An In-Depth Guide To Building A Golf Simulator
Are you thinking about building a golf simulator? If so, this is the guide for you! There can be a lot of things to consider when building out a golf simulator. So we made this guide in hopes of making it as easy as possible to build your own. This guide will cover everything you need to know - from what equipment you need, the different options to consider, and how to decide.
1. Choose Your Golf Simulator Space
The first thing you will need to do is decide on a space for your golf simulator. One of the most popular spaces to set up a golf simulator is the garage. The garage is a great space for a simulator because it typically provides more than enough room and also prevents your simulator from taking up space in your house. The downside to the garage is that it will take up at least 1 car space and most garages aren't air-conditioned. Other great spaces to consider are the basement, a guest room or office, a game room, or a backyard.
Minimum Space Requirements
The minimum space required to set up most golf simulators is 10'W x 10'L x 8.5'H. If you have a space with at least those dimensions then you most likely are in the clear. However, the exact size you need will depend on your swing and the equipment you end up using. In general, the more room the better if you have the additional space.
The width of your room should be at least the width of your golf net or screen plus a foot or two to be safe.
The height of your room needs to be taller than your net or screen and taller than the highest point of your swing with a driver. The highest point in your swing will depend on your swing and how tall you are. For most people, 8-9' is high enough. But it's best to take out your driver and take some slow motion swings in your potential golf simulator space to be sure you are in the clear. It is important to also take a follow through as often times a follow-through swing reaches a taller height than the backswing.
The depth of your room needs to provide enough room for your net or screen plus the room it takes to swing a full swing with your driver. Most screens and nets are around 3' deep and the average driver swing will span somewhere in the neighborhood of 6'. Once again depending on your body and swing. Regardless, you will most likely want a room at least 10' deep to be safe!
You should be sure to check the minimum room dimensions for all the equipment you end up using before you make the final decision on what room to use.
2. Purchase a Launch Monitor
There are many options you have when it comes to launch monitors. Here are a few of the best options along with their pros and cons. To learn more, read our in-depth guide on the Best Golf Simulators.
OptiShot 2 is one of the best options for in-home golf simulators because of it's ease of use and small footprint. Not to mention it is one of the most affordable golf simulators on the market. Optishot 2 uses infrared sensors built into a swing pad. As you make your swing the sensors track your swing data and are able to accurately simulate your shot. Because Optishot 2 only tracks your club data you don't actually need to use real golf balls. This gives you a lot of flexibility for your setup options around the house. The downside to this is that Optishot 2 can be less accurate than some of the other options that track club and ball data. Optishot also comes with its own software complete with 15 high-quality courses.
- Extremely easy to setup
- Comes with simulation software
- No ball data
SkyTrak is one of the best all around options for golf simulators. It's a camera-based launch monitor. Meaning it takes high-speed photos of the ball directly after impact to measure shot data. This method of measurement and calculation is extremely accurate and used in some of the most expensive systems. One of the best things about SkyTrak is the availability of a ton of great features for both entertainment and game improvement. Things like closest to the pin and long drive contests, bag mapping, session history, and skills assessments. SkyTrak integrates with 6 different simulation software options, giving you the flexibiltiy to choose the one that suits you best. Lastly, SkyTrak is portable and can be used outdoors. It can function as a golf simulator when paired with a software, or simply act as a launch monitor to track your numbers.
- Indoor/Outdoor Use
- Golf simulator software is an added cost
- Some systems track more club data metrics
Foresight Sports GC2 launch monitor is a top teir launch monitor used by some of the top instructors and tour pros in the world. Rickie Fowler, Butch Harmon, and Michael Breed, for example. It is one of the most accurate launch monitors on the market, hence why it has gained the trust of professionals. The GC2 provides users a ton of data and even provides putting analysis. You can opt for the HMT upgrade and also get access to some extremely comprehensive club data. Like SkyTrak, the GC2 is portable and can be used outdoors. The only downside to the GC2 is that it is a much bigger investment when compared to systems such as Optishot 2 or SkyTrak.
- Comprehensive data
- Indoor/Outdoor Use
- Highly Accurate
- Higher price point
TruGolf has our vote as one of the best golf simulators for commercial use. Options like the TruGolf computer and touch screen monitor, protective side netting, and portable audio speakers give TruGolf simulators a professional look and feel that stands out above the rest. TruGolf simulators come with the E6 Connect software - which features an outstanding line up of golf courses, practice modes, and games.
- Professional look
- TruTrack Technology
- E6 Software
- Higher price point
- Indoor use only
3. Pick Your Golf Simulation Software
Depending on the launch monitor you end up choosing, you may also have to purchase simulation software. Optishot 2, for example, comes with its own software. Systems like SkyTrak do not and therefore must be purchased additionally. We've created a complete golf simulation software guide that covers the different software options in detail. For this guide, we'll briefly highlight the 3 best software options.
WGT (World Golf Tour)
WGT is the most cost friendly option. It comes with 18 fantastic courses such as Pebble Beach, St. Andrews, and Bethpage Black. The graphics in WGT are photo-like and provide a very realistic feel when playing on the software. The main limitation of WGT is that it's only compatible with an iPad.
