One in a weekly series of stories about golf gear to run each Wednesday.
Against all odds, I am writing about sunglasses. This is almost as shocking as the time I produced a piece on jewelry – it was made from bunker sand, OK?
Sunglasses are not golf equipment. Or so I believed. I’m not a sunglasses guy, for starters. I never pay more than 10 bucks for sunglasses, although, due to inflation, I’ve raised my limit to $12.95.
My go-to sunglasses are a pair of Ray-Bans, which probably were pricey back in the day. That day would be in 2000, when I found them in the media parking-lot grass during the PGA Championship at Valhalla in Kentucky. They must be well-made because 18 years later, I still use them for driving. And they met my Bob Barker requirement: the price was right.
COURTESY OF PEAKVISION
PeakVision’s GX5 model features a wraparound style and retails for $120.
Those Ray-Bans are too dark for golf, though, so on the course I’d been wearing a pair made by a big name in golf apparel. The glasses were light but sturdy, comfortable and came in a hard-shell case. They were top of the line, I thought.
Then I scored a pair of PeakVisions during the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill last March. When I put them on, it was a true holy-crap moment. Suddenly, I was looking at the world in high-definition and living color whereas before, I’d been trying to watch TV through a screen door. The difference was that dramatic. The clarity was like nothing I’d ever seen.
Seven months later, after wearing those PeakVisions for just about every round of golf since – I realized that if I use them for every golf round, then maybe they should qualify as golf equipment.
That settled, I wanted PeakVision owner David Feaser to explain what made his glasses so clearly superior, pun intended. First, I did deep research and started the interview with two hard-hitting questions: 1) These sunglasses, are you supposed to put them on your head or what? 2) How do you get them to stay on?
Feaser laughed at my idiot-joke questions and then got into the secret of PeakVision’s clarity. Most sunglasses are polarized, a process that blocks glare by reflecting it back from the lens so it doesn’t go into the wearer’s eyes.
“Polarization is great if you’re on the water or on ski slopes,” Feaser said. “If you’re on a golf course, it’s not. Polarization flattens an image, so you lose depth perception.”
That could fool you into misjudging the distance of a shot or the break of a putt, Feaser added.
PeakVision sunglasses are not polarized. They also use a proprietary lens that has the same clarity as crown glass. “Crown glass is the benchmark for clarity in clear glass,” Feaser said. “It gives no distortion. It’s the most clear glass out there. Our lens is a nylon polycarbonate with zero distortion.”
The top 20 percent of the lens is graded darker, and the bottom 60 percent is high-definition amber. “That high-definition amber gives three times more information than the naked eye,” Feaser said. “That’s why it’s like looking at HD. On the green, you see every valley, every trough, every bump, every mark. Our proprietary lens is a one-of-a-kind thing that nobody else has.”
The lens was invented by a scientist, J. Paul Moore, PeakVision’s founder. Feaser saw the potential in the all-purpose product and eventually bought out Moore in May 2017. Feaser already had been in the sunglasses business. His dad worked for H.J. Heinz in Pittsburgh, retired and moved to Myrtle Beach, S.C. There, Feaser’s dad started selling sunglasses to beachwear stores just for something to do and eventually bought out a local sunglasses maker and built his own business, where David learned the ins and outs.
PeakVision glasses are made in China, in the same factory and by the same workers who produce models for big players such as Ray-Ban and Oakley, Feaser said.
PeakVision sunglasses come in a handful of models, starting at $99, but the GX5 is the company’s most popular offering. It’s a wraparound style perfect for sports, especially golf, that sells for $120.
“It’s so funny that you mentioned HD,” Feaser told me over the phone. “I had been talking with Chip Beck and Matt Damon at the World Amateur Handicap tournament in Myrtle Beach, and one of them said, ‘It’s like looking at the course in HD.’ I said, What a great tagline. That really gets the point across in one sentence.”
Matt Damon? What was Matt Damon doing at the World Am in Myrtle Beach? I asked. Feaser broke up, laughing. “Sorry,” he said, “I meant Damon Hack, not Matt Damon.”
Hack, a genial former colleague of mine at Sports Illustrated, is an enthusiastic co-host of Golf Channel’s anchor show, “Morning Drive.” Matt Damon is a world-famous actor. They are not related.
Two stories tell you what you need to know about PeakVision.
Feaser gave long-time New York-area golf instructor Kelley Brooke a pair of Peaks (as Feaser calls them), the aviator-style model. She texted him a week later: “Dave, I’m sitting in my living room watching TV, and I just now realized I still have my sunglasses on. I can’t believe how awesome they are!”
Feaser provided Peaks for the participants in last summer’s Ann Liguori Foundation charity tournament at Atlantic Golf Club on Long Island. When he was introduced at the post-round dinner, the room gave him a standing ovation. Usually, you need Derek Jeter or Joe Torre to earn that kind of reaction from New Yorkers.
Although the glasses are made in Asia, PeakVision is headquartered in the U.S. To be precise, it’s based in Fraser’s rec room at his home in Conway, S.C. “It’s me, my son and about five reps,” Feaser said with a laugh.
They’re expanding from www.PeakVision.com to select green-grass golf shops on Long Island and California, and possibly into two national sporting-goods retailers soon.
I can’t swear that I shoot lower scores or make more putts when I wear PeakVision sunglasses. I can’t confirm that I play better with them on. However, I will say this regarding the shots I hit: I can see clearly now.
Gary Van Sickle has covered golf since 1980 for Sports Illustrated and Golf.com, Golf World and The Milwaukee Journal. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @GaryVanSickle