Caddies Drop Lawsuit Against PGA Tour

Four years after a group of PGA Tour caddies sued the world’s most popular professional golf circuit, the litigation has been dropped thanks to a concession made by new PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan.   

The lawsuit centered around the caddies’ ability to offset their rising health insurance costs — some of whom were paying $25,000 annually for themselves and their families — by selling real estate on their caddie bibs, shirt sleeves and hats to sponsors. 

“That’s a huge chunk of change,”The Association of Professional Tour Caddies (APTC) President Scott Sajtinac told The Caddie Network’s TJ Auclair. “And it’s not like having coverage means you don’t keep paying. Most plans for individuals mean you’re still on the hook for 20 percent of costs, after a deductible, if you claim anything. This was crushing some caddie families out on Tour.”

The PGA Tour, however, did not like the idea of caddies selling personal sponsorships on caddie bibs, which the Tour claimed was their property. 

“We were told the bib is out of bounds because it wasn’t ours, even though we were the ones wearing it each and every week, plastered with different corporate logos,” Sajtinac said. “Communication and dialogue to try and navigate through all this rapidly ended before it really even began — and we were left in no man’s land. Just rapidly increasing insurance costs. We didn’t understand why we couldn’t use our own bodies to save ourselves thousands of dollars in health care. That’s when the lawsuit began. We simply wanted our questions answered.”

The caddies lost a class-action lawsuit to refute the PGA Tour’s claims in February 2016 as well as an appeal in August 2018. However, between those two losses, the caddies earned a massive win with Jay Monahan stepping into the commissioner’s role. 

“With Commissioner Monahan now at the helm, within weeks of his tenure starting, healthy dialogue began,” Sajtinac said. “The caddies and the Tour were finally talking. And Jay was fantastic through this whole process. He truly wanted to understand what it was we were dealing with. So, we got to work. Over the course of the next year or so we, and the PGA Tour’s Andy Pazder, along with Commissioner Monahan, got to work and hashed out a solution. A plan that will be implemented — as early as January 2019, I believe — that will indeed help offset these rising health insurance costs. When I became president of the APTC, I told the guys, ‘it’s my goal to come to a resolution on this.’ I didn’t want to be president and have this hanging over us. I told the board I was going to reach out to the Tour again and see if we can’t find a solution. So far, it’s been great.”

When Monahan assumed the outgoing Tim Finchem’s role, the APTC — who was not formally involved in the lawsuit — began a dialogue that centered around the same issue as there was obvious crossover between the class-action suitors and the APTC membership. 

According to GolfChannel.com’s Rex Hoggard, the reason for the dropping of the lawsuit was an agreement made by Monahan to increase the caddies’ stipend for health care.

While caddies have long received such a stipend, it was nowhere near enough, the APTC argued. Sajtinac would not confirm the exact number to Hoggard, but said the increase was over 300 percent. 

“It’s been really good,” Sajtinac said. “Everybody is really excited about this.”

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