Ideal Sunglasses for Golfers — Including Golfers Who Need Glasses

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My wife got glasses in second grade. On the first day she wore them to school, she looked out the window of her classroom and shouted, “I can see inside that truck!” and a boy sitting next to her, deeply impressed, asked, “Did they give you X ray vision?”

All she had meant was that the vehicles on the street in front of the school no longer looked like fuzzy moving blobs—but that was still a big deal. I had a similar experience when I got my own first glasses, in fifth grade, and discovered that trees had individually discernible leaves.

My father used to say that he liked playing golf in his trifocals because on every shot he could choose from among three balls. For most golfers, though, glasses are problematic. I’m so nearsighted that I have trouble finding my glasses if I’m not wearing them, and until recently that meant that I was out of luck when it came to playing golf in the kinds of cool-looking sunglasses that tour players wear upside down on the back of their hat. But not anymore. A couple of years ago, Rob Tavakoli, an optician and vice president at SportRX, sent me a pair of Nike glasses with photochromic lenses designed specifically for golf. Here I am wearing them while getting a lesson from David Leadbetter:

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Tavakoli also sent me a pair of Oakley sunglasses with lenses optimized for playing golf in low light. Putting them on makes a darkening golf course look brighter, for reasons I don’t exactly understand:

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I immediately moved both pairs into my golf bag. Here’s Tavakoli himself:

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Two of Tavakoli’s specialties are sport-specific glasses and sport-specific glasses for people with strong prescriptions, like me. (SportRX employs a technician who specializes in high corrections—a rarity for companies that sell sports glasses, because getting everything right can be complicated and time-consuming.) Tavakoli is a useful person to consult in such matters, because he really, really, really loves glasses. When he was 12, he fudged an eye test so that his ophthalmologist would write him a prescription he didn’t need, and when he was 17 he developed an obsession with sunglasses which he retains to this day, two decades later.

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Last month, Tavakoli sent me sent me a third pair of golf-optimized sunglasses, and told me that they take advantage of two recent innovations from the optical engineers at Oakley. They’re just like the ones in the photos above and below, but with black frames.

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The first innovation is a technology called Prizm, which Oakley introduced in ski goggles a couple of years ago and in prescription glasses about a year ago. “When Prizm first came out,” Tavakoli told me, “I got emotional every time I tried to talk about it. Oakley has figured out, for each sport, which colors of light need to be highlighted and which need to be muted. So for golf you get this extra contrast, this extra pop, but at the same time the lenses are taking out glare and brightness. To me, it’s almost like they put a computer chip in the glasses.” The level of specificity is remarkable: for baseball, Oakley makes different lenses for infielders and outfielders. Ditto for people who fish in shallow water and people who fish in deep water. Here’s a video explanation:

The second innovation built into my new sunglasses is something Oakley calls True Digital Edge. In the past, making tour-style wraparound sunglasses with more than minimal prescriptions was optically impossible. The reason is that as you increase the correction in a dramatically curved lens you also increase both the amount of distortion and the thickness at the edge. Oakley has solved both those difficulties by, in effect, modifying curved lenses so that they trick your brain into ignoring signals from the periphery. (Your brain is already good at ignoring things, since the images it receives from your eyes arrive upside down and missing a big part of the middle.) My new sunglasses are an Oakley model called Flak 2.0 XL, in the setup that SportRX recommends specifically for golf—the same glasses you see on players like Adam Scott:

IMG_20160321_124236The difference between my glasses and Scott’s (other than the color of the frames) is visible only if you look very closely at the lenses:

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“Those groove lines,” Tavakoli told me, “are basically tricking your eyes and your brain into thinking that the lens is smaller and the frame is bigger—and the result is that you have unbelievable clarity, considering how much wraparound there is and how strong your prescription is. Combine that with Prizm and you’ve got, like, the newest, badassest thing you can get for golf.”

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People inevitably say, Hey, why don’t you just get contact lenses or have LASIK? But not everyone likes contacts, and not everyone can wear contacts, and not everyone is a good candidate for LASIK. I first got contacts when I was in high school, in the early 1970s. (That was way back in the hard-lens era. My girlfriend decided to try on one of them one night, and getting it back out of her eye was tough because she was running around the house screaming.) Then I had soft lenses for maybe ten years. But for a dozen reasons — including how miserable I was during allergy season and while I was operating my table saw — I decided I like glasses better, even though that makes me less interesting to my granddaughter, who is two and a half years old and enjoys “drinking tiny waters” from her mother’s contact case.

