Golf Sunglasses put to the test!
It’s that time of year, warm temperatures, blue skies, beaches, convertible sports cars, vacations and best of all – 36 hole days of golf. For all of these activities a good pair of golf sunglasses can be a needed friend, and with Father’s Day on the horizon we thought it would be a great time to roll out our review of the finest eyewear in golf.
Six companies contributed to our review: Oakley, Bolle, Tifosi, Electric, Reks and Under Armour. Sometime in the early 90’s I discovered how important quality eyewear is when I visited an ophthalmologist to examine a growth on my right eye called a pinguecula. I was only 25 years old and indestructible. The eye doctor told me that the growth was harmless, but lectured me on how quickly my 20/20 vision would deteriorate without wearing proper eye protection daily (especially living in the Sunshine State). As someone who’s office has been primarily in the sunshine since 1987, it was probably a smart move to heed the advice and get some type of premium shades. Since then, having top quality eyewear has been a priority.
From wraparound sporty to the more classic Wayfarer style like Electric’s Knoxville model (front row center). Picking out a new pair of specs is much more like selecting the right pair of golf shoes than it is getting fit for a new driver. All of the shades in this review offer superior UV protection, so it really boils down to preference in tint, frame style, size, fit and cost. Although each model features high tech innovation and space age materials, we’ll try not to bore anyone too many times with words like hydrophilic, grilamid and polycarbonate (forgive me if I slip one in every now and then). We rated each according to lens clarity, capability for green reading, functionality, quality, versatility and style.
♦ = Marginal quality and less than ideal for golf activities
♦♦ = Limited in reducing glare and picking up turf contrast detail
♦♦♦ = Good sunglasses, but just average for golf
♦♦♦1/2 = A solid overall performer that provides excellent clarity
♦♦♦♦ = Versatile. enhances green reading, handles everything you can throw at them regardless of conditions.
♦♦♦♦1/2 = Quality and style worthy of being your “go to” shades.
♦♦♦♦♦ = Supreme Gamer shades – “Must Have”
Bolle offers a vast assortment of golf specific eyewear choices – our test subjects included: 6th Sense (back left), Ransom Folds of Honor Limited Edition (back right) and Fly Air (front).
BOLLE RANSOM – FOLDS OF HONOR LIMITED EDITION
Folds of Honor V3 Golf Limited Edition – for every one sold, Bolle makes a donation to the FOH to help the families of fallen military. Ransom model features bClear lenses formulated to keep your vision clear all day long and to repel moisture and smudges. The wrap-around shape has become the standard in golf eyewear, and certainly that’s a good thing since side glare can be a problem. Green reading with the bclear V3 lens (amber/bronze tint) is significantly enhanced.
Pros: Ransom is the most versatile style of the 3 Bolle options we tested.
Cons: Nothing really stands out about these, shiny black frames and extended length nose section can be slightly distracting while addressing a golf shot.
Fit: Med/Large $99 Rating: ♦♦♦
Bolle Fly-Air is new for 2017 and features all of the performance features of Ransom, but in a sleeker less cumbersome frame profile.
Pros: Most prefer the Fly-Air styling because of the matte black frames and oval lens shape, these are both sporty and classic in style (and few golf specific shades can boast that).
Cons: The smaller profile provides less lens coverage
Fit: small/Medium $105 Rating:
BOLLE 6th SENSE
Bolle Golf’s 6th Sense is just an all out UV shield of the highest order. Also popular in cycling, 6th sense is all about intense “get after it” competition. The golf specific model features the same bClear V3 Modulator lens that’s now Bolle’s standard for enhanced turf contour clarity. Bolle now offers the 6th Sense in a Ryder Cup Edition that will be popular in France for the 2018 matches. Lee Westwood wears these out on the PGA and European Tour. After wearing these for a round in the intense South Florida sun, 6th sense easily exceeded our expectations in virtually everyway.
Pros: More lens/less frame is ideal for most sports, with golf it’s a game changer, these have zero visual distractions. The pliable arms allow for a custom fit that stays put regardless of how furious the activity. The hardcore linkster will find (as we did) these are right at the top of the list of golf specific shades. They may be Tour de France style, but easily the yellow jersey of Bolle’s Golf rotation.
Electric is a California company that brings their classy shoreline vibe into the golf market. Their Knoxville shown above debuted 10 years ago and is the company’s best selling eyewear model of all time. Is it golf specific? No, but it’s quality and style of the highest order and that scores points no matter what the activity is. Born in Cali, crafted in Italy.
Ok, since the Knoxville is not a golf specific eyewear product, I’ll break from my earlier statement and give some actual tech data on the product line: Knoxville Features a mold injected Grilamid frame and OHM polycarbonate bronze lens that protects 100% UV protection as well as 98% blue light protection. According to Electric, their VLT 11% bronze tint offers vibrant landscapes and surroundings. We don’t disagree (weighs 30 grams).
Pros: Superb quality. The matte finish Tortoise shell wayfarer style frame easily is the timeless classic of this group of sunglasses. Knoxville can be worn anywhere anytime. As an all-around pair of shades they’re top shelf.
Cons: If this was a review on sunglasses in general, these would easily garner a higher rating. As far as golf is concerned there are a few small items needed for these to be considered as serious gamer shades (for example: the nose and ear pieces don’t provide any kind of non-slip contact point).
