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Test your arm while ax throwing at a bar. (Photo: Michael Hess)

Tips + Trends

Ax Throwing? Shuffleboard and Beer? Here’s Where to Rock “Yardcore” Sports

If you’re looking to get off the couch and connect with friends IRL, it might be time to discover the brave new world of “yardcore” sports. Try trending old-school pursuits, from disc golf and bocce to shuffleboard and ax throwing, with your crew, wherever you are in the United States.

Yes, the digital age’s information overload has seen people embracing a slower lifestyle, and this means turning away from hypercompetitive team sports to activities of a decidedly slower variety.

The best part? You don’t need to be a pro athlete to get involved. And often, you can partake in the fun with a cold beer in hand.

Ax Throwing in Toronto and Multiple Locations

If you find yourself wondering when the heck ax throwing got so darn popular, look no further than Toronto-based BATL Axe Throwing.

A personal passion of the company’s CEO Matt Wilson, discovered while camping and then developed in his own backyard in 2006, BATL has helped usher in the modern, urban, indoor, ax-throwing craze and now operates 15 locations in the U.S. and Canada, with four more on the way in Texas.

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What could possibly go wrong? (Photo: BATL Axe Throwing)

Round up a group of friends and book your own chain-link-fenced ax-throwing “arena” (a sort of shooting range/batting cage hybrid) or just hang out and eat and drink while watching the action.

There’s bar food and booze, trophies available for purchase and a diverse crowd ranging from bearded lumberjacks to skinny-jeaned hipsters, in addition to ax-throwing leagues for more serious throwers. And yes, you need to sign a waiver first. What could possibly go wrong?

Cornhole, Pingpong and More

Charlotte, North Carolina

So, yeah, it’s basically a condensed version of summer here. You’re gonna want to stick around awhile, if only to see how this thing plays out.

The sprawling, German-styled VBGB Beer Hall & Garden doesn’t just offer one of the best outdoor patios in Charlotte. It’s also got all of your yard-games action covered, from cornhole and pingpong to giant Jenga and Connect 4.

Sip one of 30 craft beers on tap while sitting at communal picnic tables on the back patio as you play cards or chess with friends before heading over to the beach volleyball courts or catching a live show from the patio stage.

Located at the AvidXchange Music Factory (formerly the NC Music Factory), VBGB puts you within easy stumbling distance of a number of A-list music venues, including the Fillmore, The Underground and the Charlotte Metro Credit Union (formerly Uptown) Amphitheatre.

So, yeah, it’s basically a condensed version of summer here. You’re gonna want to stick around awhile, if only to see how this thing plays out.

Shuffleboard in Brooklyn and Chicago

Royal Palms Shuffleboard, a combo bar/ shuffleboard court, makes the game seem a lot cooler than you might remember.

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Play a laid-back game of shuffleboard. (Photo: Royal Palms Shuffleboard)

With locations in Brooklyn and Chicago, Royal Palms combines laid-back shuffleboard action with a craft-cocktail-bar vibe. You’ll find mustachioed bartenders slinging drinks like “The Shuffleboard Bob” alongside craft ales, as food trucks and DJs round out the party-centric scene.

The recently opened Chicago location also boasts a playful rooftop “Challenger’s Court” where you can challenge all comers to a game or kick back and sip drinks at the Tiki-styled bar. Maybe you’ll even make some new friends (or mortal shuffleboard enemies) along the way.

Frisbee Golf

Denver, Colorado

Frisbee golf may have peaked in the ’90s, but in some places it never went out of style. And though its birthplace is generally said to be Fresno, California, the sport is alive and well in Colorado, too.

Warm up your throwing arm and hit the greens of Dry Dock Brewing Co., just outside Denver in Aurora, for a year-round, 18-hole disc golf course, followed by a hearty selection of cold Colorado craft beers after the game at their North Dock location in Aurora. Yeah, life is good.

Bocce in Sausalito, California

There are many reasons to visit the beautiful town of Sausalito, just north of San Francisco. Bar Bocce, a beachside hangout overlooking Richardson Bay, is certainly one of them.

With its grassy bocce court near a small sandy beach offering charming views of the Sausalito Harbor, this isn’t your grandparents’ game of bocce ball.

After your game, take a house-made sangria to the seawall or hang out at the fire pits on the back patio as you dive into a standout menu of wood-fired pizzas, rock-shrimp po’boys and meatball sliders served alongside local beer and wine.

Once you play a few games of bocce in a place like this, setting up a court in your own backyard doesn’t seem so silly.