruitt’s daughter, Katheryn Pruitt, polo pro, and polo pro Billy Mudra

 

In November 2008, just seven months before his untimely death, Mr. Brinker and his lovely daughter Cindy Brinker Simmons attended the Brinker International Polo Cup event at the Las Colinas Polo Club.

Norman Brinker with Mohamed Abdelnabi Director Of Operation Mangers Chili's UAE/OMAN at the Brinker International Polo Cup at the Las Colinas Polo Club next to the magazine LCPC Marketing Director Charlotte Menke Skaggs designed & produced, November 2008
Norman Brinker with Mohamed Abdelnabi Director Of Operation Mangers Chili’s UAE/OMAN at the Brinker International Polo Cup at the Las Colinas Polo Club next to the magazine LCPC Marketing Director Charlotte Taylor designed and produced, November 2008

 

At that time, in 2008, I was the first ever dedicated Marketing and Events Director employee serving North Texas Polo LLC and the Las Colinas Polo Club.  My mother Sandra asked me if she and my grandmother Marjorie “Momo” could please meet Norman Brinker.  At first I said, “No.  He is busy entertaining his business associates and I am working.”  Then I looked over and saw Mr. Brinker basically alone, sitting with his devoted and loving daughter, Cindy Brinker Simmons.  I used to work just 20 feet away from Cindy’s office at her Levenson & Brinker Public Relations firm (I worked for their sister firm Levenson & Hill Advertising agency.)

Once I realized that the international executives of Brinker International were all busy participating in a fun Segway course while the polo match was in full swing, I changed my mind and encouraged Mom and Momo to hurry so we can say “Hello” to Norman and Cindy before their guests returned back to our event pavilion.  Therefore, we went over to see him.  I introduced him to my mom and grandmother and we captured this sweet photo with he and Cindy.

Norman Brinker with Charlotte Menke Skaggs, Marketing Director for North Texas Polo & Las Colinas Polo Club, her grandmother "Momo" Marjorie Russell Skaggs, her mother Sandra Skaggs Menke, and Cindy Brinker Simmons at the Brinker International Cup hosted by the Las Colinas Polo Club in November 2008
Norman Brinker with Charlotte Taylor, Marketing Director for North Texas Polo & Las Colinas Polo Club, her grandmother “Momo” Marjorie Russell Skaggs, her mother Sandra Skaggs Menke, and Cindy Brinker Simmons at the Brinker International Cup hosted by the Las Colinas Polo Club in November 2008

Norman Brinker at the Brinker International Polo Cup at the Las Colinas Polo Club holding the magazine Charlotte Menke Skaggs designed and produced in his hand!

 

Just prior to his presenting the trophy to the victorious Mokarow Farms polo team, I had the amazing opportunity to get to sit with Mr. Brinker on his golf cart as the polo match went into overtime. I had ten minutes all alone on the polo sideline with my hero, polo legend “Little Mo’s” husband she loved so much, Norman Brinker.  They were in deep love and appreciation with one another.

I ceased the moment and asked Norman Brinker what it was like to be married to my hero, “Little Mo” Maureen Connolly Brinker.  I enjoyed listening to Mr. Brinker tell me about the humble, kind and inspiring tennis legend “Little Mo” and his respect and love for her until cancer took her from him and their two daughters at the early age of 34 years old. We also talked about his love for polo and I promised him that I would do my part to keep the history of his Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club alive and my public awareness efforts for the sport of polo in the North Texas area active. He was very pleased and in appreciation he gave me his signature warm grin, bright smiling eyes and affectionately squeezed my hand.

Norman Brinker, Norman Brinker Polo, Charlotte Menke Skaggs, Charlotte Menke, Charlotte Skaggs Taylor
Norman Brinker with Las Colinas Polo Club’s Marketing and Events Director Charlotte Taylor on the sidelines during overtime in a polo match between victorious Mokarow Farms v. Lucchese at the Las Colinas Polo Club during the Brinker International Polo Cup with Cindy Brinker Simmons in the background visiting with Charlotte’s mom Sandra Skaggs Menke who she signed up as a member of Norman Brinker’s Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club in 1981

 

Sadly, Norman Brinker went to heaven at the early age of 78.  His 1993 polo accident, which resulted in his being in a coma for approximately two weeks, led to a series of side illnesses due to his weakened health he fought through for over 15 years.  While on vacation in Colorado, Norman Brinker is said to have choked on a little bit of his delicious June 3rd birthday cake and went to heaven on June 9, 2009.  That unfortunate incident caused the Pneumonia he had been fighting off even in these photos (below) to return again.  This time, he was not able to recover.

