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Do you have a pair of sunglasses in your golf bag? You should. Squinting into the sun to track your ball isn’t comfortable, and it can put unnecessary strain on your eyes. 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.

Sunglasses with UV Protection

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.

Polarized vs. Non-Polarized Golf Sunglasses 

Polarized lenses can cut glare and improve your vision—they’re especially helpful on the water or behind the wheel—but not everyone appreciates polarized lenses on the fairway. While some golfers claim polarized lenses may affect depth perception or make it difficult to read the green, it is a matter of preference. Polarized sunglasses provide no additional UV protection, and they’re not ideal for everyone. If polarized lenses aren’t right for your game, stick with non-polarized sunglasses with 100% UV protective lenses.

Lenses: Color, Shape, and Prescription

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.

Comfort and Fit

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.

Whether or not you think wearing sunglasses will improve your golf handicap, you should be protecting your eyes from the sun’s UV rays every time you hit the course. We can’t promise you’ll turn your bogey into a birdie, but when you get the right pair of sunglasses, we’ll hazard a guess that you’ll wear them every time you hit the green.

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