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Pro Tips On How To Choose an Indoor Golf Simulator

Pro Tips On How To Choose an Indoor Golf Simulator

There's probably no golfer who doesn't dream of playing a thrilling session of golf right in the comfort of their home. However, the steep price tags of golf simulators have always been cited as the restricting factor by many. But not anymore!

Thanks to the technological advancements and the growing size of the home golf market, many manufacturers have now entered this space. This has not only brought in more competition but it has also led to the drop in the prices of these simulators, making it affordable for the average Joe.

In this article, we will give you all the information you need to choose your golf simulator. This guide covers topics like the best way to practice golf at home, tips on building your home golf simulator, the cost of golf simulator, and many more important details.

However, before we get started, let us first look at what a golf simulator can do.

What is a golf simulator?

A golf simulator allows patrons of the sport to indulge in their favorite game in an indoor setting by playing on a photographically or graphically simulated golf course. To begin the session, the player stands on a swing pad, which is like a platform,  in front of a screen projector. The screen displays images of a golf course to give a realistic feel.

The player then hits the ball shown on the screen just as he would do normally on a real golf course. The indoor golf simulator tracks the ball flight, analyzes the swings, and gives instant feedback for improving one's game. 

Getting yourself a golf simulator for home can be a great idea as you can play the game whenever you like and in any weather condition. Additionally, it takes less time to practice golf at home using a simulator as most rounds can be completed in under 60 minutes. Also, there is no obligation to play all 18 holes.

The best way to practice golf at home

A home golf simulator gives you instant access to an indoor golf course! If you are still not excited, we give you 3 more reasons to convince you that an indoor golf simulator is the best way to practice golf at home.

  • Quality practice sessions

Like any other game, golf also requires tons of practice. The golf simulator screen helps you to not only practice your swings and shots but also replicate them in a real match by ingraining it into your muscle memory. Thus your body is better equipped to swing optimally as the shot is registered in memory.

  • Gives more options

If you want to play on cool golf courses like PGA National, Pebble Beach, Muirfield Village, and others, you can do so even with a cheap golf simulator.

  • Provides constructive feedback

Golf simulators use sensors or video cameras or both to track the movement of the clubhead as it comes close to the ball, hits the ball and completes the swing. This data is then downloaded to a computer which then provides an in-depth analysis of your swing. It also offers suggestions that you might consider for improving your skills.

Build Your Home Golf Simulator

Golf simulators are available at most pro shops. However, you can save big money by deciding to build one for your home. All you need is a decent budget, space, and basic materials for setting up the simulator. To help you get started we have put together all the information required in this article. So keep reading!

To accomplish the task at hand, there are 3 major factors to consider. Let us now look into them in detail:

  • Decide on a budget for your indoor golf simulator system

Fixing a budget for your golf simulator is one of the first things to do as all the subsequent tasks depend on it. A basic well to do simulator can cost anywhere between $700-$1000 and the sophisticated models can cost up to $25000-$30000.

The biggest factor that drives the cost is the overall technology. While the cheap golf simulators measure only a few data points, the more costly systems provide a comprehensive review of your swings.

Another factor that plays a deciding role in fixing the budget is the cost of various pieces of equipment required for setting up the golf simulator. If you are on a tight budget you can choose to use a simple golf mat with a net and see your shot on a computer screen. On the other hand, if you have a slight wiggle room, you can opt for a high-resolution projector, projector screen, and a high quality hitting mat.

Additionally, the various features incorporated in the golf simulator like skills challenges, multi-player options, multiple golf courses, etc, can also drive the price. However, the good news is that there is a golf simulator available for every budget. Therefore do your homework well, compare the prices, and build your indoor golf simulator system on your choice of budget.

You May Also Like: Optishot 2 Golf Review

  • Minimum Golf simulator space requirements

The space available to set up the golf simulator is an important factor to consider before you go ahead to buy it. If you're planning to get a golf simulator home, you must place it in an area where there is no risk of any damages, where you will be able to swing freely, and if you want to ensure that you have adequate room to swing the club comfortably, it is highly recommended to measure the area where you want to set it up. This will help you to determine if the model you want can be easily accommodated in the space you have. Room height and ceiling height are the other things that have to be taken into account. Mostly golf analyzers find their place in basements and garages. 