I attended his memorial service hosted at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center that was filled with local celebrities such as Dallas Cowboy Quarterback Troy Aikman.   I was invited by my longtime, dear friend Mary Dowling to join her near the front of the symphony center with his loving and loyal daughter Cindy Brinker Simmons’ friends involved in a cause dear to Cindy “Wipe Out Kids Cancer.”

Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club action shot
Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club action shot

 

Mr. Brinker left a lasting impression on me personally, the sport of polo nationally and all the members and friends of his wonderful Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club. Therefore, Texans for Polo is grateful for Mr. Brinker’s noble efforts and hopes to help play a part in helping to keep his passion for polo in North Texas alive for all to experience and enjoy.

Thanks to the dedication of polo professional Robert Payne, Jr. the Willow Bend Polo Club name lives on at his polo fields in Little Elm, Texas and the original Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club entrance sign now honorably hangs at the entrance to his main barn.  Rob Payne III had earned a place on the US polo team, is an up and coming pro and is the player’s whose photo I traced to create the Texans for Polo, Polo World Network.com, and United States Polo logos.

Rob Payne III in the photo that Charlotte Menke Skaggs traced from in Adobe Illustrator to make her Texans for Polo, Polo World Network, and United States Polo Network logo.
Rob Payne III in the photo that Charlotte Taylor traced from in Adobe Illustrator to make her Texans for Polo, Polo World Network, and United States Polo Network logo.

Texans For Polo Logo with PWN bluePolo World Network Logo from TwitterUnitedStatesPoloNetwork Logo

Robert Payne, Jr. with his Willow Bend polo teammates
Robert Payne, Jr. with his Willow Bend polo teammates
The Hickory Creek Hunt group, a part of the Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club, Est. 1973
The Hickory Creek Hunt group, a part of the Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club, Est. 1973

 

My family’s Willow Bend Polo & Hunt Club membership & experience coupled with their rich equestrian and horse ranch adventures is why I am dedicated to public awareness about the beautiful sport of polo that I enjoyed watching as a young girl.

Charlotte Menke Skaggs' grandparents Marjorie Russell Skaggs and Martin Skaggs at the Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club on photo day for the Hickory Creek Hunt Members
Charlotte Skaggs Taylor’s grandparents Marjorie Russell Skaggs and Martin Skaggs at the Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club on photo day for the Hickory Creek Hunt Members
Hickory Creek Hunt Club members on photo day hosted at the Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club. Charlotte Menke Skaggs' grandparents Martin & Marjorie Skaggs in the foreground
Hickory Creek Hunt Club members on photo day hosted at the Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club. Charlotte Skaggs Taylor’s grandparents Martin & Marjorie Skaggs in the foreground

 

For more details about my family’s experiences with horses and their participation in the legendary Shawnee Trail ride (covered wagons and horse trail riders from Lake Texoma down Preston Road all the way to downtown Dallas in the 1960’s) just click on this link below and scroll half way down for my mother’s funny horse stories that date back to my great-grandfather, member of Dallas’ founding families:

The Skaggs’ horse heritage

Shawnee Trail Ride from Texhoma down Preston Road to downtown Dallas to be a part of the opening ceremonies for the Texas State Fair. Charlotte Menke Skaggs' grandmother Marjorie Skaggs in red shirt in 1967. She and her husband Martin Skaggs rode with Charlotte's mom, Sandra and her Aunt Marlene.
Shawnee Trail Ride from Texhoma down Preston Road to downtown Dallas to be a part of the opening ceremonies for the Texas State Fair. Charlotte Skaggs Taylor’s grandmother Marjorie Skaggs in red shirt in 1967. She and her husband Martin Skaggs rode with Charlotte’s mom, Sandra and her Aunt Marlene.

 

Please check out all the Texas polo clubs polo schedule on the “Schedules” page with a drop down menu per club for your convenience.  We hope to see you at polo very soon!

DSCF1818

Email Signature Charlotte Skaggs Polo Lady

 

THE SPORTS HISTORY OF NORMAN BRINKER AND MAUREEN CONNOLLY “LITTLE MO”

Mr. Brinker joined the U.S. Navy in 1952; during his stint in the service, Brinker used his passion and talent for horse riding to earn a place on the United States Olympic Equestrian team in the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland.

