What To Consider When Buying A Golf Simulator
If you've lived in colder climates you might remember a time when putting the clubs away for the winter was an annual tradition. Golf would give way to other sports and activities, and we’d long for the great game for months on end, occasionally grabbing our putter from the closet to roll a few putts on the living room carpet.
Today, thankfully, there is no off-season in golf. Indoor golf technology has made launch monitors and golf simulators a segment of their own, and many golfers with extra space in their basement or garage are building their own little slice of golf heaven to enjoy inside while the snow falls outside.
Are you in the market for a golf simulator? A little overwhelmed by the options or cost? Here’s a brief guide to help you navigate your way to the ideal golf simulator for your purposes and budget.
What is a golf simulator?
A golf simulator is a tool that allows golfers to practice and play on virtual golf courses or driving ranges, usually in an indoor setting. The full golf simulator package includes a launch monitor (the device that captures data from each golf shot and disseminates that information to the golfer), a hitting mat, an impact screen or golf simulator enclosure, gaming computer or tablet, and a projector.
Golf simulators should not be confused with video games. Golfers hit real golf balls with real clubs – full swings that help keep the body in golf shape and the mind appeased with golf year-round.
Here are some things to consider when shopping for a golf simulator:
Ensure ample space to support a full-swing setup
You don’t want to invest in a golf simulator, only to realize the fit is too tight and your swing is heavily restricted. The fun will be diminished and the game improvement benefits will be reduced to the short game – chipping and half-swing pitch shots.
Generally speaking, you’ll need to allow for a width of 12 feet and depth of 18 feet. In addition, ensure you have at least nine-foot ceilings to accommodate the driver full swing. Of course, those taller golfers in your circle may need more than nine feet to fully extend with the driver. These numbers are minimal dimensions. More space is always better, and some indoor golf simulator setups may actually require a bit more room.
Of course, you’ll want to ensure extra space around the simulator setup so those golfers not hitting at the moment have room to move away from the swinging golf club. Securing everyone’s safety will add to their fun.
Determine your reason for investment
Why you want to buy a golf simulator is important in the overall purchase. Are you entertaining small groups of friends for full rounds and tournaments, or is it an opportunity for you and the family to put down those electronic devices and spend some quality time together?
The former will require space for chairs and couches, tables, and possibly even other games like darts or foosball. If it’s the latter, you’ll need less room, just enough space for everyone to grab a chair from the kitchen and cram together (safely away from the swinging golf club of course).
Are you planning on playing a lot of 18-hole rounds, spending hours on end in this space? Is it sufficiently lit, ventilated, climate controlled? Or is this purchase your foray into seriously focused game improvement? Once installed, will you be there nightly, working on your game with the data provided on swing speed, ball speed, carry distance, and so much more?
Whatever your primary rationale for purchasing a new indoor golf simulator, you’ll want to create a welcoming space that adequately supports this great new addition to your home.
Know what information will be rendered
Indoor golf simulators and launch monitors provide a plethora of valuable information about every golf shot. The most basics are swing speed, ball speed, and shot distance. Golfers can develop a good golf game after a winter of simply improving these numbers.
But most golfers want to see side spin, often caused by face angle and swing path, which many devices provide as well. Spin rates and angle of approach are two more metrics that help the uber serious golfer hone in on his or her strengths and weaknesses.
To fully maximize your golf simulation experience, you’ll want to have a projector and hitting screen as part of your setup. However, you can get away with just the screen by casting your tablet or smartphone onto it. The other option is simply having a monitor or tablet by your side to actually see the simulated ball flight upon impact. In this case, you’ll need an adequate hitting net to receive your golf shots.
Learn how golf simulators work
You don’t have to be a complete novice to technology to feel overwhelmed by the options available in indoor golf simulators. There are essentially three primary technological variations of golf simulation:
1) Camera-based systems that take high speed images of the golf ball immediately after impact. After analysis of such images, data on shot shape and distance is provided. You can use this photometric device indoors or out, meaning you’ll enjoy year-round usage.
2.) Doppler radar that tracks ball flight by emitting a microwave signal that bounces back from the golf ball after impact. These systems work better outdoors because they need to see the ball in flight upon impact. You can, however, utilize these devices indoors with ample setup space.
3.) Infrared golf simulators emit a light signal to capture the position of the clubhead through the golf swing. Because these systems use clubhead data to render results, you don’t have to hit a real golf ball. This is often the third most-preferred option of home golf simulator shoppers.
Don’t be alarmed if you’re even more confused than before. After all, increasing knowledge on a subject often means navigating through the minutia to determine the most relevant information. The Indoor Golf Shop offers many of the leading names in indoor golf simulation, and we streamline the build process. Call our sales and service team to help narrow down your options.