During last week’s hearing in a U.S. District Court, attorneys for a group of LIV Golf players seeking a temporary restraining order and attorneys for the PGA Tour were forced to tiptoe around the contracts players have signed to play for the Saudi-backed league.
Attorneys for both sides agreed to allow only “outside counsel” to see the contracts players sign to join LIV Golf and referred to them only vaguely during the hearing, which denied a threesome of suspended players a restraining order that would have allowed them to play the FedExCup Playoffs.
“I don’t think they consist of trade secrets. They are not privileged. I don’t think it applies, but obviously I want to make sure that I handle the matter appropriately,” said Elliot Peters, the Tour’s lead attorney in the hearing.
Exactly what is in each individual deal remains unknown, but the Wall Street Journal reviewed a draft contract between LIV Golf and a player.
Although the draft didn’t include specific contract amounts, which are reported to include deals reaching nine figures, the draft did include a $1 million bonus for a LIV player who wins a major championship.
According to the WSJ, the contract also limits each player’s media rights in LIV events, which is unexpected, since it’s the PGA Tour’s control of media rights that led some players, like Phil Mickelson, to join the breakaway circuit.
The draft also requires that players wear LIV-branded apparel when they are at any “League Activity, Team Promotional Activity or any other Covered Golf Activity.”
During last week’s hearing, Peters argued that if the three players – Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones – were allowed to play the Tour’s first playoff event it would be akin to the Tour providing a marketing platform for LIV Golf with those players wearing their uniforms at the FedEx St. Jude Championship.
The attorney for the players, Robert Walters, argued they would not be wearing LIV uniforms. But at last month’s Open Championship and Scottish Open, some LIV players did wear league logos.
Players are also required to help LIV Golf recruit other players if they are asked, and they must also obtain approval for any “exclusive interviews or commentaries," according to the WSJ.
Earlier this week in U.S. District Court Northern District of California, Judge Beth Labson Freeman approved a motion to extend the amount of time needed to consider if the contracts should remain under seal.