Stacey Moore was like everyone else at the tailgate parties before football games. They all played cornhole.

“I started looking around and noticed the intensity and skill level I don’t have,” the American Cornhole League commissioner said during a break of the National College Cornhole Championships at the Myrtle Beach Sports Complex. “I started to understand the strategy and the competitive nature of the game.”

Smiling, the cornhole league commissioner said the game rises above other drinking games like quarters because he started organizing teams, leagues and attaching statistics to the players and teams.

“It’s a real sport,” he said.

So real that the National College Cornhole Championships were held in Myrtle Beach for the second year. This year’s championships lasted three days and included awarding $50,000 in scholarships and booster club donations. And, he said, it has drawn about 200 players from 40 schools across the country.

“We’ve got some from North Dakota,” Moore said. “We’ve got a lot from Georgia and there’s a lot of Ohio.”

And, Moore said, the championships were broadcast on ESPN and ESPN2 throughout the tournament.

The basics are basic for tailgaters and league play. There’s a two-foot-by-four-foot board with the back of the board sloped a foot off the ground. Each board has a six-inch diameter hole about nine inches from the top of the board. Each bag is six square inches and weighs 16 ounces. The bags are filled with two cups of feed corn. Each player has four bags to toss and the game is over once a player reaches 21 points. The points are tallied with a bag resting on the top of the board called a woody. Woodies are worth a point. The bags that are either shot into the hole or pushed in the hole count as three points.

The only difference between league play and social play is the league boards have “no bounce so you can’t make the bags bounce over” on the board, Moore said.

Jack Parham of Georgia Southern University said he’s only been playing a few months, but he’s hooked.

“I’m fired up,” the slender Georgia resident said after losing a match to the more experienced Isaac Green of the University to Virginia College at Wise.

Parham said he’s perfecting his air mail shots (the bag is tossed at a higher angle and drops in the hole) and working on the push shots (a lower angle toss designed to push an opponents bag off the board or his bag in the hole.)

“You’ve got to keep it on the board,” Green added. “A bag off the board is a dead bag. A bag on the board is point.”

Around the corner from Parham and Green was Tyler Duncan sitting in a chair waiting for a turn to play.

Duncan, a student at Virginia Wesleyan University, said he’s only been playing cornhole for a few months too.

“It’s something to do other than golf,” the member of the university’s golf team said. “I love golf, but cornhole’s competitive too.”

Duncan had lost to Parham’s teammate, Jay Graham, by double digits in an earlier round as Graham stacked his four bags walking by and nodding at Duncan.

Graham has been playing cornhole more than five years. He practices and plays in tournaments around Georgia Southern.

“It’s consistency,” the pre-med student said of his strategy. “Be consistent. Keep the bag down the middle and protect the hole.”

The commissioner said he is planning on returning to the beach again next year and looks forward to the sport growing.

“It’s real,” Moore said. “It is a real sport.”

Janet Morgan is the editor of the Myrtle Beach Herald. Contact her at 843-488-7258 or at janet.morgan@myhorrynews.com.

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