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N3L Optics: One-stop sport eyewear shopping

Kiel ChristiansonBy Kiel Christianson,
Senior Writer
N3L Optics - Fast Jacket - golf sunglasses
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N3L Optics' new OO9156-06 Fast Jacket XL Black Plaid / G30 Polarized and VR50 is the ultimate golfer sunglass. (Courtesy of N3L Optics)

Sir Isaac Newton was, to use the scientific descriptor, a pretty sharp cookie. Besides unraveling the mysteries of gravity, motion and mathematics, he also went some way toward figuring out how light and optics work.

Newton is the 'N' in N3L Optics, a quickly expanding and ultra-high-tech sports eyewear company with stores in six states (California, Texas, Arizona, Florida, Colorado and Utah) and a strong web presence. Really, the stores are more like "experiences," in which N3L "Gearus" help customers navigate some 20 brands of performance and ophthalmic frames specially designed for more than 20 different sports, from sailing to fishing to golf, using a range of high-tech diagnostic and fitting equipment.

Golf eyewear

N3L's lens technology offers not just clarity of vision, but also a number of sport-specific features. For example, their hydrophobic lenses repel water for sports such as surfing, sailing and fishing.

For golfers, polarized lenses reduce glare during bright mid-day rounds. But what about early or late tee times? The new OO9156-06 Fast Jacket XL Black Plaid / G30 Polarized and VR50 is the ultimate golfer sunglass. The Fast Jacket is full of features that make it an ideal for golf -- including half-frames to allow unimpeded vision of the ball and wrap-around lenses to block glare from all sides.

Moreover, this specific frame comes with two interchangeable lenses that are great for golfing. The G30 Polarized lens is best when the sun shines brightest on the golf course because it provides for maximum glare reduction and tuned contrast. The VR50 is great for that 6 a.m. tee time when light conditions are not as bright.

In my case -- an old, near-sighted guy whose vision has dulled after years of staring at a computer screen all day -- N3L can produce prescription sunglasses that fit into many of their frame styles. I chose Oakley Halftrack frames, which have the features I like for golf: small, light and half-framed. I chose a copper lens tint, which, as promised by N3L, has helped me keep a much better eye on my ball as it sails into the rough, woods and various other hazards. In fact, I have lost so many fewer balls since I began wearing these glasses, that I wonder in retrospect how I ever found any ball with my old glasses.

The only light conditions in which I found the N3Ls to be less helpful were in Scotland, when dirty-gray clouds would suddenly blow in off the North Sea and the ball sort of vanished into the wooly mist.

Choosing golf sunglasses

According to N3L, here are the key specs to look for in sunglasses for golf. The N3L Gearus in their stores are fully trained on all sports, so if you where to come into a store looking for a sunglass to golf in they would educate you on these features and help to find you a sunglass that matches them.

Copper, Bronze, and Rose lens tints: These tints enhance depth perception on the fairways and aid in following the ball in low to medium light conditions. They help to see the grain of the grass and any dead areas, which is essential to judging the speed of the green for putting.

Open Edge Lenses: Downward vision is a must because you're hitting the ball off the ground. Full frames can block your view and just flat out bug you

Photochromic: Light conditions can change a lot during 18 holes, and this feature lets the tint darken or lighten as the light conditions do.

Impact protection: Sometimes the word "fore" just isn't enough!

UV protection: Golfers spend more time in the sun than athletes in any other sport. By screening out UV rays, you'll protect yourself against everything from wrinkles to cataracts to cancer.

Optical clarity: Clarity is essential with any sport that requires hand-eye coordination or tracking of a tiny white ball from more than 200 yards away.

For more information, visit n3loptics.com.

Kiel Christianson has lived, worked, traveled and golfed extensively on three continents. As senior writer and equipment editor for WorldGolf.com, he has reviewed courses, resorts, and golf academies from California to Ireland, including his home course, Lake of the Woods G.C. in Mahomet, Ill. Read his golf blog here and follow him on Twitter @GolfWriterKiel.

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