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More than 80 professional golf caddies have filed a $50 million lawsuit against the PGA tour alleging that the organization compelled them to wear corporate sponsored logos on bibs without compensation.
The filing claims that the PGA Tour officials threatened to prohibit caddies from participating in events if they did not wear the bibs featuring sponsor logos.
Additionally, it is alleged that these officials contacted tour players to determine if they would terminate contracts with caddies who did not wear the bibs.
"[Caddies] are made to serve as billboards to advertise, at the direction of the PGA Tour, for some of the most profitable companies in the world without compensation," the lawsuit states.
The value of the bib is estimated at $50 million annually. The caddies, headed by Mike Hicks who caddied for Payne Stewart and Steve Stricker, among others, seek the money they would have earned based on the market value of the bib endorsements.
A PGA Tour caddie's salary is not connected to the organization, but is an arrangement with a specific player. Most contracts pay caddies $1000 to $1500 a week and include bonuses based on the player's success in the season, according to Golf Link. Caddies make 5 percent of any finish outside the Top 10, 7 percent for a Top 10 finish, and 10 percent for a win.
"I think that caddies are underpaid, and a lot of the Tour players would just go crazy to hear me say that," Kip Henley, 4-time PGA winner Brian Gay's caddie, said in an interview with Golf.com. "Whenever I was negotiating raises with my players, I'd go, 'I understand that I'm a caddie, and I make a ridiculous amount of money already, but the only thing more ridiculous than that is you're getting paid 10 times whatever I'm making to play golf, or more than 10 times, to play golf'."
The lawsuit stipulates that caddies are instrumental to players because of their expertise in course topography, geography, and strategy.
"It is quite common and acceptable for a struggling golfer to terminate his caddie because of poor tournament results. If caddies merely carried bags, certainly they would not be terminated as a result of poor play," the filing claims.
The PGA Tour declined to comment. This story was first reported by Golf.com.