Here is a brief explanation of the 3 most vital parameters:

1. Room Width

Golf simulators are often large. Therefore when buying one you must take into account the width of the room to determine if it can be set up in the space you have. You must also keep in mind the space occupied by the sensors and the screen.

Generally, this will be approximately 10 feet. However, you can do some digging around and find one that works well in a 5-foot space. Do remember to leave a couple of extra feet as it is required to comfortably take a shot. Another point to consider is that left-handed and right-handed players tend to have varying space requirements.

All in all, 12 feet is usually considered the ideal room width by many indoor golf experts. The safest width is around 15 feet. If you hit each shot accurately, this width is perfect. It is also sufficient for both left or right-handed players.

2. Room Depth

The next factor to consider is the room depth. As a general rule of the thumb, the room must provide enough space for the net or screen and the space required to take a full swing with your driver.

Most experts suggest that the depth of the room must be at least 12 feet. This takes into account the space between the wall and the impact screen as well as space between you and the impact screen, while still leaving sufficient space behind you. The safest room depth is around 15 feet. That is 8 to 12 ft between the screen and the tee, 6 feet behind the player, and 1 ft between the wall and the screen.

3. Ceiling Height

As for the ceiling height, the higher, the better. When installing a golf simulator in your living room or garage, the height of the ceiling becomes an important factor.

A ceiling with a height of  9 feet provides sufficient clearance space for an average-sized golfer. Although, the ceiling height could be lesser depending upon your height and swing.

Additionally, many pieces of equipment that are part of the golf simulator set up such as nets, impact screens, and simulator enclosures have minimum height requirements. So ensure to factor in their heights and compare it with the height of your ceiling before buying it. You can come to know about these details by reading the product specifications carefully. For safely accommodating most of the swings, you need a minimum height of around 9 – 10 feet.

. Materials to build a DIY home golf simulator

To build a home golf simulator, you will need 5-6 components. This includes the simulator, net, mat, and software. For most lower-priced simulator packages, you will need to buy a projector and PC separately. In each category of components, you will find products of varying costs depending on the durability and quality of each material.

As a golf simulator can be a big investment, you need to compare different options to determine which one is most appropriate for you. Here is a mini-guide for all the essential materials required to build a home golf simulator

1. Golf Practice Mat

You must choose a golf mat that suits your gameplay and style. This is important because having a good quality golf mat stimulates the feeling of playing the game on real turf. Therefore invest in a good mat if not the best and do not hit the golf balls from an old carpet or worn doormat!

Owning a great golf mat can help you practice and improve your skills. When you are in the market to buy a golf mat be sure to purchase it from a trusted seller that sells top quality goods. If not, you run the risk of damaging your clubs with an ill-constructed hitting surface.

Doing thorough research before making your decision can significantly improve your chances of choosing the right golf mat for your indoor golf range.

Golf mats with good craftsmanship and excellent quality are available in a budget of $150. Though pricey, consider it as an investment that will last for a couple of years.

2. Golf simulator projector vs without projector

The next thing that you need to decide on is whether you want to purchase a golf simulator projector or leave it. The answer to that is simple.  If you plan on using a simulator screen then it is important to invest in a golf simulator.

While setting up the simulator place the projector in a way that does not cast the shadow of the players on the screen. To choose the best projector you must consider the below points:

  1.  Graphics: It refers to the number of pixels the projector can project onto the screen. Select one with higher graphics as the picture will be more clearer. 
  2.  Frame Rate: This indicates how quickly the projector can display a new image. Higher the better.
  3. Brightness: It refers to how much light the projector can project. It is measured in lumens. If you plan to use the projector in a bright room during the day, buy a projector with a high lumen rating.
  4. Aspect Ratio: It is the ratio between height and width of a screen or image. Projectors that use a 4:3 ratio tend to work the best.

