Cornhole game is catching on in Augusta

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On Tuesdays at the Mi Rancho Mexican restaurant in downtown Augusta, Brian Cameron unloads more than a dozen wood boards onto the patio.

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Brian Cameron, Brandon Cameron (far right) and John Athanaelos (left) set up corn hole boards for a corn hole tournament at Mi Rancho.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Brian Cameron, Brandon Cameron (far right) and John Athanaelos (left) set up corn hole boards for a corn hole tournament at Mi Rancho.

A few dozen people come, bean bags in hand, to play competitive cornhole for a few hours.

The game, once reserved for Midwestern tailgates, is making headway as a legitimate sport elsewhere.

One national organization is even working to get cornhole aired on ESPN.

“Cornhole has grown so much. It’s wildly popular,” said Katie Wells, who co-chairs a committee for the second annual Cornhole Challenge in Augusta next month. It’s a fundraiser of the Augusta Training Shop, a local nonprofit.

Cameron, the founder of Cornhole Carolina, got his first taste of the sport three years ago.

“I absolutely fell in love,” he said.

He built his own cornhole set and started going to tournaments.

“We didn’t realize there were good players out there. We thought it was a social thing,” he said. “We realized really quickly we weren’t that good.”

He vowed to step up his game.

“It became an obsession,” he said.

Cameron started building boards to sell. Two years ago, he started the cornhole league that plays outside Mi Rancho’s on Tuesdays.

“We’ve created a cornhole community,” Cameron said.

It was – and still can be – a challenge.

“Depending on where you’re from, it has different names,” he said. “People know what it is, but they don’t know it’s called cornhole.”

Even fewer people recognize it as a competitive sport.

Frank Geers, the founder of the American Cornhole Organization, is trying to change that.

Since 2005, the Ohio-based organization has worked to standardize the board and the game.

According to the organization, boards should be 24 by 48 inches with a 6-inch hole centered 9 inches from the top of board and 12 inches from each side.

Bags should measure 6 by 6 inches, weigh 15 to 16 ounces, and be made with double-stitched seams and durable fabrics such as canvas, twill or synthetic suede.

In game play, cornhole boards should be positioned 27 feet apart, with two designated pitchers boxes on each end.

Elite players are always practicing different throws. Depending on the style of bags used, there can be a lot of strategy involved, Cameron said.

Big tournaments often have big purses, but few folks are getting paid to play professionally – yet.

“I’m trying to get people to play competitively. I just love the game,” Cameron said.

And yet, sometimes, he’ll still just play a casual backyard game.

“You have to,” Cameron said. “It helps you remember it’s still just a game.”


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