Norman Brinker (foreground) was a member of the United States show jumping team that competed at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics.
Norman Brinker (foreground) was a member of the United States show jumping team that competed at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics.
Tennis Hall of Fame and sunny, tenacious tennis legend Maureen Connolly Brinker "Little Mo" wife of Norman Brinker and mother of Brenda and Cindy Brinker
Tennis Hall of Fame and sunny, tenacious tennis legend Maureen Connolly Brinker “Little Mo” wife of Norman Brinker and mother of Brenda and Cindy Brinker

 

Miss Connolly loved horseback riding as a child, but her mother was unable to pay the cost of riding lessons. So, she took up the game of tennis.  Her tennis career began at the age of 10 on the municipal courts of San Diego. Although she was left handed her first coach, Wilbur Folsom, encouraged her to switch from a left-handed grip to right and she soon became a baseline specialist with tremendous power, accuracy, and a strong backhand.

In 1951 at the young age of  Sweet 16, Miss Connolly, a teenager, became the youngest ever to win America’s most prestigious tennis tournament, the U.S. Championship.  She successfully defended her U.S. title and despite some last minute physical trials won Wimbledon in 1952. In 1953, Miss Connolly became the first woman to win the “Grand Slam”.  Her amazing accomplishments earned her the infamous nickname “Little Mo”.

Maureen Connelly, “Little Mo” was the first woman to ever capture the elusive “Grand Slam” crown by winning the Australian Championships, the French Championships, Wimbledon, and the United States Championships. She was only eighteen years old when she accomplished this magnificent feat. From that time on, Maureen was know as the incomparable “Little Mo”.

~ Source:  mcb-logo-2  www.MCB Tennis.org/The Story of Little Mo

"Little Mo" Maureen Connolly Brinker with Wimbleton tennis trophy
“Little Mo” Maureen Connolly Brinker with Wimbleton tennis trophy

 

On July 20, 1954, two weeks after she won her third straight Wimbledon title, she was horseback riding in San Diego when a passing cement mixer truck frightened her horse and the resulting accident crushed her right leg, abruptly ending her tennis career at age 19.

Grand Slam, US Open, and Wimbledon Tennis Legend "Little Mo" Maureen Connolly Brinker
Grand Slam, US Open, and Wimbledon Tennis Legend “Little Mo” Maureen Connolly Brinker

 

This was very disappointing to Miss Conolly but soon afterwards  Mr. Brinker who was very much in love with Miss Connolly proposed marriage to her.  Mr. Brinker and Miss Connolly shared a love of horses.  In 1955 they married and soon afterwards had two beautiful daughters together Cindy Brinker Simmons and Brenda Brinker Bottum.  Sadly Maureen died at the early age of 34 on June 21, 1969, after a three-year-long battle with ovarian cancer.

Mark Harmon as Norman Brinker in the movie "Little Mo" in his navy uniform following his participation on the United States Equestrian Olympic team in 1952
Mark Harmon as Norman Brinker in the movie “Little Mo” in his navy uniform following his participation on the United States Equestrian Olympic team in 1952

 

The relationship between Norman and Maureen was depicted in a 1978 TV Film, Little Mo, which starred Glynnis O’Connor as Maureen, Mark Harmon as Norman, and Anne Baxter as Maureen’s mother.

To watch the movie please click here:   “Little Mo” the Movie

“I have watched it probably a hundred times…it is that good of a story and it made a lasting impression on my life every day of my life.  She inspired me and she is my most favorite famous hero!”

~ Charlotte Menke Skaggs, the “Polo Lady”

 

“This movie inspired me to be more like Little Mo ‘Never give in and never give up…stay strong and focused and you can achieve your dreams!’  Little Mo is my biggest hero!  I had just 10 minutes alone with Mr. Brinker as we sat together on a golf cart as we waited for the Brinker Cup Polo trophy presentation when suddenly the close match went into overtime, November 2008.  I thought to myself, this is my chance! Therefore, I ceased the moment and said to him, ‘Mr. Brinker, I grew up watching the movie Little Mo and her tenacious spirit to ‘never give up’ inspires me still to this day!  Please tell me what it was like to be married to Little Mo!”’ His eyes lit up, twinkled and he smiled back at me and told me how at the time they met she was the third most written about woman in the world.  He talked about how kind and loving she was and despite her amazing tennis accomplishments, was one of the most humble persons in the room at any social gathering.  They had a wonderful and loving marriage.  After Norman went to heaven June 2009, I like to think that Norman and Maureen are reunited happily ever after in heaven.”

