Golf’s Triumphant Return
By Joseph Mondo Comfortably9Numb
The year was 2005, Annika Sorenstam was dominating the LPGA field. Tiger Woods seemed all but invincible on a golf course. Just a few years earlier, the golf card all collectors would be after was released, Tiger Woods’ rookie card. With all these wondrous events occurring in the world of golf, one could not have expected that we would loose a major segment of sports cards. The following year, Upper Deck put a cap on the golf division of their program, and us golf fans were left wondering what our future would look like.
Fast forward to 2012, Tiger Woods continues to suffer in one of the worst scoring streaks of his career. Players like Bubba Watson and Rory McIlroy dominate the field in the PGA, and young stars such as Morgan Pressel, and Michelle Wie are the contenders to take Sorenstam’s top spot now that she is retired. Perhaps this is the perfect time to bring back golf trading cards, Leaf and Upper Deck certainly thought so.
The first leg of the golf resurgence was created by Leaf, with their release of ‘Leaf Metal Golf’. Leaf has clearly focused on all of the elements of the set, from the base cards (which they hail as “the most beautiful metal card ever made”), to the numerous 1/1 that reside in the product.
The product, which was released late last year, was designed to be a high-end product. After taking 7 years away from making golf cards, Leaf wanted to come back with a bang, as each box/pack contains 2 base cards and 3 on-card autographs. Sadly, there are no game used cards in the set, but the “National Pride” inserts clearly make up for the lack of game-used cards. The autographs are all on-card, and look beautiful in their placement on the card.
There was clearly a focus on the autograph side of the product, with a checklist that boasts players such as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Annika Sorenstam, and Paula Creamer. There are four inserts that go along with the base card autos. “Ladies of the Link” focuses on all of the wonderful ladies that play on the LPGA tour. The “Champions” set involves players that have won a Major Championship. “National Pride” features a manufactured patch of the player’s national flag. Lastly, the “Award Winners” deals with players that obtain “significant honors” within the sport.
With Leaf coming out with a high-end set, one could only wonder why there was no box for the “middle-end” price point. Upper Deck aimed their crosshairs at this target audience, and we will be able to see this in July with their “2012 SP Authentic Golf”.
One box yields 3 autographs, with at least one of them being a rookie. That term, rookie, is very important here. With an absence of 7 years, any player that began during that time would have their rookie in this set. Players like Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson will be having their first cards produced, and it is for this reason that this will have excellent resale value.
Along with the rookies, the set features some beautiful autographs and event-worn memorabilia. They are bringing back their “Immortal Ink” autograph insert that is in other “SP Authentic” sets, and they will be numbered to just 10. There will also be event-used cards of players like Tiger Woods and the late Payne Stewart to add a better feel to the set.
Perhaps the most controversial card in the set, and the most desired, is the Michael Jordan / Tiger Woods dual autograph. Many fans have been complaining of the over saturation of Michael Jordan autographs, and it has left fans wondering “Why is Michael Jordan in a golf set?” It’s a known fact that Michael Jordan is a golfer, but I have to agree with the basketball fans here. It’s one thing to add celebrities such as Bill Murray, but adding a legendary player of another sport seems to leave an element of treason on the card. Nonetheless though, the card is beautiful, and most collectors will go hard after it for their collection.
Regardless of the players involved in the set, the new sets are welcome into the collecting world. After a 7-year absence, the fans are rejoicing in the return. The only question that remains is who’s going to be lucky enough to pull that Woods/Jordan dual autograph. We will find out when SP Authentic is released on 7/24/12. If you cannot wait until then, Leaf Golf is currently on the shelves waiting to be busted.
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