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Before turning professional in 2018, Nick Hardy enjoyed a successful amateur and college career at the University of Illinois. Whilst at college, he was a two-time Big Ten Champion, 2018 Big Ten Player of the Year and a 2018 First Team NCAA All-American.
Since turning professional he has enjoyed some successes, with his best result coming at the 2022 NV5 Invitational, a Korn Ferry Tour event that he lost in a playoff.
Throughout his recent successes, Hardy has had experienced caddie, Jeff King, on the bag, with the pair enjoying a string of good results. In this piece, we get to know King a little bit better.
King says that he first started caddying at Woodmar Country Club when he was just 10-years-old, caddying all through high school and college. King explains that the reason why he started caddying is because "it was one of the only jobs that I could do at a young age."
He added: "I really got hooked after attending the Western Open for the first time. It was at Butler National and I got to see guys like Lee Trevino in person. It really grows on you, the love of the game. It didn't feel like work. The relationship between a golfer and a caddie is just super cool."
Although King caddies on the biggest Tours, he is actually the founder of Kingmade Jerky, the “Official Jerky and Official Meat Snack” of the PGA Tour. Founded in 2012 by King, Kingmade has attracted a huge following on the PGA Tour, with the help of multiple PGA Tour players.
Admitting that he found it by a "total accident", King explained to caddyshacktocorneroffice (opens in new tab): "I was in college for five years and never had one business class. Traveling all the time, I became a beef jerky junky. Whenever I’d stop at the gas station, I bought every type of jerky they had, trying to find the best. Some were just really bad, like it would almost break your jaw or was super salty. “Salty cardboard” is what I called the really bad stuff.
"So on some downtime, I went to Bass Pro Shops and bought a dehydrator, with the plan to make my own. I looked up a recipe online, grabbed some flank steak, and then forced myself to wait the 9 or so hours that it took to make. After a day’s work, it was finally ready, and I took a bite. It was absolutely horrendous, just terrible. It was heartbreaking. But the competitive side of me kicked up and said, “I gotta win!” So I did it again. The second time was still pretty awful. Finally, the fourth try turned out pretty good. But, of course, I didn’t write anything down and wasn’t sure I could do it again. I was due in Miami for a Web.com event and just threw the jerky in my bag before heading to the airport.
"I was working for Luke List at the time and told him that there was some homemade jerky in the bag if he got hungry. He didn’t even need to ask permission, just help himself. About the 4th or 5th hole he grabs the bag of jerky and takes off down the fairway. After a couple of steps, he turns back and says, “Did you say you made that?” I immediately think that it can’t be THAT bad. But Luke asked “How long have you been making jerky, your whole life?” I told him I’d been doing it for two weeks, just Googled a recipe. He told me that it was the best he’d ever had.
"Next thing I know, guys are coming up and telling me that Brownie told them about my killer beef jerky. They all wanted to try it, and in a couple hours, it was all gone. Scott Brown came over and asked me if I'd make more for guys if they’d be willing to pay for it. I thought he was messing with me and shrugged it off. But he came right back at me the next week and said that he had four guys who would pay $40 per pound.
"I went back home and bought five dehydrators. The entire kitchen was filled; it looked like a factory. I’d make all that I could and then sell out when I’d show up at the golf tournament. I had to fly my parents in to help. This went on for months, my phone beeping non-stop from players and caddies that I didn’t even know at the time. Like Graeme McDowell, Jimmy Walker, and Chris DiMarco all asking for beef jerky. I’d show up on the driving range with a duffle bag full of this stuff, and it would be empty in 30 minutes. I looked like a drug dealer. Eventually, the media caught on and seven years later, we became the Official Beef Jerky of the PGA Tour.
Matt studied Sports Journalism at Southampton Solent University, graduating in 2019. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly and the PGA, he covers all aspects of the game, from Tour news to equipment testing and buyers’ guides. Taking up the game at the age of six, Matt currently holds a handicap of 3 and despite not having a hole in one…yet, he has had two albatrosses. His favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.