– Charlotte Menke Skaggs 

Inspiring Quotes from International Restaurateur and Willow Bend Polo & Hunt Club Founder and Patron Norman Brinker

”You have about 45 minutes to convince the customer to come again; that’s your objective,” Brinker told the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper in 1991. “Your objective, once the customer is there, is to give them such a good experience, they’ll want to come again.”

Here are some very inspiring lessons from this true restaurant legend:

Encourage innovation –“Always look for ways to do things better.  Apply and encourage, imagination, initiative, creativity, and ingenuity.”

Seize the opportunities when they arise – “I believe the that the harder you work, the luckier you get.  And timing certainly has an effect on your luck.”

Delegate and Empower – “You can achieve so much more by empowering people to achieve on their own.  Don’t’ be too hands-on.”

Self-Confidence and Optimism – “Know yourself. Believe in yourself. Trust your judgment. And always remember that happiness is a habit – as is attitude.”

Have Fun – “Have a lot of kid in you.  It you have fun at what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.  Make work play – and play like hell.”

Perseverance – “Determination and perseverance make the difference between winners and losers.  Don’t let others tell you it can’t be done.  Never, ever give up – and never give in.”

Dream the Idea – “There is nothing more valuable in the world than an idea – especially when it involves creating and perpetuating something of lasting value.”

Quotes excerpted from “On the Brink: The Life and Leadership of Norman Brinker”

      For more information about Norman Brinker and his very distinguished professional, military, Olympic and polo legacies please visit:

For more details about Maureen Connolly Brinker please visit:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maureen_Connolly

About the Las Colinas Polo Club Located Near the Heart of Dallas, Texas (1996-2011)

The very successful and popular Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club closed it’s doors as a country club in 1996. Therefore many dedicated ladies and gentlemen of the former WBPHC worked hard to establish what was known as the Las Colinas Polo Club for 15  years (1996-2011).  It was conveniently located near the heart of Dallas approximately one mile west of Luna Road off Riverside Drive, on the northeast corner of the Las Colinas Equestrian Center.

Willowbender and enthusiastic polo Patron Jesse Pruitt generously served as the only club President for 15 years, beginning in 1996 until the Las Colinas Polo Club closed in 2011.

Las Colinas Polo Club President Jesse Pruitt with his beautiful current wife and successful attorney Kathryn during the champagne divot stomp at the Las Colinas Polo Club
Las Colinas Polo Club President Jesse Pruitt with his beautiful current wife and successful attorney Kathryn during the champagne divot stomp at the Las Colinas Polo Club

 

“In February of 2008 after making a persuasive marketing plan first to Kevin Mokarow and once Kevin approved and paved the way, and lastly to John Muse.  I was hired as, the first to my knowledge, a paid staff member as the Marketing and Events Director for the newly organized North Texas Polo LLC and their Las Colinas Polo Club.  In the fall polo season of 2008, Jesse left a voicemail and later told me in person during a polo match with infectious enthusiasm one of the best compliments of my life.  Jesse Pruitte said, ‘Charlotte!  I don’t know what and how you are doing it but I HAVE NEVER SEEN THIS MANY (new) PEOPLE AT POLO (the Las Colinas Polo Club), on a Sunday, in the FALL and DURING a DALLAS COWBOY GAME!!!  What ever you’re doing, please KEEP IT UP!'”  

Guests of the Las Colinas Polo Club during the champagne divot stomp with Charlotte Menke Skaggs' Basset-Beagle rescue named "Tally Ho!"
Guests of the Las Colinas Polo Club during the champagne divot stomp with Charlotte Menke Skaggs’ Basset-Beagle rescue named “Tally Ho!”

 

“My own ideas and grass-roots strategies resulted in an increase in attendance of 500% in just a few months.  My bosses were North Texas Polo LLC Executive Directors and team Patron’s Mr. Jesse Pruitt (team CMC), Mr. John Muse (team Lucchese), and Mr. Kevin Mokarow (team Mokarow) and Willow Bend Polo’s, polo pro Robert Payne, Jr. served as the liaison between the Executive Directors who were each highly successful and very busy business men on an average daily basis.  

 

Unfortunately just about all American’s know what happened to the United States economy and banking industry in late October 2008.  As a result, long time polo field sponsor, Capital One Bank, had to cancel their sizable yearly sponsorship after over six years.  Automobile and champagne divot stomp sponsor, University Park Audi had to do the same.  

