Visual acuity is essential on the golf course. To better see the breaks and grains of the green, and the lie of the ball and the depth of the fairways, many golfers now opt to wear golf sunglasses.
A pair of golfing sunglasses can reduce eye strain, keep debris out of your eyes, and may even help you shave a few strokes off your game. Golfers have been divided over the use of sunglasses, but once you get past the debate over ‘glasses or no glasses,’ there are other details to contend with. Polarized or not, what lens tint is best for golfing, when should you wear them? When you’re picking a pair of sunglasses for the green, there are a few qualities to pay attention to. Some are optional, but others are essential. Here are the top things to look for in the best golf sunglasses.
Some swear by their brown-tinted lenses for better contrast and tracking, while others prefer copper or rose lenses. Some eyewear brands have golf-specific lenses to help improve contrast on the grass or against the sky. Green or grey lenses are great all-purpose tints, but avoid them for golf—they may be more likely to harm your handicap rather than improve it.
Semi-rimless styles are favored for golf sunglasses—full rim styles may obstruct your view or cause distortion when you’re looking down.
If you need golfing sunglasses with prescription lenses—including progressives—the same recommendations apply. Prescription glasses with photochromic, or Transitions lenses, may work for some, but others prefer the consistency of a dedicated pair of golfing sunglasses. Oakley has mastered prescription sunglasses with Prizm anti-reflective golf lenses.
No matter what tint or shape you pick, you should ensure they meet ANSI standards—or higher—for impact resistance.
Ideally, a good pair of golf sunglasses should increase contrast. The best pair should also help colors appear more vibrant in low-light conditions like early morning or evening. Science has yet to show that different tints or colors will improve your game, but it’s fairly common knowledge that each tint affects your vision a little differently and is best suited for different conditions. Why shouldn’t this be relevant to golf? As an outdoor sport, lighting has a significant effect on how players see the ball.
The most common lens colors used by golfers are:
Amber or brown lenses enhance the contrast between light and dark colors. Players find they are able to see the ball with increased clarity against the backdrops of green grass and blue sky when they wear amber or brown lenses because these colors are excellent at blocking blue light. Blue light wavelengths tend to scatter easily which makes focusing difficult. The less blue light you see, the better your depth perception and clarity—all of which should help you read the green better and track the ball down against the sky and then the middle of the fairway.
And while amber and brown-colored lenses do result in some color distortion, it’s to a lesser degree than with other tints, making them a great lens-color choice for your golf sunglasses.
Yes, wearing rose-colored lenses make you see the world through rose-colored lenses. And that’s not a bad thing, generally. But what about on the golf course?
Rose-colored lenses, like brown and amber lenses, will increase the contrast between light and dark colors—great for putting on the green, helping you to identify contours and, overall, reading the green better. In particular, rose or red lenses accentuate the yellow and red hues in the color green which, obviously, is the dominant color just about everywhere on a golf course. When green is toned down, players enjoy improved visual acuity on the putting surface.
On bright days, though, rose and/or red lenses will not darken the field of vision as much as other tints, which can lead to eyestrain. Save your rose-colored lenses for overcast weather.
Gray is the traditional sunglasses tint. But is it the right tint for the links? Some sources claim that grey-colored lenses are good for outdoor sports, golf being among them, because the tint is neutral and that allows the eye to perceive other colors in their truest form. These folks claim gray is a great choice for golf on sunny days.
On the other hand, some sources point out that grey is not useful for golf, no matter the weather, because the same neutral tint flattens light evenly across the spectrum, making the white golf ball less distinguishable than with other tints.
Green-colored lenses filter some blue light, as do several other lens colors, which helps reduce glareâ€”that not-such-a-problem problem (more on this later.) And green lenses tend to heighten contrast while maintaining the balance between other colors. This results in increased clarity, useful on the golf course. When youâ€™re sizing up the green with green lenses, youâ€™ll be more than likely to sink your 20-footer because youâ€™ve observed every bend and dip between your ball and satisfaction.
