Golf Simulator Guide - Best Indoor Golf Simulators
The Ultimate Indoor Golf Simulator Package Guide
How To Create The Best Home Golf Simulator Within Your Budget
If you love the game of golf, there is a certain awe of golf simulators - the realism of the display, the fun game modes, the convenience of playing golf indoors anytime you want regardless of the weather outside. If you are lucky enough to spend an hour in a simulator bay at the local golf course or pro shop, it is impossible not to let the dream of owning your own golf simulator sneak into your head. Then the reality of the price tag hits you.... $20K, $50K, sometimes $70K!!!
The good news is, things have changed. Sure, the $50-70K setups still exist (primarily for commercial use) but now new, easier to setup, and most importantly, more affordable options have been introduced to the marketplace.
The Average Joe really can make their dream of owning a home golf simulator a reality. Follow this guide and you will see EXACTLY how to create your dream simulator setup with as little as a few hundred dollars!
Home Golf Simulator Space Requirements
This is the easy question that may determine your decisions for the rest of this guide.
Height: It is important to make sure you have enough space for both your swing and the screen enclosure or net that you use. Typically 9' is required for most golfers swings, however, in some cases, you may feel comfortable with slightly less ceiling height. Simply make sure that you are comfortable taking full swings in the room you intend to place the simulator. Aside from your swing, in some cases, the simulator studio, nets, or screen setups will have height limitations. Make sure to measure the height of your ceiling so that you are able to make the best decision based on what fits in your space.
Width: Most screens and nets are anywhere from 7' - 10' wide. We normally recommend a room width of 12' so that your space will be very comfortable, but a few of our setups will fit into a 10' width.
Depth: All of our golf simulators and launch monitors work with a room depth of about 12' but in some rare cases, more depth is required. For example, units such as SkyTrak and Foresight only need a few feet to gather ball data necessary to simulate the shot. As you work into the top tier launch monitors like Flightscope and Trackman, the ball is read from behind and sometimes needs up to 20 feet to read the data needed to create the virtual golf shot.
Key Materials to Building Your Golf Simulator
1. Launch Monitor and Golf Simulator System
Golf Simulators typically refer to a device that is either built into the hitting area or intended to only read golf club data.
Golf Launch Monitors are typically designed with a smaller size and tend to be more detailed with overall shot capturing. They are different from simulators in the sense that they are completely portable allowing you to bring the unit out to the range or golf course. This is our favorite method of reading golf shots due to the accuracy, consistency, and portability of the system.
The launch monitor or the simulator unit you go with will be the brains of your system and will determine the accuracy of ball flight, distance tracking, spin, etc.
Depending on the simulator or launch monitor that you go with for your setup, you may or may not have an option to select alternative forms of golf simulator software. The software is what actually allows you to play on courses, play different fun gameplay modes, hit on driving ranges, etc.
There are a lot of qualities to consider if you do have the option to select your software. Obviously, the price is a factor, then we have the functionality, graphics, golf course selection, and system reliability. Similar to the simulator and launch monitor selection process, it is hard to say what software is best, but rather to help educate you towards selecting what features mean the most to you. If you do have the option to customize which software option you want to run, feel free to read through our full Golf Simulator Software Guide.
2. Computer or Other Device (To Run the Software)
When you have software run on your golf simulator or launch monitor, you need to have a device in order to run the software. This usually requires a PC but in some rare cases, an iPad is required (such as pairing SkyTrak with the WGT Tee Off Package). Please note that computers or like devices are not included in any of our packages.
Golf Mats are often overlooked when it comes to building out your simulator setup and this should definitely not be the case. When looking for the perfect mat, we want to find a balance between durability and forgiveness.
Sure, we could purchase one of those rock-hard driving range mats that will last forever, but trust me, your elbows, wrists, and clubs will not be happy after a few practice sessions. On the flip side, you could also look for the softest turf mat on the market, but then you might run into some durability issues in the long term.
Depending on budget, a quality golf mat will cost you anywhere between $300-$1,000.
