As most golfers know, having the right equipment can make a huge difference in your game. A premium pair of performance-enhancing golf sunglasses is an often-overlooked piece of equipment you shouldn't be without. Makers like Oakley, Bolle, and Nike have put a lot of time and effort into developing the best sunglasses designed specifically for golf. Golf sunglasses typically feature high-quality tinted, polarized lenses that increase depth perception on the course by enhancing the visual contrast of greens and blues. Additionally, companies like Oakley have even developed proprietary progressive lenses with corrective powers in the portion of the lenses that golfers use most.
Golf sunglasses are just the type of thing that golfers love. They're a simple piece of equipment that can improve a golfer's performance, safety, and enjoyment of the game. Plus, they provide a perennial topic of debate and discussion: What kind of glasses are best? Do you even really need golf sunglasses at all?
Pro-glasses golfers point out—quite rightly—that visual acuity is essential on the golf course. Many feel that the right pair of glasses helps them see the breaks and grains of the green and the lie of the ball and depth of the fairways. Golfing sunglasses can also reduce eye strain and keep debris out of your eyes, maybe even helping shave a few strokes off your game.
But even those who don't want to wear sunglasses while golfing—whether they believe glasses will set back their game, or if they've simply never worn glasses for golfing before—should consider this: 18 holes of golf will keep you outside for about five hours. You wouldn't step onto the green without sunscreen to protect your skin from UV rays, and you should afford your eyes that same protection. If you don't want to putt wearing them, you can take them off for the stroke, and then put them on again.
Whether you're in it just for the UV protection, you're thinking about trying a pair of glasses to improve your game for the first time, or you're looking to upgrade your current pair, there's a lot to consider when it comes to golf-specific sunglasses. Which tint is best, should the lenses be polarized, what rims are best, and when should you wear them?
Let us caddie you through the wonderful world of golf sunglasses.
Ideally, a good pair of golf sunglasses increases color contrast. The best will also help colors appear more vibrant in low-light conditions, including early morning or evening. Science has not specifically shown 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 that each is best suited for different conditions. Why shouldn't this be relevant to golf? It's an outdoor sport, and lighting has a significant effect on how players see the ball. Some golf glasses come with easily interchangeable tinted lenses so that players can optimize their vision depending on conditions on the links.
The most common lens colors golfers wear include:
Amber or brown lenses enhance the contrast between light and dark colors. Players find they can 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—each 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 occurs to a lesser degree than with other tints, making them a great lens-color choice for your golf sunglasses.
Yes, wearing rose-colored lenses makes 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 more accurately. In particular, rose or red lenses accentuate the yellow and red hues in the color green, which 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 eye strain. 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 gray-colored lenses are good for outdoor sports, golf among them because the neutral tint allows the eye to perceive other colors in their truest form. These folks claim gray is a great choice for golf on sunny days.
But others point out that gray is not especially useful for golf, no matter the weather. The same neutral tint flattens light evenly across the spectrum, meaning the white golf ball is less distinguishable than it is as seen through other tints.
Green-colored lenses filter some blue light, which helps reduce glare—that not-such-a-problem problem on the links (more on this in the section on polarization below). 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 through green lenses, you may be more likely to sink your 20-footer, because you've observed every bend and dip between your ball and satisfaction.
Golfers tend to favor semi-rimless frame styles, as full-rim styles may obstruct your view or cause distortion when you're looking down.
Like some other sunglasses, some golfing sunglasses are available with prescription lenses—including progressives. Prescription glasses with photochromic (aka Transitions®) lenses that darken in bright light may work for some. Other people simply prefer the consistency of a dedicated pair of prescription sunglasses for golf. Oakley has mastered prescription sunglasses with Prizm anti-reflective golf lenses.
No matter what tint or shape you choose, and whether you need prescription lenses or not, you should ensure that the lenses meet or exceed ANSI standards for impact resistance.
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 horizontal surfaces like water, snow, and roads. While links courses obviously run next to the water, and there are ponds on your average golf course, glare isn't typically an issue in the game. 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, though, it really comes down to finding out what makes you feel and perform best. If you hit the links with a buddy who wears 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.
Yes. This is where you shouldn't skimp. Set aside the debates over whether 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 matterwe're being bombarded by those ultraviolet rays the sun hurls through the atmosphere (like frustrated golf players have occasionally done with their clubs). Those UV rays are responsible for a number of eye health problems: cataracts, macular degeneration, corneal sunburn, and skin cancer, 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.
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