Any day is a good day when you’re golfing, but golfing on a sunny day is an unmatched joy. 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. Most of us know sunglasses cut down glare and promote general eye health. And sunglasses, of course, are available in a variety of lens colors. But what is the best color lens for golf sunglasses?
The most common lens colors used by golfers are:
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.
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 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.
Check out Oakley, known for its innovative and quality sunglasses. Oakley now features their new Prizm Golf lenses in several of their sunglasses, including the Flak 2.0 and Radarlock Path models. Prizm Golf lenses are constructed to specifically for golf by enhancing contrast and color separation. The lens is in the rose/red family, which may be instructive, and offer both UV and impact protection.
Who knows? The right pair of sunglasses may shave a couple shots off your game. Lovely thought. One thing’s for certain, with the amount of time spent in a typical round of golf, good eye protection is a must. And if it ends up improving your game, too, you’ll just have to suffer.