The Golf Club 2019
The Golf Club 2019 provides the most golf courses out of any of the software options. Over 100,000! This is because one of the features of TGC is it's design your own course functionality. This gives users the ability to create their own course and share it with the rest of the TGC community. Hence, the database of golf courses available to play is constantly growing. This is both a pro and a con for the software. You are guaranteed to never get bored of the same course list - but at the same time, it can be difficult to navigate the library due to the size.
E6 stands out in the features category. It has a ton of great practice features, games, challenges, and add-ons. It also has a large community with online events and tournaments. The graphics in E6 are extremely realistic. The downside to E6 is that a lot of the famous courses must be purchased for an additional cost.
4. Choose Your Golf Mat
The difference between most mats comes down to their technology and size.
Golf Mat Sizes
Bigger mats will cover both your hitting area and the ball landing area. This way you don't have to worry about golf balls coming down on your home flooring. The Net Return Pro Turf Golf Mat is one of the most popular large golf mats available because of it's great price and durability. Many larger mats will also accomodate better for left and right handed play. The Fiberbuilt Combo Golf Mat & Putting Green is a great option. It's a 10' x 10' mat that also acts as a small putting green.
Standard size golf mats (the size of your typical driving range mat) will be the most cost-effective, but lack some of the advantages of the larger mats. When picking a standard-size golf mat, the difference most often comes down to technology.
Golf Mat Technology
If you thought all mats were the same think again! The materials of a golf mat can have a big impact on the durability and feel of a golf mat. In addition, many golf mats feature added layers and materials that provide a more realistic result when compared to real grass. For example, TrueStrike Golf Mats feature a silicone gel layer under the mat that accurately simulates the feel of grass. The gel layer also reduces the impact of your shot and is easier on your body over long range sessions. Great if you're a steep swinger! A solid all-around mat is the SwingTurf Golf Mat. It provides a realistic feel and does a great job of reacting authentically, giving you realistic feedback on miss hits and even fat shots.
To learn more about all the different types of mats, read our Best Golf Mats guide.
5. Decide if you want to use a projector
One of the decisions you'll have to make is whether or not you want to use a projector and screen. Using a projection screen will greatly enhance your golf simulation experience. Being able to see the course on a big screen in front of you, and watching your ball fly through the air makes things feel a lot more realistic. However, this option will typically be more costly. Adding a high-quality impact screen and projector could add somewhere in the ballpark of $1,000-$2,000 to your golf simulator setup. Your other option is to simply use a net and then setup an ipad, computer, or tv next to your hitting area where you can view your shot.
Golf Impact Screens
When it comes to impact screens, the main thing to consider is whether or not you want one that attaches to a golf net, or one that is stand-alone. If you already have a net, then you will most likely want one that can be attached - like The Net Return Pro Series Golf Simulator Screen. Just to be sure the dimensions of the screen match, or come really close, to your net.
If you don't have a net then you can opt for an all in one net/screen solution such as The Net Return Simulator Series Projector Screen & Netting - which has the screen, netting, and framing all in one. Screens like these will provide the most professional look and feel. However, one benefit of using a golf net with an attachable screen is that you could take off the screen and use it for other things - ie: soccer goal, baseball net, etc.
Golf Screen Projectors
Figuring out what projector you need can be quite confusing! The main thing you want to be sure to get is what's called short-throw projector. Short-throw projectors are designed for projections from short distances and will provide the best image for golf simulation. Another configuration you want to look out for is lumens. This will determine how bright the projection will be. For well-lit rooms, you will want a lumen value of at least 3000. Lastly, you will want to look at a projectors aspect ratio. The aspect ratio determines what shape the projection will be. The closer an aspect ratio is to 1:1 the closer to a square it will be. Most aspect ratios fall between 4:3 (more square) and 16:9 (more rectangular).
For a more in-depth explanation, read out Golf Simulator Projector Buyers Guide.
Choosing a golf net will hopefully be your easiest decision in this process. The main things you will need to consider are:
- What size net do I want?
If you have limited space, then you will obviously need a smaller net. A net like The Net Return Mini Pro Series is only 5' wide by 6' tall - which is perfect for a small space. However, if you have enough space then you will probably enjoy the added confidence you get from a larger net. No matter how good you are, it's comforting to know you have plenty of room for mis-hits!
- Will I use my net indoors or outdoors?
Some nets are built specifically for outdoor use and built with weather-resistant materials. If you are planning on using a net outdoors, then it may be smart over the long run to use a net designed to withstand the elements.
If you haven't caught on by now we have a 'best of' guide for just about every product! Read up on the best nets for golf simulators.
If you've made it this far then hopefully you have a good idea for the different components that make up a golf simulator build. If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed by the number of choices you have then you are not alone! That's why we've tried to make it as easy as possible and have put together a guide to help you find the Best Home Golf Simulator Packages. Our golf simulator packages make it easy to get everything you need for your golf simulator in one purchase. With multiple options for golfers of all budgets, you are sure to find what you are looking for!