Green-colored lenses filter some blue light, as do several other lens colors, which helps reduce glare—that not-such-a-problem problem (more on this later.) And green lenses tend to heighten contrast while maintaining the balance between other colors. This results in increased clarity, useful on the golf course. When you’re sizing up the green with green lenses, you’ll be more than likely to sink your 20-footer because you’ve observed every bend and dip between your ball and satisfaction.
Polarized lenses help reduce the glare of sunlight reflected off surfaces, which might be useful on the course except...golf courses are almost always glare-free. Glare mainly comes from light bouncing off water, snow, and other horizontal surfaces—like roads. While links courses obviously run next to water, and there are ponds on your average golf course, glare isn’t typically an issue. Polarized lenses can also affect depth perception and make tracking the ball difficult. Therefore, polarized lenses do not seem to be a necessary part of the golfing experience.
At the end of the day, it really comes down to what works for you. Lens color and whether or not to use polarization is all about what makes you feel and perform best. If you hit the links with a buddy who uses polarized lenses, try them out for a couple of holes and see what the difference is. If you’ve long thought gray lenses were superior to everything else, try an amber-tinted pair and see if you were right.
This is where you shouldn’t skimp. Set aside the debates over whether or not sunglasses improve your game and listen to these facts. UVA and UVB rays are beating down on us all day, every day. Sunny or cloudy, it doesn’t matter—we’re being bombarded by those pesky ultraviolet rays our very own sun hurls through the atmosphere (quite like frustrated golf players have done with their clubs). Those UV rays are responsible for a number of eye health problems like cataracts, macular degeneration, corneal sunburn, and skin cancer—just to name a few. If you’re out golfing—or just spending time in the sun—wear 100% UV protective sunglasses to protect your eyes.
If your sunglasses keep sliding down your nose, you’re going to prop them on top of your head or toss them in your golf bag instead of keeping them over your eyes where they belong. Choose sunglasses that fit properly—wraparound-style sports sunglasses with a secure fit will protect more of the area around your eyes, and they will stay put when it matters most.
Even if you don’t want to wear sunglasses while golfing—if you think they’ll set back your game or if you’ve never worn them before so why start?’—consider this: you’re outside for about five hours per 18 holes. You wouldn’t step onto the green without sunscreen to protect your skin from the harsh UV rays, and you should afford your eyes that same protection. If you think polarized lenses are going to throw you off your game, get non-polarized lenses. Indecisiveness about lens tint is taken care of if you pick a pair of sunglasses with interchangeable lenses. If you don’t want to putt wearing them, take them off for the stroke, then put them on again.
While the best golf sunglasses should include UV protection and a comfortable fit, extra features are all up to you. We’ve compared the sunglasses for your sport of choice, so you can approach your next round ready to play. Get in your weekly allotment of strokes no matter the light conditions with these top golf sunglasses for 2019.
Golf-specific sunglasses are popping up everywhere—especially at Oakley. Oakley constructs all golfing sunglasses with O Matter, their own plastic material, with the goals of lightness, durability, comfort and shock absorption. The nose pads and temple tip coverings, also from an Oakley-made material called Unobtainium, provide added comfort and an increased grip when you perspire.
Oakley’s Prizm Golf offering helps pick out the white ball against the blue sky or the greens. If you’re likely to be found on the fairway on a fair day, shade your eyes from bright light conditions with Oakley Flak 2.0 XL with Prizm Golf Dark lenses. These lenses shield your eyes from the brightest sun conditions, while practically drawing the white ball into your vision. If you’re likely to run into a few clouds, or expect to golf straight through until the sun sets, Oakley Flak 2.0 is available in a Prizm Golf lens that allows more light transmission than the dark lens, but offers the same benefits. Oakley’s Prizm Golf lenses are not polarized.
Although their lenses come in other versions, the frames in the following list make up Oakley's top 6 sunglasses with golf-specific Prizm lenses:
Flak Draft — With interchangeable lenses. Flak Draft Prescription Sunglasses and Flak Draft Replacement Lenses available.