3. Golf Simulator Impact Screen

Buying a good golf simulator screen is important as it bears an impact on the whole game experience. Invest in a screen that is built using quality materials as it must be able to withstand the high force impact of a real golf ball. If you try to cut corners and purchase a screen that is of the wrong size or not well made, you may have to deal with accidental damage caused when the ball misses the screen.

Therefore choose one that is made of durable materials and can generate clear, bright images from a golf simulator projector. Also, look for screens that come with an enclosure as it offers the below advantages: 

  1. The enclosure catches the ball when the player plays an errant shot and misses the screen.
  2. It helps to block the ambient lighting of the room so that you get a brighter picture.

4. Launch Monitor

A golf launch monitor is an electronic device that captures club and/or ball data at the point of impact. This information is then used by professional as well as recreational golfers to take the right decisions concerning their equipment and/or swing. Some of the other benefits of a launch monitor are as follows:

  1.  Know the carry distance- This refers to how far the ball travels in the air before landing on the ground. This data is required for mastering distance control.
  2.  Make equipment decisions-Launch monitors help to compare various types of equipment used in golf. It provides an unbiased assessment of various golf balls, drivers, and wedges.
  3.  Monitor swing speeds- As launch monitors track club speed and/or ball speed, players can monitor their performance and make changes as they fit necessary to reach their goal.

5. Golf Simulation Software

The next essential thing on the list is the golf simulation software. To get a proper golf simulator experience, you need to invest in quality software. If the software you bought does not have much sought after features like multiplayer or skills challenges, it can be a big let down.

So here are some factors you must take into account while making your decision:

  1. Compatibility- It is very important to verify that the software you are interested in using is compatible with your golf simulator. Also, ensure that your device has the minimum specifications to run it.
  2. Features- Different software offer varying features. Therefore you need to first identify your purpose of using the software and then look at what it offers. If you desire to play multiplayer modes, online tournaments, quirky mini-games, look out for those features in the software you finally choose.
  3. Graphics- If you want a photo-realistic experience while playing on replicas of famous golf courses, graphics must be an important factor to consider. But remember that highly demanding graphic software will require powerful computer hardware configurations too.

6. iPad or Computer

Although featuring last on the list,  an Ipad or computer is absolutely necessary to build a home golf simulator. This works as a bridge between the various components of the golf simulator. We suggest you use one that has sufficient memory and has high speed so that you do not have to worry about sluggish performance.

The minimum hardware requirements for a desktop computer are Windows 7 / 8 / 10, 2.4GHz processor, 2 GB  RAM, pixel shader 3.0, and 512MB graphic card.

iPad Air or newer, iPad Mini 2 (with Retina Display) or newer and iPad Pro is the various iOS devices that can be used for setting up a golf simulator for home.

Golf simulator cost

The golf simulator cost can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. For those on a limited budget, the best DIY golf analyzers can be put up for less than $500. For instance, you can get OptiShot 2 and swing those foam balls by investing only $350. However, the high-quality analyzers with a complete set up will range between $5000 to $10,000 minimum. 

Generally, the price of the best golf simulators ranges between $300 to $80,000. A decent home golf simulator will cost a minimum of $700 while the top of the line models can range from $3000 to $25000.

Different brands consist of varying quality, and the golf simulator price comparison varies depending on the features. Professional golf simulators such as Foresight Sports GCQuad SIG12 Golf Simulator are generally priced from $20,000 to $75,000.

If you need a golf simulator for recreational use, then opt for a more basic model that lets you play a few rounds in the indoor driving range. These models are simple to use, easy to set up, and are more affordable.

The pricier simulators offer a more realistic experience. So if you are a golf warrior determined to improve your game, then a pro-quality set up will be worth the cost.

Overall the point to note is that when it comes to golf simulators, you usually get what you pay for. Therefore if you choose to spend too little, you will end up getting less in terms of both software and hardware.

