‘Not for everybody’: Why Phil Mickelson wears sunglasses in the rain

phil mickelson in rain at pga

Phil Mickelson at the PGA Championship on Saturday.

getty images

Phil Mickelson has never been shy about experimenting with gear to optimize his performance. He has played with two drivers, no drivers and a 10-year-old driver. At the 2013 Masters, he famously gamed a so-called Phrankenwood, which was, in essence, a Callaway X-Hot 3-wood with the equivalent loft and shaft of a driver. Mickelson has played with five wedges, and at the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot he wielded a 64-degree wedge.

But on Saturday at the PGA Championship, it wasn’t the contents of Mickelson’s bag that raised eyebrows but instead what was sitting on the bridge of his nose: sunglasses. Many players wear shades, of course, but not in the rain — or, more to the point, in a steady downpour, which is what the players endured for much of the third round at Oak Hill. Pros wore rain suits, caddies wrung out towels, fans hid under umbrellas, and through it all Mickelson remained loyal to his spectacles.

Frames in the rain? What gives? After his round, Mickelson explained in a tweet to CBS Sports golf writer Kyle Porter:

“They are light enhancement glasses that are made for overcast and rainy days,” Mickelson wrote. “They add light, helps to read greens, and protects from wind and rain drops. They’re not for everybody. In fact, not many people even know of them.”

Mickelson’s brand of choice is Uswing. He is wearing the GF002 model this week and wore the company’s BD005 model at the Masters last month (also in the rain). According to the company’s history published on its website, the inspiration for the brand came from Warren Fong, “a rigorous Chinese amateur golfer with a single handicap.” In 2019, Wong played in a pro-am in China with Mickelson, and on the 14th hole he and Mickelson disagreed on which way a 4-foot putt would break. “Mickelson thought the ball should be putted into the hole by the left side while Fong believed otherwise,” the company’s history reads. “In the end, Fong made the right judgment wearing the Uswing sunglasses.”

Mickelson was apparently sold on the glasses, and first wore them at The Match in 2020. He was also wearing them en route to victory at the 2021 PGA Championship, and on many occasions since then.

Mickelson wears the glasses “without any endorsement, because it helps his game,” Eric Lee, a Uswing marketing executive, told GOLF.com Saturday evening.

Mickelson didn’t explain the technology behind his glasses, but polarized lenses can indeed be effective in the rain, especially when driving (cars not golf balls). “The ideal driving tint for medium to low sunlight is going to be a Category 2 lens or lighter,” according to a blog post on the website of another sunglass lens company, Fuse Lenses. “A Category 2 lens includes VLTs that range from 18-45%, meaning that the lenses allow 18-45% of visible light to pass through the lenses. Lenses in this category are perfect for the rain since they allow more light in and are suitable for conditions below bright sunlight.”

Mickelson wears sunglasses in all conditions these days — they have become a staple of his look — but for most of his career he went shade-free. That changed during the Covid pandemic when, Mickelson says, he began using Carac cream.

“[It’s] like a skin cancer chemotherapy treatment on your face for, like, two weeks,” Mickelson explained when he joined the CBS booth at the 2020 PGA Championship. “Your skin blotches up and you kill these cancer cells that you can’t see, and when I went outside, I had to wear some protection so I wore these glasses to protect the area around my eyes.

“I liked them. They didn’t move around on my face when I was swinging. I went out and played with them, and I thought ‘Oh, I’ll give it a try.’ So that’s kind of where it started and then my eyes were much more relaxed at the end of the day, they weren’t squinting the whole time.”

Be he playing in rain or shine.

Alan Bastable

Golf.com Editor

As GOLF.com’s executive editor, Bastable is responsible for the editorial direction and voice of one of the game’s most respected and highly trafficked news and service sites. He wears many hats — editing, writing, ideating, developing, daydreaming of one day breaking 80 — and feels privileged to work with such an insanely talented and hardworking group of writers, editors and producers. Before grabbing the reins at GOLF.com, he was the features editor at GOLF Magazine. A graduate of the University of Richmond and the Columbia School of Journalism, he lives in New Jersey with his wife and foursome of kids.