Tuesday, May 21, 2024 May 21, 2024
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How the CJ Cup Byron Nelson Became a Korean Food Showcase

The tournament’s title sponsor, a Korean company that includes a culinary division, is literally adding new flavor to a Dallas classic.
Scottie Scheffler will not be participating in the CJ Cup Byron Nelson, but maybe he would have if he knew it would feature delicious Korean dumplings available at the ninth and 18th holes. golf photo: Bob Self/Florida Times-Union / USA TODAY NETWORK / dumpling photo: courtesy Bibigo / illustration: Tim Rogers

At first glance, golf and Korean food may seem worlds apart. One is a centuries-old sport steeped in tradition, while the other is a culinary landscape renowned for bold flavors and inventive fusion dishes. But both display the artful combination of a heritage with a modern twist—and both will take center stage at this year’s CJ Cup Byron Nelson tournament.

CJ Group, which became the tournament’s title sponsor in 2023, is a Korean company with holdings in a variety of industries, including food. If you have shopped at a Dallas-area H Mart, you will probably recognize one of CJ Group’s most famous brands, bakery chain Tous les Jours.

At the Byron Nelson this year, fans and players will have the opportunity to experience Korean food through Bibigo, another food brand within the CJ Group. Diners visiting the tournament will be surprised to find the same rich flavors and textural contrasts that they love about Korean cuisine in pre-prepared foods and fresh meals. CJ Group will fly in 35 chefs from Korea to prepare fresh steamed rice, crispy appetizers with zippy sauces, and silky dumpling wrappers—fried or steamed—that discreetly package fresh ingredients like bulgogi, chicken, pork, vegetables, and tender mushrooms. Look out for mandu, Korea’s signature dumpling, similar to Japanese gyoza.

Fans can stop at two concession stands on course, one near the Garrison Brothers Distillery Bunker at the ninth hole and another on the 18th hole’s fairway. Prepacked meals will be available for purchase, too. Surprisingly, these prepacked meals maintain their signature crunchy exterior when microwaved. (You won’t microwave them on the course, but you can find the same products in groceries.) CJ Foods holds a patent on a way to keep food crunchy after its trip through the microwave. The chicken is coated with rich sauce—choose a flavor like the daring sweet and spicy, or try a pungent garlic soy sauce with perfectly balanced flavors that won’t compete on your palate.

Korean elements are infused into every element of the CJ Cup Byron Nelson, not just the food menu. The signature trophy draws inspiration from Hangul and Jikji (or, in its longer name, Jikjisimcheyojeol). Hangul is the Korean language writing system, and Jikji, a collection of Zen Buddhist teachings, is the oldest known book in the world printed with movable metal type.

In the past six editions of the CJ CUP, which were held in Korea, Las Vegas, and Hilton Head, each player’s name was engraved in Korean on the trophy, and the eventual winners’ names were plated in gold before the trophy presentation. Starting this year, the names of each past Byron Nelson champion will be engraved on the trophy to commemorate the tradition and history of what is now the CJ Cup Byron Nelson. This year’s field includes six South Korean golfers and four more golfers with Korean heritage representing the United States and Australia.

Just as golfers at the CJ Cup Byron Nelson strive to master the fundamentals while pushing the boundaries of their game, Korean chefs honor traditional techniques while exploring new ingredients, flavors, and presentation styles. At this year’s tournament, you can enjoy both of these pursuits at once.

The PGA Tour event will be held May 2-5 at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney.