There are a lot of nuances to playing golf that can make it a challenging sport for many. The only way to get better is to practice, but it can be difficult to practice regularly if you don’t have a course nearby or don’t have the means or access to transportation to use a course. A great solution is to practice at home with a golf simulator.
Golf simulators are worth the money for serious golfers who want to analyze their swing, understand their weaknesses, and improve their overall game. They also allow you to practice without leaving the comfort of your own home.
In the rest of this article, I’ll explain why golf simulators are worthwhile, how they work, and what you need to know before purchasing. I’ll also offer my recommendations for some of the best golf simulator products on the market.
Are Golf Simulators Worthwhile?
Golf simulators are high-tech systems that allow golfers to practice golfing inside their homes in a virtual environment. The simulator is designed just like a real game of golf, but it also records and analyzes the golfer’s performance so they can evaluate their weaknesses.
Golf simulators are worthwhile for golfers who are willing to commit time and money to improve their game. If golfers are willing to analyze their swing and work on their weaknesses, they’ll likely see their skills improve when using a simulator regularly.
Here are some benefits of using a simulator:
- Simulators can be used at any time and without weather restrictions. Gone are the days of having to abide by your local course’s opening hours or praying for good weather so you can get in a practice round. With a simulator, you could practice golf in the middle of the night, if you want to.
- Different simulators have different real-world golf courses. You may never get to play the Augusta National course in real life, but you can in a simulator!
- You can use the data provided to help you adjust your swing and improve your game. Using a simulator will help you understand why your shots tend to veer to the left, why you seem to top the ball, or any other specific issue. Once you have the information, you can adjust how you swing and watch your shots improve.
- You can get through a round of golf quickly. It takes the average golfer an hour to complete 18 holes using a simulator, which is different from the four-ish hours it would take at a real course! With a simulator, a round of golf doesn’t have to be a half-day commitment; it can be something you can realistically squeeze into an afternoon.
- They’re great for kids. Kids may lose interest in a game of golf after six holes, which is frustrating if you’ve paid for the whole round. You don’t have this problem with a simulator! If you have kids who are just getting into the game, this could be just the thing they need to inspire a lifelong love.
- Golf simulators can be fun! It doesn’t have to be all about improving your game! Golf simulators can simply be a fun way to pass a slow Sunday afternoon.
If all these benefits seem worth a decent chunk of money to you, I would recommend buying a simulator.
How Do Golf Simulators Work?
Golf simulators work by taking the details of a shot and swing using motion-detecting hardware and technology to process and analyze the data. The results of this analysis are then provided to the golfer.
There are a few different types of simulators:
- Photometric. These have a camera that can capture images of the ball after impact. The software then uses these images to derive data parameters.
- Stereoscopic. This system takes pictures of the ball from two approaches and then uses both of these images to create even more accurate measurements.
- Triscopic. This is the same as the stereoscopic system, but with three cameras.
- Quadrascopic. Again, this is the same as the stereoscopic system, but with four cameras.
- Infrared. This type of simulator uses light signals to simulate the clubhead’s position and doesn’t measure the ball.
- Radar. These track the golf ball with radar technology. The radars emit a signal which bounces off the ball.
Almost all golf simulators measure the following data:
- Ball speed
- Launch angle
- Back spin
- Side spin
- Side angle
- Carry distance
Some more expensive simulators offer more measurements.
What to Know Before Buying a Golf Simulator
Before you make the investment, here are some things you should know:
- You’ll need to designate some space in your home or garage. Indoor golf simulators require a space that is 10 feet (3.05 meters) wide, 12 feet (3.66 meters) deep, and 9 feet (2.74 meters) high. The best places for a golf simulator are in basements and garages.
- Golf simulators vary widely in price. You should view your golf simulator as an investment because they can be extremely expensive. These simulators can cost anywhere from $799 to $70,000, so take some time to pick a budget that is right for you.
- You’ll need multiple items to build a home golf simulator. Some simulator packages also come with mats and other things you may need, but some don’t. You’ll need a mat, a projector, nets and impact screens, the simulator itself, and a computer for a complete setup.
If you’re wondering why there’s such a large range in prices, here are some factors that contribute to a more expensive price tag on golf simulators:
- Launch monitor technology. Low-cost golf simulators have launch monitors that use basic metrics to calculate your shot, whereas higher-end simulators monitor everything they possibly can about your shot. For this reason, more expensive simulators result in more reliable and accurate data.
- Different software costs. Some software is in the simulator unit itself, and in other cases, it is an additional cost that you must pay.
- Mats. The mat you’re using also varies in quality. Some simple square mats will do the job, but they could cause injury or fatigue over time. Other premium mats simulate real grass and are better for the knees.
Golf Simulator Products
If you do think a golf simulator is a good investment for you and your family, here are some of my suggestions for which products to get.
If you want to stay below $3,500, one of the things you can do is choose a net and TV setup instead of using a projector and a screen. You’ll hit the ball the same, but instead of viewing your shot on a projector and hitting a hitting screen, you’ll see your shot on a TV or tablet, and a net will capture your ball.
I recommend this SASRL Golf Practice Net from Amazon.com. This net has enough space to swing comfortably, and the net is made with tear-resistant and high-strength material that won’t break, even with the most powerful swings.
However, if you want to opt for a screen and projector setup, I recommend the Aikeec Indoor Golf Simulator Impact Screen (available on Amazon.com). This screen is soft, strong, and wrinkle-free, and the fabric is designed to take the full impact of a golf ball, so you don’t have to be afraid to give it your best shot. It also has a tight and smooth surface that creates a crisper and clearer image for a more immersive overall experience.
For a projector, you can’t go wrong with the BenQ MW632ST WXGA Short Throw Projector (available on Amazon.com). This projector has a high native contrast ratio, which means that the color is extremely vivid and has an extremely high resolution for clear imagery. The extended lamp life will surely last you a long time.
I suggest the FlightScope Mevo+ Portable Golf Launch Monitor (available on Amazon.com) for a lower-budget simulator. This simulator comes with several simulated golf courses, 17 practice ranges, and a mini-game, though you have options to make additional purchases later. The data parameters include:
- Ball distance
- Club speed
- Speed of the ball
- Rate, axis, and loft of spin
- Angle of attack
- Horizontal launch
- Vertical angle
- Landing parameters
- Shot shape
- Total distance
- Flight time
Finally, if you’re really ready to commit and you’re ready to make a significant financial investment, the Optishot 2 Golf Simulator for Home (available on Amazon.com) is a great choice for a bundle. The pro bundle comes with:
- Swing pad
- Retractable screen enclosure
- Wall mount
- Adjustable rubber tees
- Two foam practice balls
- Impact screen
The software provides accurate swing analysis and gives you access to fifteen realistic and famous golf courses worldwide. You also have the ability to play with up to four people if you get the OptiShot2 Software.
There are many other options for golf simulators and golf simulator setups available, so if nothing I listed above seems right for you, don’t distress!
If you’re a serious golfer and want the opportunity to play more frequently, at any time, during any weather, and in the comfort of your home, then a golf simulator is a worthy investment for you. After some time and practice, you’ll notice an improvement in your gameplay, and maybe even your mood as well!