Play Nine: A Casual Card Game Built by Word-of-Mouth All the Way to the Shelves of Target

by Paul Krok | 29 Sep 2023

Biographies and Interviews

Created by two good friends with a passion for golf and a love for games, Play Nine, The Card Game Of Golf, was quietly developed and over the years grew into a widely loved family game. Bonfit America Inc. sat down with the creators to chat and share the story of this fan-favorite card game. 


Can you tell us how it all began?  

Play Nine has taken us through an amazing journey and we’re excited to tell the story of how Play Nine, a family card game from Illinois, built through word-of-mouth, quietly became an Amazon best seller and is now in Target’s collection of classic games.  

It’s our good fortune to have a group of elementary school friends that gets together regularly to play cards. One of the friends taught us a game that we particularly enjoyed. Based on that game, two of us decided to create a game with a golf theme and Play Nine was born. 


What development issues did you have when creating the game? 

We enjoyed creating the graphics and writing the rules and spent months revising both as we repeatedly tested the game with family and friends. Packaging was important to us, and we decided to use a box the same size as a dozen golf balls. The process took over a year before we were ready for print. Selecting a printer, coordinating the shipping, and warehousing was a learning experience for us.  



Once you finally worked out the kinks, how did you go about getting people to play? 

Games were given out to family and friends. We called on gift stores, golf merchants and golf pro shops at local courses. Games were donated to charitable fundraisers. We held game nights and competitions at local restaurants and retirement homes.  We tried sales representatives, but they were hesitant to take on one (unknown) game.     


Word-of-mouth is super powerful, do you have any key insights as to how people start sharing experiences, especially regarding Play Nine?  

People are excited to share Play Nine simply because it connects friends and family in a special way. This is one of our favorite word-of-mouth stories: One of our hair stylists liked Play Nine and offered to sell it in his salon.  A customer was traveling out of state for Thanksgiving and took a game along. One of the other guests at Thanksgiving was in the golf industry and saw how much fun the group had playing Play Nine.  He contacted us and things took off from there!    


What was Play Nine’s first big moment in card game history? 

The game was really taking off! At this point, we started looking for someone skilled in managing distribution, production, and sales. Paul Krok, founder of Bonfit America, expressed an interest in Play Nine as a great add-on to his already growing golf products. In 2006, we entered a partnership with Bonfit to hold exclusive distribution rights to Play Nine. This led Play Nine to be a bestseller on Amazon and stocked in brick & mortar stores across the country. 


It was announced Play Nine is at Target now. That’s huge! Can you tell us more about the big things that have been happening for Play Nine. 

One of the biggest moments this year is Target! Play Nine is now stocked across the country just in time for the holiday season. Being in a big retail giant like Target is an important step in sharing Play Nine with a bigger audience.  

Another thing we are excited about is the launch of the Play Nine App. This past year the Play Nine mobile app has quickly grown with thousands of people playing online multiplayer games every day with other Play Nine fans. 



So, what’s next for Play Nine? 

We’re excited for Play Nine’s future and its growth in the United States and internationally. As Play Nine starts to build global recognition, we’re delighted to be developing new extensions for the physical game and offering new options and tournaments on the app. We see a huge potential in the relationship of the physical and mobile games to be the perfect way to continue building Play Nine’s momentum.  


The growth and legacy of Play Nine is only beginning and we're excited for the future. To learn more about Play Nine, future products, and the app check out the website at or find us on Instagram @playninecardgame.


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