He’s the third youngest player to own four major golf championships and Rory McIlroy trading cards are certainly worth owning for collectors of current era players For the uninitiated, there are golf rookie cards thanks to Upper Deck and a special insert that might be familiar to Tiger Woods fans.
His first appearance on a U.S. trading card wasn’t really distributed in traditional fashion. The 2001 SI For Kids Rory McIlroy card is part of an uncut sheet that was placed inside the magazine’s November 2011 issue. Back in 1996, Tiger Woods’ first card also showed up in SI For Kids. While valuable, they’re a bear to cut neatly because of perforations that separate the various cards on the sheet and if you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t expect a high grade when you send it off for authentication. The good news is the SI For Kids McIlroy cards and sheets are still pretty reasonably priced and hey, it is his first card.
McIlroy’s ‘true’ rookie card, it seems to us, is the 2012 Upper Deck SP Game Used Golf SP. The card was issued not long after McIlroy signed a contract with Upper Deck and the card is found in only one in 72 packs. Prices depend on grade (tip: buy the best one you can afford).
Upper Deck really got serious about McIlroy the 2013 Goodwin Champions set. You can find memorabilia cards featuring a swatch from one of his match-used shirts, autographed cards (expect to pay over $1,000), a Sport Royalty insert numbered to only 10, mini cards and your standard issue base card (see them all here). The Goodwin cards marked the first time you could buy a box of trading cards and have a reasonable expectation of finding a McIlroy, so there are some who put a rookie card label on these as well.
2014 brought us the best Rory McIlroy trading cards ever produced. There is SP Authentic, SP Authentic Game Used and SP Authentic Inked Drivers with an autograph. Memorabilia and autograph cards are available in all. However, the top release to date is the ultra high-end Upper Deck Exquisite Golf. Exquisite is all about autographed relic cards in small numbers. Autographed swatch cards have been selling for over $2,000 each. Lustrous, Signature Masterpieces and Dimensions aren’t quite as expensive at $200-400 each and all carry McIlroy’s autograph (check them all out here.
Whether you consider the SI For Kids, SP Game Used or the high end issues, there is something out there for most budgets and—at least for now—McIlroy autographs are attainable at a level that doesn’t approach Tiger’s high water mark. He should have plenty of championship golf left in him and today’s cards seem like a reasonably good investment. Check out McIlroy cards on eBay here.