Maui Jim Sunglasses -- Clarity and Color on the Golf Course

By Jeffrey A. Rendall, Images courtesy of Maui Jim

LAHAINA, MAUI, HI – There’s no question about it, if you can’t see it, you can’t do it – at least when it comes to golf. Of course, there are the human interest stories of vision impaired golfers who carry their love of the game forward, but for the rest of us, seeing truly is believing.

For that reason, it’s vital to have the right eyewear – not only to help identify your golf targets, but to help block out the sometimes overpowering glare that comes with playing a sport that’s outdoors.

For us, it could be none other than Maui Jim sunglasses.

Perhaps best known for producing shades for surfers and other tropical ocean sun-lovers, the company’s products can just as easily help out duffers on the links. I’ve been wearing Maui Jim sunglasses for over nine years now, and I can honestly report – they’re the standard for comfort, looks and performance.

We caught up recently with Paul Ponder, Manager of Maui Jim’s 25,000 square foot digital lens lab in Illinois. Ponder was more than happy to explain how Maui Jim’s the right choice for golfers.   Tell me a little about the history of the company – how it started, when, why.... etc...

Ponder: Maui Jim began as one man selling sunglasses on the beaches of Maui, Hawaii, back in the early 1980s. As local demand grew for sunglasses that provided advanced protection from the severe glare and UV rays of the Hawaiian sun – without distorting the beautiful colors of the Islands – the company developed proprietary technology – PolarizedPlus®, which was later patented and subsequently enhanced to create the company’s newest technology, PolarizedPlus2®. Maui Jim was “born” with an original line of seven sunglass styles. 

Up to 1991, the sunglasses were exclusively sold in Maui, Hawaii. In 1991, the company was purchased by Hester Enterprises, and in 1994, Hester enlisted RLI Vision Corporation of Peoria, Illinois, to be the mainland distributor of Maui Jim Sunglasses for the ophthalmic market.   Maui Jim, Inc. was established in December 1996, when Maui Jim Sunglasses acquired RLI Vision. Today, the company sells more than 88 styles and 200 SKUs and is the fastest growing polarized sunglass maker in the world.   How did Maui Jim become involved in making glasses for golfers?

Ponder: Maui Jim’s history is in producing glasses for active lifestyles. We started with water sports because of our origins in Hawaii, but quickly branched into other performance sports where pro, amateur and weekend sports enthusiasts spent long days outdoors and needed superior protection from the sun’s harsh rays.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is thinking they don’t need to wear sunglasses. Did you know that by the time you turn 60, unprotected eyes will be exposed to as much UV light as a nuclear blast? For that reason, it’s been our goal to make the best lenses in the business in frames that don’t make you sacrifice protection for performance, style and comfort.   From a technological standpoint, what about the glasses will help golfers? Is it more than just eye protection?

Ponder: There are six major points of differentiation between Maui Jim sunglasses and other manufacturers:

1)      Maui Jim’s Freeform® digital engineering process produces a lens that offers the widest, clearest optics in the industry. In fact, equipment manufacturers come to our lab to test products because our systems are more precise than any other lab.

2)      Maui Jim is the only company that uses PolarizedPlus2® lens technology to protect golfer’s eyes from above, below and behind each lens. This technology uses up to 9 layers of protection around both sides of the lens to reduce 99.9 percent of harmful glare. These filters block glare from any flat, smooth, or shiny surface, which makes it possible to better see the undulation of fairways and greens.

Anti-reflective treatments are specifically designed to eliminate eye fatigue from continuous hours in the sun. Additionally, Maui Jim’s UV ray reduction is unparalleled, cutting 100 percent of UV rays. Unique, bi-gradient mirror technology adds protection from light through the top and bottom of each lens – basically, the glasses squint for you. Only Maui Jim embeds three rare earth elements in its lenses that significantly enhance color. This combined technology delivers a higher level of contrast and depth perception than is available in any other lens.

