Do you wear sunglasses when you play golf? We think you should. In addition to protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays, sunglasses can provide protection from the wind (no more dry eyes), while enhancing the features of the golf course. Our goal for this buyers guide is to point you to a product that will not only protect your eyes, but will also improve the overall on-course experience and maybe even your game.
We searched for the ultimate pair of golf sunglasses.
High fashion isn't on our radar, our top picks are real golf equipment; gear you put on before you hit your first shot and don't take off until the last putt falls and it's time to shake hands.
We're Here to Help
We know the process of buying anything in today's time has become stressful and time-consuming. We feel the best reviews are those that help you make the right choices and help you get the most out of your time and money. This way you can buy with confidence and eliminate a lot of the guesswork. We are here to help show you how a product will perform before you buy.
The Top 3
Oakley EVZERO Path (PRIZM Golf)
Best Golf Sunglasses
Clarity & Contrast
What We Liked
The Oakley EVZERO Path stands out as unlike anything else in the test. While the PRIZM Golf’s bold rose (nearly purple) tint is aggressive by any comparative standard, the result is a bright, high contrast lens that gives added dimension to the golf course.
- Outstanding clarity and contrast
- Enhances details on the putting surface
- Lightweight, frameless design provides outstanding coverage without sacrificing much durability
- Exceptionally hydro and oleophobic
- Aggressive PRIZM tint described as overcooked by some testers
- Loses some contrast in dark/wooded areas.
Bollé Bolt (V3 Golf)
Clarity & Contrast
What We Liked
The Bollé Bolt impressed our testers with its Best In Class coverage and its near absolute resistance to glare. The photochromic V3 golf lens warms colors slightly without making the course look unnatural. Good contrast and clarity coupled with well-above average durability are why it’s one of our favorites.
- Best in Class Coverage creates a nearly invisible lens
- Adaptive photochromic lens that skews slightly bright
- Lightweight, flexible, and durable frame
- The bottom edge of the lens will sit on or near the cheekbone for some, which may cause discomfort
- Clarity and Contrast, particularly downrange, are a notch below the best lenses in the category
Rudy Project Rydon (Golf 100)
Clarity & Contrast
What We Liked
While Rudy Project is a brand that may not be familiar to most golfers, we came away from this test plenty impressed. The Rydon’s Golf 100 lens lets in plenty of light without crossing the line to too bright, while its neutral tint preserves the natural colors of the golf course. While it’s an assessment not easily quantified, the Rydon makes everything look better.
- Outstanding clarity from tee to green
- Included secondary Racing Red lenses provides an excellent brighter, high-contrast alternative for golf
- Excellent peripheral coverage and great durability
- Switching between included lenses is an absolute breeze
- Among the most expensive
- Slightly below average glare resistance and oleophobicity
In addition to our Top 3 (above) and our full ranking chart (below), for the first time ever in one of our Buyer's Guides, we're making our notes available to you so you learn a bit more about every product in this test and why it finished where it did. To read the notes for every pair of sunglasses tested, see our FULL TEST REPORT.
2017 Sunglasses Rankings
|Brand||Lens||Contrast & Clarity||Glare||Coverage||Phobicity||Durability||SCORE|
|Oakley EVZERO Path||PRIZM Golf||1st||9th||2nd||1st||14th||80.69|
|Bolle Bolt||V3 Golf||7th||1st||1st||8th||2nd||80.19|
|Rudy Rydon||Golf 100||4th||24th||4th||24th||2nd||73.31|
|Rudy Agon||ImpactX Golf||3rd||24th||5th||24th||22nd||71.88|
|Electric Fade||OHM+ Rose||2nd||29th||19th||1st||19th||69.09|
|adidas Whipstart||Red Mirror||9th||5th||20th||8th||7th||66.84|
|Serengeti Ponza||Rootbeer Brown||5th||9th||10th||1st||28th||66.41|
|Bolle Breaker||V3 Golf||7th||9th||15th||8th||11th||66.22|
|Sundog Clutch||TRUE BLUE Polarized||11th||5th||20th||14th||4th||64.53|
|Nike Premier 8||Gunmetal Flash||6th||26th||7th||14th||31st||63.00|
|Smith Overdrive||Polarized Gray||19th||3rd||3rd||8th||28th||62.69|
|Maui Jim Kapuna||Maui Rose||17th||2nd||28th||1st||22nd||62.00|
|Nike Golf X2||Max Golf||15th||3rd||20th||14th||19th||61.28|
|Smith Arena Max||ChromaPop Sun Green||24th||9th||9th||8th||6th||61.18|
|Sundog Stack||Grey Blue Mirror||16th||5th||10th||14th||26th||60.56|
|Maui Jim Frigate||Maui HT||12th||9th||28th||1st||22nd||59.25|
|REKS Wrap Around||LUMOLUX Brown||25th||9th||7th||30th||1st||58.47|
|adidas Kumacross 2.0||Matte Black Polarized||27th||9th||10th||8th||14th||58.31|
|NYX Falcon||Arctic Blue||19th||9th||10th||14th||14th||58.31|
|Tifosi Seek FC||GT (Golf/Tennis)||13th||9th||20th||26th||14th||58.31|
|Sundog Prime EXT||Aurora||18th||9th||10th||14th||28th||58.19|
|Tifosi Tyrant 2.0||Brown Fototec||27th||9th||5th||26th||11th||57.78|
|REKS Sling Blade||LUMOLUX Brown||25th||5th||20th||30th||4th||55.66|
|UA Octane||Gameday Multi||19th||9th||16th||14th||26th||55.16|
|Tifosi Crit||GT (Golf/Tennis)||13th||27th||31st||26th||9th||54.75|
|Electric Knoxville S||OHM Gray||31st||9th||26th||1st||19th||54.66|
|NYX Pro Z-17||Arctic Blue||19th||27th||20th||14th||11th||54.53|
|Callaway Raptor||Green Gray Mirror||27th||9th||16th||14th||22nd||54.43|
|Maho Uluwatu||Polarized Amber||9th||31st||28th||26th||7th||53.72|
|Maui Jim Red Sands||Blue Hawaii||19th||29th||26th||1st||14th||52.94|
About This Test
To determine the best golf sunglasses, we tested both on the course and in the lab.
