Who Invented Cornhole?

Cornhole is a popular game that is similar to horseshoes or washers. A cornhole match consists of two teams who take turns pitching bags filled with corn at a raised platform with a hole in the far end, trying to get the bag to go through this hole. But have you ever wondered who invented the cornhole game?

Cornhole is typically played in an outdoor venue because it requires much space. The game has grown immensely popular since its creation by physical education teacher Larry Stephens, who used it to teach math skills.

So, who invented cornhole?

There is a lot of debate about who invented the cornhole game as we know it today, but the one who patented cornhole first was:

Heyliger de Windt

The game first appeared in Heyliger de Windt’s 1883 patent for “Parlor Quoits” and is similar to the contemporary game of “cornhole.” Still, it features a square hole rather than a circular one. We give Heylinger credit for having invented the cornhole game first despite the slight difference in rules.

De Windt’s game Quoits, similar to horseshoes and is played by throwing steel discs at a metal spike, was patented in 1905. De Windt’s invention followed several earlier “parlor quoits” patents that attempted to replicate quoit gameplay indoors. He was the first to use bean bags and a slanted board with a hole as the target.

Cornhole quickly became a popular pastime and was even included as an exhibition sport at the 1904 Olympics. It also became a spectator sport on college campuses, which settled disputes. Since then, the game has grown in popularity and is now played competitively across America.

The American Cornhole League (ACL) governs league plays across the US and sanctions hundreds of events every year, ensuring that players follow official rules. The Professional Cornhole League (PCA) is another organization that offers both board sales for recreational players and sponsors several large tournaments each year.

And who invented cornhole bags, the game pieces?

Well, that was in 1999. Jeffrey H. Coats of West Virginia patented a machine that would automatically fill large sacks with seeds, called “Cornhole Bags.” Coats later made another patent for “Seed filled game apparatus and method” in 2002. He worked together with several other people who tried to refine the design before perfecting it in 2009 under the trademarked name of Cornhole Bags.

Others claim to have been the first to invent cornhole who didn’t patent their invention, despite playing it for years before Coats.

The most memorable of these claimants is probably Andy Hamilton, who perfected his own set of rules. Andy played a version of cornhole called “bags” for years with friends in Cincinnati, Ohio. He went on to create his own business that supplies equipment needed to play actual official rules – boards that range from basic platforms up to regulation tournament sets – and bags custom-made by hand in West Virginia by Jeffrey Coats’ family members.

Hamilton claims he was the first who played this game and patented it. Still, since he never filed any formality documents such as patents or trademarks, he can’t be given credit as the one who invented the cornhole game.

Types of Cornhole Games

A game of cornhole has a few sets of rules, the most common ones being:

Regular game

A classic game with 4 bags on each side (2 per player). Boards are placed 27 ft apart. Players stand behind the board and take turns throwing one bag at a time until all 8 bags are thrown.

Advanced game

Referred to as “round-robin,” it consists of 3 rounds. Each round features 2 games (one lefty, one righty). Each side throws all eight bags first in the lefty game, then all eight bags first in the righty game before moving on to the next round. Similar to bowling, where your opponent gets precisely what you get. Boards are set 17 ft apart for advanced play.

Cornhole rules have changed over time as new modifications have been introduced.

The following are those that are presently used as the official rules, binding for all Cornhole events:

The board is placed on a level surface at least 27 feet from the throwing player. For regular play, the panels must be placed parallel and 7 feet apart from one another. An 8 foot by 2-foot hole is cut in the board with a 1/2 inch diameter circle forming the center of the hole. In the advanced play, there is no center circle. Still, instead, wood pieces of any size can be used to form designated scoring areas adjacent to the throwing area of the board. Gameplay

Players stand behind their boards, facing their opponent across from them with legs shoulder-width apart and toes behind the front edge of the board. Players may use a beanbag, plastic bag, or any other suitable throwing device to play.

The first round is played one lefty and one righty as follows:

In an alternate version of the advanced rules, players start with 2 rounds of regular play before beginning “best-of” rounds. The two games from each round are used as the player’s score for the best-of round.

All bags thrown by a player must come to rest in front of that player’s board. Players cannot throw across the board onto their opponent’s side, nor can they lean over their boards to throw at the opposite board. However, under some rule sets (especially those used in international play), a bag that lands on the top half of the board but hangs off the edge with at least 1/2″ of the bag touching the ground is considered to have reached its intended target.

A player throws all 8 bags before their opponent does and then continues throwing until they have thrown all their remaining bags. After which point, the play switches to their opponent, who repeats this process until they have thrown all their bags.

Once a player has taken his turn throwing, he cannot move from his spot or change position until either he or his opponent begin throwing again. In most cases, if a thrower fails to throw all of their remaining bags by the end of one minute, the player loses the match. However, some rule sets award players 1 point for each bag thrown.

As stated before, there are several rules variations, and we encourage you to choose one that fits your skill level and environment best. It’s also important to mention that anyone can enjoy cornhole and no age restrictions apply! So get out there and toss a few bags with the family – you won’t regret it!

There you have it. Now you know who invented cornhole! Make sure you mention it to your friends next time you play it.

If you are interested in who invented other popular games, head to our Who Invented section to learn more!