Tifosi—All the Better to See

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Golf, at least most of the time, is played with the sun shining if not beating down on us and many eye doctors strongly suggest that spending these extended periods on the course makes wearing sunglasses a must.

With this in mind we decided to go to the experts at Tifosi Optics and find out what we need to know about sunglasses and golf.

Our questions were fielded by Henk van Dongen, Tifosi’s Marketing Director and we prefaced them with a simple statement that besides sunglasses being an integral part of looking “cool” on the course, there seem to be a lot of factors one needs to know when purchasing new sunglasses.

ET: Can you tell me a little about Tifosi – how it got started and what markets it serves?

HvD: Tifosi was started in 2003 by Elizabeth and Joe Early, who are still the owners to this day. The company began in, and is still operated out of Watkinsville, Georgia. Elizabeth and Joe were working as reps for multiple bicycle product brands when they realized that the eyewear professional cyclists were wearing was out of reach for many fans watching the bike races. So, they decided to start an eyewear company focused on providing technical pieces at a reasonable retail price (back then $50-60) compared to the big brands at $150 and more.

Tifosi means “super fan” in Italian, which is exactly who the brand was built to serve – “tifosi” of all sports and outdoor activities. In its 20 years in business, Tifosi has expanded into the running, golf, and baseball markets, with the Swank series addressing some of the lifestyle requests we have received over the years.

ET: I was surprised when you told me polarized lenses are not the best for golf but why not?

HvD: Polarization is a great lens technology for some sports because it blocks light from getting through the lens, which reduces glare. However, this can create some distortion which can make it harder to read the greens when playing golf.

ET: OK, so what lenses do you recommend?

HvD: Our Enliven Golf lenses are certainly on the list of recommendations. Other lenses could be regular brown/amber lenses with a light tint if desired. Brown/amber heightens contrast, making them effective when you’re on the fairways.

ET: Why are your Enliven lenses preferred on the course?

HvD: The Enliven Golf lens is made from a shatterproof polycarbonate material. The color capture technology of Enliven fine tunes the wavelengths of light that matter most, making greens, blues, and reds pop with definition. Better color contrast means easier ball tracking and course reading. Here’s a link to a video with more information. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9p2-eTbDPQ

ET: What are your top three picks for Tifosi golf sunglasses and why?

HvD: Crit ($79.95) and Seek FC ($34.95) are some of our most popular golf glasses with the Enliven Golf lens. It has been a style long favored by the golfer. Shwae ($35.00), our classic aviator style, is also quite popular. It features integrated nose pads to prevent your hair from getting tangled up in the glasses, a problem common in aviators from other brands. This is greatly appreciated by women who tend to put glasses up and down on their head.

ET: What features should a golfer look for in sunglasses?

HvD: First and foremost, the eyewear should fit comfortably without creating pressure points. When you are wearing your glasses for hours, you shouldn’t notice/feel that you are wearing them.

Second, pick a lens that works for you – your eyes will tell you what is right. Don’t just put them on for a moment and look around inside the pro-shop. Ask the salesperson in the pro-shop if you can take them outside for a moment and look around. The environment inside any shop is vastly different from being out on the greens.

ET: Tifosi’s whole line is reasonably priced – Can you explain the wide range in pricing for sunglasses from other makers?

HvD: Our goal is always to deliver a product that has features and quality levels of eyewear 2-3 times (sometimes 4x) our retail price. We do not spend a large amount of money on marketing and hiring professional athletes to promote our products. Those cost savings are passed on to the consumer.

Thanks to Henk van Dongen for his interesting and revealing comments which are certainly worth consideration when in the market for your next pair of sunglasses.

Ed Travis

Ed Travis is a national award winning golf journalist and has carried on a lifelong love affair with the game. His work covering the business of golf, equipment, golf personalities and travel is regularly seen in numerous print and electronic publications. He has competed in tournament golf both as an amateur and senior professional and though his competitive days are behind him, Travis still plays regularly. He and his wife live on a water hazard in suburban Orlando.

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