What to look for when searching for a quality set of boards and bags...
Doherty Custom Boards added some international flavor to these, simple but elegant boards
Boston Cornhole ordered 15 sets of boards from Mckinnon Cornhole Boards in 2015
Stain, paint, and a logo make these boards almost as nice to look at as they are to play on
There are several cornhole builders in New England and beyond putting out some high-quality equipment. Which boards should you buy? While I do not build boards, as a tournament director and competitive player, I have bought several cornhole sets and here are five things that I would suggest to anyone looking for a good set!
1. The thickness of the plywood - 3/4"
How thick is the plywood? This should be the first and possibly the last question you ask a potential builder. While the American Cornhole Association does specify 1/2" plywood, these sets have a higher tendency to bounce and if you are more than just a recreational player, this would be a big "no-no." Go with a 3/4" deck or at least 5/8" and preferably birch. Following this suggestion should place most national vendors that sell boards online at the bottom of your list.
2. See it before you buy it
If you have ever shopped for a used car or even dates online, you know very well that pictures can sometimes distort reality. While there are few if any brick and mortar cornhole stores, I would encourage you to check out a builder's work prior to placing an order. This can be done at local tournaments or perhaps by arranging an appointment to see a sample. Things to look at would be:
- Leg Design (arguably, one of the most difficult things to perfect)
- Craftmanship (is the hole smooth and the corners rounded?)
- How do the boards play? Toss some bags!
3. Apply the KISS method
In software, we sometimes follow the Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) mantra. Essentially, meet the requirements, but don't deliver a Ferrari when a Ford will suffice. Like all things in capitalism, the market should dictate the price of cornhole sets. However, if the price is a major factor in your purchase decision, applying the KISS method can make things more affordable. As a competitive bag tosser, the requirements are boards that are durable, play well, and don't bounce. Fancy designs will not alter the outcome of a match, nor make you a better player. If you must have stripes, lights, and your favorite team on your boards, that's fine. Just keep in mind that all those things require extra materials, time, and effort that will result in a higher MSRP.
4. When will your boards be ready?
This is definitely one of the most important factors for me when ordering boards. Most builders also have full-time jobs and during the busy season it can be a struggle to keep up with demand. Before making a purchase, be sure to get an estimated completion date and please, have realistic expectations. Some things are worth waiting for, but how long? Oh, and if you want a cornhole set for this spring, why not order it now!
I once read a post from cornhole connoisseur, Kang Cutes, stating "If you are still playing with corn bags, you are an idiot!" I have to admit that I do agree with the Jersey Holer. Having said that, I have been to a few tournaments where standard corn bags would have been a step up! The point being, the bags are just as important as the boards. Resin bags play more consistently, will last longer, and will not be ruined when they get wet. I would recommend dual-sided (canvas/suede) resin bags to beginners or pros.