In Upper Deck’s early days, before inserts were the norm, cards with the ‘SP’ prefix were something very special. Whether it was Michael Jordan taking batting practice with the White Sox, Deion Sanders transforming from a football player to a baseball player or Don Shula notching his 300th win, Upper Deck ‘SP’ cards marked the early part of the insert chase. The magic returns with 2012 SP Game Used Golf where SP1 marks the first pack-inserted Rory McIlroy card.
Early sales of the card have been extremely strong, with most hovering above $200. And while a lot of the buzz comes from it being the first McIlroy, rarity also comes into play. While a lot of Upper Deck’s early SP cards fell about one per box or two, the 2012 SP Game Used Rory McIlroy is inserted approximately 1:72 packs. In a 36 packs-per-box world, that would cause few to blink. But 2012 SP Game Used Golf is a high-end product with just three packs per box. So landing the Rory McIlroy will take more than 20 boxes (or a lot of luck).
While this is the first mainstream Rory McIlroy card, the 2012 PGA Championship winner also has a Sports Illustrated for Kids card. Inserted as part of a sheet, it came in a 2011 issue. The edges are perforated, making high-grade versions tough to find. Professionally graded near mint copies consistently sell for more than $50.
2012 SP Game Used Golf has several other cards that are capturing the attention of the hobby and bringing in non-golf collectors. On the autograph side, the Inked Drivers offer something new. They use the face of a driver head as the autograph surface. Think Sweet Spot Baseball but since golf balls don’t make a good signing surface, Upper Deck got more creative. Overall, Inked Drivers fall one per box. They come in a handful of different styles, some of which are more rare than others.
The 2012 SP Game Used Golf Inked Drivers checklist features a mix of current and past golfers as well as someone named Michael Jordan. Although most of the top names are the toughest to pull, there’s one notable exception. Tiger Woods’ common Silver Plate Inked Signatures card is listed by Upper Deck as one of the easiest in the set to pull. You can check out a gallery of the Inked Drivers set as well as a short print list here.