Golf Simulator vs Reality

If you’ve used a golf simulator recently, then you’ll know that the graphics can be pretty amazing. Combine that with some state of the art launch monitor technology and you get yourself an extremely accurate, and realistic golf experience!

However, regardless of how accurate golf simulators are and how realistic the graphics can be, there are certain aspects of golf simulation that will always be different from real golf. In this article, we cover the differences between golf simulators and reality.

Read on to learn what aspects of golf are difficult to simulate and what aspects actually make golf better!

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The Differences Between Golf and Simulation

Golf Simulators vs. Real Golf

Feel of A Golf Simulator

Possibly the largest difference between real golf and golf simulation is ‘feel’. Feel can be a confusing topic. For those that have never played, it may seem like something out of Star Wars that only the jedi masters can use.

But play long enough and you’ll start to learn what can’t be taught. When you look out at your target on the course, you get a certain ‘feel’ for how you should swing. Things like the contour of the hole, your lie, or other environmental factors can all play a role in how you end up swinging.

It can be hard to replicate those same feelings when hitting indoors into a net. Getting a high-quality projector and screen combination can help this aspect. The Optoma HD Short Throw Golf Simulator Projector and the SwingBay Golf Simulator Enclosure provide some of the best graphics and display. Although no graphics can compete with the real thing, it can come awfully close!

Putting and Chipping On A Golf Simulator

For the same reason listed above, putting and chipping can be difficult on golf simulators. Oftentimes, launch monitor accuracy will get the blame for golf simulator putting difficulties. Which sometimes is warranted - launch monitors can have a tougher time picking up lower speed shots. But just as often, it’s not that the simulator is providing inaccurate readings, but more so that it's just tough to get a good feel for how hard you need to hit the ball when you have to rely on virtual depth perception. 

If you've ever tried to cram the last few holes of a round in past sunset, then you might have a good understanding for why a lack of depth perception can make things difficult. Putting with limited depth perception makes it very difficult to judge the distance and break of a putt.

Although you're not playing in the dark on a golf simulator, the concept is similar. Judging short game distances takes some getting used to on golf simulators.

Environmental Factors - You're playing in a dome

When out on the course, a 20mph side wind will not only affect your ball flight but it will also affect your swing. In virtual golf, environmental conditions don’t affect your swing.

You can adjust playing conditions such as wind and rain on most simulators but unless you set up an industrial fan next to your hitting area, you will not feel the wind like you would on the course!

Lie Variability On A Golf Simulator

Did you know that Florida and Illinois are the top two flattest states in America? Unless you live in one of these states, the times you get a perfectly flat lie on the golf course are limited.

When playing on a golf simulator you get a perfectly flat lie every time. In addition, it’s tough to simulate playing out of the rough in virtual golf. Many simulators will allow you to set a rough penalty. But it’s usually just a calculated percentage that it will take off the total distance of your shot.

One way to make this more realistic is to get a golf mat with different turf lengths. Mats like the Cimarron Sports Golf Mat make it slightly more realistic in this category by incorporating different length turfs into the mat. This way you can change where you place your ball depending on where your shot ends up.

Bunker Shots On A Simulator

For those that dread the sand, golf simulators are your friend! You don’t really have to play out of bunkers in virtual golf.

Since you can’t bring in a pile of sand every time you hit it in the bunker, there is no real way to realistically simulate a bunker shot. So on golf simulators you end up just playing a normal chip off the mat. 

You can debate whether or not these differences make golf more or less enjoyable. But now let's talk about some differences between golf simulators and reality that make golf better with no debate needed.

Golf Simulator Advantages

Time of Play

The amount of time it takes to play on golf simulators is a huge benefit. No waiting on the group in front of you, no walking between holes, no tee times, and no looking for your ball. If playing by yourself, you can easily play 18 holes in under an hour. And you have no commitment to play 18 holes. Golf simulators allow you to play as many or as little holes as you want!

Shot Data

Access to shot data after every swing is extremely beneficial. From a game improvement standpoint, golf simulators are a huge benefit. Golfer’s are able to see exactly what caused an errant shot and have all the data they need to determine what they can do to improve their swing.

Play Anytime

This one is a no brainer - and one of the biggest reasons why individuals purchase a golf simulator. With a golf simulator, you can play anytime no matter the weather. Great for keeping your game sharp in the offseason or just playing on a rainy day.

Final Thoughts - Golf Sims Vs Real Golf

Things like lack of true environmental conditions, rough penalty, and realistic bunker play can make golf easier on simulators. But other aspects such as putting and chipping can make golf tougher.

So at the end of the day golf simulator's end up being pretty accurate from a scoring perspective! However, many users say that after getting accustomed to playing on a golf simulator - specifically when it comes to things like putting and chipping - simulator golf becomes slightly easier than real golf. Which for most of us is a good thing!

The benefits of owning a golf simulator are pretty clear.  Being able to play at any time and have access to their game improvement features are big reasons why golf simulators are becoming so popular. In addition, golf simulator packages accommodate to a wide range of budgets making owning your own very feasible.