This post may contain affiliate links and we may earn a small commission for no extra cost to you.
This is how we keep NiftyGolf free. Learn more about our affiliate disclosure here.
Do you know that you can participate in the top world-class golf courses without going out? Yes, it’s not a dream anymore. A golf simulator makes this dream come true. There are almost 4 million golfers in the U.S. who use different golf simulators. About half of them have never played on a golf course. It’s not my words, the NGF estimates this data.
Seems interesting? Curious to know why are they choosing an indoor playing system? The answer is simple. It helps them improve their game and enjoy it at any time they want. Will a golf simulator help your game too? Yes, you can also improve your game and be an expert by having an indoor golf simulator at home.
Table of Content
- What is a Golf Simulator?
- Golf Simulator Materials
- Home Golf Simulators Buying Guide
- So, Are Home Golf Simulators Worth It?
What is a Golf Simulator?
A golf simulator is a device that lets golfers play virtual golf courses by recreating an artificial driving range. It simulates the environment of playing real golf. Using an indoor golf simulator, golfers can entertain and train themselves that ultimately helping them improve their game.
An indoor golf simulator works by using sensors and cameras to analyze each shot’s data. Then the software takes the data and processes it with the help of a smartphone, PC, or tablet. Finally, you can see the output of data processing on your projector screen. Camera-based golf simulators work in a small area to track data while radar-based golf simulators work in a wide area.
Golf Simulator Materials
Do you know what pieces of equipment are primary to have in a home golf simulator? A launch monitor, mat, net, projector, and screen are the very basics while setting up a golf simulator. There are different types of golf simulators based on the materials they require. It depends on your choice and budget.
Mats work as an alternative to the fairway. On the other hand, you need something to hit into. This can either be a net or a screen. Then you need something to project and display the simulation visually. For this, you should have a projector, projector screen, computer, tablet, or TV monitor. Let’s dive into details.
To track shot data, there is a golf launch monitor that uses sensors, cameras, or radars. The tracking system of your home golf simulator is an important thing to consider. Because some golf simulator tracking systems track all the data accurately whereas some do less accurately.
For example, using sensors, the infrared tracking system of OptiShot calculates data less precisely. That is why an OptiShot launch monitor is less accurate than others. On the contrary, the TruTrack 2 tracking system of TruGolf is absolutely accurate in data measurement.
A launch monitor or tracking system either tracks ball data or club data or both. OptiShot measures club data such as clubface, swing path, clubhead speed, face angle, etc. SkyTrak tracks ball data and estimates club data. For example, ball speed, sidespin, backspin, launch angle, club head speed, etc.
Some launch monitors track both club and ball data. TruGolf and Foresight Sports are examples of that. So, for accuracy, check the launch monitors and tracking system if it can meet your needs. Here is a list of the best golf launch monitors that we picked from a lot of options on the market.
Some golf simulators require nets; some require screens to hit into. Some golf simulators have both a net and a screen. By taking your clubs with a real or foam ball, you can go out and practice just hitting into a net.
Or you can practice at home. The same goes for a screen. But hitting into a net won’t give the similar feedback that a screen gives. Because hitting into a net won’t show you any data while a screen will instantly display your shot along with many essential data.
Displaying where your shots are heading, a golf simulator projector gives you a virtual view of golf courses. It projects ball flight and displays data on the screen. Without a projector, you cannot get the data feedback and know how well you are playing.
Including a projector, most home golf simulators help you take your game to the next level. We have made a list of the best golf simulator projectors here after a long time of research and analysis.
Most indoor golf simulators have to hit mats to let you experience playing golf on fairway grass. Though mats in a golf simulator are optional, it’s better to practice with a mat. Because a hitting mat helps to control your golf ball flight as well as master your putting and chipping. A mat doesn’t always necessarily require a full golf simulator setup when you just practice and hit several shots.
Along with these materials, an ideal golf simulator requires an enclosure, landing pad turf, and a side barrier net. There are also some accessories included with the materials such as projector mount, mount kit, putting green, AV cart, audio speaker, golf bag, protective case, user manual guide, etc.