3)      Not all lens materials are designed for all sports. We offer four different lens options. Maui Jim’s SuperThin Glass lenses have the crispest edge-to-edge optics and are 20 percent thinner and lighter than conventional glass lenses. SuperThin Glass is a good choice for sports with a low risk of glasses getting bumped or falling off the face.

Maui Evolution® lenses are perfect for active lifestyles because they fuse the best properties of SuperThin Glass and polycarbonate materials into a lightweight, scratch- and impact-resistant lens with high-performance optics (great for golf). Polycarbonate lenses afford sharp optics and the most durability against shattering (good for golf). The new MauiPure® lenses are the eyewear industry’s clearest non-glass lens that is ultra-light, scratch- and impact-resistant (terrific for golf). Most of our lenses can be made into superior MauiPassport™ prescription lenses in powers from +3.00 to -3.50.

4)      Maui Jim offers four different lens colors for varying play conditions. Our Neutral Grey lenses are designed for bright sunny days; HCL® Bronze lenses are for days when puffy clouds blow over; Maui HT lenses brighten darker days; and Maui Rose lenses enhance contrast for fast moving sports.

5)      For golfers who need a little help reading their scorecards or cell phones, MauiReaders® have hidden bifocals encased in lightweight polycarbonate lenses with PolarizedPlus®2 technology. Available in two styles – Ho’okipa and Makaha – they are available in add powers of +1.50, +2.00 and +2.50.

6)      Maui Jim offers the most precise prescription lenses in the industry. All Maui Jim lenses are made by us in our 25,000 square foot digital lens lab. Unique to Maui Jim is that the engineering process is customized to compensate for each individual prescription. We are the only company that not only accounts for the unique aspects of a patient’s prescription, but also adjusts the digital manufacturing to the precise measurements of our frames. This is how we are able to produce the clearest, edge-to-edge optics; and our accuracy is six times better than a conventional lab. The frames sure are light and flexible, quite an improvement over past models. Are they made specifically with sports in mind?

Ponder: All Maui Jim sunglasses are designed for people with active lifestyles. Many of our frames have enhanced features for particular sports. Golfers should check out styles with the following materials:

·         People who participate in the most active sports have discovered the benefits of our rimless nylon frames that are made from lightweight high-grade nylon or Grilamid, a durable polymer that is known for its extreme bending strength.

·         Our rimless metal styles, made from a beta-titanium alloy, are ultra-light, flexible and will not kink or break. 

·         For golfers who are rugged with their frames, the MauiFlex Collection features full-metal frames that use a proprietary alloy that bends and twists, then pops back into shape.

·         Our newest sports styles in the MauiPure Collection are our lightest glasses because of the beta titanium alloy frames combined with the clearest non-glass lens on the market that is ultra-light, scratch- and impact-resistant. Our sunglasses for sports will have stabilizing features that enhance performance, like adjustable hypoallergenic nose grips and rubber temples, as well as an 8-base curvature that wraps the glasses more tightly around the face. How durable can we expect them to be? What exactly is ‘scratch-resistant,’ and what makes them so?

Ponder: Maui Jim sunglasses meet all the ANSI standards for durability. Additionally, we apply Clearshell® scratch-resistant technology for Maui Evolution® and Polycarbonate lenses to help them perform better for longer – which means clearer sight.

Maui Jim’s unique waterproof and oleophobic lens coatings repel water and grease, and make smudges and fingerprints easier to wipe away – both on the front and back sides of the lenses. All of the hardware is anti-corrosive; and many of our styles are hingeless or feature spring hinges for added comfort and grip. With Maui Jim, quality is assured. Each pair of glasses goes through 22 separate manufacturing steps and is inspected six times throughout the process to ensure quality. Less than one percent of jobs are returned for manufacturing errors -- this is the lowest return rate in the industry. What models/types do you recommend specifically for golfers?