 

Las Colinas Club President and longtime polo Patron, Jesse Pruitt, called me into his business office to inform me that due to the Club being down such a significant amount in income due to sponsor’s reduced marketing budgets, that the club could no long afford to make my paychecks.  However, he did encourage me to please still promote if I could because they appreciated my loyal and successful support.  Therefore, I formed Texans for Polo in 2009 after my two ruptured discs neck fusion surgery which was a success.”

 

~Charlotte Menke Skaggs, North Texas Polo LLC & Las Colinas Polo Club Marketing Director, a.k.a. the “Polo Lady”

Polo Patron Jesse Pruitt and his CMC Realty polo team celebrating their victory with gifts and a customary kiss on the cheek by then Ladies Polo Auxiliary volunteer Charlotte Menke Skaggs in the spring of 2006
Polo Patron Jesse Pruitt and his CMC Realty polo team celebrating their victory with gifts and a customary kiss on the cheek by then Ladies Polo Auxiliary volunteer Charlotte Menke Skaggs in the spring of 2006

Las Colinas Polo Club President (1996-2011) Mr. Jesse Pruitt photographed relaxing a bit, here at the former Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club (1973-1996) in Plano, TexasLas Colinas Polo Club President (1996-2011) Mr. Jesse Pruitt photographed relaxing a bit, here at the former Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club (1973-1996) in Plano, Texas

University Park Audi Sales Executive Don Lambert with Marketing Director of North Texas Polo LLC and it's Las Colinas Polo Club, Charlotte Menke Skaggs, sharing a fun-loving laugh during the event when former President of Mexico Vicente Fox paid the polo club, it's players, and guests a visit and threw in the game ball
University Park Audi Sales Executive Don Lambert with Marketing Director of North Texas Polo LLC and it’s Las Colinas Polo Club, Charlotte Menke Skaggs, sharing a fun-loving laugh during the event when former President of Mexico Vicente Fox paid the polo club, it’s players, and guests a visit and threw in the game ball

 

Despite ALL of Charlotte’s promotional efforts (she was not in charge of club sponsorships) that was a long time independent agent, Charles Ward’s, responsibility, the polo club limped along in it’s last year due to the lasting impact of the U.S. economy.  As a result the Las Colinas Polo Club closed after it’s 2011 polo season.

 

Sadly, the entire Las Colinas Equestrian Center, including the expansive acreage know as the Las Colinas Polo Club from 1996-2011, 15 years in operation, sold and is no longer in operation as of 2015.

Las Colinas Equestrian Center and Las Colinas Polo Club Map
Las Colinas Equestrian Center and Las Colinas Polo Club Map
Las Colinas city landmark. The Mustang fountain at Williams Square in downtown Las Colinas, TX.
Las Colinas city landmark. The Mustang fountain at Williams Square in downtown Las Colinas, TX.
Las Colinas Equestrian Center
Las Colinas Equestrian Center

 

Longtime, loyal, and hugely supportive Las Colinas Polo Club President, Jesse Pruitt, gave it a good last shot as he proposed that the USPA Polo Training Foundation move to the polo field and equestrian center in 2014.

Las Colinas Equestrian Center entrance
Las Colinas Equestrian Center entrance

 

Also wise and kind polo pro Tom Goodspeed operated the revived SMU Polo team from there and formed the Irving Polo Club at the Las Colinas Equestrian facilities beginning in 2011 until the city of Dallas sold it.  The Las Colinas Polo Club’s was located in a flood zone, which resulted in it being under water on occasions.  Therefore it is unclear to many former members of LCPC what will happen to the former polo field.

SMU Polo Team
SMU Polo Team

 

“As a result, the fun and beautiful memories so many players and fans enjoyed at the Las Colinas Polo Club will live on and on, in many people’s hearts!”

~ Charlotte Menke Skaggs

 

All the ladies and gentleman who used to play at the Las Colinas Polo Club resumed polo play on their combined total of six private polo ranches they began to develop back when the world class Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club closed it’s doors back in 1996.  These players and patrons continue today to play on the combined total of 11 different polo fields located just north of the shores of Lake Lewisville.  Specifically in Little Elm, Oak Point, and Aubrey in North Texas.