What is the best golf simulator for me?

As golf simulators come loaded with different features based on one's budget, there is no one size fits all kind of solution to this question.  Therefore to arrive at the answer, you need to ask yourself the below questions:

  1.  First off you need to review the space available as this will determine the type of simulator you can accommodate in your home.
  2.  Next, you must review your finances and decide on the amount you are willing to spend on buying the home golf simulator.
  3.  Finally, you must look at what benefit you want to derive out of the golf simulator. Are you using it only for recreational purposes or for seriously improving your game?

Based on the above answers you can streamline your options and choose a golf simulator that is just what you are looking for.

Learn more on our detailed review of the 10 best golf simulators.

Frequently Asked Questions

Having read this far, you may have gained significant clarity about how to choose the best golf simulator. However, there may still be a few questions running through your mind. Not to worry! Continue to read the below section to find answers to some of the most commonly asked questions:

How accurate are golf simulators?

The accuracy of the golf simulators depends on the quality of the equipment that is used along with the simulator such as optical sensors, cameras, infrared light, etc.
However, even a cheap golf simulator provides fairly accurate results, somewhere in the range of 90-95%. This is because most of the golf simulators are backed by reliable technology and are rigorously tested before they hit the market.
The more you are willing to spend on the golf simulator the more accurate results you will get. Apart from the accuracy high-end units also measure various parameters like distance, backspin, and launch angle.

What is the best golf simulator software?

Golf simulation software has grown in popularity over the last couple of years. As a result, there are many software packages available to players who want to play golf all year round in the comfort of their homes.
Among the choices available, OptiShot has become one of the leading home golf simulator options as it offers a good software package at an affordable cost. The unit gives access to over 15 virtual golf courses and a driving range.
The software is compatible with both desktop computers and Mac systems. Owners can also take part in online tournaments by paying $49 – $99 annually.
Overall this is a good option for recreational golfers who are looking for a golf simulator under a tight budget.

What is the best projector for a golf simulator?

All projectors are not created equal. While some score high on quality, others are more affordable. While some ideal for beginners others are more suitable for professionals.
The Optoma EH200ST strikes the right balance and has emerged as our top pick. It offers an HD resolution of 1080p (1920 x 1080). This projector is capable of giving a bright 3000 lumens HD quality image which will provide players with a realistic golf playing experience. This Optoma projector has an aspect ratio of 4:3.
Some of the features of this golf simulator are listed below:
Bright vivid colors
Easy connectivity
Full HD 1080p image quality
High contrast
HDMI connectivity

Do golf simulators improve your game?

The answer is a thumping yes! Golf simulators are very effective in lending a helping hand to players and improve their overall skills and techniques.  Below are some of the arguments that support a positive response to the question:
It gives accurate swing data and generates immediate feedback
It tracks the player’s overall progress
It allows players to play on famous golf courses albeit virtually with realistic and vivid graphics
One can practice their favorite sport in the comfort of their own home whenever they like irrespective of the time of the day or year.
It provides endless supply hours of entertainment and fun, thus giving another reason to pick up the golf stick and practice.

Can You Putt On A Golf Simulator?

Putting using an analyzer in the golf simulator is done from the tee-mat that you are hitting the ball from. This is mainly because the majority of the sensors focus on the position for striking the balls. Moreover, it's easier to move the ball instead of moving the sensors each time.
The best mat for putting is the Tee Turf mat as it has a tight and uniformed surface to putt.  
Most players who use analyzers find putting to be a hard task and often blame the unit for being faulty. This is mainly because the players are not focusing on reading the data accurately before they putt.


Finally, we would like to say that golf simulators are genuinely worth the money. They are an excellent choice for practicing your golf swings and keeping it in shape without having to drive to the golf course.

With several budget options to choose from, golfers are sure to find a home golf simulator that is perfect for their requirements!

Although buying a golf simulator can be a tedious job considering the various options and features, we hope that by reading this post you now have all the information required to make an informed decision. Feel free to let us know your valuable comments and good luck!

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