The most decorated major golf champion of all-time, Jack Nicklaus is considered by many to be the top golfer in history. The Golden Bear does not hold the record for most PGA wins, but his 18 majors still leads the pack. Although Jack Nicklaus' cardboard options are somewhat limited, vintage cards and autographs are among the most popular choices for collectors.
Because golf cards have only recently received consistent releases, there is really not much available for Jack Nicklaus during the first few decades of his career. Collectors are left with an odd mix of international multi-sport releases and infrequent golf-specific releases. However, there is still plenty to collect and, outside of the premium autographs, the price points will largely accommodate any budget.
The following guide features ten of the top Jack Nicklaus golf cards available to collectors. For additional information, view a detailed collecting profile here.
Top Jack Nicklaus Golf Cards
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While it is not his official rookie, the earliest card for Jack Nicklaus was issued in Britain. The small, Barratt & Co. Ltd. card is considered by most collectors to be the true rookie card for Jack Nicklaus. Part of the Goldflake Famous Sportsmen release, the 50-card set has issues with centering, so high grades carry a premium.
Another early option that is popular with collectors, the 1973-74 Panini Campioni dello Sport is part of a sticker set released in Italy. The simple card has a close-up image of Nicklaus and collectors prefer versions where the back is still intact. A PSA 9 sold for $1,100 in March of 2015.
The resemblance may not be amazing, but as one of just a few cards to pre-date Nicklaus' official rookie card, the 1979 Quelcom Ases Mundiales Deporte card offers collectors more vintage golf options. The Spanish release is actually found in two different sizes and both cards are quite rare.
Featuring a cartoon quality, the 1979 Venorlandus World of Sport card for Jack Nicklaus is part of the Our Heroes series and one of the most affordable vintage options for The Golden Bear. The 48-card set is fairly common and was originally issued in Britain.
Coming a full twenty years after he turned pro, the official Jack Nicklaus rookie card was released in 1981 Donruss Golf. The product was originally available as a 60-card set and there are also five Statistical Leader cards, including Nicklaus, that are not numbered. While the main Jack Nicklaus card is very common and ungraded copies can be found for under $10, a BGS 10 sold for $2,950 in February of 2015.
Flash forward to 2001 and collectors were treated to another first for Jack Nicklaus. While 2001 SP Authentic is mostly known for the Tiger Woods rookie card, it also marks the first pack-pulled autograph for Nicklaus. The limited Sign of the Times autograph also has a gold parallel, numbered to 25.
One year later, 2002 SP Game Used was the place to find one of the earliest autographed relics for Jack Nicklaus. Part of the Front 9 Fabric insert, the card is signed on-card and numbered to 100. A small piece of a golf shirt worn by Nicklaus in an official tournament is also included and there is a base relic version that is not signed.
Still one of the most innovative cards to enter the hobby in past few years, Inked Drivers from SP Game Used features a signed slab of metal that resembles the face of a driver. Further adding to the interest, cards released in 2012 and 2014 for Nicklaus includes a variety of ink and driver colors with different rarities.
Long known as one of the top brands for high-end collectors, golf was given the Exquisite Collection treatment in 2014 and includes several signed cards for Jack Nicklaus. Instead of singling out one specific card, several are highlighted below to showcase the various designs. However, one consistent thing is the premium look and on-card autographs.
Pairing two of the biggest names in the history of golf, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer both have on-card signatures for the Authentic Moments subset card in 2014 SP Authentic Golf. Two golf giants are shown surveying the green during the 1971 Ryder Cup.
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