North Texas Polo LLC Treasurer, polo Patron, and talent for the "Friends of Polo" an introduction to polo talk Mr. Fred Johnson with his good friend Kat who co-chaired the Ladies Polo Auxiliary "Polo on the Midway" event with LPA member and "LPA Lady of the Year 2007" Charlotte Menke Skaggs in October 2006 hosted at the Stonebriar Polo Club in Oak Point, TX
North Texas Polo LLC Treasurer, polo Patron, and talent for the “Friends of Polo” an introduction to polo talk Mr. Fred Johnson with his good friend Kat who co-chaired the Ladies Polo Auxiliary “Polo on the Midway” event with LPA member and “LPA Lady of the Year 2007” Charlotte Menke Skaggs in October 2006 hosted at the Stonebriar Polo Club in Oak Point, TX
North Texas Polo LLC and Las Colinas Polo Club Marketing and Events Director Charlotte Menke Skaggs (center) and from left to right Charlotte's grandmother Marjorie Russell Skaggs, and mother Sandra Skaggs Menke, Charlotte's long time, dear friend, the talented Gabe Meadows, Charlotte Menke Skaggs, Charlotte's friend Scott Irvin and his sweet grandmother and mother standing at the center of the grandstands entrance at the Las Colinas Polo Club
North Texas Polo LLC and Las Colinas Polo Club Marketing and Events Director Charlotte Menke Skaggs (center) and from left to right Charlotte’s grandmother Marjorie Russell Skaggs, and mother Sandra Skaggs Menke, Charlotte’s long time, dear friend, the talented Gabe Meadows, Charlotte Menke Skaggs, Charlotte’s friend Scott Irvin and his sweet grandmother and mother standing at the center of the grandstands entrance at the Las Colinas Polo Club
Former President of Mexico Vincente Fox with host RP Payervand on the sidelines of the Las Colinas Polo Club as RP explains to Mr. Fox how and when to throw in the polo ball to initiate the polo match
Former President of Mexico Vincente Fox with host RP Payervand on the sidelines of the Las Colinas Polo Club as RP explains to Mr. Fox how and when to throw in the polo ball to initiate the polo match
Guests of the Las Colinas Polo Club at the Polo on the Lawn event
Guests of the Las Colinas Polo Club at the Polo on the Lawn event
Front row: Former Palmolive model and spokeswoman Linda, Jesse Pruitt, Kathryn Pruitt, Bill Kraft of Catena watches USA. Second row, Robert Payne, Jr.s wife Tamara Payne and their daughter Krissy Payne, and in the back: Texas Polo equipment company owner Vinnie Meyer at the Las Colinas Polo Club
Front row: Former Palmolive model and spokeswoman Linda, Jesse Pruitt, Kathryn Pruitt, Bill Kraft of Catena watches USA. Second row, Robert Payne, Jr.s wife Tamara Payne and their daughter Krissy Payne, and in the back: Texas Polo equipment company owner Vinnie Meyer at the Las Colinas Polo Club
Guests of the Las Colinas Polo Club during some drizzling rain drops
Guests of the Las Colinas Polo Club during some drizzling rain drops
Guests of the Las Colinas Polo Club during some drizzling rain drops during the infamous Champagne Divot Stomp while knocking around some polo balls with their foot mallets
Guests of the Las Colinas Polo Club during some drizzling rain drops during the infamous Champagne Divot Stomp while knocking around some polo balls with their foot mallets
Guests of the Las Colinas Polo Club
Guests of the Las Colinas Polo Club
Dallas, Texas fashion designer Abby Ferrin with guests of the Las Colinas Polo Club
Dallas, Texas fashion designer Abby Ferrin with guests of the Las Colinas Polo Club
Former President of Mexico Vincente Fox, North Texas Polo LLC Board of Directors member and Patron for the Mokarow Farms Polo Club Kevin Mokarow, Mrs. Vincente Fox, Marta Sahagún, and polo patron RP Payervand inside the main entrance of the Las Colinas Polo Club's grandstands
Former President of Mexico Vincente Fox, North Texas Polo LLC Board of Directors member and Patron for the Mokarow Farms Polo Club Kevin Mokarow, Mrs. Vincente Fox, Marta Sahagún, and polo patron RP Payervand inside the main entrance of the Las Colinas Polo Club’s grandstands
Guests of the Las Colinas Polo Club
Guests of the Las Colinas Polo Club
Longtime good friends, polo Patron and colorful announcer of the sport of princes and kings Jerry Averet and Las Colinas Polo Club President and Patron of his CMC Realty polo team at the Las Colinas Polo Club. Upon becoming first time polo players back at the Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club (1973-1996), Jerry and Jesse first shared one polo horse so they could afford to become polo players.
