Fore! Your Eyes!


So you’re not Tiger Woods or David Duval but you love golf and want that little edge to improve your game and lower your handicap. Did you notice at the New Zealand Open how many golfers were wearing sunglasses?

Golf specific sunglasses aren’t just a fashion accessory, they really can make a difference.  Well designed golf sunglasses are lightweight and have no frame at the bottom to obscure your view when lining up the ball. Wrap around lenses give you full coverage in the periphery, preventing stray light and the lens from distracting you, right from when you address the ball to after the follow through. The fit of the frame needs to be comfortable and the lenses shouldn’t touch your eyelashes or cheeks as this will cause the lenses to fog up. Some sports sunglasses are available with vented lenses; these have small holes or gaps between the lens and the frame allowing airflow to help reduce fogging.

The colour of the sunglass lens can make a big difference to your vision. A dark grey or brown lens will let only about 15% of light through making them perfect for very sunny days to cut down high glare conditions; a light brown or orange/red colour is good for all conditions but especially when it’s overcast or twilight. Oakley has the G30 lens, Bolle has the Cinnamon lens and Adidas has the LST lens, these are all golf specific lenses. They have been designed to make the colour green appear brighter and make the slope and grain of greens easier to read for putting.

Sunglasses lenses with 100% UV protection are a must as you’re out in the sun for long periods of time and want to protect your eyes from the possibility of future cataracts and other UV related eye conditions.

Ever thought about the size of a golf ball? It’s almost exactly the same size as your eyeball. If a golf ball hits your eye, you could lose it. This sadly happens three times a year to someone in New Zealand. In December last year a golfer at the Grange was struck in the eye by a golf ball and had to have the eye removed because so much damage had been done. It’s something you don’t normally think about, but you can protect your eyes by wearing polycarbonate lenses, they are lightweight, bullet proof plastic. Bolle, Adidas and Oakley use them for all of their sunglasses.

Ever thought about improving your vision? Tiger did! He had Lasik eye surgery and says he “sees the hole bigger”. Maybe you don’t want to or can’t have laser surgery, there are a few other options available to you. This could mean having an eye test to find out just how well you do see.

For those of you needing glasses, prescription sunglasses will let you see clearly and give you glare and UV protection. If you have progressive or bifocal glasses, you may find the reading portion annoying when you putt, as it is likely to be in your field of view, a pair of distance only glasses will be better. If you still want to see your scorecard a small bifocal segment can be positioned to the side, instead of to the bottom of your lenses, so as not to impede your view. Also available, from Bolle and Adidas, are optical inserts that hold your prescription lenses behind golf specific sunglass frames. Oakley have Rx M frames that have your prescription lenses moulded into the single-lens shield, allowing you to have your choice of 5 mirror iridium coatings.

Contact lenses will give the golfer who requires a prescription a lot more visual freedom. They give you unobscured peripheral vision and true magnification, where objects look the correct size, compared to spectacles, which magnify or minimise. You’ll also have the benefits of being able to wear golf specific sunglasses. There are many options in contact lenses that will cover nearly every eye-shape and prescription. Disposable lenses are by far the most popular choice for sport, they range from daily disposables through to monthly extended wear lenses; the ones you can sleep in.

British Open Winner, David Duval wears an Oakley Pro M frame because “I do have allergies. I wear contact lenses. So it helps keep dirt and dust, things like that out of my eyes. It makes it easier to see, you know, because it cuts out glare… they help to keep my eyes from getting tired. It prevents me from squinting.”

More and more golfers are wearing sunglasses, pretty wise if you ask me. Who wouldn’t want to be more comfortable in high glare conditions, protect their eyes from UV and possibly help their game, particularly their putting?.

Author Jeremy Wong is an Optometrist who specialises in Sports Vision and Sports Specific Eyewear and can be contacted at