Annika SorenstamNot so long ago, it was unheard of for a pro golfer to wear sunglasses while hitting a shot or putting. While it’s still relatively rare on the PGA Tour, quite a few LPGA and Champions Tour golfers sport shades while swinging.

Sunglasses were once considered a hindrance to depth perception, feel, and picking up nuances when reading greens. But in the last decade, numerous manufacturers have introduced technology that eliminates the old objections. That is, for golfers who are willing to try them.

Why wear shades on the course, aside from the obvious benefit of eye comfort? First and foremost, eye health. Prolonged exposure to sunlight can be extremely harmful to your peepers, increasing your risk of cataracts, macular degeneration, pterygia and other diseases. According to studies, 30 percent of golfers aged 60 and older suffer from a light-related vision impairment.

Furthermore, a great deal of energy is used by your eyes, especially on bright days in a focus-intensive activity like golf. The more strain you can take off the eyes, the better you’ll feel late in the round.

If you’re interested in purchasing a pair of sunglasses for the course, consider these features and benefits when shopping:


  • 100 percent UV protection: Your shades should shield you from the full spectrum of dangerous ultraviolet light – UVA, UVB and UVC rays. The best block UV400 rays as well.
  • Polarization… or not: Polarized lenses cut down glare by allowing only vertical light in, keeping horizontal light out. However, detractors claim polarization inhibits your ability to read greens by “flattening” surfaces. Golf sunglasses are available in both polarized and non-polarized styles.
  • Lens color: A key factor in determining how sunglasses perform in different lighting conditions. In fact, some manufacturers offer interchangeable lenses in a variety of colors. Others feature lenses that combine different colors. Here are some basic rules of note:
  • sunglasses grey

  • Gray lenses -- A neutral, non-distorting color that won’t affect distance perception, but doesn’t enhance contrast to aid in green reading.

  • sunglasses red

  • Red: Enhances contrast, but can distort other colors.

  • sunglasses green

  • Brown/green/amber: Boost depth perception, contrast and clarity while reducing glare, but may not provide maximum comfort on very bright days.

  • sunglasses yellow

  • Yellow/orange: Increase depth perception and contrast, but may hinder green reading.

  • Weight and comfort: Most frames and lens materials are lightweight, a major plus. Look for glasses with adjustable temples to prevent sliding when your nose and face perspire.
  • Scratch resistance: An absolute must in sunglasses for the golf course.
  • Prescription availability: Many makers can custom-build sunglasses to your exact specs, provided you have a new prescription. Naturally, you’ll pay a premium for Rx eyewear.
  • Expense: Now considered (and marketed as) an important piece of equipment, golf-specific shades can get a bit pricey. While some fetch up to $300 for a non-prescription pair, cheaper models (around $50) may not include the protection and performance you’re after. It’s always good to try before you buy.