PGA Tour Caddie Has Alternate Income: Beef Jerky

NORTH PLAINS, OR - AUGUST 28: Candie Kung of Taiwan and her caddy Jeff King measure for relief under a special rule for the step cut rough on the 18th hole during the first during the first round of the Safeway Classic on August 28, 2009 at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in North Plains, Oregon. Kang finished the day tied for 4th with a 6 under par 66. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
NORTH PLAINS, OR - AUGUST 28: Candie Kung of Taiwan and her caddy Jeff King measure for relief under a special rule for the step cut rough on the 18th hole during the first during the first round of the Safeway Classic on August 28, 2009 at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in North Plains, Oregon. Kang finished the day tied for 4th with a 6 under par 66. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) /

Jeff King, who has caddied for more than two decades on the PGA Tour, Korn Ferry Tour, and LPGA Tour, is like many in his line of work. He’s unemployed. The difference for King is that he’s also a business owner, making a food product that – at least when the PGA Tour was operating – was a favorite of Tour players. What is it? Beef jerky.

The current PGA Tour caddie Jeff King, it turns out, is kind of a beef jerky aficionado. As a caddie, especially earlier in his career, he would often travel from one tournament to another by car.

"“Every time I went into gas stations, I’d see products I’d never seen, and I’d buy them. I didn’t care what the price was or if there were five, ten, I bought them all,” King said. “I would eat a piece, and it was always the same style: hard to eat and hard to chew, broke my jaw, and it was full of salt.”"

His next move was to toss the terrible jerky on the floor of the car. But he was about to have a beef jerky epiphany.

"“I was at home for a few weeks off in a break during a season and said, ‘What the heck, man, I’m going to try to make some beef jerky,’” he recalled."

He googled recipes for beef jerky. Settled on one from Alton Brown. Went to Bass and bought a dehydrator.

"“Alton Brown said go buy flank steak and put some kitchen spices in a bowl, and I did that,” he explained. “To be honest with you, the first batch I made was tragically bad. I ate less than one piece, and the garbage can got full.”"

No doubt Wolfgang Puck and Julia Child had failures when they first started, too, but it didn’t stop them. It didn’t stop King, either. He kept trying recipe after recipe, unrelentingly chasing the perfect jerky. It was Man vs. Beef. Finally, he got something he liked and something that tasted good to him.

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By that time, his break was over, so he loaded up some bags of the newly made snack food and took it on the road.

"“I was caddying for Luke List at the time on the Nationwide Tour (now the Korn Ferry Tour), and I just told him. ‘If you’d like some beef jerky, I made some. It’s in the golf bag, so feel free,’” King recalled."

They were playing a practice round. Around the fourth or fifth hole, List decided to take King up on his offer and give the jerky a try.

"“He got up to the green after eating a couple pieces and looked at me and said, ‘How long have you been making beef jerky? Your whole life?’” King recalled."

The answer was two weeks. According to King, they both started laughing.

"“Then Scott Brown (who was with them) said, ‘Beef jerky? I love beef jerky,’” King added."

Brown took a taste and insisted it was the best beef jerky he’d ever had.

The next day, King was as popular as a dog walker with the scent of steak. While on the putting green, player after player came up and asked for some beef jerky. It didn’t take long for his stash to disappear.

The next week Scott Brown came up to King and said he had four people who wanted to buy some of King’s jerky. Could he make more?

"“I absolutely started laughing,” King said. “Long story short, it kept going that way. I’ve never asked anybody on any Tour to buy jerky. I’m not a salesman. They just kept texting me.”"

Pretty soon King started bringing duffle bags of jerky to tournaments. His biggest issue, on occasion, was the security dogs in airports. They would sometimes go a little crazy.

Luke List got his PGA Tour card, and King went along. The demand for jerky skyrocketed.

"“It was coming from everywhere. Graeme McDowell, Davis Love, Billy Horschel, Gary Woodland, Vaughn Taylor. The list just kept going and going, and it got to a point where my kitchen had 5 dehydrators in it,” he said."

When King got to tournaments it was like someone had rung Pavlov’s bell.

"“As soon as they saw a red duffel bag, they knew what it was,” King noted. “They stopped practicing went and got their wallets, and my duffle bag was empty in 30 minutes.”"

PGA Tour players kept telling him he needed to get it into stores, but King knew he didn’t have the background, so he kept selling to Tour players.

"“They all supported this because it’s kind of a family, the player and caddie relationship, and it was a good product, and it’s healthy,” he said. “It’s something they want to eat while they’re performing.”"

One day Stewart Cink wanted to talk about jerky recipes. It gave King goosebumps.

"“I grew up watching Stewart Cink, respected everything he’s done for the game of golf and his accomplishments,” he recalled. “I remember we were paired together at Memorial, and he didn’t say a word. I didn’t even know if he knew.”"

As King recalled, on the first tee, they made typical introductions.

"“We played 18 holes, and we got done, and we shook hands, and as we were walking to the scorer’s tent, he looks at me and he goes, ‘You know what I did the other day? I tried making some ( jerky) with this and this and this.’ So, he knew exactly who I was the whole time and didn’t say one word about beef jerky,” King said. And then Cink said he was going to have to get recipes from King.“Once the PGA Tour saw what was happening and all the players posting pictures and supporting with tweets. I never asked them to do any of it, but they were just willing to help,” King said. “The PGA Tour contacted me and said let’s get a deal going.”"

King’s creation became the Official Jerky of the PGA Tour, and the Tour became a partner of King’s in what is called Kingmade Jerky.

He found contacts for manufacturing, got a sales team, learned about distribution.

"“I’ve never been a business owner,” King said. “I’d been a caddie. I’ve been around sports my whole life being a business owner is not something — it wasn’t intentional. I had zero experience.”"

However, the relationship he has with the players – and his very tasty jerky — converted his hobby into Kingmade Beef Jerky.

"“It’s never been about money,” he said about his new life as an entrepreneur. “It’s about doing good things for other people.”"

In addition to List, King has caddied for James Hahn, Vaughn Taylor, Scott Stallings, Derek Ernst and Sunjae Im. He also caddied on the LPGA Tour for many years.

"“Now nobody knows my name anymore. It’s the ‘Jerky Guy,’”"

He laughed. That doesn’t bother him at all.

Even though he’s a business owner, King still intends to caddie, at least when golf starts up again. King said the best place to find his products is at  although they are on and Products are also at the PGA Tour stores in airports, once traveling starts again. According to King, the Kingmade site often has specials.

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Now, in addition to creating what many PGA Tour pros agree is great jerky, Kingmade has great product packaging. The front of the pouches features steers, complete with horns, wearing ski gear (Clyde), a golfer’s tam hat (Arnie), or dressed as a hunter (Otis), depending on which recipe you prefer. The steer names are for the different recipes. Clyde is sweet chili pepper. Otis is buffalo style. Arnie, as you might guess, is a classic recipe. And you can buy golf towels with their “pictures” on them.

This interview was done at the PGA show earlier in the season, which is where all the quotes come from.