It’s a new slant for the Loupe blog this week. Usually we bring you baseball or basketball or golf. Occasionally, my personal bias takes over and I squeeze some hockey in. I don’t think we’ve ever talked about golf, though.
But there are two very good reasons for talking about golf this week. First, golf is hot right now. Prices of new products like SP Game-Used Golf are skyrocketing before release. Second — and this probably contributes to the first reason — the first part of HBO’s Tiger Woods documentary has aired, and suddenly everyone’s very interested in golf. Predictably, the price of Tiger Woods cards have spiked, just like when the Michael Jordan / ’97-’98 Bulls documentary premiered last spring.
This seems like a good time to honor the GOAT by revisiting the most iconic Tiger Woods cards of all-time. Let’s get right into it.
1996 Sports Illustrated for Kids
We might as well start with the most unexpected card on the list. One of the first ever Tiger Woods cards wasn’t found in packs, but rather inside a magazine for kids. The December 1996 issue of Sports Illustrated for Kids had a sheet of nine cards, and Tiger Woods was smack dab in the middle.
Despite its unconventional roots, collectors took to this card — mostly because it’s the earliest a Tiger Woods card ever released. His true rookie card came out in 2001. If you can find a highly-graded one, it’s worth thousands.
Now imagine the pressure of trying to carefully tear along those four perforated edges, knowing that the smallest slipup could easily damage an extremely valuable card. I’d definitely crack, there’s no question about it.
2013 Upper Deck Tiger Woods Master Collection Exquisite Rookie Patch
It may sound counterintuitive but 2013’s Upper Deck Tiger Woods Master Collection included some rookie cards. Old Man Tiger had already won 14 of his 15 majors by then!
That didn’t stop everyone from loving the hell out of the Exquisite Rookie Patch. This is just about a perfect card. It’s low numbered to 25. It’s an RPA, and Tiger didn’t have many of those (this may be his first, actually). And it’s an absolutely legendary photo — iconic Sunday red shirt and iconic Tiger fistpump.
It’s super tough to come by, but an RPA is a must-have for anyone’s Tiger PC.
2001 SP Authentic Sign of the Times
And so we get into the 2001 cards, which is sort of Tiger’s unofficial rookie year because it’s the first year that Upper Deck produced golf cards. A rookie with five majors under his belt. Pretty good.
SP Authentic’s Sign of the Times is one of the better Tiger cards to come out of 2001. It’s a classy black-and-white card (the one shown above is the super rare gold parallel), and it’s just a good look. It’s a card that seems like it’s meant to honor Tiger’s enduring legacy — even if the card released before he achieved the majority of his success.
2001 Upper Deck Golf
If you’ve seen only one Tiger Woods card in your entire life, chances are it’s this one. The base 2001 Upper Deck Golf Tiger card is considered his true rookie (well, apart from the Sports Illustrated for Kids one) and it’s the most widely-circulated.
There’s something infectious about how fun this card is. It’s not a typical shot of a backswing or of someone lining up a putt. It’s a moment of celebration, something we ended up seeing a whole lot over the course of Tiger’s career. It feels like a perfectly-captured moment that depicts exactly why he ended up becoming the most popular golfer of all-time.
2001 SP Authentic Authentic Stars Auto
The dichotomy between the previous card and this card is kind of interesting. They’re the two truest Upper Deck rookie cards, but one is for everyone and the other is very exclusive.
This 2001 SP Authentic is Tiger’s premium rookie card. It’s autographed, and its print run is limited to 900. (Another 100 were printed in a gold parallel, and those sell for bonkers money.) This is probably the single card that any Tiger collector needs in their PC. It’s the perfect storm of rare, rookie, and signed. There’s nothing else that can compete.