Longtime good friends, polo Patron and colorful announcer of the sport of princes and kings Jerry Averet and Las Colinas Polo Club President and Patron of his CMC Realty polo team at the Las Colinas Polo Club. Upon becoming first time polo players back at the Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club (1973-1996), Jerry and Jesse first shared one polo horse so they could afford to become polo players.
Guests of the Las Colinas Polo Club at bar in private event pavilion
Guests of the Las Colinas Polo Club at bar in private event pavilion
Capital One polo team Patron Bernie Uechtritz, Las Colinas Polo Club President and Patron of the CMC polo team Jesse Pruitt's wife Kathryn, polo pro Andres Weiss and teammates won the coveted CMC Cup
Capital One polo team Patron Bernie Uechtritz, Las Colinas Polo Club President and Patron of the CMC polo team Jesse Pruitt’s wife Kathryn, polo pro Andres Weiss and teammates won the coveted CMC Cup
Guests of the Las Colinas Polo Club
Former President of Mexico Vincente Fox, North Texas Polo LLC Board of Directors member and Patron for the Mokarow Farms Polo Club Kevin Mokarow, Mrs. Vincente Fox, Marta Sahagún, and polo patron RP Payervand in the Las Colinas Polo Club’s grandstands
Bernie Uechtritz announcing a polo match at the Las Colinas Polo Club
Bernie Uechtritz announcing a polo match at the Las Colinas Polo Club
Fieldside picnic at the Las Colinas Polo Club
Fieldside picnic at the Las Colinas Polo Club
Facilities at the Las Colinas Polo Club
Facilities at the Las Colinas Polo Club
Former lady polo player Kristi Cole and her husband (front row) with polo pro Sidro Olivas with friends at the Las Colinas Polo Club
Former lady polo player Kristi Cole and her husband (front row) with polo pro Sidro Olivas with friends at the Las Colinas Polo Club
The Polo Pony Parade, the team's grand entrance onto the Las Colinas Polo Club's polo field
The Polo Pony Parade, the team’s grand entrance onto the Las Colinas Polo Club’s polo field
Polo pro Robert Payne, Jr., the head of Catena USA (horseshoe shaped) watches and polo Patron Bill Kraft, and Charlotte Menke Skaggs all showing their own Catena watches during the Champagne Divot Stomp at the Las Colinas Club
Polo pro Robert Payne, Jr., the head of Catena USA (horseshoe shaped) watches and polo Patron Bill Kraft, and Charlotte Menke Skaggs all showing their own Catena watches during the Champagne Divot Stomp at the Las Colinas Club
Don and Lisa Stemaly, KayRae and Mark during the Champagne Divot Stomp at the Las Colinas Polo Club
Don and Lisa Stemaly, KayRae and Mark during the Champagne Divot Stomp at the Las Colinas Polo Club
Keeping score for the polo match polo pro Brent Mirikitani with another fellow polo player in the score tower at the Las Colinas Polo Club
Keeping score for the polo match polo pro Brent Mirikitani with another fellow polo player in the score tower at the Las Colinas Polo Club
Front row: Lady polo players Sherrie Beyers (left) and Robin Mirikitani (right) with the lovely advocate of the Dallas Horse Park initiative. Second row: Former Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club patron Dr. Hayslip, next to Sophie Gleeson's parents Liz Gleason and Mr. Gleason. Back row: KayRae, Mark and United States Polo Association Governor of the Southwest Circuit, owner of the Stonebriar Polo Club, and generous polo Patron Dr. Vic Ramon's wife Francie Ramon in the grandstands of the Las Colinas Polo Club
Front row: Lady polo players Sherrie Beyers (left) and Robin Mirikitani (right) with the lovely advocate of the Dallas Horse Park initiative. Second row: Former Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club patron Dr. Hayslip, next to Sophie Gleeson’s parents Liz Gleason and Mr. Gleason. Back row: KayRae, Mark and United States Polo Association Governor of the Southwest Circuit, owner of the Stonebriar Polo Club, and generous polo Patron Dr. Vic Ramon’s wife Francie Ramon in the grandstands of the Las Colinas Polo Club
A man with a long family heritage of polo patrons from Mexico, Oscar Bermudez holding Charlotte Menke Skaggs Bassett-Beagle rescue named "Tally Ho!" with polo pros on the Eureka polo team with a fun, young polo fan in the main entrance of the Las Colinas Polo Club grandstands after a polo match
