Published: June 24, 2015
Drake Denny worked the computer and microphone as competitors lined up to toss their bags at The Landing Bar & Grill in Valrico, which every Sunday hosts a cornhole tournament open to the public, starting at 2 p.m.
It’s a family affair for Denny, operating such tournaments through Tampa Bay Cornhole, the company started by his stepfather, Ryan Schwartzkopf.
For local tournaments and major competitions, “We make the bags, we make the boards” Denny said. “We get a lot of business selling our bags.”
According to the American Cornhole Association, “cornhole or corn toss is similar to horseshoes except you use wooden boxes called cornhole platforms and corn bags instead of horseshoes and metal stakes.”
Contestants take turns pitching bags at the platforms until a contestant scores 21 points. A bag in the hole is good for three points; on the platform, one point. Points cancel each other out, Denny added, so if you score three and your opponent scores two, you net one.
At The Landing on June 14, competitors gathered for the blind-draw, double-elimination tournament, with a 100 percent cash prize payout based on the collected $5 per person tournament fee.
Tampa Bay Cornhole runs similar tournaments for charities and other businesses, including Tadpoles and O’Brien’s Irish Pub & Grill in Brandon. The playing boards feature the ads of local businesses.
“I like the consistency of it, the atmosphere of being around people, all playing the same game together,” Denny said. “You can be very strategic about it. You can block the hole, go over the top or slide your bag in.”
Demonstrating such technique was Kyle Malone, a top American Cornhole Organization player from Lakeland, who has been playing for three years. He said he will be defending his Florida state championship at a tournament in West Palm Beach later this month.
“Put everything in the hole every time and you can’t lose,” Malone said. “Throw a flat bag down the middle and don’t miss.”
If that sounds too easy, it is.
“Your arm has to be straight every time, you have to account for the wind and you have to make sure you throw it hard enough,” Malone explained.
Denny said the bag itself has a sticky side and a slick slide.
“You block the hole with the sticky side,” Malone said.
David Skapyak of Valrico said he has been playing cornhole for “so long I can’t remember,” he said. “My dad made some boards and we started playing and I’ve loved it ever since.”
Visit Tampa Bay Cornhole on Facebook for news about upcoming tournaments or call (813) 298-3570. The Landing Bar & Grill is off Lithia Pinecrest Road at 4351 Lynx Paw Trail.