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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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Top-3 men’s golf polos at the 2018 PGA Fashion Show in Vegas
GolfWRX’s fashion expert Jordan Madley picks her top-3 favorite men’s polo shirts from the recent 2018 PGA Fashion Show in Las Vegas. Enjoy the video below!
I tried the great Golfboarding experiment… here’s how it went
Corica Park Golf Course is not exactly the first place you’d expect to find one of the most experimental sports movements sweeping the nation. Sitting on a pristine swath of land along the southern rim of Alameda Island, deep in the heart of the San Francisco Bay, the course’s municipal roots and no-frills clubhouse give it an unpretentious air that seems to fit better with Sam Snead’s style of play than, say, Rickie Fowler’s.
Yet here I am, one perfectly sunny morning on a recent Saturday in December planning to try something that is about as unconventional as it gets for a 90-year-old golf course.
It’s called Golfboarding, and it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like: an amalgam of golf and skateboarding, or maybe surfing. The brainchild of surfing legend Laird Hamilton — who can be assumed to have mastered, and has clearly grown bored of, all normal sports — Golfboarding is catching on at courses throughout the country, from local municipal courses like Corica Park to luxury country clubs like Cog Hill and TPC Las Colinas. Since winning Innovation Of the Year at the PGA Merchandising Show in 2014, Golfboards can now be found at 250 courses and have powered nearly a million rounds of golf already. Corica Park currently owns eight of them.
The man in pro shop gets a twinkle in his eyes when our foursome tells him we’d like to take them out. “Have you ridden them before?” he asks. When we admit that we are uninitiated, he grins and tells us we’re in for a treat.
But first, we need to sign a waiver and watch a seven-minute instructional video. A slow, lawyerly voice reads off pedantic warnings like “Stepping on the golfboard should be done slowly and carefully” and “Always hold onto the handlebars when the board is in motion.” When it cautions us to “operate the board a safe distance from all…other golfboarders,” we exchange glances, knowing that one of us will more than likely break this rule later on.
Then we venture outside, where one of the clubhouse attendants shows us the ropes. The controls are pretty simple. One switch sends it forward or in reverse, another toggles between low and high gear. To make it go, there’s a throttle on the thumb of the handle. The attendant explains that the only thing we have to worry about is our clubs banging against our knuckles.
“Don’t be afraid to really lean into the turns,” he offers. “You pretty much can’t roll it over.”
“That sounds like a challenge,” I joke. No one laughs.
On a test spin through the parking lot, the Golfboard feels strong and sturdy, even when I shift around on it. It starts and stops smoothly with only the slightest of jerks. In low gear its top speed is about 5 mph, so even at full throttle it never feels out of control.
The only challenge, as far as I can tell, is getting it to turn. For some reason, I’d expected the handlebar to offer at least some degree of steering, but it is purely for balance. The thing has the Ackerman angle of a Mack Truck, and you really do have to lean into the turns to get it to respond. For someone who is not particularly adept at either surfing or skateboarding, this comes a little unnaturally. I have to do a number of three-point turns in order to get back to where I started and make my way over to the first tee box.
We tee off and climb on. The fairway is flat and wide, and we shift into high gear as we speed off toward our balls. The engine had produced just the faintest of whirrs as it accelerated, but it is practically soundless as the board rolls along at full speed. The motor nevertheless feels surprisingly powerful under my feet (the drivetrain is literally located directly underneath the deck) as the board maintains a smooth, steady pace of 10 mph — about the same as a golf cart. I try making a couple of S curves like I’d seen in the video and realize that high-speed turning will take a little practice for me to get right, but that it doesn’t seem overly difficult.
Indeed, within a few holes I might as well be Laird himself, “surfing the earth” from shot to shot. I am able to hold the handlebar and lean way out, getting the board to turn, if not quite sharply, then at least closer to that of a large moving van than a full-sized semi. I take the hills aggressively (although the automatic speed control on the drivetrain enables it to keep a steady pace both up and down any hills, so this isn’t exactly dangerous), and I speed throughout the course like Mario Andretti on the freeway (the company claims increased pace-of-play as one of the Golfboard’s primary benefits, but on a Saturday in the Bay Area, it is impossible avoid a five-hour round anyway.)
