SAN DIEGO – A class-action lawsuit filed by a group of more than 80 caddies on Tuesday against the PGA Tour heated up on Thursday when the lead attorney for the caddies responded to comments made by commissioner Tim Finchem.
In a letter dated Feb. 5, Gene Egdorf stressed to Tour players that “the lawsuit filed by the caddies is not about or against the players nor does it involve your money.”
On Wednesday, Finchem declined to talk about the specifics of the suit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, but told reporters “[The player] makes an arrangement with somebody that’s going to carry the bag and work with him. They work out a financial arrangement ... the historical process is the player handles that.”
Finchem met with players on Tuesday night at Torrey Pines and was asked about the lawsuit, which claims caddies are forced to wear logo-covered bibs without receiving any proceeds from contracts that the lawsuit estimates are valued at $50 million annually.
In response, Egdorf wrote: “The Tour is intent on continuing to use caddies as human billboards without compensation and to control the caddie endorsement deals.”
The letter also said that Finchem informed players that bibs, which are a central component of the lawsuit, are not mandatory, but according to the Tour’s regulations handbook caddies are required to wear them.
Egdorf also explained that any type of funding for a caddie retirement program and improved health insurance, which is why the caddies are suing, would not come from either the players’ retirement funds or tournament purses.
“Most retirement plans do not allow for manipulation of the plan for matters like this,” Egdorf wrote. “We suggest that you review the retirement plan with your financial advisor and legal counsel. We think you will find the Tour is again blowing smoke and creating havoc.”
The caddies’ lawsuit also included a request for an injunction to protect the caddies from retribution either from the players they work for or the Tour.
“By this lawsuit, the caddies do not, have not, and have no intention of involving you. The caddies simply want to be treated fairly by the Tour for what they do to further the Tour’s initiatives,” he wrote.
The Tour’s policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation.