They always say that successful products are created by someone who saw a need that wasn’t being met.  That’s certainly the case with Jeff King, caddie, chef, entrepreneur and creator of KingMade Jerky.

    King, you see is kind of a jerky fanatic.  As a 22-year caddie veteran for various LPGA, Korn Ferry and PGA Tour players, he has logged many miles between tournament stops, often in his 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.”

    He would then toss the offending package of jerky on the floor of the car.

    “After years of doing that, 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 explained about the start of it all.

     He googled recipes. He bought a dehydrator at Bass Pro Shops.

     “Alton Brown said go buy flank steak and put some kitchen spices in a bowl, and I did that,” he explained about the start. “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.”

     Initial failure didn’t stop him. It became a personal mission. He was going to conquer the beef jerky. He kept trying until he got a recipe that worked and tasted good to him. Then he loaded up his treasure in snack bags and headed back out to caddie.

     “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 and about the fourth or fifth hole, List decided to sample some of the jerky.

    “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.

     King told him it was two weeks. They both started laughing.

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

     Brown grabbed some and pronounced it the best beef jerky he’d ever had in his life. 

     The next day, King was on the putting green and player after player came up and asked for some beef jerky. Pretty soon he was out.

     The next week Scott Brown reappeared and said he had four people who wanted to buy some of King’s jerky, would he make more for them.
     “I absolutely started laughing,” King said.
     When there’s something new and good on the PGA Tour, you cannot keep it a secret for longer than a week. 
     “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,” King added. 
     He started bringing duffle bags of jerky to tournaments.  The only problem he had with that was that the security dogs in airports would sometimes go a little nuts.  
     The next season List got his PGA Tour card, and King went along.  The demand for jerky did too.   
     “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 the Pavlovian bell.
     “As soon as they saw a red duffle 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.”
     His customers kept telling him to get it into stores, but he said he didn’t have that background, having gone to college on a golf scholarship.  He’d not taken any business classes. So, he just kept up with the demand from 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 heathy,” he said. “It’s something they want to eat while they’re performing.”
     When Stewart Cink wanted to talk about jerky recipes, King said it gave him goosebumps.
     “I grew up watching Stewart Cink, respected everything he’s done for the game of golf and his accomplishments, and I go out there to caddie, and then all this happens, he recalled. “And then you’ve got Stewart Cink. I remember we were paired together at Memorial, and he didn’t say a word.  I didn’t even know if he knew.”
     On the first tee, King introduced himself, and they shook hands.
     “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. And he goes ‘Have you ever tried that?  I’m going to have to get some recipes from you.’” 
     While King may end up as a meat snack maven, he still intends to caddie. 
     “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.”
     He found contacts for turning his love for jerky into a business.  He had to find a manufacturer, get a sales team, learn about distribution.  He began to meet people who had some know-how to help him get started. 
     “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.”
     The relationship he has with the players converted his hobby into Kingmaster Beef Jerky which is now the Official Jerky of the PGA Tour. King described the arrangement as a partnership.  He cannot thank the players enough.
     “It’s never been about money,” he said about his new life as an entrepreneur. “It’s about doing good things for other people.” 
     King has caddied for List, James Hahn, Vaughn Taylor, Scott Stallings, Derek Ernst and Sunjae Im.  He has also caddied on the LPGA Tour for many years.
     “Now nobody knows my name anymore. It’s the ‘Jerky Guy,’” he laughed. He’s OK with that.
     If you like beef jerky, King said the best place to find his products are at www.kingmade.com although they are on Walmart.com and Amazon.com.  The Kingmade site often has specials.  And when you order, they make sure to reach out to you later with money-saving offers.
     The Kingmade jerky product pouches are sure to make you smile. The front features a steer, complete with horns, wearing ski gear, a golfer’s hat or dressed as a hunter, depending on which recipe you prefer. The steers even have names: Clyde (sweet chili pepper style), Otis (buffalo style) and Arnie (classic recipe).    

    “It’s the first major of the year now,” Davis Love III said when asked about the move of The Players to March.  “Yeah, you can quote me. We need to get it to a major.”

    He said it definitively, like there was no other way to think about it.

    Love III is a two-time champ of The Players. He won a PGA.  He’s won 21 PGA Tour events.  He’s in the Hall of Fame as of last year. He’s been the captain of the Ryder Cup team twice. And he insists The Players is as big as it gets in golf. 

    “Finchem said it, 15 maybe 20 years ago. ‘Whatever you guys say is what it’s going to be. I’m not going to be the guy to say it. But if you guys say it….’” Love continued. “It’s like the PGA (of America) said for a long time, they’re the best field of the four majors. It’s hard to argue with that, but The Players is the best field all year.”

    In other words, logically, if The Players has a better field than all other tournaments, that should make it a major because whoever wins The Players beats all the best players that season.  Love also said he’d be prejudiced in calling it the first major of the year. Although he didn’t say why, it’s definitely because he won two of them! 
    Billy Horschel agreed, although he was a little less reluctant to insist the way Love did.
    “You know when you get done playing golf, the tournaments you want to win, you want to win the four majors and The Players. So, obviously when you look at it in that light, when you look at how important that tournament is, and that fact that you can be a Hall of Fame golfer (with a victory),” he said. “They want it to really be a fifth major.  Is it a shame, that moniker? A little bit.”

    Regardless of your opinion on it,  one thing is certain.  The Players is moving to March.  It will be the first, big, full-field tournament of the year.  

