Though the majority of sports card collecting is devoted to team sports, there are some solo standouts. When an athlete’s talent is so transcendental that they become more than their sport, they make themselves a valuable investment. Few meet that mark like Tiger Woods. People who have never watched a round of golf in their lives know who he is, and his talent is still relevant after decades of play. If you’re looking to add diversity to your card portfolio, here are 10 great Tiger Woods cards to invest in.
1. 1996 Sports Illustrated for Kids Tiger Woods #536
The very first time Tiger was immortalized on a trading card was in the SI for Kids 1996 Series 3 issue. In it we see Tiger donning his iconic red shirt and black cap. His eyes follow the ball as he bites his lower lip, waiting in anticipation to see where it will land. His club is held in the swing’s follow through, and it’s tough to ask for a better golf pose.
Though the card is only paper, Tiger breaks the card’s embossed gradient frame of white and gray. Its hint of purple matches the text of the name at top center, as well as the golf icon and SI for Kids logo in the bottom corners. Centered between the two are his title and hometown.
As his first entry into the hobby, the card holds an important place historically. Much like the Michael Jordan ’85 Star, later cards are still considered to be his rookies despite being produced after the fact. Even so, being the first places serious value on the card. The SI for Kids cards were grouped together in perforated sheets, meaning Tiger’s card had to be separated from the others by hand. It’s a difficult process to do cleanly, making high grades particularly valuable on these cards.
2. 1998 Grand Slam Ventures Champions of Golf Tiger Woods 1997 Masters Collection
Tiger is once again decked out in his iconic red and black, trading the cap for one with a Nike swoosh. He walks towards the right of the card, a strong smile looking off card to the left. Tiger’s club is used like a cane, a funny hint at the longevity of his ongoing career. The green of the course and trees frames much of the image, with the spectators separating the two.
Beyond the image itself, the card bares a sleek black. The gold trim at bottom, on the golf logo, and around the image itself makes the card pop. Simple white lettering with the year and his name take their place between image and icon, adding to the less-is-more approach.
Though later cards still bare the title of rookie, this one holds significance among his catalog. As implied by its name, the Masters Collection focused on winners of the prestigious tournament. At just 21 years of age, Tiger had already claimed his first major title – less than a year after going pro.
3. 1997 Heroes of the Game Tiger Woods #55
Tiger finally takes a break from his red shirt, trading it for a gray Nike sweatshirt. His black hat slightly obscures his eyes, making the shot he’s finished seem of grave importance. The expression on his face seems to be slightly in disbelief, or perhaps disappointed at a less-than-ideal shot. His right hand grips his club by the head, grass still stuck to it.
The image takes up nearly all of the card with only a black trim around it and a colored border beyond. There are a few parallels – platinum, gold, and diamond – some of which are numbered.
Like the SI for Kids card, this one was included in a sheet with others inside the Heroes of the Game magazine. Because the card’s image is a direct pull of a magazine cover, it’s important to clarify which one you’re buying. Both have value, especially with some of the magazines carrying numbered autographs, but a magazine may not fit neatly with your cards.
4. 2001 Upper Deck Golf Tiger Woods #1
Wearing his iconic combination of red polo and black pants, the Nike swoosh is prominent on both the polo and his black cap. His eyes follow his finger determinedly as it points towards the cup, putter still in his left. Though he’s squeezing his lips shut, his energy speaks volumes.
The green of the course forms a natural frame around him, and the Upper Deck logo stamps the top left in gold. His name sits at the bottom left with a white background that fades into a leaderboard as it crosses right.
Also mentioned in our Top 10 Upper Deck Rookie Cards of All Time, this marks the first on our Tiger Woods list recognized as a true rookie card. The year 2001 was the first time a big manufacturer printed Tiger, and therefore the first time collectors were willing to invest. Now, it stands as one of (if not the) most recognizable Tiger Woods rookie cards.
5. 2001 SP Authentic Tiger Woods #45 Autograph
Eyes locked somewhere off the card’s right, Tiger’s focus on the cup is clear. Trading the red polo for a gray one, he leans to his right. His hands meet above his left hip, club held slightly below. His stance implies he’s measuring the distance, preparing to sink the shot.
A square of soft green sits behind him, white outlines of circles drawing the eyes naturally toward his figure. “Authentic Stars” is centered at the top of the card. On the card’s left, just above center, is the SP Authentic logo, the abbreviation climbing up the opposite side. Below the logo, “TIGER” climbs up with “Woods” under that, taking most of the bottom-left corner. Beneath that is a thinner text of “Authentic Stars,” and to its right is the card’s print number. Of course, the most eye-catching aspect of the card is the beautiful auto just beneath the middle of the card.
Like any other sport, rookie autos are huge pulls for collectors. Add in the fact it’s the signature of one of the greatest to ever play the sport of golf and you can understand the value in this card. The base version of this card is numbered to 900, with a gold parallel to 100 also available.
6. 2001 Upper Deck Golf Tiger Woods Player’s Ink #TW
Featuring a close up on a wide smile from Tiger, a blurred background of the spectators adds a small splash of color. The card image keeps it simple, and the card’s design contrasts it.
The horizontal card displays a gold Upper Deck logo at top left over a small block of green. Climbing up towards it and extending to its right are leaderboards which fade as they get farther. A faded green highlights the left half of the image, as well as the bottom right edge, and “PLAYER’S INK” climbs the image’s left. The top right has “WOODS” climbing down over a dotted pattern that fades into green, and beneath “TIGER” climbs up. His first and last names are oriented differently, a somewhat odd choice as the last letters of each meet. The bottom-right corner is speckled with gray, and centered beneath the image is Tiger’s auto.
