By Matt Harris
As with everything, technology alters perception. It makes us aware of different ways to approach things, giving us options we might not have had in the past. Golf is no different, as new materials and innovative ideas have changed how the game is played—from PGA pros to weekend whackers.
When you think about those golf innovations, it’s usually the clubs that come to mind first. New designs offer greater distance and correction off the tee, while various materials and ongoing innovations make life around and on the green easier than ever before.
Eyewear on the golf course has made those same strides, taking its place alongside that shiny new driver or putter as must-haves. But it’s not just about sporting the newest, fanciest sunglasses out
there, as industry insiders point out—it’s about finding the eyewear that works best for you.
Jeffrey Lee, the product line manager for eyewear at Nike, states simply that golf is an endurance sport and that a golfer’s eyes can’t be forgotten when it comes to how you can equip yourself.
“Prolonged periods of exposure to UV light can damage the eyes, and increased visibility of the golf course terrain and the golf ball is also of value to the golfer,” he said.
“Nike Max Golf Tint, a tint available in Nike Golf sunglasses, increases contrast on the putting surface, allowing the golfer to see the difference between shadows and highlights on the undulation in the putting surface, benefitting them with a better read of the green.”
Lee added that Nike’s products now come equipped with Transitions Technology, allowing for automatic
adjustments depending on lighting conditions. He added that improper eyewear (such as something without perfect optics) can negatively impact a round because of what they lack.
The tint also allows the golfer to see the ball visually ‘pop’, allowing for better shot tracking. Since golf is played for extended periods of time, the environmental conditions can change several times throughout the day—early morning fog, bright sun, storm clouds—and Nike Max Transitions Golf Tint makes it so you’re always prepared.
Grady Lenski, the global director (adjacencies) for Transitions Optical, echoed Lee’s thoughts when asked that same question.
“First, it’s important for everyone to wear proper eyewear—especially those participating in outdoor sports and activities,” he said.
The right eyewear can literally change the way you see the game…golfers spend a lot of time outside, so their eyes are constantly working to adapt to changing light. Adaptive sunglasses automatically self-adjust in all lighting conditions, so they do your eyes work for you.
“We have several Transitions adaptive eyewear products designed specifically for golf, and they will increase contrast and depth perception, improve clarity to help golfers see the terrain and contours better. They also protect eyes from harmful UV rays,” he said.
Compared to other sportsmen’s needs, Lenski said golfers have to deal with changing conditions depending on a number of factors—what time of day they begin their round, what the weather is like – and that goes into what type of eyewear they should have.
“Golfers often begin their rounds in the morning, during lowlight conditions and they may not
initially reach for their static tint sunglasses because they’re too dark,”
he said. “Then, as the weather and light conditions change, golfers often find themselves moving static sunglasses on and off the tops of their heads. There is no need for this with Transitions adaptive sunglasses—they’ll be perfect tint in all light conditions.”
And therein lies the key difference between regular sunglasses and specialty golf eyewear. Scott Goryl, the senior manager of global communications for the Callaway Golf Company said it’s a mix of health protection and performance that is considered when they make their products. Also incorporating the Transitions Technology, Callaway’s NEOX sun glasses make clear the distinction between the two types of sunglasses.
“Callaway’s line of eyewear is driven primarily by two technologies that make it golf-specific,” he said. “NEOX Technology and Callaway NEOX Transitions Technology are proprietary in golf and are designed specifically to improve players’ visual performance on course. By implementing advanced technology in sun lenses, along with UV protection, we maintain that eyewear is a key piece of equipment that belongs in every golfer’s bag.”
Martin Bell, the national sales and marketing manager for Rodenstock Canada, explained the differences in optics in a different way.
“The more curved (wraparound) a non-compensated lens is, the worse the optics,” he said. “Also, sport lenses need to be quite large to allow for protection from wind, UV and sun from all angles. In a larger lens, the peripheral areas are a greater distance from the eye than the central area—this is called vertex distance (the area from the cornea to the back of the lens) and if not corrected, the peripheral areas will be blurred and the visual field will be tilted.”
Bell said Rodenstock’s curved sport lenses are compensated to remove the optical effects from both the high curve and the vertex distance changes, and by using 3D freeform surfacing, the power across the surface of the lens will vary to give the wearer exactly the power that is prescribed in all areas of the lens without distortion.
“A standard, everyday use progressive lens will not work well for golf because the reading area needs to be placed high enough in the frame to allow easy reading,” he said. “This area has a focal length of about 40cm, which is much too close for a golfer who is trying to view the ball at 120cm more or less, depending on their height and stance.
A golfing lens will have a large intermediate area and the power will compensate to allow for this 120cm focal length, and the reading area needs to be placed quite low in the frame to keep it out of the way of viewing the ball—but high enough to allow reading.”
Lenski said that lens colour makes a difference as well, as different colours offer different benefits:
• a rose tint (such as the one in Oakley’s Transitions) helps enhance contrast and increase brightness; these lenses can be effective in bright and flat light, or in hazy conditions
• a violet tint (found in Nike’s MAX Transitions) provide increased contract in sun and clouds, and they suppress unwanted visual information and amplify the white of the ball
• a greenish tint (like Callaway’s NEOX Transitons) helps highlight backgrounds and enhance contrast.
They provide increased depth perception, better distance vision and superior clarity
“Golf is a visually demanding sport that highlights many other needs in a sunglass that apply well to other sports,” Lee said. “Performance product, as we describe above, is essential for the sport. And, your favourite golf sunglasses might serve you well in other sports, too.”