It's the time of year when you're likely to find guys prowling Home Depot lumber aisles looking for the raw materials needed to build their own asphalt field of dreams. But tossing bags of corn is serious business. And you wouldn't want to launch into tailgating season without the proper dimensions for your cornhole court, let alone do battle without a list of official rules. That's where we come in, with this boiled-down, everything-you-need-to-know take on the American Cornhole Association's official rules of the game.
• Court dimensions (Figure 1): A level rectangular area 15 feet wide and a minimum of 45 feet long. The court consists of two corn platforms, designated pitcher's boxes and foul lines.
• Pitcher's Box: Four feet by three feet at each end of the court, parallel and on both sides of the platforms. Contestants must remain in the pitcher's box during their turn. For adult play, the foul line (the front edge of the pitcher's box) must be 30 feet from the beginning of the hole in the opposite cornhole platform. For juniors play, it is 21 feet.
• Multiple Courts: Courts adjacent to each other shall be a minimum of 10 feet apart.
• Indoor/Outdoor Special Considerations: Outdoor courts should be on a north-south setting to minimize the effects of the sun. Indoor courts should have a vertical clearance of at least 12 feet.
• Platform Dimensions (Figure 2): Each platform should be a 48 X 24 inch rectangle made of half-inch plywood (and, yes, it must be plywood). The hole should be six inches in diameter and centered nine inches from the top and 12 inches from the side of the platform edges. The front edge of the platform should be four inches from bottom to top and be at or near a 90-degree. The back of the platform should be approximately 12 inches from bottom to top and be at or near a 90-degree angle. ACA-sanctioned events require platforms with enclosed sides.
• Platform Exterior: The platform should be sanded smooth, so blemishes don't affect play. The surface should then be painted with a high-gloss latex paint. Corn bags should slide a bit, but the surface should not be so slippery the bags slide down the platform.
• Bag Dimensions: Bags must be made of two fabric squares with a quarter-inch double-stitched seam on all four sides. The bags should be made from 12-ounce duck. Each bag should be filled with approximately two cups of corn feed and finished bags should be a minimum of 6 X 6 inches square and weigh between 14 and 16 ounces.
• Singles vs. Doubles: Cornhole can be a doubles or singles game. In doubles play, there are two cornhole platforms, with one member from each team tossing toward one of the platforms. In singles play, both players pitch toward the same platform.
Scoring: Corn Bag In-The-Hole (3 points): A bag that ends up going in the hole and resting inside the box, no matter how it gets there. Corn Bag In-The-Count (1 point): A bag that rests on the platform. Corn Bag Out-Of-The-Count (0 points): A bag that comes to rest anywhere else.
Score Calculation: The points of the lowest-scoring contestant or team's hole-in corn bags are subtracted from the highest-scoring contestant or team's hole-in corn bags. Do the same for in-the-count bags. Using this system, hole-in and in-the-count corn bags from each team cancel each other out, and only non-canceled corn bags are added to the score.
Game Duration: Game play is broken into innings with each contestant tossing four bags per inning, no matter if its doubles or singles play. The first team or player to a cumulative score of 21 points wins the game (all innings must be played to completion). If the match is tied at 21 at the completion of an inning, play continues until either side wins an inning. If a team scores 7 points at the end of an inning before the other team scores a single point, the team who scored the seven points wins the match immediately and the game is a “skunk.”
Delivery: A contestant may deliver from either the right or left pitcher's box, but all four bags each inning must be thrown from the same box. All contestants much pitch the entire game (or tournament) using the same arm (unless you get injured during game play — seriously). Finally, each contestant must deliver the bag within 20 seconds of entering the pitcher's box.
Pitching Rotation: The winning team or contestant from the previous round shall pitch first in the next inning. If either player or team fails to score in the previous inning, the team or player who pitched second will pitch first in the next inning.
Fouls: All of the following lead to 0 points (so you may want to designate a judge)
1. Any pitch made while crossed over the foul line
2. Any corn bag not delivered within the 20-second time limit
3. A corn bag pitched from a different pitcher's box than the first corn bag.
4. Any corn bag that touched the ground before touching the platform.
5. Any corn bag that gets stuck on a foreign objects (tree, wire, etc.)
6. Any corn bag that is removed from the platform before the score is agreed upon
Source: American Cornhole Association (ACA); for more information, visit www.playcornhole.org