This card serves as another option for a Tiger rookie auto. Its horizontal format makes the signature feel more prominent than vertically-oriented cards, the simplicity of the head shot ensuring the auto is the star.
7. 2013 Upper Deck Master Collection Tiger Woods Patch Auto #ERPTW
Tiger’s red and black are on full display in this card’s image, along with his excitement. Leaned back after a shot, his left hand squeezes the club to hold it level above his waist. His right arm is held in a triumphant fist pump while his expression complements the sense of competitive satisfaction. The green takes up much of the background, with blurred spectators splashing the rest.
The image is framed by an inky black border, pocked by gaps of white. Above is “Exquisite Rookie Patch” in silver script, his name in all caps beneath the image. Under that is a black strip crossing the card, the UD logo shining on the left and the card’s print number on the right. At its center is a tournament-used patch, its window cut to resemble an “R.” Underneath is the auto, and beneath that is “TIGER WOODS MASTER COLLECTION” in thin, capitalized silver.
There’s a lot about this card that makes it appealing, perhaps most notably its appearance. The design comes off like the famous 03-04 Exquisite set which gave the hobby some of the most prestigious LeBron James cards ever made. It’s only fitting such a stunning style would be applied to the legendary golfer. Also of note, this card was made almost a decade after that set but given the same design. Most interesting is the fact this card is titled as a “rookie patch,” but made 12 years after what’s accepted for Tiger’s rookies. This may simply be referencing the image, as the description on the back only specifies the material was game-worn but mentions nothing about being related to any 2001 event.
8. 2001 Upper Deck Tiger Slam 4 Tiger Woods Employee Thank You
This card bares two images of Tiger. The left shows him holding his swing, arms above his back as his right shoulder leads. The brim of his black hat casts a light shadow over his eyes, his lower lip bit as he follows the ball. Once again, he’s wearing his signature red shirt. The right image, a red filter overlaid, shows him smiling in the same outfit. His left arm lifts his cap and club overhead, captured mid stride with the onlookers in the background.
At the top right of this horizontal card is the set’s “TIGER SLAM” title, its red text matching his shirt. At the bottom of the left image his “TIGER” in shining silver. Beneath that is a leaderboard pattern fading to white as it reaches the middle. “WOODS” is set in the same silver, each “O” circling a number on the leaderboard. To the right is the UD logo, and to its right is the card’s print number. Between the two images is a worn patch, the window cut out in the shape of a four. Underneath are four of his notable wins.
Patch cards are often a pass for most collectors, even if they’re specified as event-worn. If you find yourself in that boat, it’s worth reconsidering. Made by Upper Deck as a thank-you to employees, the card is numbered to 325 with all copies going to those at the company. With the 2001 print date, the card is still considered a rookie as well.
9. 2013 Upper Deck Employee Exclusive Tiger Woods Precious Metal Gems #E-TW
Hands even with his head and club held high, Tiger stares forward and to the card’s left. A great post-swing pose, Tiger’s usual outfit adds a black vest over his red shirt.
The top-right corner shows off the prestigious “PRECIOUS METAL GEMS.” A bar near the bottom bares his name, “EMPLOYEE EXCLUSIVE,” and the 2013 Metal Universe logo. Aside from that, the card consists entirely of purple foil regularly used on PMG cards.
Like the Tiger Slam 4, this card was exclusively distributed to Upper Deck employees. While there had been other memorabilia cards of Tiger, there had never been a Metal Universe with his likeness. In addition, the print run of this card is significantly smaller than the Tiger Slam, with only 125 copies made.
10. 2012 Upper Deck SP Game Used Tiger Woods Inked Drivers #ID-TW
Tiger’s image breaks the frame of the small photo on the card’s left side. Following through with a swing, Tiger’s usual outfit has been replaced by a dark shirt and a white cap. The exertion can be seen in his expression, and one can imagine the distance that ball soared. No onlookers can be seen in this image, leaving only the green of the course in frame.
The design of this card is quite curvaceous. Reminiscent of the shape of a driver’s head, the image is bordered by gray lines bending along a white background from the bottom to the top left corner. Next to those, white lines curve over a gray background towards the center right. The gray extends beyond the space of the curves, filling out most of the card with “Inked Drivers” and the SP Game Used logo set within. The bottom left bares Tiger’s name in white, and the bottom right corner is blank white. The focal point of the card is the club face at its center, autographed by the legend himself.
Despite being neither a rookie card nor an employee exclusive, its novelty warrants interest. Collectors are used to jersey patches, leather from a ball, and even cuts from shoes. A club face stands as a unique piece of memorabilia to attach to a card. However, it’s important to note that, despite the “Game Used” name of the set, the memo has no connection to Tiger. The back simply states it’s a manufactured club face, though the auto is certified. Parallels of the card include the Black club, numbered to 25, and the Red auto, numbered to 5.
If golf has popped up on your radar as a portfolio addition, there’s no safer investment than Tiger Woods. An active professional during four decades, the man’s longevity is as impressive as his skill. It’s hard to imagine a point in time where the sport will be associated with another player as ubiquitously as it has been Tiger. For now, his continued presence has made him a high-value investment, and these ten Tiger Woods cards can serve as worthy additions to your collection.