Surprisingly, the least cost-prohibitive preppy sport is tennis. Yes, so middle-class. But really, Andre Agassi dreams can start with minimal cash outlay: a pair of running shoes, three tennis balls (which cost less than a downtown martini), and a $19.95 tennis racquet from Fred Meyer-or, better, shop locally at The Racquet Shoppe (542 NW Arizona, Mon-Fri 10 am–6 pm, Sat 11 am–2 pm).
There are plenty of public courts plotted throughout the area—and available at no cost. Most popular is Juniper Park (800 NE Sixth St.). There are additional courts along Awbrey Butte—two at Sylvan Park (2996 NW Three Sisters Drive), and another two at Summit Park (1150 SW Promontory Drive). All public courts are first-come, first-served. Also note that Park & Rec courts may host tournaments or summer camps, making them unavailable at times.
The courts that are most often available are at the high schools (but, please stay away from Summit High, 2855 NW Clearwater Dr. on Monday and Wednesdays at noon; that's when we play!). Also set in the ponderosa-crowded campus at Central Oregon Community College are truly beautiful courts.
Long called "the Sport of Kings," polo perhaps carries one of the most significant barriers to entry. Participants need: horse, horse gear, human gear and mad cash to travel with horse and humans to events. The sport may sound a bit silly and over the top, but it is a hoot to watch, and playing is brutal—an extremely physical undertaking that requires both iron-man fitness and acrobatic horsemanship.
First played in Persia as early as the 5th Century B.C., polo is now a professional sport in 16 countries, though it was late to take hold in North America. Perhaps a snub to the king and the Commonwealth, the first American polo match didn't occur in the States until 1876 in New York City.
Here's how polo works: Teams of four, and their mounts, chase around a small white plastic ball and use their long-handled mallets to score goals. Also, doubters should know that there's a type of body-check move, called a "ride-off." (Like checking in hockey, but done while galloping on a half-ton horse.)
Matches last about two hours and are divided into "chukkas" (periods). Take in a game Saturday at the Solstice Cup at Camp Fraley Ranch & Polo Club (60580 Gosney Rd). Want to learn how to play? Call Dan Harrison at the Polo Club (541-420-6098).
Summer is polo season in the High Desert and Saturday's game is the first of many. The Pacific Northwest Rube Evans Memorial Trophy is July 15 and the Mid-Summer Classic USPA Officer's Cup is August 19.
Sign up for Polo school (again, see Mr. Harrison) or contact the Cascade Polo Club for more info (cascadepoloclub.com).
Played by the elite and the everyman (assuming Mr. Everyman makes a livable wage), golf splits the difference between the extreme upper crust and, say, baseball. In Central Oregon there's no shortage of options, from the accessible to the highfalutin. In fact, Forbes magazine has taken pains to point out how livable Bend is because of the golf courses.
Pronghorn's Jack Nicklaus Signature Course is one of the area's most spectacular public courses, with stunning mountain views, natural landscaping and fast-firm playing surfaces. Designed by "the Golden Bear" himself, the challenging 7,379-yard, par-72 Jack Nicklaus course earned accolades from Golf Digest in 2010: "One of the top two best new courses in the nation." A weekend summer round typically runs between $103 and $165 per person. Book a tee time at pronghornclub.com.
Redmond's Juniper Golf Course is a quality but affordable alternative to Pronghorn; in-season rates range from $40 to $60 for an 18-hole round. Favored by local pros and regular hacks alike, Juniper's scenic par-72 course is approachable and offers a fun layout filled with native grasses and evergreen throughout. Book a tee time at playjuniper.com or call 541-548-3121.
Looking for a quick, in-town fix? The rolling public course at River's Edge boasts unfiltered views of the Cascades, yet duffers still can get in a round for less than $40 (summer rates vary from $38 to $59—slightly more for weekend and holidays). Course layout is a little quirky but the course has a strong local following, a testament to the club's immaculate groundskeeping. Have in-laws stay at the nearby Riverhouse hotel, the course's affiliate (866-453-4480 or riverhouse.com).