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Competitive Cornhole
Grows in Santa Clarita
August, 2018 - Issue #167

If you thought that cornhole was a not-serious-at-all bar game you play with a beer in one hand and a hotwing in the other, you'd be right... and entirely wrong. Massively popular on the East Coast, the sport has two competitive national organizations, ESPN coverage and lightening-fast growth in So Cal.

For the latter on that list, you can thank SCV resident Ben Budhu, who, in 2015, found out that the American Cornhole Organization (ACO) didn't have a Southern California official. He stepped up... and the rest is SCV cornhole history.

Budhu started playing cornhole, a sport primarily associated with getting a bean bag in the hole of a slanted-wood ramp, in 2014. The backyard-barbecue activity grew popular and Budhu started wondering how he'd rank competitively. "I dominated most of my friends during our parties and thought I'd see if I could get nationally ranked somehow. That's when I contacted the ACO, found out that they didn't have a presence here and decided to make some boards and start running tournaments," says Budhu.

The first tournies were held monthly at The Paseo Club on the tennis courts, but the popularity quickly outgrew the Club's resources. This was also about that time that Budhu realized just how competitive cornhole could be. "I found out fast, once I started playing against others in the region, that I'm actually not that good at cornhole!" he jokes. "Players from Ventura, Palmdale, Long Beach, Hemet... they've come up and put me in my place when they found out there was a way to be ranked. Boards are 27 feet apart, not the standard 20 I played in my backyard. And the bags! Pro bags are double sided; one side sticks and one slips. You really have to get the bag to spin in the air so you know which side will land on the board. There's so much strategy. You actually don't usually want to get your bag in the hole. Everyone can do that. It's more about blocking when you play competitively."

But that doesn't stop this sport from drawing novices from every age and gender. "Now, with our new league home at Wolf Creek Brewery, we see newbies all the time. Even though we're a competitive league, and people want to win, everyone is incredibly helpful, offering tips and teaching the game. And folks get good really fast! Our bottom-ranked team three sessions ago just ranked seventh," says Budhu.

"Cornhole is not a 'get drunk and throw bags game' in the SCV anymore. It's family friendly," says the father of two. (Budhu's young daughters help run tournaments; his wife Sheri plays.). "Our best player, Andreu Labrador, plays with his son, Colin, who's 11 - and also one of our best players. One of the goals is to grow cornhole in the SCV with the youth league so that, in a few years, we'll see one of them on ESPN, representing!"

In great part thanks to Budhu's efforts, that hope isn't far fetched. So Cal is now the fastest-growing region for cornhole in the nation and SCV's cornhole league is taking off, too. "Our spots fill up fast; there's a big demand because it's fun and, with a little practice, just about anyone can compete. Cornhole's really inclusive and so is our local league!"

Get Cornhole'd
Join a League
League play, with up to four players on a team, is on Wednesdays at Wolf Creek Brewery from 7pm to 9pm, is $80 per team and runs four weeks long. Check online for the next start date.
Scvcornhole.com

Pick Up a Game
$5 Blind Draw games are held on Mondays from 7pm to 9pm. Get deets online.

Follow Facebook for More Info
Announcements, new opportunities for play and more are posted on Facebook; follow SCV Cornhole for first access.

Schedule a Fundraiser
SCV Cornhole helps host fundraisers, team builders and charity and corporate events. E-mail letsplay@scvcornhole.com for info.
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