Maybe you like glasses better, too. If so, you can get in touch with Tavakoli or one of the other opticians at SportRX, by going here.

Xray Dave

Golf Problem Solved: Cool Sunglasses for People Who Wear Glasses

Golf_Prebuilt_BannerAt the PGA Golf Merchandise Show a few years ago, I stopped at the booths of several glasses manufacturers and asked about golf sunglasses for guys who have serious trouble finding their glasses if they’re not wearing their glasses, as I do. The responses were depressing. One woman showed me a pair that looked less like the wraparounds you see on tour players than like something you might wear while welding. Here’s my prescription: dlo glasses prescription The stronger a prescription, the harder it is to make it work without distortion in a lens that has a pronounced curve, she said, and her suggested solution was to switch to contacts and wear non-prescription sunglasses over those. I gave up, and bought a pair of distance-only glasses in my regular frames but with gray lenses. When my daughter, who was in her mid-twenties, saw them, she said, “No!”

[I have a picture of this, but I’m not going to show it to you.]

All that was before I talked with Rob Tavakoli, who is a licensed optician and a marketing guy at SportRX, which sells specialized glasses for all kinds of athletic activities. Takavoli is like a golf nut but about glasses; he told me that he’s been obsessed with sunglasses since he was seventeen, or slightly less than half his life, and that when he was twelve he fudged an eye test so that his ophthalmologist would write him a prescription he didn’t need. takivoli Two of Tavakoli’s specialties are sports-specific glasses and sports-specific glasses for people with strong prescriptions, like me. (SportRX employs a technician who specializes in high corrections—a rarity for companies that sell sports glasses, because getting everything right can be complicated and time-consuming.) Thanks to Tavakoli, I now have two pairs, one by Nike and one by Oakley. Both have lenses that are meant for golf—especially for ball-tracking and green-reading—and both are “photochromic,” which means that they lighten and darken in response to changes in ambient sunlight levels. The Nike glasses, whose frames are called Mercurial 6.0, have lenses with a rose copper tint, which becomes quite dark in bright sunlight: nikemercurial The Oakley glasses, whose frames are called Jupiter Squared, have lenses with a lighter, amber-brown tint, and are meant especially for times when sunlight levels are low: early morning, late afternoon, and in the rain—although they darken considerably in bright conditions. (Gray lenses are not good for golf, but they’re good for fishing.)  oakleyjupiter There are other possible frame choices for people like me, and there are many, many additional choices for people whose prescriptions are less daunting. I now consider both my pairs to be part of my golf equipment, and I keep them in my golf bag in hard cases with zippers: zerouv case An unexpected benefit of using both pairs of glasses is that they provide much better protection from the wind than my old sunglasses did, so that on that on blustery days I no longer seem to me crying over my terrible shots. I was grateful for that during my recent buddies trip to Scotland and Ireland, where the wind blows almost all the time, and it’s also a useful feature here at home, where, at the moment, clouds of pollen explode from the pine trees every time someone shanks one into the boughs. And an unexpected benefit of the darker lenses is that match-play opponents have no idea I’m giving them the evil eye while they’re trying to putt. Here I am in my Nike glasses on a sunny day at Machrihanish last month: machrihanishdloIf you have a current prescription, you can order glasses optimized for particular activities directly from the SportRX website, with telephone or online help if you need it. (The website has a helpful “Search by RX” utility, which identifies frames that will work with your prescription—although if your prescription is high enough you will need to call.) One thing you have to do before ordering glasses with corrective lenses is to measure your “pupillary distance,” or the space from eye to eye, but that’s easy to do if you have a ruler, a mirror, and a camera or phone: IMG_1249-001 My personal glasses collection is extensive: progressives, bifocals, reading glasses, computer glasses, backup distance glasses, ancient sunglasses just for driving—plus my two new pairs of golf glasses, which are my favorites and which I would wear all the time if I thought I could get away with it.  collection