Pros: Lightweight, comfortable sunglasses that meet the high standards in precision optics and impact resistance. They’re available in more than a dozen styles with Oakley’s golf-specific G30 iridium lenses and most styles are further customizable.

Cons: They’re $110+ per pair.

Bottom Line: The combination of sporty and casual frames in Oakley’s golf-specific sunglasses line makes its shades hard to beat for golfers looking for a pair they can wear comfortably on and off the course.

Overview

Long before Oakley’s golf apparel took root with some of the PGA Tour’s best players, such as Zach Johnson, Bubba Watson, Ricky Barnes and Derek Ernst, it was the company’s famed sunglasses that put the Southern California company on the map in the golf world, and for good reason.

Oakley continues to make some of the highest-performing sunglasses on the market, and its 2014 line of golf-specific sunglasses are evidence of that. Its catalogue includes 13 different models: the Holbrook, RadarLock Pitch, M2 Frame, Flak Jacket (asian fit), Radar Pitch, Fast Jacket XL, Flak Jacket, Half Jacket 2.0 XL, Fast Jacket, Fast Jacket XLJ, Fuel Cell, Hijinx and Half jacket 2.0 (asian fit).

Oakley fans are probably familiar with those models, but what they might not know is just how much goes into their design. Yes, they’re made to look cool, but every one of Oakley’s performance sunglasses also goes through ANSI (American National Standards Institute) impact testing to protect against the impact of heavy objects at low speeds and lighter objects moving at fast speeds.

Those tests include a 1-pound metal spike dropped on Oakley’s sunglasses from 4 feet and a 0.25-inch steel shot traveling at more than 100 mph. You can see how Oakley’s sunglasses did against some of its competitors in the short video below.

The biggest danger golfers usually face on the course is the sun, however, and Oakley’s shades are designed to protect golfers from the sun’s harmful, long-term effects such as cataracts, photokeratitis and pterygium. Each of the company’s Plutonite lenses, which are made from plastic pellets that are melted down and injected molded to their specific shapes, protect against 100 percent of the sun’s UVA, UVB and UVC ultraviolet radiation.

g30-before_1g30-after

You might be scratching your head about what makes Oakley’s golf-specific sunglasses different than the company’s normal sunglasses. The answer is not much, other than the company’s rose-colored G30 iridium lenses, which are designed to emphasize the light and dark shades of the colors green and brown.

The Review

For this review, I tested Oakley’s M2 frame ($160), which is the modern-day version of the original M Frame sunglasses that were popularized with golfers by David Duval. I wanted to test the M2 Frame specifically, because I’ve been wearing the original M Frames for more than a decade.

Oakley also offered up its new Holbrook sunglasses ($130) for this review, which are much more casual than the M2’s (pictured below). Both had Oakley’s G30 iridium lenses.

M2 Frame

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As you might expect from a pair of decade-newer sunglasses, the M2 frame was lighter and more comfortable than the M Frames I’ve worn almost my whole golfing life. Their slightly lighter weight probably isn’t enough for most golfers to upgrade to a new $160 pair of sunglasses, but if you’ve never worn a pair of Oakley’s with the company’s G30 lenses, they could persuade you to take the plunge.

My biggest criticism of my M Frames was their dark lenses (black iridium polarized), which were great when it was sunny and not so great in cloudy conditions. On those days, I found myself leaving the sunglasses on my head or hat so that I could find a ball in the rough and better read my putts. I’d put them on in a bunker, however, because hitting a bunker shot in the dark was always a better for me than a cornea full of sand.

The G30 lenses were a huge improvement for the course, and I now understand why they’re the lens of choice for many professional golfers. They’re dark enough to protect against the sun, but not so dark that I had to take them off when clouds rolled in. While neither pair was polarized, I didn’t have any issues with glare. If polarized lenses are your thing, however, you can get polarized models from Oakley in most of its sunglasses.

While I can’t say that they helped me read my putts any better, they did seem to help me find my golf ball a little faster, especially in the shady areas of a tree-lined golf course.

Maybe the simplest test I can offer to golfers who doubt the G30’s ability to help them on the golf course is the “smartphone test.” Say you have an Apple iPhone, for example. Take a look at the iMessage icon, which on most phones is green, with and without the G30 lenses. You’ll notice that the light green parts of the icon get a lot brighter and the dark green parts get a lot darker. The G30’s do the exact same thing with grass.

