Today you can find a large variety of golf sets that are produced each year. But it wasn’t always that way. Golf cards used to be scarce and not widely collected. There weren’t very many steady brands that produced sets of golf cards year after year.
Still, even though variety wasn’t widespread in older cards, there are plenty of great older cards to collect. Here’s a look at five of them in no particular order.
1. 1981 Donruss PGA card set – This may be the oldest mainstream card set that was widely distributed. It was not only made by a manufacturer, but these may be the first cards ever licensed by the PGA that were readily available for collectors.
While Donruss had a limited number of entertainment and racing cards produced before 1981, that year was the first in which they really made their mark. They began producing baseball cards that season and also delved into the golf trading card market, which really was untapped. There may be older cards for some of the stars in the set, which include Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Tom Kite, Ben Crenshaw, Hale Irwin, Curtis Strange, Fred Couples, and Lee Trevino among others, but these are considered to be the first mainstream rookie cards of most in the set.
2. John F. Kennedy 1964 Topps card #15 – This card was part of a set produced by Topps depicting the former President in a variety of places. Card #15 featured Kennedy playing golf – one of his favorite hobbies. The card isn’t valued all that highly, but is a pretty cool card. One of the great things about it is that it was licensed by Topps, which didn’t produce much in the way of older golf cards.
3. Jack Nicklaus 1971 Barratt & Co. Rookie Card – While Nicklaus’ first mainstream card appeared in the 1981 Donruss set, this 1971 card is believed to be his first. The miniature card which is approximately 1 ½” x 2 ½” features a young Nicklaus taking a swing. The card was produced in England and can generally be purchased for a few hundred dollars.
4. Arnold Palmer 1990 Pro Set Hologram Promo Card – This card was produced as a test card by Pro Set, a manufacturer that produced several sports trading cards including golf. This card not only features one of the game’s all-time greats, but it may be the first golf hologram card ever produced.
5. Babe Didrikson Zaharias 1960 Texas Golf Hall of Fame Postcard – Before Annika Sorenstam or Michelle Wie, there was Babe Didrikson Zaharias. But unlike Sorenstam or Wie, Zaharias wasn’t only a golfer. She was a track and field star, baseball player, and basketball player as well. Because Zaharias played golf in the 1940s and 1950s, there aren’t many trading cards for her. But this special postcard features a wax likeness of the former star in a Dallas museum. A rare card of a legendary athlete.