4. Golf Simulator Enclosure - Golf Simulator Screen or Golf Net
The next piece of the puzzle involves what you are hitting the ball into and is a big determinant of the overall realism of your simulator setup. There are two primary options for your enclosure:
- Indoor Golf Net: Although you may lose out on some realism, this is the most popular budget-friendly option. If you use a net for your golf simulator enclosure, you can simply connect your computer or iPad to your TV in order to view the image on a larger screen. This keeps you from having to purchase a projector.
- Golf Simulator Projector Screen: Alternatively, opting for a simulator screen enclosure allows you to gain more realism but it comes at a slightly higher cost with the addition of a projector and projector mount. When choosing your simulator screen, keep the clarity and uniformity of the projected image on the material in mind.
Another extremely important factor in this decision is the durability of the golf net or simulator screen. If you are a heavy hitter the golf ball could travel 150-200 mph. For this reason, we want to be very picky about selecting the most durable Golf Nets or Golf Simulator Impact Screens possible that can handle this kind of impact.
Most of you will probably be putting your simulator in your home or garage, for this reason, it is also very important to have the right amount of side netting. That includes you scratch golfers out there. Seriously, do yourself a favor and make sure your walls don't take any unnecessary holes from these mis-hits because I promise you, it happens!
5. (Optional) Projector Mount and Projector - for Studios with Projection Screen
This is also a very complicated component to creating a golf simulator. First off, you need to decide what to do with the projector mounting. It is essential that you first pick the mounting option and then tailor the projector to fit the location that you place the mount. This is the only way that you will get the best performance out of your projector.
In terms of projectors and projector mounts, our favorite solutions involve overhead mounts about 4-5 feet from the screen. This enables you to project an image onto the screen without risk of hitting the projector and also without casting a shadow onto the screen.
There is a lot more details and specifications required when it comes to selecting your projector. Please see our Golf Simulator Projector Guide for a full list of information to lead you to make the best decision for your simulator.
Home Golf Simulator Top Recommendations for Every Budget
The order does not necessarily matter but it helps to know what you truly value in your golf simulator setup. If you are constrained on your budget, you may need to make some trade-offs in deciding what you value in your setup. Some people really value game improvement and therefore will opt for putting more money into the launch monitor over the hitting area and golf mat. Others just want something fun to play with the family so they put more money towards the studio and spend less on the simulator unit. It all depends on what your specifics needs are. We will try to lay out your best options at different price points for each decision.
Before we get going with the specifics, know that for the most part, you get what you pay for when it comes to golf simulator packages. We say "for the most part" because there are definitely price points where you can pay a lot more and not get that much more in additional value. Our entire goal is to help customers find the BEST VALUE golf simulator products that will be fun to use and help you improve your game for years to come.
There are a variety of launch monitor or simulator options for you within this price range. You have the Ernest Sports ES12 at $199, the Ernest Sports ES14 at $495, OptiShot 2 Golf Simulator at $300, and the Voice Caddie Swing Caddie SC100 and Swing Caddie SC200 at $269 and $349.
Within this price range, you are getting a deeply discounted simulator option but at the same time, you are giving up a number of features. For example, the OptiShot is not able to read golf ball data (only the club), and the ES12 Launch Monitor only reads a few measurements like ball speed.
The lone unit in this tier is none other than the “Best Value Golf Simulator” as voted by Golf Digest, the SkyTrak Launch Monitor. This system has really revolutionized the industry by creating a very high performing launch monitor with a much more consumer-friendly price.
As we enter into the next tier, you will notice that the prices quickly start to increase. Your options within this price range include the following: Ernest Sports ES16 Golf Simulator ($5,450) which combines doppler and photometric tracking technology for increased accuracy, Foresight GC2 Launch Monitor ($15,900) and Foresight GCQuad Launch Monitor ($18,000) popular choices for golf professionals for training and game improvement, and TruGolf Vista Series Golf Simulator (Starting at $12,995) for the ultimate in-home and commercial golf setups. Other top options at price points in excess of $20,000 include Trackman, Flightscope, and Full Swing Golf.
