The Garden City Classic, the Savannah River Dart Association’s annual tournament, is a three-day event that includes Cricket and 501 competitions for singles and pairs for men and women, as well as mixed pairs.
The real fun, however, takes place on Friday and Saturday night with the blind draw competitions.
“It’s really just to get all the people who are arriving from out of town and, hopefully, staying at the hotel, together,” said SRDA member Matt Flynn. “Of course, there’ll be some drinking and some food, but you’ll pay your $10 to enter and you could get teamed up with the absolute best player in town that day or, you know, you might get me.”
Why is your partner so important? Because of the little matter of prize money. The top 16 pairs will get their money back and the winning pair will get $280 of the $940 purse.
“So for a $10 investment, it’s a lot of fun,” Flynn said.
The Blind Draw is so popular that they added it for a second night on Saturday.
“This is the first time we’ve done that,” he said. “They usually just run different competitions into the evening, but this seems to be really popular. People love it. It’s just a fun time, you meet some really good people and, hopefully, learn a little bit.”
Saturday, the tournament will begin in earnest with Cricket, the traditional pub dart game in which players try to hit targets 15-20 and the bullseye three times each. Whoever does that first and scores the most points wins and advances.
Sunday is the 501 competition in which players start with 501 points and work their way down to 0.
Darts is a pretty laid-back sport and the tournaments, if the Garden City Classic is any indication, are too. Players sign up and pay their entry fees shortly before play begins.
That doesn’t mean that play isn’t serious. The Garden City Classic is sanctioned by the American Darts Organization and standards, which is what darters call the boards, are regulation.
But that also doesn’t mean you can’t have the traditional pint while you’re playing. In addition to the 40 or so standards that will be set up in a big convention hall room at the Marriott, there will also be a bar and food.
“It kind of goes hand in hand,” Flynn said of darts and beer. “In fact, I kind of like to balance it: beer in the left hand, darts in the right. If I don’t have the beer, it’s just odd.”
The Marriott is offering a special room rate for darters, and spectators are encouraged to come and check out the games and vendors. Flynn said they expect about 100 people from the SRDA to join about 200 regional darters in competition.
Most importantly, the tournament is open to anyone who wants to play.
“There will be some amazing darters there, but it’s also beginner friendly, especially the blind draws,” Flynn said. “So if you just want to come and dip your toe in the water, you should come check it out.”
Garden City Classic
Marriott Augusta Convention Center
Friday, March 3, 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 4, 9 a.m.
Sunday, March 5, 10 a.m.
$10-$15 per competition