By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen
Compete, meet and have fun playing cornhole
By John L. Byrwa
Staff Correspondent

Gwinnett– Does Joel Wyse hope to make a fortune running Peach State Cornhole? Not really, as he has other plans to make that happen.

Joel Wyse190But right now, what Wyse and his childhood friend and business partner Nick Boyers hope to accomplish with their fun-filled business is far more meaningful than banking big bucks. Now, if they happen to pocket a little cash along the way, all the better.

Left: Joel Wyse

“It is a viable business, but for me it’s more about the people and connecting people together,” said Wyse, a native of Archbold, Ohio, whose real job is as an independent contract software developer for the finance industry. “It’s also a leadership and management challenge for me and growing my skills as a leader.

snellville group throwing190“But it’s really about the people, meeting new people and working with all of the great restaurant people… Ippolito’s, Tin Lizzy’s, Wild Wings… it’s just a lot of fun.”

For the uninitiated, cornhole is popular backyard game where players attempt to toss a 15-ounce, square bean bag 27 feet through a hole 6 inches in diameter that sets near the top of smooth wooden board, which is 24 inches wide, 48 inches long and slightly angled toward the person doing the tossing. Points are awarded for any of the four tossed bags that fall through the hole as well as those that land and stay on the board. Holed bags are worth three points, while bags that stay on the board are worth one.

snellville JJ and Monte190Two people can compete, or two teams of two take turns tossing until one team reaches 21 points.

It takes neither impressive footspeed nor athletic prowess to become an accomplished cornhole player. That, according to Wyse, is what makes it so much fun for literally people of all ages and ability.Nick Black Suwanee190

“I’ve played on softball teams, but I’m only good enough to be the catcher,” Wyse admits with a smile. “And I can hit every once in a while, but I’m just not a stud. With cornhole, anyone can play and anyone can be good.

“I’ve seen people who were terrible get really good to where all of sudden you’re seeing them make one or two bags in per round and you’re like, ‘Man, you’ve really improved.’ It’s really a game with a low barrier to enter and anyone can play and have fun.”

Candler Curti190tNow in its fourth year, Peach State Cornhole, which stages four eight-week seasons, has grown steadily – and impressively -- since its inception in the spring of 2013, when eight two-person teams kicked off the league in Suwanee’s Town Center Park.mog190

“Of course, one of the teams was me and another was my friend Nick, so we only had five paid teams that first season,” Wyse said with a chuckle.

Through word of mouth, passing out fliers in apartment complexes and social media, Peach State Cornhole grew to 14 teams for the 2013 fall season. The 2014 spring season grew to 20 teams, then 34 in the summer and 44 in the fall.

“The third year is when we launched multiple locations,” Wyse said. “So we had two locations in the spring, three locations in the summer, six locations in the fall of last year and this spring we have eight locations and a total of 140 teams.”

Anna Taylor 190Along with the Suwanee location, the league also stages competitions at The Mall of Georgia in Buford, The Collection in Cumming, Town Green in Duluth, Sterling on the Lake in Flowery Branch, Blackshear Place Baptist Church in Oakwood, The Shoppes at Webb Gin in Snellville and City Hall in Sugar Hill.

“Suwanee is by far our biggest location,” Wyse said. “This spring we tied our record, which is 44 teams at Suwanee. We’ve got 24 teams in Cumming at The Collection, and (Buford) is probably our next biggest with 16. Most of them are floating between 10 and 16 teams.Gary Nelson Duluth copy190

“Our goal this summer is to grow every location to 20 teams at all eight locations, then this fall maybe add two, three or four locations.”

On this particular beautiful Wednesday spring evening, 16 teams gathered in the large, rectangular grassy area at the Mall of Georgia that sits between several restaurants, including Tin Lizzy’s Cantina, which sponsors the league at this location. Eight sets of boards, each featuring a different sponsor, were set up for the action.

Peach State Cornhole190“It’s something to look forward to and you get to see your friends every week,” said Chelsea Hawkins, 24, of Hoschton, who is playing in her third season. “It’s competitive, but it’s also very fun and social. I’ve met a lot of friends who I’ve kept in contact with and hang out with.”

Participants are not the only people who are enjoying the weekly competitions. Location sponsors, including Wild Wing Café in Snellville, Ippolito's in Suwanee and Tin Lizzy’s at the Mall of Georgia, also enjoy the partnership.

“I think it’s going great,” said Cristina Culbreth, the field marketing manager for Tin Lizzy’s. “It’s not only bringing awareness to Tin Lizzy’s but to the Village here at the Mall of Georgia in general. It’s a great family attraction and we’re a great restaurant, so I can’t imagine our partnership being better than it already is.”

For information about how to join Peach State Cornhole, or to learn how to become a sponsor, visit www.peachstatecornhole.com or call 678-551-2107.