When choosing prescription sunglasses for golf, there are a few basic factors to consider. Frame design and fit, lens material and knowing which lens tints maximize your vision on the course, are the primary considerations. However, other variables such as polarized vs. non-polarized lenses and whether Transitions lenses would be beneficial for you can have an impact on your enjoyment and ultimately the functionality of your prescription golf eyewear. Read more for some thoughts on each of these topics.
Fit: In golf specific eyewear it’s important to have a secure “athletic three point” fit. This typically includes some form of hydrophilic rubber on the earpieces and nosepiece and a frame design that keeps the lenses from resting on your cheeks. Although an athletic fit is not absolutely necessary, glasses that slide around during your swing are never going to improve your score.
Frame Design: Styles that have a semi-rimless lens design are recommended so that there is no frame to see when you are addressing the ball. This may seem like a minor detail, but once you use a semi-rimless design to pay in, you will wish you had done it earlier. Many prescription golf specific frame styles also feature lenses that are interchangeable so that you can maintain excellent vision in a variety of light conditions.
Lens Material: An impact resistant lens material is an absolute must. This usually means a high grade polycarbonate or a lightweight composite material like Trivex. We do not recommend glass lenses for golf.
Polarized vs. Non-Polarized: This is really a personal preference issue. If you currently use polarized lenses and you are pleased with the way the world looks through them, then you will likely be happy with one of the golf specific tints in a polarized lens. For example Oakley sells their best golf tint (G30 Iridium) in non-polarized and polarized versions and recommends both for golf, which indicates that they believe the tint is more important than whether the lens is polarized. However, many people feel that polarized lenses are not good for golf because they minimize the reflections from blades of grass and from the dimples on golf balls. Theoretically, that could make it harder to distinguish variations and undulations in the course and the greens as well as make it a little more difficult to pick up the ball in flight. Again, personal preference is probably the determining factor.
Lens Tints: Most people prefer a medium to high contrast lens for golf. These are typically rose or violet base lenses, although a few others, like Oakley’s Fire Iridium, are standout performers on the course. Although many people prefer a grey based lens for casual wear, we wouldn’t recommend it for golf.
Recommended Oakley Prescription Golf Sunglass Lens Tints: we would recommend either the non-polarized or polarized versions of these lenses:
- PRIZM Golf - A ruby base tint with a 30% VLT this lens was designed specifically to optimize your optical experience on the golf course. The lens is tuned to provide better contrast and separation of color which gives you better depth perception allowing you to be able to gauge distance and changing grass conditions. What You Can Expect: An improved contrast between cyan and greens of healthy grass as well as the yellows, oranges and reds of unhealthy grass. This lens also allow you to read the greens by separating the shades of green you are able to easily spot the fairway, fringe, and rough transitions and also improve your depth perception. The ability to spot grass textures and the grain direction on the putting green that you might otherwise miss is a game-changer for your golf experience.
- VR28 Black Iridium – This is a great option if you like rose based lenses, but want something darker. The light transmission is cut to 18% and the Iridium coating on the lens helps to increase the contrast and definition
- Fire Iridium – Fire works well in bright conditions and while not originally developed as a golf specific lens, this tint has been adopted by golfers who live very sunny locations.
- Positive Red Iridium - This rose base lens has a 15% VLT making it darker than the VR28 Black Iridium. Even though it is a dark lens the rose base makes this a gret high contrast lens which is ideal for golf. This is a great lens options for extremely bright sunlight conditions or sensative eye
- Ruby Iridium- While this lens has a red base it is a neutral lens so you will not experience the same increase in contrast as you will with the PRIZM Golf, Positive Red Iridium, VR28 Black Iridium or Fire Iridium.
- G30 (discontinued replaced with PRIZM Golf)– Violet based lens, colors on the course look fantastic, this lens lets 30% of visible light through. While definitely still a sunglass tint, G30 is on the lighter side of a sunglass lens – this is a staff favorite
- VR28 (discontinued) – Rose based lens that lets 28 % of the light through. This lens is a close second to G30 and is great on the golf course. You know what they say about rose colored glasses…
Recommended Smith Prescription Golf Sunglass Lens Tints: we would recommend either the non-polarized or polarized versions of these lenses:
- Smith's Prescription Ignitor Lens: Smith’s Ignitor lens tints is a rose base lens that helps to sharpen visual acuity and perform best in flat or low light conditions. They provide increased color contrast to better see details and identify changing contours. Ignitor lenses are great for fishing in low light or cloudy conditions.
