Oakley Mercenary review: with Prizm Golf Lenses, these sunglasses will change how you see the course

Fine tuned vision and richer colour - these revolutionary lenses will enhance your performance as well as your on course experience

T3 Platinum Award
Oakley Mercenary Prizm Golf Sunglasses
(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

This offering from Oakley is designed to enhance colour and contrast to allow you to see more detail on the course, and boy do they deliver.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Enhanced colour and contrast

  • +

    100% protection against UVA/UVB rays

  • +

    Scratch proof

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Not the sturdiest

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I tried the Mercenary sunglasses with Prizm Golf lenses for this review and found them to be exactly as advertised: they enhance colour and contrast and deliver the goods in a variety of weather conditions. Oakley are one of the world’s leading sunglasses brands and their range of golf eyewear compares favourably with the best sunglasses for golf. Prizm lens technology has been a real game changer and Oakley have several variations of Prizm tailored to individual sports and activities. 

This particular pair – the Oakley Mercenary  with Prizm Golf Lenses, to give them their full title – is undoubtedly among the best golf sunglasses you can buy. Here's my review…

Oakley Mercenary Sunglasses

(Image credit: Oakley)

Oakley Mercenary - Price & Availability

The Mercenary are currently unavailable direct from Oakley but there are some great deals to be had if you shop around online and you should be able to pick a pair up for £100 or less. Currently you can grab a pair here at Optimal Optic for a bargain £79

They are available in various frame and lens combinations but if your primary use is going to be on the course then go for Prizm Golf or Prizm Dark Golf.

Oakley Mercenary Golf Sunglasses

(Image credit: Oakley)

Oakley Mercenary - Design and Build

What is Prizm lens technology? Prizm lenses are made when a specially chosen dye is mixed with plutonite—Oakley’s patented polycarbonate material—then sent through an extruder to molecularly bond the materials. The lens material is then injection-molded to create the lenses, which include anti-fog and scratch-resistance treatments, as well as a smudge-proof coating.

Prizm golf lenses make it easier to gauge distance, grass conditions, and ball speed. The idea behind it is that by improving the contrast and allowing you to distinguish between different shades of green, you will then be able to see changes in grass texture and contours on the putting green. Does it work? Yes, but you still need to be able to work out how what you see is going to effect your putt. When you figure that out there is a definite advantage to using Prizm Golf lenses.

In addition to the Prizm lens, the Mercenary features a sleek double bridge architecture with a larger lens shape, giving an extended field of view. The lightweight O Matter frame material provides durability and comfort while Unobtainium nosepads increase grip with perspiration which will keep the glasses in place even on the hottest of days.

Lenses can also be tailored to prescriptions.

Oakley Mercenary Golf Sunglasses

(Image credit: Oakley)

Oakley Mercenary - Features

Although this review is about the Mercenary, essentially it’s mainly about the Prizm golf lenses because that’s what separates Oakley golf sunglasses from the competition. You can get Prizm golf lenses in any of the frame designs, such as Holbrook, Half Jacket and Flak. 

Oakley Prizm Golf and Prizm Dark Golf lenses are fine tuned to boost contrast and adapt to varying levels of light. Prizm golf works in any conditions but it is ideal for low to medium light, while Prizm Dark Golf is for the brightest, sunniest of days. You’d only need the Dark variation if you live in a hot climate. There’s not much call for them in the UK!  

Prizm Golf lenses will help your game in a number of ways. Obviously they will shield your eyes from the sun and improve your vision by filtering out the bad light that washes out or hinders vision, and amping up the good light to improve contrast and decrease eye fatigue. 

As previously stated, they’ll improve the contrast to separate different shades of green to allow you to spot fairway, fringe, rough transitions and also differentiate grain direction to help you judge ball speed on the greens.

It is important to point out that Prizm lenses aren’t polarized. Prizm is an entirely different lens technology. Unlike polarised, Prizm lenses don’t block glare from reflected light, they just amplify what you’re seeing.

Polarised lenses are not always ideal in hand co-ordinated sports environments. They will reduce glare but they can also throw off depth perception which is not really what you need when trying to line up a putt.

Oakley Mercenary Prizm Golf Sunglasses

(Image credit: Future)

Oakley Mercenary - Performance

I have also recently reviewed the Henrik Stenson Iceman 3.0 golf sunglasses so that was a useful comparison tool when I took the Mercenarys for a spin. You can’t go wrong with either of these products but they aren’t exactly the same. The main difference is in the lens and how they affect colour and contrast. I found that the Iceman 3.0 just takes away glare and makes things a little less light, whereas the Prizm lens in the Mercenary noticeably enhances colours and changes the contrast.

On the golf course I loved how the Prizm lens performed. The contrast makes it so easy to see the ball in-flight and also on the fairways and green. I also liked that the lenses were large enough to cover more or less my entire field of vision. Sometimes if they are a little short it can be distracting but the Mercenary was a nice fit for golf.

The colour and contrast enhancement from these lenses is really noticeable and especially so when viewing a smartphone screen. The difference between looking at a screen with and without the Mercenary sunnies on is like the difference between standard TV and High Definition.

The most impressive aspect for me though was how the Prizm lens differentiates between different shades of green. This was highlighted for me not on the golf course, but in my Dad's front garden! 

I was wearing the glasses while driving and as I pulled up the driveway I noticed the front lawn looked very patchy and yellow. Yet when I removed the sunnies it was barely noticeable. I put them back on and the difference was startling. Oakley say these lenses will separate the different shades of green and they absolutely do.

Having read some reviews online there seemed to be quite a bit of negativity surrounding the nose piece, with plenty of customers complaining that it fell off within a few weeks. Personally I found there to be no issue there whatsoever, but it is something to be aware of because, unlike with some other sunglasses you cannot buy replacements if they do fall off and you lose them. Just something to consider, but like I say, I haven’t experienced any such problem.

Oakley Mercenary - Verdict

You can’t go wrong with any of the Oakley golf range if you go with the Prizm lens, but the Mercenary are a fine choice as they are at the less expensive end of the scale. The added bonus is that they do not specifically look like sports specific glasses and that versatility makes them an ideal choice in any social situation. 

For more deals from Oakley, head to our Oakley discount codes page. 

David Usher

Dave is a distinctly average golfer with (fading) aspirations to be so much more than that. An avid collector of vintage Ping putters and the world's biggest Payne Stewart fan, Dave turned his front garden into a giant putting green to work on the weakest area of his game, but sadly to date he has seen no improvement. In addition to his work reviewing golf gear for T3, Dave is also the founder and editor of Bang Average Golf TV website