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League of Their Own

One father-and-son team is taking polo to new heights on O‘ahu’s North Shore.

Mike and Devon Dailey of Hawaii Polo Club

Meet polo’s most ardent ambassadors to the islands: Mike and Devon Dailey. They play it. They live it. And, most recently, this father-son duo has been behind the legendary game of kings’ surprising surge in popularity on O‘ahu. Case in point: More than 1,500 fans are expected to turn out for the Hawaii Polo Club’s opening day in April at its oceanfront fields in Mokulē‘ia on the North Shore.

Handsome, athletic, with a touch of jocular confidence, the family members trace their passion for the blue-blooded sport back to the late Fred Dailey (Mike’s father and Devon’s grandfather). This forbearer led an earlier revival of the game back at Kapi‘olani Park in the ’50s, later moving its base to the North Shore and starting the Hawaii Polo Club in 1964. Surprisingly, Mike wasn’t pressured to carry the torch. “It’s just what our family does,” he says. Even one of his most vivid childhood memories involves a horse—more precisely, getting tossed off one and landing in the middle of Monsarrat Avenue. Nowadays, Mike is president of both the polo club and the Equus Hotel. (Hospitality is also a family business.) Jump to the next generation, and the equestrian blood is running strong. An imposing, 6-foot-5 athlete, 28-year-old Devon—who played (no surprise) polo at Punahou and the University of Virginia—heads up the club’s nonprofit school. On top of that, he’s even been traveling to Argentina to launch a career as a pro. If he makes it, he’ll join an elite handful of island sons to ever do so.

But what exactly is polo’s appeal for those locals who grew up far away from the sport’s more famous turfs in the Hamptons or Buenos Aires? “It’s a sporting event, a social event and a day in the country,” explains Mike. “The field is on the beach, with cool breezes and a gorgeous location.” Drop by a game, and another thing becomes clear: Polo has latched onto a long-standing island tradition—the tailgate party—launching a whole new subculture. Now, people of all ages come to relax, sip on cocktails, dance until dusk to live music and, of course, watch the game. The Daileys take the resurgence all in stride. “Polo has been through a number of cycles [of popularity], but it’s definitely growing again,” Mike says. “We’ll see where it goes!”