Golf’s Shades of Meaning

To see Michelle Wie bend way over a putt during last weekend’s Solheim Cup is to understand the frustration that comes in the most delicate part of golf. This putting style reflects her intent to get her eyes directly over the ball and thus see the line for the ball to travel.

I also noticed that she wore aviator sunglasses on most shots but not on the greens. Eye protection and green reading can be mutually exclusive—and obviously problematic.

Many feel that sunglasses flatten out contours, making it hard to find the subtle slopes in the greens. On fast, slopey surfaces like those at the Colorado Golf Club, that can be tough. The Europeans on Sunday sank a ton of putts, many in that mid-range, and that’s why they never trailed en route to their 18-10 victory.

And they weren’t wearing sunglasses when they were on the greens.

For us recreational golfers, though, eye protection is needed, particularly on those bright days. High elevation creates more glare, which not only makes determining the difference between sun and shadow more difficult, it also makes for tired eyes at the end of the round.

The key in golf eyewear is leakage, the cracks of light that come around the bottom, sides or top of the lens. Streams of light can be distracting during putting, making it more difficult to keep the eyes on the ball and the head steady. Both are crucial to getting the ball on line.

Oakley’s Flak Jacket model (pictured above) remains one of the most popular on the pro tours because it’s one of the best at keeping light out, leaving the eyes an unmitigated view of the scenery. It helps that they’re lightweight and easy to wear, much less put on the cap.


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