Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sunglasses on the Links - Supah Cool or Oh So Cruel ? ?

If you watched much any of the St. Jude's Classic this weekend, you were confronted with a couple of interesting observations. And if you followed players like Brian Gay (the eventual winner), Robert Allenby, or John Daly you probably concluded that golfers have finally embraced sunglasses as a necessary piece of equipment.
However, I think this weekend was merely a fluke - as most pro golfers STILL do not wear sunglasses on the links. It's really difficult to understand,but Tiger, Phil, Geoff Ogilvy, Lorena Ochoa, Steve Stricker, and MANY others are still among the majority of pro golfers who have not embraced performance eyewear as a necessary piece of equipment - despite plenty of reasons to do so.
To better understand this topic, let's take a brief sashay down memory lane. The first golfer that I recall regularly wearing sunglasses on tour was none other than David Duval. Back in the days when Double D (sorry, I could not resist using that phrase !) was ranked at the top of the heap, he was rockin a pair of Oakleys that we were,um, very noticeable. Like it or not, ol' DD (there I go again) had started a fashion/performance trend. Within a few years, it was very common to see many amateurs (from your local muni to college players everywhere) sporting the upturned Oakleys on the back of their golf caps - but still very few pros. Before you think this was all sizzle and no steak, note that eyecare professionals everywhere were strongly recommending that we protect our eyes from the sun whenever we spent prolonged periods outdoors. Couple that with the eyewear makers developing a much better understanding of the specific needs of various sports and the athletes that played them, and SHAZAAM, sport specific eyewear was born. Now you can find not only sport specific eyewear(from a design/performance perspective), but also sport specific lenses (Oakley, Nike, Kaenon, and Maui Jim are just a few who make "golf specific" lens tints). On the LPGA side of the house, none other than the "American Beauty" herself, Paula Creamer has worked with Sundog to design her own line of Sunglasses - fashion forward and performance oriented.
Now I know that some of the traditionalists out there will scoff at all of this - thinking that eyewear is only a "fad" or simply a "fashion item". I disagree, however - my belief is that performance eyewear is here to stay.
Here is a brief listing of PGA and LPGA players who always have their shades available :

- Davis Love III - Rory Sabbitini - Brian Gay
- Robert Allenby - John Daly - Paula Creamer
- Zach Johnson - David Duval - MIchelle Wie
- Chris DiMarco - Ian Poulter - Yani Tseng
- Morgan Pressel - Carin Koch - Christina Kim
- Henrik Stenson - James Nitties - Kristy McPherson
To further support my position, one needs to look no further than the breeding grounds for our professional tours - the college and high school ranks. Take a look there, and fully 80% of the players count eyewear among their "required" equipment. In conclusion, one may assert that the games leaders are actually laggards in recognizing the need to protect their eyes, AND look damn cool while doing it.
Oh, In case you are looking for me, I'll be the guy in the Visor (that's a topic for another post) and sunglasses, calmly lining up my birdie putt on #18 !
P.S. - If you are curious, Brian Gay was wearing Kaenon's "Jetty Black" with a G12 lens on Sunday in Memphis.


Kevin Mort said...

Shades are a must for me on the course.

It's simple, really. I've always been somewhat sensitive to sunlight so I must have them available.

My uncle was an optometrist and also instilled the point of having good shades. Polarized please, esp here in South Florida.

The only issue with them is getting a pair that won't distort vision.

Heather said...

Visor and sunglasses. Hmmm. I'll need a photo.

I have to wear sunglasses after 2 corrective eye surgeries, but I had to ditch the hat. I can only have one item on my head for some reason (besides my pony tail).

Chris said...


I really enjoyed your article. I agree that it's quite surprising more golfers aren't wearing performance sunglasses on the links.

I personally like what Brian Gay wears, which are Kaenon shades. I have a pair myself - they have phenomenal clarity and don't distort at all - and there are different levels of contrast to suit your taste/environment.