Gliding along, my feet a few inches above the grass, the wind in my face as the fairways unfurl below my feet, it is easy to see Golfboards as the next evolution in mankind’s mastery of wheels; the same instincts to overcome inertia that brought us bicycles, rollerblades, scooters, skateboards, and more recent inventions such as Segways, Hoverboards and Onewheels are clearly manifest in Golfboards as well. They might not offer quite the same thrill as storming down a snowy mountainside or catching a giant wave, but they are definitely more fun than your standard golf cart.
Yet, there are obvious downsides as well. The attendant’s warning notwithstanding, my knuckles are in fact battered and sore by the time we make the turn, and even though I rearrange all my clubs into the front slots of my bag, they still rap my knuckles every time I hit a bump. Speaking of which, the board’s shock absorber system leaves something to be desired, as the ride is so bumpy that near the end I start to feel as if I’ve had my insides rattled. Then there is the unforgivable fact of its missing a cup holder for my beer.
But these are mere design flaws that might easily be fixed in the next generation of Golfboards. (A knuckle shield is a must!) My larger problem with Golfboards is what they do to the game itself. When walking or riding a traditional cart, the moments in between shots are a time to plan your next shot, or to chat about your last shot, or to simply find your zen out there among the trees and the birds and the spaciousness of the course. Instead, my focus is on staying upright.
Down the stretch, I start to fade. The muscles in my core have endured a pretty serious workout, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to muster the strength for my golf swing. It is no coincidence that my game starts to unravel, and I am on the way to one of my worst rounds in recent memory.
Walking off the 18th green, our foursome agrees that the Golfboards were fun — definitely worth trying — but that we probably wouldn’t ride them again. Call me a purist, but as someone lacking Laird Hamilton’s physical gifts, I’m happy to stick to just one sport at a time.
Review: The QOD Electric Caddy
If you want an electric golf caddy that doesn’t require that you wear a sensor or carry a remote — one that will be reliable and allow you to focus on your game, and not your cart — then the Australian-manufactured QOD is worth checking out.
The QOD (an acronym for Quality of Design and a nod to its four wheels) is powered by a 14.4-volt lithium battery, good for 36 holes or more on a single charge. It has nine different speeds (with the fastest settings moving closer to jogging velocity) so the QOD can handle your ideal pace, whether that be a casual stroll or a more rapid clip around the course.
The QOD is also built to last. Its injection-molded, aircraft-grade aluminum frame has no welded joints. Steel bolts and locking teeth take care of the hinging points. The battery and frame are both guaranteed for three full years. If you need a new battery after the three-year window, the folks at QOD will replace it at cost.
Its front-wheel suspension gives the QOD a smooth ride down the fairway, and the trolley is easy to navigate with a gentle nudge here and there. The QOD is always in free-wheel mode, so it is smooth and easy to maneuver manually in tight spaces and around the green.
The caddy also features three timed interval modes for situations where you might wish to send it up ahead on its own: when helping a friend find a lost ball or when you will be exiting on the far side of the green after putting, for example. The clip below includes a look at the caddy in timed mode.
Another area where the QOD excels is in its small size and portability. When folded, it measures a mere 17-inches wide, 15-inches deep and 12-inches tall, making it the smallest electric caddy on the market.
Folks Down Under have been enjoying the QOD for some time, but it wasn’t until a few years ago when Malachi McGlone was looking for a way to continue walking the course without putting undue strain on an injured wrist that the QOD found U.S. fairways. After first becoming a satisfied customer, McGlone convinced CEO Collin Hiss, who developed the product and oversees its production in Australia, to allow him to distribute and service the QOD here in the states.
The QOD has no self-balancing gyroscope, bluetooth sensor or remote control. Bells and whistles just aren’t its thing — though it does have a USB port for cell phone charging that can come in handy. However, if you are looking for a no-fuss workhorse to move your bag down the fairway, the QOD should be on your radar.
The 2018 model has begun shipping and will be on sale at $1,299 for a limited time. It normally retails at $1,499.
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