A man with a long family heritage of polo patrons from Mexico, Oscar Bermudez holding Charlotte Menke Skaggs Bassett-Beagle rescue named “Tally Ho!” with polo pros on the Eureka polo team with a fun, young polo fan in the main entrance of the Las Colinas Polo Club grandstands after a polo match
A lovely, well prepared couple along the sidelines of the Las Colinas Polo Club during the Polo on the Lawn event. They brought their own very functional and attractive table and chairs to enjoy their fresh picnic, good conversation over a bottle of red wine
A lovely, well prepared couple along the sidelines of the Las Colinas Polo Club during the Polo on the Lawn event. They brought their own very functional and attractive table and chairs to enjoy their fresh picnic, good conversation over a bottle of red wine
"Fred's Angels" A fun loving pose of the North Texas Polo employees, Polo Club Manager Pam Mudra, Treasurer Fred Johnson and long time polo Patron at Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club and the Las Colinas Polo Club beginning in 1982, and Marketing Events Director Charlotte Menke Skaggs letting off some teammate steam after a hugely successful 2008 polo season
“Fred’s Angels” A fun loving pose of the North Texas Polo employees, Polo Club Manager Pam Mudra, Treasurer Fred Johnson and long time polo Patron at Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club and the Las Colinas Polo Club beginning in 1982, and Marketing Events Director Charlotte Menke Skaggs letting off some teammate steam after a hugely successful 2008 polo season
Lovely guests at the beautiful Polo on the Lawn event hosted by the Las Colinas Polo Club in the VIP pavilion
Lovely guests at the beautiful Polo on the Lawn event hosted by the Las Colinas Polo Club in the VIP pavilion
Henry S. Miller realty polo Patron and Prestonwood Polo Club owner Vaughn Miller with his darling daughter Gigi Miller in the grandstands at the Las Colinas Polo Club in 2007
Henry S. Miller realty polo Patron and Prestonwood Polo Club owner Vaughn Miller with his darling daughter Gigi Miller in the grandstands at the Las Colinas Polo Club in 2007
Prestonwood Polo Club owner, Vaughn Miller's wife, Dena Miller, who is the President of her Ladies Polo Auxiliary directing things to Sophie Gleason's sweet mother, Liz Gleason, at her Polo on the Lawn event hosted by the Las Colinas Polo Club in 2008
Prestonwood Polo Club owner, Vaughn Miller’s wife, Dena Miller, who is the President of her Ladies Polo Auxiliary directing things to Sophie Gleason’s sweet mother, Liz Gleason, at her Polo on the Lawn event hosted by the Las Colinas Polo Club in 2008
University Park Audi Sales Executive Don Lambert with Marketing Director of North Texas Polo LLC and it's Las Colinas Polo Club, Charlotte Menke Skaggs, during the event when former President of Mexico Vicente Fox paid the polo club, it's players, and guests a visit and threw in the game ball
University Park Audi Sales Executive Don Lambert with Marketing Director of North Texas Polo LLC and it’s Las Colinas Polo Club, Charlotte Menke Skaggs, during the event when former President of Mexico Vicente Fox paid the polo club, it’s players, and guests a visit and threw in the game ball
Bernie Uechtritz & Jesse Pruitt at the Las Colinas Polo Club
Bernie Uechtritz & Jesse Pruitt at the Las Colinas Polo Club
CMC Realty polo team: Barry Zindel, Rob Payne III, Billy Mudra and team patron Jesse Pruitt at the Las Colinas Polo Club receiving their trophy presentation gifts
CMC Realty polo team: Barry Zindel, Rob Payne III, Billy Mudra and team patron Jesse Pruitt at the Las Colinas Polo Club receiving their trophy presentation gifts
Polo Pro Sidro Olivas (center) with North Texas Polo and Las Colinas Polo Club Marketing Director Charlotte Menke Skaggs with a friend of Sidro's at the Las Colinas Polo Club
Polo Pro Sidro Olivas (center) with North Texas Polo and Las Colinas Polo Club Marketing Director Charlotte Menke Skaggs with a friend of Sidro’s at the Las Colinas Polo Club
Las Colinas Polo Club Tropy Presentation CMC Realty with Barry Zindel, Jesse Pruitt's daughter, Katheryn Pruitt, polo pro, and polo pro Billy Mudra
Las Colinas Polo Club Tropy Presentation CMC Realty with Barry Zindel, Jesse Pruitt’s daughter, Katheryn Pruitt, polo pro, and polo pro Billy Mudra