Joe Mullins, owner of the Mullins Companies in Martinez, Ga., is being sued over an agreement to provide badges to The Masters Golf Tournament in 2018 and 2019.
The federal lawsuit was filed on April 9, 2021, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia on behalf of Golf Travel, LLC., based in Scottsdale, Ariz.
According to the complaint filed with the federal court in Augusta, Mullins, Mullins Sports and Entertainment, LLC and up to 30 unnamed co-defendants defrauded Golf Travel, LLC; committed violations of Georgia’s RICO law (Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act), specifically wire fraud, mail fraud and theft by deception; and breached its contract to supply practice round tickets and four-day badges to the 2018 Masters Tournament.
Mullins has not filed a response to the lawsuit yet. In a phone call Monday afternoon, Mullins said he was unaware of the lawsuit and that he has not been served with any paperwork.
Mullins said he would be ready “if it is anything, but we’ve honored, you know, when we were doing business a few years ago. We don’t do it anymore, but when we did, we honored all agreements.”
Golf Travel and its predecessor, SGH, Inc., obtained tickets and badges from Mullins for six years beginning in 2013 and ending in 2019.
The agreement in 2018 called for Mullins to supply 183 tickets for the three days of the practice rounds and 95 four-day badges for the tournament. The Arizona company paid Mullins $606,150.00, $157,900 for the tickets and $448,250 for the badges.
On Thursday, April 5, 2018, Augusta National security stopped a total of 23 Golf Travel customers at the gate and confiscated their badges. Security told the Golf Travel customers their badges had been “flagged” as invalid, according to the lawsuit. The customers were escorted off the property. Of that group, 19 badges had been supplied by Mullins. The other four customers had badges from a different supplier. Those other four were denied access because they were with people with invalid badges, according to the complaint.
Golf Travel, LLC, confronted Mullins over the tickets, according to the complaint filed in federal court.
“Mullins offered no explanation for the invalid Badges except to represent that security was more intense that year, and the Plaintiff’s customers must have gotten unlucky with random secondary inspections,” the complaint states.
By April 6, a total of 43 badges were confiscated. Golf Travel refunded $103,032 to some of its customers.
Golf Travel also charged that because of the “fiasco” caused by the invalid badges, another supplier ended its relationship with the Arizona company, and it lost three long-time corporate accounts.
Golf Travel’s complaint said the company had also purchased tickets and badges for the 2019 tournament. It paid Mullins $840,900 for 145 practice round tickets and 84 four-day badges.
After making the 2019 purchase, Golf Travel officials learned the truth of why the 2018 badges were confiscated, according to the complaint.
“A former, disgruntled employee of Defendant Mullins, Defendant Mullins Sports, or one of the other corporate entities owned by Defendant Mullins or someone associated with the former employee, had sent Augusta National a list of Masters’ tickets and Badge numbers that Defendant Mullins Sports had sold to Plaintiff. Augusta National decided to void and confiscate those tickets and Badges,” the complaint states.
On April 4, 2019, Mullins asked Golf Travel for a meeting in Augusta. It was then Mullins said he was unable to provide any of the tickets, badges or other items and said he would refund all money the Arizona company had paid. Ultimately, Mullins supplied only a portion of the agreed upon 229 tickets or badges.
Golf Travel said in its complaint that the company’s reputation was destroyed, and it was able to refund only $288,800.00 to its customers.
“As a direct result of the destruction of the Plaintiff’s reputation as well as the financial instability caused by the wrongful actions of the Defendants, Plaintiff ceased operating and closed,” according to the complaint.
In July and August of 2019, Mullins did refund a total of $266,800.
Golf Travel said it is due $114,094.00 for undelivered badges and $384,840 in lost profit for the 2018 tournament as well as $430,281 in damages for the 2019 tournament. Golf Travel said it has lost $1.5 million in future profits. It is also requesting punitive damages to be set by the jury.
A response on behalf of Mullins has not yet been filed.
This is not the first time Mullins has been sued in connection with tournament badges.
In 2013, Global Events Management Group, Inc., said it had a contract and paid for 100 badges that Mullins failed to provide.
That lawsuit was settled out of court in January 2017. Terms of the settlement were not made public.