Home Golf Simulators Buying Guide
Before setting up your home golf simulator, you need to consider certain things that can help you figure out the most suitable one. Because there are hundreds of simulators available in the market, which one should you purchase? We can answer this question in detail. Let’s follow.
The first thing you should know is how much room you need to set up your home golf simulator. Do you have sufficient room to protect your wall from damage?
To know the answer, first, you should measure your room space. But what should you measure? The width, length, and height. Then look for the minimum space requirement of the simulator you are going to buy. Let’s have a clear idea.
- Room width
For the whole home golf simulator setup, our recommendation is a minimum of 12 ft width. It’s enough to play with a mat, screen, and net. But if both left and right-handed golfers are going to play, you need at least 13 ft width.
- Room length
From our experience, we can say the minimum room length should be 12 ft. 1′ is between the wall and screen, 7′ is between the tee and screen. You should keep at least a 4′ distance behind you for enough clearance. Some golf simulators may be smaller in length and require less space but those won’t give you a safe distance.
- Ceiling height
We recommend a minimum of 9 feet height from the ceiling. You may need more than that. It depends on your height. But on average, 9′ height is enough to swing with a driver, the longest club without touching or damaging your ceiling. Remember, you shouldn’t select the one that won’t match up with your height.
Visit this blog – How much room do you need for a golf simulator? for detailed information.
If you don’t have enough space to have a permanent indoor setup, there are a lot of portable home golf simulators available on the market. That will allow you to set up and take down the net and projector anytime without any difficulties.
Golf mats are naturally portable to fold and store easily after playing a round of golf. You can go for the retractable screens that can be moved after use. This will make your room look like before. Thus you can use the room for dual purposes.
You can even make a golf mat by yourself.
Portable home golf simulators are also lightweight and easy to transport. You can carry it wherever you need to go, even on a trip.
The most common thing yet the most important is the price. Match the price with your requirement. If it’s beyond your capability, look for an affordable option from the list we mentioned above. But if the budget doesn’t matter to you, go for an expensive one. Because you get what you pay for.
- Affordable golf simulators (under $5000)
Many of us want a complete home golf simulator set up but cannot afford it. Keeping the demand ahead, manufacturers have brought golf simulators under $5000.
For those, who want a full simulation experience but are on a limited budget, we recommend OptiShot 2 golf simulator within an entry-level budget. Don’t think it’s like a video game. It’s really something you should try out.
You don’t have to use a real ball to play with OptiShot. Using a plastic ball or foam ball, you can play as much as possible. This will save you money because you won’t need a high-impact screen or net.
But keep in mind, that this golf simulator is mainly for entertainment purposes, and the accuracy is limited. Using infrared sensors, OptiShot measures club speed, path, and face angle. It doesn’t directly measure ball data, just estimates it using club data.
- Mid-range budget (between $5,000 to $10,000)
If you want a high-quality simulation experience and are willing to spend more than $5000, there are plenty of options available for you. Golf simulators from $5,000 to $10,000 are of high quality with good accuracy.
If your budget is between $7000, the SkyTrak home golf simulator and Uneekor QED can be a good choice. Though SkyTrak works outdoors too, it’s more accurate for indoor use.
Using photometric technology and high-speed cameras, SkyTrak measures ball data and estimates club data whilst Uneekor QED measures ball and club data.
With this similar price range, you get radar-based Flightscope Mevo+ that also measures only ball data. But compared to SkyTrak, it’s less accurate as a home golf simulator.
- High-budget golf simulators (between $10,000 to 30,000)
Golf simulators from $10,000 to 30,000 are of higher quality. There is a wide range of golf simulators for a home within this price range. Our recommendation is TurGolf, Uneekor EYE XO, and Foresight Sports golf simulators.
TruGolf simulators are best for high-quality graphic and commercial use. Using high-speed cameras, this golf simulator measures both club and ball data. Like TruGolf simulators, Uneekor EYEXO and Foresight Sports golf simulators are also camera-based golf simulators that measure both ball and club data.