Flak 2.0 XL — With contoured lenses that sit comfortably on the face.
Flak Jacket XLJ — With deeper lenses, a popular frame among Adam Scott, Rich Beem, Ian Poulter and Ricky Barnes. Flak Jacket XLJ Prescription Sunglasses and Flak Jacket XLJ Replacement Lenses available.
Radar Path — Straighter shields, also worn by Rory McIlroy. Radar Path Replacement Lenses available.
Radar Pitch — Rounded shields. Radar Pitch Replacement Lenses available.
Radar Advancer — Edgier shields.
The Flak Draft, Flak 2.0 XL, and Flak Jacket XLJ are sporty with more angular lenses. The Radar Path, Radar Pitch and Radar Advancer all feature an open space on the temples to create a cool airflow.
Copper or brown lenses shield your eyes from squint-inducing light, but aren’t going to mess with contrast. The tint can be found in these Bolle Flyair sunglasses—they offer a golf-specific brown lens. An adjustable nosepiece and thermogrip at the temples and nose pads mean your sunglasses stay in place, even during an especially rowdy celebration. Even better, this frame isn’t one that screams ‘I’d rather be playing sports,’ its sleek, everyday style stays put for the game but looks great behind the wheel or for a sunny mid-morning coffee run.
For the crowd that swears by orange-tinted lenses to boost brightness, improve contrast, and enhance depth perception, Under Armour Big Shot has a non-polarized orange lens that’ll satisfy your requirements. Known as a tough, incredibly durable brand, Under Armour is also lightweight and comfortable enough to wear through all 18 holes. The semi-rimless design prevents obstructed vision when you’re looking down at the ball, and also keeps the frame lightweight because there’s less of it to deal with.
Maybe you’re not setting out to impress anybody with your swing, you just want to play a few holes before you head home after work. The same Ray-Ban sunglasses you keep by your side in the car can do the trick on the golf course as well. Lightweight Ray-Ban RB3560 sunglasses, otherwise known as “The Colonel,” are a fresh take on the aviator shape the brand is known for. Choose gradient green lenses to block a bit of sun without making the ground too dark. While green lenses aren’t going to make the ball pop out like other sport-specific lenses may, the tint isn’t going to distort colors either.
Your vacation includes all the best: fishing, boating, hiking, and golfing. Get a pair of sunglasses that can handle your list of island-hopping activities. Maui Jim’s semi-rimless Ho’okipa-407 sunglasses are ultra-comfortable, and can manage every trek on your vacation-must-do list. UV protection—the highest rated on the market—keeps your eyes protected while you stroll around the course. Rose-tinted lenses offer the best contrast for golf, but bronze lenses perform well in changing light conditions—think partly sunny or in and out of the shade. They also include PolarizedPlus2 Lens Technology. Now, before you strike them from your list for having the ‘p’ word, they’ve put some serious technology behind this polarized lens. PolarizedPlus2 lenses reduce glare and boost color so you’re seeing better than ever on and off the green.
Nike’s Premier style includes a golf-specific lens in a tint that enhances performance on the course in any light conditions. The lens helps enhance the contours of the green and let the white ball stand out against the sky so you can track your shot. They’re cut for performance—a ventilated bridge prevents fogging, the temple arms grip comfortably to keep them from slipping, and the lens covers perfectly to block harsh light from all angles.
Sunglasses are an important piece of golf gear—they protect your eyes from the sun and can help lower your risk of certain vision concerns that exposure to UV rays can cause. Even if you’re not wearing a pair to boost color vision or block glare, you should wear sunglasses to keep your eyes healthy. The best golf sunglasses of 2010 can do it all—block UV rays, enhance color vision, improve contrast, and reduce glare. While we can’t promise you’ll turn your bogey into a birdie when you get the right pair of sunglasses, we’ll hazard a guess that you’ll wear them every time you hit the green.