$1 million clubs? Tiger irons used during historic season expected to fetch record price at auction
If one of Tiger Woods’ backup Scotty Cameron putters sold for nearly $400,000 at auction last summer, what might a whole set of irons and wedges that Woods used go for?
We’ll soon find out as Golden Age Auctions is selling a set of Woods’ Titleist 681-T irons and Vokey wedges.
According to Golden Age Auctions, Woods used the irons and wedges throughout 2000 and into 2001—during which he won four consecutive major championships to complete the “Tiger Slam.”
Golden Age recently sold a 1934 Masters ticket for $600,000 to set a new record for the highest-priced sports collectible ticket. The auction house also facilitated the sale of Woods' 2002 Scotty Cameron Newport 2 putter.
The opening bid price for the iron set was $25,000 (click here to link to the bid) with the expectation that the winning price will exceed the current golf memorabilia record of $682,000 for Horton Smith’s Masters green jacket that was sold in September 2013.
“I do wonder if [the irons] will be the first golf collectible to break the $1 million mark,” says Golden Age founder Ryan Carey. “It’s not like there are many people collecting used iron sets, as it’s just not feasible, so it’s hard to know the market. These aren’t exactly baseball cards.”
Tiger Woods' 8-iron from the set that is up for auction.
The set being offered includes the 2-iron through pitching wedge, a 60-degree wedge and a 58-degree wedge bent toward 56 (both wedges stamped "TIGER"). Woods’ infamously precise wear marks are visible throughout the set. Woods won nine times in 2000, including the year’s final three majors. He became the first golfer since Bobby Jones to win four consecutive majors with his victory at the 2001 Masters and had three other wins that year, including the Players Championship.
The seller is Todd Brock, a Houston-area businessman who purchased the set for $57,242 in 2010 from Steve Mata. In 2001, Mata was working as Titleist's VP of Player Promotions and acquired the clubs after he and a colleague, Rick Nelson, delivered Woods a new Titleist prototype set during that year's Buick Classic at Westchester Country Club. Woods wanted to put the new irons immediately into play, so Nelson took Woods’ existing irons to the tour van to check all of the specs and make sure the new set matched Tiger’s existing irons. Woods then gifted the old set to Mata, who brought them home with him and hung on to them until selling to Brock.
“The $57,000 number sounds extremely low now, but that was a low point for sports memorabilia and a low point for Tiger Woods memorabilia,” Carey says. “I’ve been trying to get these back ever since, and I finally convinced Todd to let me sell them just for history’s sake. He doesn’t need the money, and I told him this will break records.”
Bidding on the clubs is scheduled to conclude on Masters Saturday, April 9.
UPDATE, March 24: Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, denied the legitimacy of the set. "Tiger has the authentic set of the Slam irons in his house," Steinberg said when reached for comment. "Do you think Tiger would ever give away something that meaningful to his career? Could there be replicas out there that he was generous in giving away? Sure. But replicas versus authenticity—read into it as you will."
Carey, when made aware of Steinberg's denial, stood by his listing.
"The two Titleist executives who were in charge of Tiger’s clubs have signed sworn affidavits asserting their legitimacy, one took a polygraph and passed it, and the original buyer in 2010 did his due diligence as well," Carey said. "And just take a look at the 8-iron wear mark. That club was clearly struck in the dead center thousands of times by the greatest ball-striker in the world. If Tiger believes he has these clubs at his house, we’d love to see them.
"This is what we do. And this is my livelihood. I would not put anything up for sale that I wasn’t wholly confident in."