- Premium golf simulators (beyond $30,000)
If you want a premium quality simulation experience, you need to consider beyond $30,000. Trackman, Full Swing, and HD golf simulators are some examples of premium high-end golf simulators.
They have a lot of practice features, advanced technologies, exceptional software packages, a variety of the world’s best golf courses, skill assessment game modes, multiplayer capabilities, multisport modes, and so on.
But for these golf simulators, you should have a maximum space requirement because they require a huge space to set up.
Golf launch monitors come with a software plan that offers different practice modes and advanced features. Choose the one that you want to play. We are giving you an idea of what kind of game modes software provides.
Some basic software plans allow golfers to practice on the virtual driving range. The advanced software has world-renowned online golf courses, skill challenge features, closest to the pin, target practice, online competitions, etc.
Most software plans require a yearly subscription fee except for some free subscriptions. For example, Game Improvement and Play & Improve Plan of SkyTrak come with WGT play that requires a subscription fee per year.
The Golf Club, E6 connect, FSX software, and Uneekor VIEW software are examples of high-quality software offering world top golf courses, various practice modes, 3D driving range, tournaments, skill challenges, and training aids.
Go for the one you need most!
Real golf ball vs. practice golf ball
To improve your game, both practice golf balls and real golf balls play a significant role. Yet you can have one choice. Based on the difference, you can choose your one. Here are the differences.
Real golf balls and practice balls mainly differ in building materials and speed variation. Real golf balls are made of rubber whereas practice golf balls are made of foam or plastic.
Real balls give an extra spin for a thinner cover. Compared to real ball covers, practice ball covers are thicker and harder to hit. For being hard to hit, practice balls can not create extra spin.
Real balls are more accurate in giving ball flight and carry-distance data than practice balls. They are relatively costly but not much durable whereas practice balls are cheaper and more durable.
Giving better speed, real balls go farther and offer consistent ball flight. Practice golf balls don’t go as far as real golf balls and they create lower ball speed.
Real balls can be two to five pieces with no paint on them. Practice balls are two-piece golf with paintings on them.
Go and hit a lot of balls at the driving range to know the difference practically. We recommend having a golf simulator where you can use both practice and real balls. But if you have just started playing, golf balls for beginners are ideal for you.
Screen vs Net
A golf simulator requires a hitting net or screen to hit into. You can choose any of these two for your home golf simulator. Sometimes you can own both. The screen will let you see the ball flying which isn’t possible with a net.
On the other hand, you can practice with just a net without using a projector or other materials which isn’t possible with a screen. Because to project the data result on the screen, you need a projector.
A golf net is the cheaper option whereas a screen is relatively expensive. Net is easy to carry, durable, and requires no complex setup. The screen isn’t easy to carry and less durable than the net.
You can easily make a golf hitting net with just three simple steps. But building a screen is difficult. For this, we recommend buying a golf simulator package where a screen and net are available.
Ceiling mount vs. floor mount
It’s a common question: where should you mount your projector? In the wall? Or on the floor? If you know the difference between these two, you can easily find out which way you need to mount in.
The ceiling mount gives a permanent setup whilst the floor mount is for temporary use. On the other hand, floor mounts are flexible to move anywhere which is not possible with most ceiling mounts.
The ceiling mount helps to keep the floor clear while putting or chipping. Floor mount lets golfers play in multiple settings. Both ceiling mount and floor mount have advantages and risks as well.
To avoid the risks, set up your projector in a place that is far away from your hitting area so that your club or ball doesn’t hit it. Then, you should keep the projector directly behind you because it will create shadows on the projector.
So, Are Home Golf Simulators Worth It?
Yes. Home golf simulators are worth buying because they allow you to play golf at home even in windy, cold, and wet weather or in the off-season. You can practice for your game improvement, for getting prepared to join any tournament, or for playing a lot of online golf courses without any fees.
Buying a home golf simulator is not something difficult. What is difficult is to find the best one among them. This is why we spent hours researching the best golf simulators for home. Don’t forget to let us know how you are doing with your new golf simulator!