Cool on the Cheap
By John Kensington,
"Now that summertime's here, babe, you need something to keep you cool"
"Ice Cream Man", as performed by Van Halen, 1978
As part of the changing perception of golf, and those who play the game, from decidedly "uncool" to totally hip, the market for "golf-specific" sunglasses has exploded in recent years.
Not only are these chic shades enabling golfers to look fashionable, they perform a valuable function. The sunny glare which bombards players during their round is as damaging to delicate eye tissues as it is to exposed skin.
Several eyewear manufacturers have sought to claim their piece of this ever more lucrative pie. Companies such as Oakley, Bollé, and NYX are among those who are jockeying for position at the high-end of the market.
Problem is, after spending thousands on equipment, clothing, green fees and travel, not all golfers are willing or able to fork over another Benjamin for cool shades.
Into this fray has stepped a Canadian company called Sundog Eyewear. Based in Calgary, AB, Sundog seeks to fill a rare niche: technologically advanced, golf-specific eyewear at a reasonable price.
The company motto is "Made by golfers for golfers." Nearly all the top brass at Sundog play the game, and understand the importance of functional eyewear that does its job without drawing your face earthward as you stand over that crucial putt.
The lightweight feel of a pair of Sundogs is apparent by handling or donning the shades. Polycarbonate construction and a snug fit insure that once you put them on, you'll hardly notice them. Sundog also boasts that their eyewear provides the wearer with 100% protection from harmful solar rays, up to 400 nanometers.
OK, what in the world is a "nanometer"? "It's a measurement of light refraction," Sundog President Dave Allan helpfully informed me. Bottom line is that Sundogs offer UVA and UVB protection that exceed both Canadian and U.S. standards.
Clearly, however, the most pleasing "lightness" of owning a pair of Sundogs is the price. At an average retail value of USD $40. (including a soft case), retailers report that the shades are being gobbled up like donuts at a stakeout.
At that price point, Sundog Eyewear occupies a world removed from the big names of the industry. And that's just fine with Dave Allan. "That's not the market we're trying to reach. Sundogs are for people who want a good looking pair of performance eyewear, at a great price."
Along with knowing their "place" comes a sense of humor. A brochure that accompanies each pair of sunglasses includes a set of "official rules". Among these is a special request: "REMOVE SUNGLASSES BEFORE WHIFFING!" Because, that just wouldn't be cool.
Sundog offers six distinct models from which to choose, and multiple frame and lens colors options within each model type. Check out www.sundoggolf.com for a interactive look at different styles and color combinations.
Golfers will most likely be pleased with three of these models. The DPC 1:22 and DPC 2:22 are durable, and both provide a comfortable fit and venting (either on the frame or lens) to prevent fogging. The DPC 9:07 offers a familiar wrap-around style, but with a much lighter feel on the face than some higher-priced counterparts.
The DPC 10:28 is unquestionably the most stylish of golf-specific Sundog eyewear, but the ultralight construction of this model's frame may prove unsuitable for rugged use.
Sundog Eyewear may be the best Canadian import to hit the golf world since Mike Weir. Despite their low price point, these are not "gas-station quality" shades. Sundog's line of golf-specific eyewear is every bit as functional, comfortable, and most importantly, as cool as it's higher priced competition.
Sundog's distribution strategy focuses primarily on pro shops and golf retailers. While Sundog eyewear cannot be purchased online, you can log on to www.sundoggolf.com and email a request to determine the retail outlet nearest to you.
Should you find yourself in the vicinity of a Sundog retailer, make sure to pick up a pair. Hey, when was the last time your eyes and wallet thanked you in the same day?