Best Golf Nets, Simulator Screens, and Surrounding Hitting Areas
The Pro Series is the most popular net from The Net Return Golf. The beauty of this net is that your shots into the net automatically returns the ball back to your feet. It is also extremely durable handling golf ball speeds of 225 MPH with ease so you never have to worry about hitting a ball through the netting. The net is also backed by a 250,000 shot guarantee so it is designed for years of use.
For Net Return Golf Simulator setups, you can either use your PC or iPad or connect either of those to a TV for a larger screen. If you want the golf simulator screen experience with a projector, you can add the Pro Series Golf Simulator Screen ($295) to convert the Pro Series Golf Net to a simulator screen in minutes.
We love the HomeCourse for its retractable functionality. With a wireless, remote-powered design you can return any room back to its original form. This screen is also made with a ballistic-grade material, allowing it to handle drives from the heaviest hitters. The unit is also surrounded by pro-arm and sky netting enclosures for protection from mishits.
We’d argue that the Simulator Series, for the price, is the best value golf simulator enclosure on the market. The biggest draw to this product is that you can create a portable golf simulator enclosure that is completely self-contained, meaning you don’t have to put any holes in your walls. You can add The Net Return Projector Mount Kit (+$499) right onto the Simulator Series and project a short-throw projector onto the screen with ease.
Best Golf Hitting Mats
The 6’ x 10’ Pro Turf Golf Mat gives a nice balance between forgiveness (easy on your wrists and knees) and durability (should last through years of use) and is a perfect addition to any budget-friendly golf simulator studio. We hesitate to recommend any cheaper options because they just don’t last. Another benefit to this mat is that you can use it as a putting green with your golf simulator.
Fiberbuilt Golf Mats (Starting at $499)
If you are willing to spend more than $350 for a golf mat, we love Fiberbuilt golf hitting mats. Their mats are designed to allow you to hit down and through the surface, just like real grass and have proven to take up to 300,000 golf shots before showing any sign of wear.
Best Golf Simulator Projector – checkout our Golf Simulator Projector Guide
Time and time again we hear about how much our customers love BenQ Projectors and this model specifically for their golf simulator. All-around, this BenQ Golf Simulator Projector is our pick for best golf simulator projector for the bright display, higher resolution for a crisper image, and short-throw feature perfect for a golf simulator.
- High lumens at 3200
- 0.9:1 throw ratio
- WXGA 1280 x 800 resolution with 16:10 Aspect Ratio
- HDMI Connectivity
Best Golf Simulator Package
SkyTrak Platinum Golf Simulator Package - starting at $5,299
Dollar for dollar, the SkyTrak Platinum Golf Simulator Package is the best golf simulator package out there. With a combination of the best value golf simulator and launch monitor, Skytrak, the best value golf simulator enclosure, The Net Return Simulator Series, and a great value mat, the Pro Turf Golf Mat. The SkyTrak Platinum cannot be beat for the value.
What's Included in This Package?
- SkyTrak Launch Monitor with Simulator Software Option
- $2,000 VALUE
- The Net Return Simulator Series Screen & Net
- $3,000 VALUE
- The Net Return Projector Mount Kit
- $600 VALUE
- The Net Return Pro Turf Golf Mat
- $450 VALUE
Total Value = $6,050 YOUR PRICE: Starting at $5,299
Other Top Golf Simulator Packages For Sale
Still Have Questions? We Are Here to Help
We realize that if you are in the market for an indoor golf simulator for your home, you are going to want to have a lot of information before investing your hard-earned money into creating your dream setup.
If you have any questions at all about this guide or want any more information about golf simulators, give us a call at 1-888-831-9489! We guarantee you that you will hear a real golfer on the other end of the line, eager to help you through your learning process.
Now go make some birdies!
Want to take this guide with you? Download a PDF version of the Best Indoor Golf Simulators Guide here.