Fit: med/Lg $99 Rating
OAKLEY GOLF – EVZERO STRIDE w/PRIZM
Oakley is the most well known brand in sports sunglasses. PRIZM is the company’s latest lens innovation and aims to set new standards in definition and clarity in high performance eyewear. According to our friends at the “O” that we met with at the PGA Show in January – “By fine tuning individual wavelengths of color, PRIZM sharpens visual acuity to reveal nuances that would be missed by the naked eye.” Their EVZERO STRIDE (above) was our model for this review.
Planet X frame design and color scheme is an edgy vibe. EVZero features Oakley’s lightest frame and a 180 degree rimless lens for a completely unobstructed view. Oakley’s unobtanium ear socks and nose pad handle the no-slip chores
EVZERO Stride is definitely a large fit for those with bigger facial features. Perhaps the cleanest aesthetics of any eyewear on the market. PRIZM filters 100% of all UVA, UVB UVC and harmful blue light up to 400nm.
Pros: Similar to Bolle’s 6th sense, the EVZERO Stride leaves nothing to chance. It’s ultra light, has comprehensive UV coverage and the most advanced lens technolgoy in sports to keep you performing at your best. Since there are zero visual obstructions from the frame and they weigh practically nothing (just over 20 grams), you practically don’t even realize you’re wearing them. Reading greens and observing course details is a great experience with PRIZM. You won’t miss even the smallest of intricacies.
Cons: If you don’t care for the ultra bright tint of the PRIZM lens there isn’t an option to swap out for a different lens.
Fit: Large $170 Rating: ♦♦♦♦1/2 Shop Oakley: http://www.oakley.com/
Reks Optics is a South Florida company that claims southern Palm Beach County as it’s home base. Innovation and value is what Reks is all about. We tested out their Sling-Blade Lumolux, an un-breakable black satin-touch flex frame that fits perfectly to those with a small/medium facial profile. According to Reks, “Our polarized lenses withstand impact 1000% better than glass or plastic.
Sling-blade comes in Black, Raspberry and White frames. Polarized Lumolux rose/amber polycarbonate lenses have 5 different coatings and an embedded polarized film that provides superbly crisp optics. Available in Red Mirror, Blue Mirror, Brown, Gold Mirror, Rose- Amber, Silver Mirror and Smoke. These performed as well as any eyewear we tested on the golf course.
The advanced polymer unbreakable frames have to be seen to be believed.
Pros: Stylish unbreakable satin touch frames and polarized lenses for $50 – need we say more? Reks as a relative unknown in Golf eyewear deserves some serious attention from those looking to get serious bang for their buck! Easily the sleeper of our review.
Cons: Nada! Rating: ♦♦♦♦1/2 Shop Reks: https://reksoptics.com/
Tifosi Crit (Metallic Red) might be the cult hero of this review. Gaining some momentum among golf enthusiasts in recent years for their innovative and highly functional specs and all at a great value. Engineered for endurance sports (and summer golf should be thought of as such), Tifosi packed Crit with tons of features (compact, stylish, light (31 grams) and at a price tag that will shock you.
Crit comes standard with 3 lens options so you can get optic clarity regardless of the conditions. Smoke -15.4 light transmission, Golf/Tennis 16.4 light transmission and Extreme Conditions 39.1 light transmission.
Crit features adjustable arm and nose pieces for perfect fit. Vented lenses improve air circulation and prevent fogging. Grilamid frames and polycarbonate lenses come standard.
Pros: Style and quality are top shelf. 3 sets of lenses for all conditions is a major bonus. There really isn’t an option Tifosi missed with these shades. One of our highly respected product testers thoughts on Crit “They rival any pair of Oakleys that I’ve ever worn.” He continued his praise, “Tried out the EC (extreme conditions) lens, my eyes which are very sensitive to light adjusted perfectly to them in no time.” Big thumbs up!” $69.95 (We’ve seen them online for $50)
UNDER ARMOUR EYEWEAR
Under Armour has launched into the performance eyewear golf market with the emergence of the uber-marketable Jordan Spieth. Test models Octane and Igniter 2.0 shown above.
OCTANE features chrome GAME DAY multi-flection lenses that defend against 100% of UVA/B/C rays. According to UA: “ArmourSight lens technology provides enhanced distortion free vision.” Polyamide frame offers max strength and durability. UA AutoGrip self articulating temples conform to any head shape.
Pros: A versatile all around solid shield for links application. Multi- positioning nose pad provides a custom fit. One tester really liked the screwless cam-lock hinges.
Cons: chrome mirror-style lens doesn’t appeal to some of our testers.
Fit: med/Large $115 (seen online for under $90) Rating: ♦♦♦1/2
UA Igniter 2.0 – Ultra-light ArmourFusion frames are constructed with Grilamid and titanium. The satin like feel and look of the matte black frames are a classy touch.
ArmourSight GameDay GREEN color enhancing lens technology delivers 100% UVA UVB and UVC protection as well as 20% less distorted peripheral vision. Adjustable nose pad ensures comfort and fit.
Pros: Solid performer. UA’s Igniter 2.0 gives you what you’d expect in a pair of modern day golf shades. No surprises, clear enhanced vision, clean lines and great fit.
Cons: UA shades only come with a microfiber cleaning bag. Most of the companies featured in this review include a hard case in addition. $89
Fit: medium Rati
Summary: Like we stated earlier, it really boils down to preference when you’re dealing with eyewear of this quality. Decide if you prefer a small, Medium or large fit according to the size of your facial features. Decide if you like an amber/bronze tint lens or a brighter more vibrant experience like Oakley PRIZM. Then decide on what your price range is, all eyewear in this feature ranges in price from $50 – $170. Have a great summer and don’t forget June 16th is Father’s Day . . .