On course, our testers wore the glasses over several rounds of golf, judging each for contrast and clarity (near, far, and on the green), coverage, glare & reflections, as well as light transmission in both bright and shady areas.
In the lab, each model was put through a series of durability tests designed to simulate the wear and tear a pair of glasses might experience on the golf course. Tests involved twisting and bending frames, controlled drops into bunkers, and other scenarios intended to mimic the type of unpleasantries that befall sunglasses at the hands of golfers.
To test hydrophobicity, lenses were sprayed with water. We observed how well water beaded and ran off, and then judged how easily the remaining water was removed from the lens. To test oleophobicity, the test was repeated using sunscreen as our oily substance.
Several of the brands we tested offer so-called golf tints, but do you really need Golf Sunglasses?
The short answer is probably not. We found plenty of good options that weren’t specifically engineered for golf. That said, it may not be a coincidence that our top overall performers were developed for the golf course.
Here are some other things for you to consider...
Playing vs. Walking
Do you wear sunglasses while you swing, or do you only wear them while walking (or driving) from point A to point B? If you don’t wear shades while you swing, you can still benefit from options that offer enhanced downrange clarity – especially in the transition from fairway to green. If you’re not swinging with your glasses on, glare/reflection reduction and coverage aren’t nearly as important either.
Polarized vs. Photochromic vs. Normal
We tested three different types of lenses: polarized, photochromic, and what I suppose we can call normal or regular lenses.
Polarized lenses are most often associated with fishing, skiing, and other sports where significantly reducing glare is a necessity. Polarized lenses have special layers that filter horizontal light waves, reducing glare from snow, water, bright sand, and other reflective surfaces. They can make objects appear sharper, but some users report issues with depth perception and eye strain. If you use your phone during your round, be aware that polarized lenses can also distort the screen, making it difficult to read.
Photochromic lenses, most commonly associated with the Transitions brand, vary the amount of light transmitted through the lens as conditions change. Photochromic lenses are particularly beneficial if you play in changing conditions, spend lots of time moving from the fairway to beyond the tree line, or if you prefer to keep your glasses on later into the day. Be aware that some photochromic lenses can be slow to adapt which can result in brief periods of time where the lens is either too light or too dark.
Note that at least one of the lenses we tested is both Polarized and Photochromic.
Normal Lenses, like polarized and photochromic lenses provide UV protection, some filter blue light, but otherwise, offer no distinctive features beyond whatever tint the manufacturer has chosen to offer.
Light Transmission (VLT%)
While the experts we consulted agree that VLT (Visible Light Transmission) percentages aren't exactly precise, they do give us a starting point from which to compare the relative brightness (or darkness) of a given lens. Despite some of the marketing claims, there's no irrefutable science that suggests brighter is better or darker is better, but we think there's logic to fitting your lenses to your environment. If you consistently play in sunny, open conditions where ambient light is in no short supply (e.g. Arizona), you should consider a low VLT (darker) lens. If you play tree-lined courses, under a mix of sunny and shady skies, or spend your round moving in an out of the shadows, then a higher VLT (brighter) or photochromic lens may prove more suitable for your needs.
Function vs. Style
For some, perhaps many, sunglasses are as much about fashion as they are sensible eye protection. If you don’t’ plan to swing with glasses on, you can get away with being a bit more fashion-forward. If you keep your glasses on for the duration of the round, function becomes significantly more important. The best wrap or sports styles provide better peripheral coverage and don’t enter into the field of view at any point before or during the swing. They also prevent disruptive light from entering or reflecting from the rear or periphery of the lens.
Neutral vs. High Contrast Tints
Green and Gray tints block light and reduce glare, while largely preserving the true colors of the golf course.
Copper, Brown, and Amber options offer a bit more contrast, often without introducing a significant color cast.
Red and Rose tints offer higher contrast and, at times, aggressive color enhancements. We found that these tints often provide better separation between foreground and background objects, an effect some testers described as HDR-like. Lenses featuring red and rose tints received the best scores on the putting green. While not all love the rendering of color, if you’re looking to make the golf course pop, consider a lens from this space.
