As a contact wearer and avid golfer, I've been in need of a good pair of sunglasses for a while now. It isn't much fun squinting and fighting dry eyes during a round of golf in the sun.
Kaenon Polarized is a company that manufactures sunglasses for a variety of sports, ranging from kite boarding to climbing to golf. Competing against giants like Oakley and smaller but somewhat entrenched companies like Tifosi, Kaenon has their work cut out for them. Can their products compare or even surpass the others? Read on to find out.
Kaenon Polarized is based in Newport Beach, CA. With most of their market focused on water sports, the "polarized" part of the name comes in great use. Most of us don't try to make golf a water sport, but we all know it is part of the game. Whether it's Pebble Beach or your own local muni course, the harsh sunlight beating off the water can be distracting and nearly blinding.
Though most golfers may not realize it, grass is actually rather shiny itself. Light bouncing off of grass is equally diminished with polarization, reducing the glare and sheen you often see staring down the fairway to a richer, deeper green.
I was able to sample the Kore and Hard Kore versions of Kaenon's line of sunglasses, both of which are worn by PGA Tour players. I was curious to see how these would hold up in all the different conditions that golf throws at you. Early morning haze, mid-day sunlight and low-light dusk. After a month or so, here are my thoughts.
Build and Options
The Hard Kore sunglasses are built using, according to Kaenon, "innovative materials." Sounds like it's some fancy, proprietary material that Kaenon doesn't want anyone to think about copying. The result is a lightweight but extremely durable frame.
The Hard Kore and, as I found, most Kaenon sunglasses conform to the natural shape of the wearer's head and accommodate for different facial features. You can order the Hard Kore with two lens shape options - Regular, for smaller faces or high cheek bone structures and Large, which is about two millimeters wider and deeper than the Regular lens shape which still gives the wearer a better protection from the wind and elements.
The Kore model is a bit more rounded and sleeker, with slimmer arms. It is also made with the mystery material mentioned before. The Kore comes with three different lens sizes to accommodate, again, for different face sizes and shapes. Large, Medium, and Small lenses can be ordered for the variety of faces that can be found out there and optimize the fit, feel, and performance for any type of use.
One thing that neither the Hard Kore nor Kore sunglasses have is vented lenses. Quite a bit of manufacturers have designed their lenses with vent areas in the upper portion which allows for air to circulate behind the lens, keeping it cool. Numerous models of Oakley and Tifosi sunglasses are vented.
When it came to the build of the lens, our contact at Kaenon had this to add:
Another big differentiator is Kaenon's proprietary SR-91® lens material. It allows for these various purpose-built lens tints and ultimately offers the optical acuity of the finest glass lenses with unprecedented impact resistance above and beyond polycarbonate. Kaenon's SR-91® is the lightest weight polarized lens ever invented and the very first non-compromising lens material brought to the golfing market. It's gauranteed for life against cracking, splitting or delaming. It is also Rx-able in ever style in the line…
In short, Kaenon offers the lightest and possibly strongest polarized lenses on the market and can bulid them to your perscription as well.
Feel and Performance
The Kaenons arrived at a good time for me as I was only a couple weeks away from a golf trip to Myrtle Beach. We were playing pretty much all day so it provided the perfect opportunity to test in different light. Most people view sunglasses as simply a way to block light, but golfers look for ways to cut down the haze and increase the level of detail around the green. I was hoping to evaluate all of these functions.
I use to wear glasses over 10 years ago. During that time, the most annoying thing to me was, when at address, was that the ball would sometimes be obscured by the bottom of the frame. It made it hard to focus. After getting contacts I still had problems with some sunglasses I tried. With the Kore and Hard Kore, that problem goes away. The lens in both of these frames wraps entirely around your face. In the instance of the Hard Kore you are able to get different size lenses depending on your face size. I only took a normal and it was a perfect fit. Even during a bright afternoon I didn't have any light creeping underneath the lens.
When I first saw the Hard Kore sunglasses, I thought that they would feel a bit heavy on my face and, after a long day of golf, start to create some sore spots on the bridge of my nose or on my ears. Fortunately, this wasn't the case at all. I wore the Hard Kore lenses for nearly nine hours of golf during one of my marathon golf days and not once did I need to take them off. In fact, after a while, I forgot they were on.
The Kore is a little less bulky and has the same effect. They are even more lightweight and easy to wear for long periods at a time.
As for the esthetics of the Kore and Hard Kore, I would have to say that I preferred the look of the Kore over the Hard Kore. The Kore sunglasses had a more modern look with some curved lines around the face and towards the nose of the frame. It was much more comparable to Oakleys and other sport sunglasses on the market right now.
Hard Kore frames, from the front, look pretty good. The frame itself stays on the top of the lens and has a pleasing appearance. The side though is a bit too thick for my liking though. Of course, the thick arms do keep any light from entering from the side. Your peripheral vision is blocked slightly, but not to any degree that it would bother you. Kore frames let in a small amount of light on the side but it isn't too noticeable.
When it came to the lenses, I received the G-12 in my Hard Kore and the C-50 in my Kore frames. The numeric designation of the lens types refers to the amount of light the lens lets through. The lower the number, the smaller the amount of light is let through. The letter designation indicates the color of the lens. In this case, the G-12 was a simple grey lens that does not change the color of the light as it passes through. The C-50 was a copper lens that is designed to highlight detail. It was also recommended for golf and active sports.
Of the two lenses, I actually preferred the G-12. I was surprised that I was able to use it so early in the morning. It did a great job in cutting down the haze/fog of the summer mornings that sometimes shows up just before the sun breaks. The C-50s were as good or even better during the morning hours, but I found myself wanting to swap them out for the G-12 lenses as the sun got higher, and brighter, in the sky. I could put the G-12s on in the morning and not worry about removing them for the rest of the round or day. The Hard Kore frames with the G-12s made a good combination on the golf course, in my opinion.
I've never owned a pair of sunglasses that I was able to wear on the greens. I've always felt that I was missing some detail and contour when looking through the lens. I was more curious to see what would happen on the putting surface with the Kaenons than anywhere else.
What I can tell you for a fact is that I never once took the Kaenons off. Not the Kore or Hard Kore. Both of the lenses provided did an excellent job in allowing the detail of the green to show up. Now I can't really say that it helped me, but I know it didn't hurt. The best part is that I didn't have to take the sunglasses off and squint down my line during a bright afternoon. Even in the morning with the darkest of lenses (the G-12s in the Hard Kore) I didn't have to remove them. I have to give kudos to Kaenon here because I was a bit doubtful that I could use any sunglasses around the green.
The experience I had with Kaenon sunglasses was outstanding. Both the Kore and Hard Kore models are PGA Tour and Sand Trap tried and trued. Davis Love III dons the Hard Kore and Robert Allenby sports the Kore model. My preference is, by a small margin, the Hard Kore model. I believe it did a bit better in blocking all the light and it also had the lens I preferred as well. I would like to have tried the G-12 style lens in the Kore model. This combination might have won out as it might have gotten top marks in both form and function. I just wasn't sold on the C-50 lens during the peak sunlight hours.
At $199 a pop for the Hard Kore and $170 for the Kore it's a bit of an investment for a pair of sunglasses. You have to look at it that way though. These are light and durable sunglasses that have virtually no drawbacks. From my point of view, as long as I don't lose them, the Hard Kore's will be not only in my bag, but wherever I go… and that's a worthwhile investment.