A ‘King’ Comes To Chicago

KINGMADE-JERKYAlthough his initials are “J.K.”, the letter “C” might be the one in the alphabet that best begins the words that describe Jeff King — caddie, carnivore, connoisseur, cook, C.E.O., and Chicago-visitor.

‘Where’s the beef?’ was a slogan in the 1984 television commercials for Wendy’s hamburgers that created instant stardom for little old lady, Clara Peller. A few months later, Walter Mondale questioned Democratic rival Gary Hart’s program policy ideas with the same query. Now thirty-one years later, if the same question is asked regarding the PGA Tour, the answer is: the beef is in the golf bags of dozens of pros in the form of Kingmade Jerky.

The story of Jeff King’s journey as man with the bag (golf) to man behind the bag (beef) began in 1998 when Jeff was a rookie caddie. Over the next seventeen years Jeff toted the bag for a variety of professional golfers on the LPGA and PGA Tours, including Mi Hyun Kim, Pat Hurst, Cristie Kerr, Candie Kung, Vaughn Taylor, Luke List, Derek Ernst, and most recently, James Hahn.

Carrying the bag includes toting clubs, balls, tees, extra gloves, umbrellas, and snacks which are a necessity to fuel golfers and their caddies along the way for the four or five hours of competition. Life on the road for the dozens of journeymen pro caddies inevitably means plenty of meals at fast food restaurants, or worst yet, grab-and-go snacks from gas station counters; one such staple being beef jerky. No stranger to this life style was Jeff King.

Having an unrestrained taste for jerky, and knowing that beef provides protein, Jeff ate beef jerky often, all the brands that stores carried. But all these dry, hard, packed-full-of-sodium sticks of meat left Jeff dismayed by the abysmal state of what passed for commercial beef jerky. Then one night he started thinking to himself, ‘hey, I wonder if I could make some of this stuff on my own?’.

Using premium cuts of flank steak, not ground beef, King crafted his first batch of classic recipe jerky in his McKinney, Texas kitchen. Jeff slow cooks his meat to perfection; his jerky is toothsome yet tender, rugged yet refined. Packing a batch for himself and pro Luke List to eat while on the course, his homemade treat was immediately discovered and coveted by his closest caddie-buddies, then more caddies, and soon by their ‘loops’. Pro golfers who regularly eat and enjoy Kingmade Jerky are Russell Henley, Billy Horshel, Dustin Johnson, Jason Kokrak, Matt Kuchar, Scott Stallings, Camilo Villegas, Jimmy Walker, Candie Kung, and Mika Miyazato.

Being such a tasty treat for the world’s elite golfers, wouldn’t King’s jerky be a successful product for other athletes on the court or on the field; or, for fans in the stands; or, meat lovers anywhere? Yes. Jeff started his own company to produce Kingmade jerky for the public; he is founder, president, and C.E.O. of Kingmade Jerky. Kingmade jerky, in 3 recipes — classic, sweet chili pepper, and buffalo style — is now sold in dozens of pro shops, retail sporting goods stores, and grocery chains across the country.

As a further testimonial to the success of Jeff’s product, the following is a list of tournaments during the 2015 PGA Tour season that made Kingmade jerky available to the pros and caddies: WGC-Cadillac Championship, Valspar Championship, Shell Houston Open, Masters Tournament, Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, AT&T Byron Nelson Classic, and Quicken Loans National.

Jeff King finished his 2015 caddie duties here in Chicago on the bag for James Hahn at the BMW Championship. Public courses around Chicago that now carry Kingmade jerky are Cog Hill, Pine Meadow, Old Orchard, Village Links of Glen Ellyn, Prairie Bluff, The Glen Club, Chalet Hills, and Crystal Woods. Private courses in the area featuring Kingmade jerky are Edgewood Valley, LaGrange CC, Butler National, McHenry CC, and Kemper Lakes.


Greg Miles

Greg Miles has been a writer following golf in Chicago since 1990. For the past 28 years he has been a member of the Golf Writers Association of America and currently is classified as a GWAA "Life Member". He played his first round of golf on his 11th birthday, and since then has played more than 7,200 rounds of golf in his lifetime at 517 different courses. He has interviewed more than 280 golfers across all the professional tours along with famous celebrity golfers. Additionally, he is a member of several other competitive and honorary golf associations, as well as the Golf Nut Society.

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