The name Biddle has been synonymous with the sport of polo in Aiken for more than four decades.
The patriarch of the family is Tom Biddle Sr. The elder Biddle's company, Biddle Realty, has been a fixture on the local landscape for years, but it's his passion for polo, a love that he was able to pass on to his sons, and the respect he's earned from other horsemen that has made him one of the most influential names in the sport. Tom Biddle Sr. relocated to Aiken from Charlotte, N.C., in 1969 after deciding the historic polo Mecca was the place to raise his family.
Biddle's sons Tommy Jr. and Bradley, would be introduced to the game at a young age, not knowing at the time the sport with which they became involved would eventually become a passion and, for both, their chosen vocation. Tom Biddle Sr. has been an outstanding motivator, compelling his sons to strive for success and to reach for their goals. It was through his influence that his sons would develop a strong foundation, shaping them not only as polo players but as men.
Tommy Biddle Jr. is the older of the two brothers and has reached the elite level of the sport, achieving a handicap as high as 8-goals outdoors, but he would become only the fourth player in history to earn the distinction of a 10-goal handicap indoors, for his dominating play in the arena.
Aiken was the perfect place to be introduced to the sport, said Tommy Jr.
“It was a new time during the early '80s, when Dad and Mr. (David) Widener started a lot of local people,” said Tommy Jr. “I was proud to be a part of it, and it gave younger guys like myself and Tiger (Kneece) an opportunity to play. I'm proud to see how Aiken has evolved and grown into the polo center it has become.”
The younger of the Biddle brothers' career path has found him becoming a USPA official. Bradley Biddle is a USPA umpire, and finds himself officiating nationwide, but also has been working with prospective umpires in order to get them certified as USPA officials.
“The polo resources really came from my dad, opportunities and horses,” said Bradley, who started playing when he was 7 years old, and played in his first game at age 12. “Tommy and I would do the majority of the work at the barn when dad was working. We'd practice at the club twice a week and then match games on Sundays.”
Tom Biddle Sr. had the opportunity to play with Tommy Jr. at the 20-goal level, and at the 12-goal level with both Tommy Jr. and Bradley.
However, it was through Tom Biddle, Sr.'s influence that the sport of polo became the third jewel in Aiken's Triple Crown.
“I came up with the idea to add polo when the trotting track dropped out of the event,” said Tom Sr. “Polo probably should have been part of the event in the first place because of the sport's long history in Aiken.”