Golf simulators emerged in the 1970s allowing golf lovers to play the game indoors in a virtually simulated environment. Since the 70s, the technology has improved greatly, offering a ton of features to improve your swing, analyze your game and work on weaknesses.
You can even benefit in ways you wouldn’t on a real golf course. Since the world is seeing more people stay indoors, golf simulators are growing in popularity. But, how do they actually work? Let’s take a close look.
Benefits of Golf Simulators
Golf simulators offer a range of benefits for the avid golfer. No need to worry about putting your game on hold because of soggy weather, when you can play at home in the warm! Other benefits include:
- See the quality of your shots. Golf simulators allow you to play back your shots so you can assess technique and how to improve. This is hugely beneficial in the off season when the clubs might normally be stored away in the cold weather.
- Takes up less time. Playing a round of golf on a real course can take hours and you have to spend time driving to and from the site. A round on the golf simulator can easily be done in under an hour.
- Play interesting courses you might not be able to in real life. Unless you’re a pro golfer, championship courses may be off-limits to you. With a golf simulator, you can play courses like PGA National, Augusta National, St Andrews, Murfield Village, Pebble Beach and more.
- Seriously improve your golf swing. A simulator gives feedback on your technique allowing you to improve each time you play.
Why Use a Golf Simulator?
Golf simulators are a fantastic way to improve your game. They allow you to play golf on any day and at any time that suits you. No need to worry about the weather, crazy traffic or a golf course being too busy.
Golf simulators are a way for amateurs or professionals to analyze their performance from the drive to the putt. Today’s golf simulators give the player an extremely real-life experience with trees, foliage and ditches and have become an essential tool for improvement in the golfing world.
How Do Golf Simulators Work?
Golf simulators are easy to set up and use. First, you have to place your ball on the hitting mat. The exact position may vary between simulators. Next, you simply take your swing and the simulator works by analyzing the data from your shot.
The spin, ball speed, launch angle and more are taken into consideration and results are shown to you on your tablet, phone or PC. The ball flight, results, hole information and practice ranges can also be projected onto a large screen.
Once you’ve taken your shot, you can watch the flight of the ball in real-time and from different angles. The simulator will move you onto your next shot and even take you through putting and chipping.
The golf simulator process goes like this:
1. The Simulator Detects Your Shot
Take your shot as naturally as possible on the hitting mat. You should be facing the screen or net. Depending on the design of your simulator; radars, optical sensors or cameras measure your data
2. Data is Processed and Analyzed
The ball leaves the impact zone and the simulator analyzes factors such as face angle, ball speed, club head speed and more.
3. Information is Projected in Numeric and Visual Form
Once the data has been analyzed, the simulator calculates the ball landing area and projects this information as numeric data and onto the screen.
What is Needed to Set Up a Golf Simulator?
To set up a golf simulator in your home you need space to take a swing and the right pieces of equipment. The minimum you need to get started is:
- Golf net
- Hitting mat
- A launch monitor
- Computer or tablet
- Golf simulation software
- Enough space with at least 10’W x 10’D x 8’H
To enhance your experience, choose a projection screen over a golf net. A golf simulator projector is needed for this option.
Launch Monitors Vs Golf Simulators – What’s the Difference?
Launch monitors and golf simulators often get confused. Some brands incorporate both technologies, while others offer certain features. Launch monitors analyze a golf swing, giving the player information such as spin, ball speed, carry, launch angle, flight path and more.
Golf simulators use the information given by the launch monitor and simulate the information on a virtual golf course. Trackman, GC2 and SkyTrak are launch monitors, but can be incorporated with golf simulation software. Full Swing and Golfzon are golf simulators that include launch monitor technology.
How Much Does a Golf Simulator Cost?
Golf simulators cost anywhere between $1,000 up to a hefty $50,000. The deciding factor for cost is the technology used and the sophistication of the simulator. The cheapest golf simulators will only measure a few aspects of your golf swing.
Another factor that affects cost is the setup of the simulator. Using a hitting mat, net and viewing the results on a home computer screen is a more affordable option than using a high-resolution projector, large screen and top range hitting mat with turf length adjustability.
Cost is also dependent on the volume of features available. Cheaper golf simulators offer a simple driving range and a few course options to choose from. Costlier simulators can offer hundreds of courses, a range of play options, competitions and multiple skill challenges.
Now you have all the information you need about golf simulators and should be ready to get your own. Firstly, make sure you have enough space and decide on your needs and budget.
Thankfully, there are golf simulators to suit different price points and skill levels. The hardest part is setting up your simulator so the motion detection software gives you the most accurate results. All this may mean is slightly angling the swing pad or something else equally as simple.
But, once you have things up and running, your golf game will seriously improve!