Holbrook

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The Holbrook’s were the surprise of the test for me. I knew that I’d like them for casual wear, because they have a larger size that fits my face better than smaller sunglasses like the Flak Jacket, but my experience with casual sunglasses on the course had been horrible. Most of them would not stay on my face when I started to sweat, and some even came off my face when I swung my longer clubs.

While the Holbrook’s don’t offer the wrap-around protection of the other sunglasses in Oakley’s performance golf line, which keeps light from bouncing off the inside of the lens and into the eye, I had no problems with them staying on my face. They were lightweight, comfortable and gave off a much more laid-back vibe than the M2 frames. They look especially great when I decide not to wear a hat, which is more often now as I try to work on my GolfWRX tan (read no tan at all).

Even when my face started to sweat, the Holbrook’s held their own, which I attributed to the RayBan Wayfarer-like curve in their arms, which settled comfortably around my ears. If you’re one who really sweats a lot or plays in warm climates, you’ll likely want to stick to a pair of Oakleys with the company’s Unobtainium nose piece and temple sleeves (also know as the rubber things that sit on your ears), which actually offer a better grip when they get wet.

The Takeaway

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Oakley’s sunglasses probably won’t survive a run-in with a train (or a golf cart for that matter), but they’re designed to handle all the normal hazards you’ll face on the course and in real life. They’re lightweight, comfortable, more durable than you’ll likely ever need them to be and the precision of their optics are second-to-none.

If you take your sunglasses and eye protection seriously, there are few companies that provide as many high-performing options as Oakley’s golf performance line.

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Zak is the Editor-in-Chief of GolfWRX.com. He's been a part of the company since 2011, when he was hired to lead GolfWRX's Editorial Department. Zak developed GolfWRX's Featured Writer Program, which supports aspiring writers and golf industry professionals.

He played college golf at the University of Richmond (Go Spiders!) and still likes to compete in tournaments. You can follow Zak on Twitter @ZakKoz, where he's happy to discuss his game and all the cool stuff that's part of his job.

9 COMMENTS

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  1. I have always worn sunglasses, mostly to protect my eyes as they are somewhat sensitive to glare and my Mom went blind form macular degeneration.

    I have been playing golf with the same pair of Radars with the red looking lense since 2007, they never leave my bag and they are awesome. I generally keep them on except if it’s raining.

    I’m a big fan.

  2. I have been wearing the Holbrooks since the start of the summer, having never worn shades on the golf course before I was worried it would take a period of time before they would feel natural. I was massively impressed from the first time I put them on especially with the golf specific G30 lenses. I now play in them all the time and actually find the lense a benefit to my game especially when green reading and contouring around the greens. A must purchase in my view!!

  3. I’ve abandoned my Oakley’s for a pair of SunDog glasses with their Mela lens, shaded in Brown. My opinion is that SunDog’s lens is more versatile in mixed weather conditions….. :-) And cheaper too! ;-)

  4. I have been wearing Oakley prescription glasses for years now and they are absolutely fab. I have a Half Jacket with G30 lenses and a Flak Jacket with transition lenses. I got the transition lenses as normal sports glasses but because I did not get on with my normal variofocals glasses, I was wearing these oakleys exclusively for over a year. I only realised how good they are when I got a normal pair of glasses again. I never had problems with the nose pads (with normal ones you often get these red patches on your nose) and the oakleys never got dusty or dirty. My normal glasses I have to clean all the time. But I wouldn’t recommend the transition lenses. They get very dark when it is not that sunny on cold days but don’t get that dark when the sun is burning, I prefer the G30. Very good for golf, nice contrast.

  5. I’ve used Oakley Flak Jacket XLJ frames with distance prescription G30 iridium lenses for golf since April (distance prescription made by Frames Direct.com) and I’m very pleased with them. The color differentiation is great, the distance sharpness is terrific (I see the results of drives further away than almost anyone I play with) and the frames’ ability to remain exactly where they started throughout the swing, even in heat & humidity, is also great.

  6. I have a Holbrook, and I find it even better for golf than the previous generation Oakley performance series. For some time, I wore Maui Jim, but recent come back to Oakley was a pleasant surprise, and cheaper too. :)

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