Caddies file appeal in $50 million lawsuit against PGA Tour

Caddie Mike Hicks chats with golfer Josh Teater at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas.
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More than 168 professional golf caddies have filed an appeal seeking to overturn a ruling in February that dismissed a $50 million lawsuit against the PGA tour.

The caddies alleged the PGA 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 didn't 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 didn't comply.

"When the world's leading sports network [ESPN] says the PGA Tour treats caddies like 'outside dogs,' then you know there is a problem," said Richard Meadow, an attorney at the Lanier Law Firm, who represents the caddies, in a statement. "Sure, caddies are told they can have their own sponsors, but what good does that do if they're forced to cover their shirts with other sponsors, who are paying them nothing, and instead putting tens of millions of dollars in the Tour's pocket?"

The PGA didn't immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.

The 66-page appeal claims that the lawsuit was unfairly dismissed because of a "collection of errors."

"The record demonstrates that the court's dismissal of the caddies' complaint resulted from the court's improper insistence on resolving fact issues with unfounded suppositions and one-sided evidence, and without reference to governing legal standards or reasonable inferences supporting the caddies' claims," the appeal states.

The filing alleges the court improperly conducted their fact-finding process, deliberated based on assumptions and hypotheticals, and discussed matters that were not included in the caddie's lawsuit.

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 $1,000 to $1,500 a week and include bonuses based on the player's success in the season. Caddies make 5 percent of any finish outside the Top 10, 7 percent for a Top 10 finish, and 10 percent for a win.

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 original filing claimed.