Casa de Campo is proud of being more than a golf resort; it is a family destination with a wide variety of activities dedicated to The Sporting Life.
In the interest of learning the breadth of those parameters, I spent part of this afternoon engaging in the second most ridiculous activity of my life. The first, in 2004, was a bungee jump from a bridge in Arrowtown, New Zealand.
Today’s, which involved more laughter but less risk, was a spirited game of Donkey Polo.
Casa de Campo has fine facilities for the well-heeled who would like to play the more traditional game — or as I will forever think of it after today, “horse polo,” a linguistic back-formation akin to “analog watch” or “natural grass.”
I doubt those strong and elegant riders and their spectators spend as much time laughing as we of the asinine set did.
This “game” — there’s a ball and there’s scoring, but it’s really an exercise in mass hysteria, a clusterf*** of the first order — is played atop four-legged equus asini by two-legged homo sapiens who wield brooms used for hitting or sweeping a ball past a chalk line.
I’m not predicting that it will soon pass soccer and lacrosse on the ladder of sporting interest. Not even ESPN8 is likely to carry it, and you won’t be selecting fantasy teams any time soon.
But if you’re up for a heavy dose of absurdity, with chance of falling off your ass and landing on same, this is the game for you.
“All I can say, dear burro, is ‘I’m sorry.'”
I was game, so I ambled out onto the playing ground, and towards a waiting burro whom I’d be weighting heavily soon. Stirrups? No. Helpful kneeling by the animal? No. You can swing your leg over a little donkey, can’t you?
Turns out I could, sort of. The handlers — whom I came to think of as my spirit guides, my Shivas Ironsides in this very particular kingdom — helped me haul my sorry bulk up onto the burro’s back. I was grateful to them, as this was the first time I had ever been on an equus of any kind, at least that I’m aware of.
I was relieved to discover that I was not expected to start, stop, direct, or prod the donkey in any way; the handler would accompany me, pulling the lead, trying desperately to keep me upright.
As you can see, the latter turned into a two-person job.
I tried to grip the strap that held the green blanket in place — I was on the green team in this two-on-two battle (more like four-on-four even before you count the donkeys). Andale,
we called as the ball was tossed into the center. Too many legs converged in a scrum from which a ball emerged, but not before much howling and thrashing, mostly by the spectators.
Anita Draycott scored the first goal. I believe I scored the second, and raised my broom in celebration.
I tried to put extra oomph behind the broom by hitting the ball with the hard sideways end of it like a croquet mallet rather than sweeping with the wide bristled face. All such efforts were unavailing. I did adapt — on the trot, so to speak — the defensive maneuver of lifting an opponent’s broom with my own when he was threatening to score. This was an innovation I would come to regret once Dundee’s own David Whyte entered the game, playing with a fervor that earned him the nickname “BraveAss.”
The bizarre encounter continued until at last we’d had enough, or could barely hang onto the brooms as we convulsed with laughter. The after-adrenaline carried us to the nearest bar, much as it had when I did that bungee jump in NZ.
So the bottom line is this: When it comes to The Sporting Life, Casa de Campo is a place where you can experience everything from the Teeth of the Dog to the Back of the Burro.