Testing for this guide was divided into two basic categories: on-course and in the lab. Maximum scores were reserved for a single Best in Class product in each category.
On-Course – 75%
Contrast & Clarity (45 points) – For our most important metric, we considered the overall experience of wearing the glasses. Does the lens enhance the colors and contours of the golf course? Does it show the separation between the fairway and the green? Do the glasses make reading putts easier? Our top performers excel at balancing light while revealing the nuances of the golf course, while mediocre performers simply reduce the amount of light hitting the eyes.
Glare (15 points) – How susceptible is the combination of lens and frame to glare? Does light enter from the rear and side and cause hot spots that interfere with vision? While some designs did more harm than good in some situations, the best glasses we tested minimized the interference from direct and reflected light.
Coverage (15 points) – How well do the frame and lens cover the viewing area? Does the lens provide sufficient coverage or does it cause distractions? While some designs leave the frame or portions of the lens in view, the top performers in the category are nearly invisible.
Transmission (+/- 2 points) - Additional points were also added or subtracted to/from the On-Course category based on our tester’s judgment of the amount of light transmitted by the lens.
Lab – 25%
Oleo and Hydrophobicity (10 points) – All of the lenses in this test offer hydro and oleophobic coatings which are, as the description suggests, designed to repel water and oil. While we found similar performance across the majority of the models tested, our top performers did a better job of repelling the elements and were a bit easier to clean.
Lens & Frame Durability (15 points) – You shouldn't expect any lens is going to remain unscathed after being dropped on concrete or asphalt, but given the price of some of the models tested, the lenses and frames should be able to hold up to a reasonable amount of wear and tear on the golf course. During our analysis, we scratched every lens in the test and broke or bent several frames. While poor performers suffered catastrophic failure, our top performers suffered only minimal damage to the lenses and/or frame.
*Although we note Fit where relevant, neither Style nor Fit was not graded for this guide as nearly all of the lenses tested are available in a variety of frames (style) and by extension, sizes (fit). Additionally, as nearly all (if not all) of the lenses in this test are ANSI certified for impact resistance, we did not test that aspect of durability.
Final grades were awarded based on total scores. Best Overall is our highest overall scoring pair of sunglasses, and awards are given to the top three sunglasses. Also, more specific Best in Class recognitions are awarded to sunglasses ranked best for certain criteria (e.g. Best Polarized, Best Photochromic).
We also give an "Editor's Choice" and a "Best Buy" award to those products that provide value products that compete with the bigger names on performance.
To read additional details for each and every product tested, see our Full Test Report.
Golf Sunglasses Feature Comparison
|adidas Kumacross 2.0||$139.00||YES||NO||2 Years||NO||YES|
|adidas Whipstart||$139.00||NO||NO||2 Years||NO||YES|
|Bolle Bolt||$169.00||NO||YES||2 Years||NO||YES|
|Bolle Breaker||$109.99||NO||YES||2 Years||NO||YES|
|Electric Knoxville S||$120.00||NO||NO||Lifetime||NO||NO|
|Maui Jim Red Sands||$229.00||YES||NO||2 Years||NO||YES|
|Maui Jim Kapuna||$299.99||YES||NO||2 Years||NO||YES|
|Nike Golf X2||$186.00||NO||NO||2 Years||NO||YES|
|Nike Premier 8||$136.00||NO||NO||2 Years||NO||YES|
|NYX Pro Z17||$79.00||NO||NO||1 Year*||NO||YES (Insert)|
|NYX Falcon||$89.00||NO||NO||1 Year*||NO||YES|
|Oakley EVZERO Path||$170.00||NO||NO||2 Years||NO||YES|
|REKS Wrap Around||$50.00||YES||NO||2 Years||NO||NO|
|REKS Sling Blade||$50.00||YES||NO||2 Years||NO||NO|
|Rudy Project Rydon||$249.99||NO||YES||2 Years||YES||YES|
|Rudy Project Agon||$274.99||NO||YES||2 Years||NO||YES|
|Serengeti Ponza||$169.99||YES||YES||2 Years||NO||YES|
|Smith Pivlock Arena Max||$189.00||NO||NO||Lifetime||YES||YES (Insert)|
|Smith Pivlock Overdrive||$249.00||YES||NO||Lifetime||YES||YES|
|Sundog Prime EXT||$69.99||NO||NO||Lifetime||NO||NO|
|Sundog Clutch Polarized||$149.99||YES||NO||Lifetime||NO||NO|
|Tifosi Seek FC||$49.95||NO||NO||Lifetime||NO||NO|
|Tifosi Tyrant 2.0||$79.95||NO||YES||Lifetime||NO||NO|
|Callaway Merlin||$92.00||YES||NO||1 Year||NO||NO|
|Callaway Raptor||$89.00||YES||NO||1 Year||NO||NO|
|Maui Jim Frigate||$329.00||YES||NO||2 Years||NO||YES|
While several companies offer a lifetime warranty, be advised that there is very often a fee associated with a warranty claim, and not all brands honor the spirit of the warranty.