The Hole Truth about Cornhole

Closely cropped photo of a cornhole game with white and purple bean bags.

By DICK WOLFSIE

(SENIOR WIRE) I’m a born and bred (mostly Jewish rye) New Yorker, but I’ve lived for 40 years in Indianapolis. I’ve eaten biscuits and gravy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (not all on the same day). I’ve had a pork tenderloin that is four times bigger than the bun, and I even wear shorts when it’s below freezing outside. So I do consider myself a Hoosier, but then the other day I was really tested when my wife confronted me with this:

“Dick, the neighborhood is having a big get-together, a chance to meet new people. Masks and social distancing will be required.”

“Okay, I’m in.”

“It’s a cornhole contest.”

“Okay, I’m out.”

I did a search for cornhole on YouTube. The first video was a guy who, from the traditional distance to the board, had made 300 shots in a row. Then he stepped back to 60 feet and made another 50 in a row, several from behind his back.

He said the key to holding the bag was to get a grip, probably the same expression his wife uses when he spends all day and night throwing bean bags.

I also watched some championship matches. I felt sorry for the announcers, who didn’t have a lot of things to analyze. There were a lot of oohs and aahs. And two “wows.” They said “it’s a game of inches” about a dozen times.

Bottom line, I went and I played. I wasn’t very good at cornhole, but I got to meet a lot of new people: Jill, Kay, Ellen, Steve, another Steve. Cynthia and Bob. Everyone had on a mask, many wore sunglasses and a cap, so I don’t have a clue how I’ll recognize them next time Mary Ellen and I walk around the neighborhood. Everyone had a name tag on that night, but it would be awkward to ask people to wear their ID whenever they walk out their front door for the next couple of years.

Mary Ellen is concerned about the virus, so we were constantly rubbing our hands with sanitizer gel, which is why several of my shots landed not in the hole, but in the lake. Despite all the food people had brought, I wasn’t allowed to eat anything because, to quote my wife, “No way your hands are completely clean after you’ve touched every person’s equipment in the neighborhood.”

I looked up the history of cornhole ,and there were over a dozen theories about when the game began and how it got its name. My favorite was from a woman who claims her great grandfather in 1899 found some rotten corn and a plank with a hole in it. Her grandfather’s name, she says, was Timothy Cornhole. Hmmm, very convenient. If his last name had been Backgammon, well how confusing would that have been?

The day after that neighborhood gathering, I saw a neighbor outside, and I asked him if he had played the previous night because I didn’t recognize his legs. Peter, who is an engineer, said he would have done better had he taken into account the lubricity of the board.

When I got home, I looked up the term “lubricious,” by mistake. If you Google that word, you’ll agree it would have made the game a lot more exciting. ISI