A group of PGA Tour caddies sued the PGA Tour in federal court yesterday for making them wear bibs that have the logo of the tournament sponsors without sharing in what it estimates as $50 million in endorsement revenue.
The class-action suit on behalf of 81 caddies was filed in San Francisco, where former basketball star Ed O’Bannon successfully sued the National Collegiate Athletic Association for keeping college players from selling their marketing rights.
“This lawsuit is intended to protect the rights of caddies who are required to endorse tour sponsors with zero compensation from the PGA Tour,” said Gene Egdorf, the caddies’ Houston-based lawyer.
“Any working professional deserves to be paid based on the income they generate, but that’s not happening on the PGA Tour.”
PGA Tour spokesperson Ty Votaw said there would be no comment.
At issue was whether the tour had a right to force caddies to wear bibs and “retain for itself the tens of millions of dollars in advertising generated by those bibs”.
The lawsuit stems from a dispute that has been brewing for more than a year over treatment of caddies.
A tipping point was at The Barclays in August 2013 at Liberty National during a rain delay, when caddies said security would not allow their wives or children in a caddie room because they did not have credentials. They felt it was an example of how the tour treats them like second-class citizens. At several tournaments, they are not allowed in the clubhouse or in the locker room.