Golf Legend Jack Nicklaus Being Sued by Own Company for Breach of Contract

by Chris Haney

Earlier this month, golf legend Jack Nicklaus‘ own company, Nicklaus Companies, sued him over multiple instances of breach of contract. In what has to be an extremely awkward situation, both Nicklaus and his own company have recently shared statements regarding the lawsuit.

Nicklaus Companies filed their complaint in the Supreme Court of New York on May 13th. The company has accused their 82-year-old founder of an alleged breach of contract, tortious interference, and breach of fiduciary duty. The Golden Bear is now part of a very public feud between he and his company. Nicklaus Companies executive chairman Howard Milstein is at the forefront of the allegations against its founder.

The company’s lawsuit against Jack Nicklaus alleges that Nicklaus Companies paid the golfer $145 million in 2007. The nine-digit earnings were for Nicklaus to provide exclusive services and property to his company. The golf-based products company sued because Jack Nicklaus allegedly failed to provide said services and has even worked directly against the company.

The lawsuit identifies three specific instances of breaches of contract. They include Nicklaus receiving large cash payments to promote the 2022 Soudal Open, which is a DP World Tour event recently played in Belgium. Nicklaus Companies is also suing for wrongful conduct stemming from a video game partnering with the PGA Tour and the Masters Tournament.

Finally, Nicklaus Companies is suing for wrongful conduct due to the golfer’s negotiations with the PIF Saudi Investment Fund. The Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series reportedly offered the 18-time major winner $100 million to join the startup as one of the faces of the new league. The lawsuit alleges the golfer would damage the company’s brand and his own reputation if he accepted.

Jack Nicklaus Sued, Shares Statement On the Lawsuit

According to the lawsuit, Nicklaus Companies says they were “eventually able to convince Mr. Nicklaus to stop exploring a deal for the endorsement of the Saudi-backed league.” The company claims they “saved Mr. Nicklaus from himself” and the “controversial project.” Further, the lawsuit claims he would’ve “tarnished his legacy” and “severely damaged the Nicklaus Companies’ name, brands and business.”

“Mr. Nicklaus could have been pilloried in the news media for accepting payment for what could be characterized as betraying the PGA Tour,” the lawsuit reads, according to Sports Illustrated.

Nicklaus recently released a statement about the ongoing matter. He calls the claims from Nicklaus Companies “untrue,” but added that he doesn’t want to make this a “public spectacle.”

“The claims made by Howard Milstein are untrue,” Nicklaus said of being sued by Nicklaus Companies. “Our relationship has been a difficult one, at best. I have little doubt about the outcome. But I don’t intend to make this a public spectacle, if it can be avoided.”

Nicklaus Industries and its executive chairman responded with their own statement. The statement says they’ve “tried everything to avoid” the lawsuit. Yet, they are suing to “sort out the legal responsibilities of the parties so that there is no confusion or misunderstanding going forward.” The statement also shared that they “have a responsibility to Nicklaus Companies.” And that extends to its employees, customers, and partners “to ensure that nothing disrupts the ongoing business of the company.”

Nicklaus has up to 30 days to respond to his company’s complaint. Further details are sure to come out soon as the lawsuit plays out in the public eye.