The story behind Michael Jordan’s mind-blowing custom “Jumpman” irons

Imagine for a minute that you’re going through old boxes in a storage container, and under a heap of sweaters you find a Wilson golf bag with Michael Jordan’s name on it. Then, inside the golf bag, you also find a set of old Ping Eye2 BeCU irons stamped with the iconic red Jordan “Jumpman” logo on their soles, and “Air Jordan” stamped on the hosels.

If you’re into Jordan memorabilia like I am, then you’d probably faint on the spot. If you’re three-time NBA Champion Scott Williams, though, then that story actually happened to you.

During the height of Jordan’s basketball career in the NBA, he won six championships with the Chicago Bulls (1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997 and 1998). Williams, who spent 15 years in the NBA with seven different teams, was a member of that three-peat-winning Bulls team from 1990-1994.

Although Williams is an avid golfer now ­– with memberships at  multiple high-end courses (Old Head Golf Links, Silverleaf Country Club, Whisper Rock Country Club, Gozzer Ranch and Commonwealth National) – he didn’t play much golf while on the Bulls team.

Jordan, on the other hand, was one of the most high-profile golf addicts on earth. As such, golf manufacturers clamored for his attention and would send him countless golf products to try out. One day after basketball practice, Jordan invited some of the Bulls team members to come over to his house and rummage through his golf collection.

“It was like walking into a golf warehouse,” Williams told GOLF’s Fully Equipped podcast. “There was stuff everywhere. Bags, shoes, balls, head covers, it was unbelievable. He just started handing guys bags and irons and drivers, fairway woods, and all this stuff. And he gave me this bag with his name on it, and I went, ‘Ooh, I like that.’”

In addition to the leather Wilson golf bag, there was also a set of Ping Eye2 BeCU (Beryllium Copper) golf clubs, custom made for Michael Jordan.

Even without the custom Jordan-specific additions on them, the iron heads themselves are quite unique. Most golfers know about the original Ping Eye2 irons, which were first released in 1982 and cast from stainless steel. The Ping Eye2 BeCU versions, though, were made from a more expensive copper alloy that’s stronger and softer (and later banned because it was found to be toxic).

Of course, Jordan had the higher-end versions in his equipment stash.

Williams, however, said the grips on Jordan’s clubs were too big for him to actually play golf with.

“The reason why I never really played with them – I think I played once with him with them – is because the grips,” said Williams, who stands 6-feet 10-inches tall. “The grips are like a jumbo grip with 8 wraps on them, and I have big hands, even when I played a little high school golf…I know you have to get that club face closed. Well, the grips were too darn big for me to spin ‘em around and get the club face closed in time, so I sliced everything with them.”

Since the clubs weren’t necessarily effective to use, Williams decided he needed to get custom fit for his own set, and he put Jordan’s clubs into storage in a “wardrobe box.”

Scott Williams

Decades later, while going through his storage unit in Phoenix, Williams uncovered the Wilson golf bag and Ping clubs.

 “I knew there were some old sweaters in the box, but I had forgotten there were some old golf clubs in there, too. So they had been sitting in there forever,” Williams explained. “When I saw the bag, I said, ‘Oh no!’ because these storage facilities I have…they’re not climate controlled. I’ve lived in Phoenix for 20 years, I’m like “Oh my god, the bag is going to be ruined, the grips are going to be dry rot,’ but they’re still in really good shape.”

Interestingly, the 3-iron appears to be quite worn out compared to the other clubs. Since Williams says he only played one round with them personally, it’s likely that Jordan used the 3-iron quite a bit, possibly as a driving iron off the tee. 

While Williams may not have known just how valuable the bag and clubs were back in the early 90s, he knows exactly how cool they are now. Williams “caught the golf bug” in 1995 while playing on the Philadelphia 76ers, and he’s been a passionate golfer ever since.

Lucky for all of us, Williams kept the Wilson bag and custom Ping Eye2 BeCU irons in safe keeping under a pile of sweaters for all these years, and he recently came onto GOLF’s Fully Equipped podcast to show them off.

On the podcast, Williams also discussed what it was like playing on the Chicago Bulls with Jordan, what it was like playing golf with Jordan, and he told some other awesome stories from both his NBA and golfing career. Don’t miss out on the rest of the interview with Williams below.
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Andrew Tursky Editor

Andrew Tursky is the Senior Equipment Editor at GOLF Magazine and