   "At the John Deere Classic, about five years after we started, they had the deer jumping up instead of down," he said.
       One of the most valuable trophies might the for Franklin Templeton Shark Shootout which DeMille has been making for 15 years.
    "It is a sterling silver piece," DeMille explained. "The winner gets the same one as the perpetual in sterling.  We take the same piece, and it goes on a little smaller base. But it's the same sterling silver palm tree sculpture that two winners get."
    Demille's biggest creative battles are with what he calls the corporate logo police. ( As someone who has written corporate identity manuals, I can attest that this is always a touchy subject.)  As he pointed out, most logos are represented in two-dimensions.
    "When we try in to create a three dimensional logo, it becomes difficult to represent them in the same way," DeMille said. "What you have in 2D representation is impossible to replicate in a 3D world."
    For instance, the Valspar tournament logo is a paintbrush holding a golf ball.
    "Something we are good at is to take something relevant to the company and make a beautiful art piece out of it, something that stirs conversation and comment, represents corporate sponsor in a flattering way, and people know what it is and what it means," he said.  "For Valspar, the trophy almost looks like golfer swinging but it is a paintbrush."

Shark Shootout trophy.

   "At the John Deere Classic, about five years after we started, they had the deer jumping up instead of down," he said.
       One of the most valuable trophies might the for Franklin Templeton Shark Shootout which DeMille has been making for 15 years.
    "It is a sterling silver piece," DeMille explained. "The winner gets the same one as the perpetual in sterling.  We take the same piece, and it goes on a little smaller base. But it's the same sterling silver palm tree sculpture that two winners get."
    Demille's biggest creative battles are with what he calls the corporate logo police. ( As someone who has written corporate identity manuals, I can attest that this is always a touchy subject.)  As he pointed out, most logos are represented in two-dimensions.
    "When we try in to create a three dimensional logo, it becomes difficult to represent them in the same way," DeMille said. "What you have in 2D representation is impossible to replicate in a 3D world."
    For instance, the Valspar tournament logo is a paintbrush holding a golf ball.
    "Something we are good at is to take something relevant to the company and make a beautiful art piece out of it, something that stirs conversation and comment, represents corporate sponsor in a flattering way, and people know what it is and what it means," he said.  "For Valspar, the trophy almost looks like golfer swinging but it is a paintbrush."

The Players: " It's the first major of the year now." -- Davis Love III

​​Malcolm DeMille: Trophy Maker for PGA Tour and LPGA Tour Events 















Jordan Speith with Valspar Trophy made by DeMille --  Courtesy Malcolm DeMille


Every week that there's a PGA Tour event, someone ends up with a trophy.  It's a given.  But who creates all that magnificent hardware?

     Eight PGA Tour events, about 20% of the total, call on the California studio of Malcolm DeMille to create distinctive presentation pieces for the winners.  DeMille has crafted trophies for Quicken Loans National, Franklin Templeton Shark Shootout, Wells Fargo, Farmer's Insurance Open, Sanderson Farms, John Deere Classic and Valspar, to name but a few.

    If the name DeMille sounds familiar, it should.  He's a distant cousin of the famed movie director Cecil B. Demille who held the reins for The Ten Commandments.

    "I have a little of the talent and none of the money," he joked about the family connection.  Yet, his location in Nipomo, California, is about 10 miles from where the second version of that movie was shot was shot.

    Cousin Cecil B. DeMille actually made The Ten Commandments twice, once in the silent era and the one we know today. Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner and thousands of others left their footprints in the soil near the Nipomo studio of Malcolm DeMille.  They posed and gestured in Egyptian-styled costumes, standing in and on fake ancient monuments, all constructed to recreate biblical times.  But nothing visible remains from those days.

    "He bulldozed all the sets and plaster casts of the sphinx and other things into the sand dunes," the current DeMille said of the aftermath of his cousin's 1956 version of the film.  "He had 25,000 people living here to create the movie."

    Today, the entire town of Nipomo has just over 16,000 people in it, significantly fewer than the number Cecil B. DeMille brought in for the film.

    Malcolm DeMille has a much smaller staff, just a handful of skilled artisans. They work in clay and bronze and precious metals, not in celluloid, but the work is just as spectacular, if on a smaller scale. They are seen on the small screen, not in Cinemascope, and treasured as much as an actor prizes an Oscar.  They create works of art in trophy form. One very recognizable trophyis for the Sanderson Farms.


Embed from Getty Images
Embed from Getty Images

  
    Joe Sanderson, CEO and Chairmen of the Board of Sanderson Farms, Inc., a poultry company, happened to have a favorite Chaucer fable which featured a rooster. He wanted that for the trophy.  It also happened to fit the image of the company.
    DeMille formed the initial part of the rooster in clay.
    "After the clay rooster was formed, it was scanned into a computer and additional detail was added. So, it was not hand modeling exclusively," DeMille said.   
    Sometimes tournaments want to change up the trophy, only not too much.

Kathy Bissell has more than 25 years experience as a golf writer and television producer.

Hey Jerky Guy!

Jeff King, "Jerky Guy," with Rickie Fowler

Photos courtesy Malcom DeMille

   DeMille took the paintbrush and extended the brush stroke to become a paintbrush in motion.  The brush makes a circular stroke, as he described, like a golf swing. Then the golf ball floats out onto the brush stroke.   
​     While many trophies are for PGA Tour events, DeMille also maintains his connection to the LPGA. This year he made a brand new trophy for the ANA Inspiration, which was formerly the Kraft/Nabisco and before that the Dinah Shore, the year's first major championship.
    DeMille's trophy was presented to the winner, Brittany Lincicome, after her playoff victory.  It's the second major for Lincicome and another memorable creation by Malcolm DeMille.
    So next time you see the trophy presentation, remember, it might be one of DeMille's, all ready for its close up.