- Smith's Prescription ChromaPop Polarchromic Ignitor Lens: The ChromaPop technology in this lens makes color more vivid with increased clarity and chromatic contrast. Smith recommends this lens for settings where you will be experiencing shifting light conditions as the Polarchromic allows the lens tint to be self-adjusting and decreases or increases the Visible Light Transmission as the light conditions change. This lens is the only Polarchromic lens option in the ChromaPop lenses. An Ignitor lens is going to maximize an objects definition, enhance depth perception and is recommended for medium to overcast light conditions.
- Smith's Prescription ChromaPop Polarized Brown Lens: The ChromaPop technology is most apparent in the Brown Polarized lens, offering the most enhanced contrast and amplified colorations of the ChromaPop lenses. Smith recommends this lens or medium to bright light conditions making it a great option for the golf course.
Recommended Kaenon Prescription Golf Sunglass Lens Tints: we would recommend either the non-polarized or polarized versions of these lenses:
- Kaenon’s Copper C12 Polarized Lens: Kaenon’s Copper C12 Polarized lens is Kaenon’s darkest high contrast lens. Kaenon’s Copper lenses offer a high contrast tint that enhances color contrast and detail recognition. These lenses perform best in bright, full sun conditions where enhanced contrast is ideal. Copper lenses are ideal for sports that require high contrast such as golf since they improve depth perception and enhance the contours of the ground.
- Kaenon’s Copper C28 Polarized Lens- Copper lenses offer a high contrast tint that enhances color contrast and detail recognition. Kaenon’s Copper 28 (C28) lenses are great multi-purpose lenses that perform well in all light conditions. Copper lenses are ideal for sports that require high contrast such as golf and cycling since they improve depth perception and enhance the contours of the ground. The Kaenon Copper C28 is going to be inbetween the C12 and C15 in darkness and visible light transmission.
- Kaenon’s Copper C50 Polarized Lens: Kaenon’s Copper lenses enhance color contrast and detail recognition in a variety of lighting conditions. Kaenon’s Copper 50 (C50) lenses block 50% of visible light which allows maximum light transmission for the greatest detail recognition. These lenses perform best in low light and hazy conditions. For the golf the Kaenon Copper 50 lens is recommended for cloudy, overcast days. Like the Kaenon C12 lens, copper lenses are good for golf as they improve depth perception and enhance the contours of the ground.
Recommended Bolle Prescription Golf Sunglass Lens Tints: we would recommend either the non-polarized or polarized versions of these lenses:
- Brown 'TLD Dark' Lens: Kaenon’s Copper lenses enhance color contrast and detail recognition in a variety of lighting conditions. Kaenon’s Copper 50 (C50) lenses block 50% of visible light which allows maximum light transmission for the greatest detail recognition. These lenses perform best in low light and hazy conditions. For the golf the Kaenon Copper 50 lens is recommended for cloudy, overcast days. Like the Kaenon C12 lens, copper lenses are good for golf as they improve depth perception and enhance the contours of the ground.
- Rose 'Modulator' Lens: Bolle's Rose Modulator lens is a photochromic rose lenses that self adjusts to changing light conditions and provides enhanced contrast in the light rose and dark rose state. Great for overcast as well as sunny conditions you experience while golfing. Rose lenses will enhance contrast and make it easier to see the contours in the blades of the grass while golfing.
Recommended Under Armour Prescription Golf Sunglass Lens Tints: we would recommend either the non-polarized or polarized versions of these lenses:
Transitions Lenses: Historically, Transitions lenses have come in two primary tints – clear to grey and clear to brown. On the surface it might seem like the clear to brown lens might be a good choice for golf, but in reality, Transitions lenses are great when your primary intended use is as a clear lens and the secondary use is as a sun lens. The exceptions to this are a newer class of photochromic sun lenses, like Oakley’s Gold Iridium Transitions or Smith’s Chromapop Ignitor Polarchromic. Both of those lenses will perform well in a variety of light conditions including early morning and late evening play but will never be completely clear lenses.