Ponder: We have so many terrific styles for golf (and for the 19th hole!):

·         Nakalele (Style #527,$319) features our new MauiPure lenses that are the eyewear industry’s clearest non-glass lens that is also scratch- and impact-resistant. This ultra-light sunglass gives a nod to a rimless aviator in a larger style.

·         Ironwoods (Style #320, $329 US MSRP) in the MauiFlex Collection features a memory metal frame that twists and bends and bounces back into shape. The Maui Evolution lenses fuse the best properties of SuperThin glass with the scratch- and impact-resistant benefits of polycarbonate lenses. The rubber temples enhance stability and grip.

·         For the 19th hole, Cliff House (Style #247, $279) is a classic aviator that’s been updated with today’s newest technology. This frame is popular with both male and female style-conscious golfers. The MauiGradient lenses feature a single gradient tint that is darker at the top of the lens and gradually gets lighter going towards the bottom. This style is great for driving and hanging out with friends.

·         Women will want to take a look at two of our newest styles that are also fashion-forward. These sunglasses come with lustrous finishes that add a touch of elegance:

o   Lilikoi (Style #258, $299 USD MSRP) is a new addition to the company’s MauiGradient™ (single gradient) collection of sunglasses. Each lens features a darker coating at the top of the lens that gradually gets lighter moving down the lens. With this technology, an appropriate amount of light is allowed to filter through certain areas, while less light comes through where protection is paramount. Lilikoi lenses are made from SuperThin (ST) Glass that is 20 percent lighter and thinner than conventional laminated lenses. For a day at the beach or a drive in a convertible with girlfriends, Lilikoi’s fashionable, lightweight acetate frame comes in Amethyst and Mauve, as well as Sandstone and Charcoal and fits smaller faces.

o   Ginger (Style #221, $299 US MSRP) is a midsize, round frame that is ultra-chic and feminine. This high-gloss style has an eye size of 69 mm; bridge size of 17 mm; and temple length of 130 mm, as well as a 6-base curvature. , Maui Jim’s Ginger sunglasses have SuperThin(ST) Glass lenses that are twenty percent thinner and lighter than conventional glass lenses. They have the MauiGradient tint that is darker at the top and lighter at the bottom of the lens. They are durable, scratch- and saltwater-resistant, and optically clear. Ginger comes in Mauve, Charcoal, Chocolate and Matte Sandstone. Anything else we should know about Maui Jim?

Ponder: All of Maui Jim’s styles and lenses are covered by the company’s standard two-year warranty that is considered one of the best in the eyewear industry. Our glasses meet ANSI, EN or AS standards. Whether sunglasses require a quick fix or major overhaul, the repair center is committed to providing a fast turnaround at a reasonable price.

The customer service department is the largest department in our company because we don’t want our customers to be without their glasses for too long -- because most of them love them too much! We strive to get your glasses back to you within only a few days from the time that they arrive in our lab.

There are a few famous golfers who wear Maui Jim: Matt Kuchar, David Mathis, Ryan Palmer, Darren Clarke, Brittany Lincicome, Katherine Hull and others.

During the past year, Maui Jim supported more than 100 worthwhile organizations that focus on everything from cures for breast cancer, support for children and major initiatives that protect the world’s oceans. Annually, we are involved in some of the most prominent charity golf tournaments, including the USCF Medical Center Celebrity Golf Classic benefitting the Michael J. Fox Foundation and many others.


As indicated above, I’ve enjoyed Maui Jim’s products for years, and my first pair is still in great shape and works as well as the day I bought them.

The new products are even better, with lightweight frames and lenses that bring out the vivid colors on the golf course – and everywhere else for the matter.

Eyewear would certainly be considered an accessory in every golfer’s repertoire – and if you’re in the market for some top-of-the-line sunglasses, be sure to give Maui Jim a try.


Maui Jim Sunglasses

To find a retailer near you, check out the company’s website:

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