Bamboo Polo Balls
Bamboo polo balls where made and used during most of the 20th century, as they were stronger than wooden balls. They originate from India where the sport was introduced by the British in the 1870's. These days, polo balls are usually made from high-impact plastic or fiberglass to establish a uniform weight and durability.
Nevertheless, we thought it would be a cool idea to reproduce these traditional bamboo polo balls, especially because one of our Guadua Bamboo team members is an avid polo player. In Colombia, about 1,000 polo balls are used during a polo season, hence the perfect opportunity to introduce Guadua Bamboo Polo Balls!
Bamboo balls are made from the bamboo rhizome, which is the underground part of the stem. While bamboo stems are hollow, rhizomes from tropical bamboo species such as Dendrocalamus or Guadua are massive and solid. Digging out these giant bamboo rhizomes is quite a job as they are all interconnected.
A Guadua rhizome can easily weigh 20 kg. However, a bamboo rhizome is not the root of the bamboo, roots grow under the rhizome, which is clearly visible in the pictures below.
Once the rhizomes have arrived at our workshop, artisans start to chip away the outer skin with a chainsaw and table saw until a nice solid block remains.
The next step is to shape these square blocks into round polo balls, for which we use a turning lathe.
Each ball is frequently measured and weighed as they need to be between 7.5-8 cm in diameter and between 100-125 gram weight.
The final result are perfect and strong bamboo polo balls. Some players say their horses have difficulties keeping up with the pace of faster moving plastic polo balls and therefore still prefer the bamboo version.
Who knows if our Guadua polo balls become main-stream again?! Let's hope Colombian Polo will continue to set the example.