DIY Guide To Building an Indoor Golf Simulator For Your Home
DIY Golf Simulator - Everything You Need To Know
Most golfers would love to have an indoor golf simulator for their home. For year’s simulators could only be experienced at indoor golf centers or your local golf club. The steep price tags associated with these systems effectively priced out the typical at-home golfer.
The good news is the industry has come a long way. Thanks to advancements in technology and a growing home golf market, golf simulator costs have dropped, making it possible to purchase an indoor golf simulator at much more reasonable prices.
Golf simulators are now available with prices starting at $500 upwards to as much as $15000 for complete golf simulator set-ups. Going the DIY route and building your own golf simulator can also help to reduce cost.
It's important to note that with golf simulators you often get what you pay for. That is to say that the robustness and accuracy of a $500 system will not compare to that of a $5000 golf simulator.
If you’re considering building your own golf simulator it’s important to be aware of what your options are. There are several items that will make up your homemade golf simulator.
Here at Shop Indoor Golf our goal is to educate our customers on their options. This guide aims to provide a detailed overview of the items you will need to build the perfect golf simulator for your home.
Golf Simulator Room Dimensions
How much room will I need for my golf simulator? This is one of the more common questions our customers have when finding a space in their home for their indoor golf simulator. It's an important consideration that we'll address first in this guide. While there's not a one-size-fits-all answer, the important thing is to make sure that you can swing the golf club comfortably and without restriction. You should ensure that the golf simulator room in your home is wide enough, deep enough, and tall enough to accommodate both your golf swing AND the golf net and screen.
In our experience 9’ provides enough clearance for the average golfer. For some golfers a ceiling height of less than 9' could be appropriate, but ultimately will depend on your height and your swing. Many of the simulator enclosures, impact screens, and nets have minimum height requirements, so be sure to reference that height requirement and compare that with your actual ceiling height to determine if it will work.
You want to make sure your room is wide enough to fit your golf simulator screen and/or golf net. Most of the golf simulator screens and nets we carry are between 5' and 10' wide. Also if both right handed and left handed golfers will be playing then it'd be best to account for 1' to 2' of additional room width. Typically we like to recommend a room width of 12' so that your space is comfortable, although some of our systems will fit into a room width of 10'.
For room depth you will want to account for some space between the impact screen and the wall, the impact screen and you, and have plenty of space behind you. In our experience we feel that a room depth of 12' is very comfortable and more than adequate for your set-up.
How Much Will My Golf Simulator Cost?
The next step is to decide on a budget. The most important, and probably most expensive component of your indoor golf simulator set-up will be the launch monitor. For that reason, we will dedicate this section of the DIY golf simulator guide to the launch monitor / golf simulator portion of your setup.
A Little Bit More About Golf Simulators
Think of the golf simulator as the brain of the overall setup, capturing and measuring data points that it will use to simulate your golf shot.
The type of system you choose will have a big impact on your overall experience so it's important to do your research and compare the pros/cons of each unit.
Each golf simulator is different and has a unique set of offerings. Common things to consider are: price, graphics, features, golf course play, and multiplayer availability.
You should also take a look at what the simulator will primarily be used for.
If you're looking for something that lets you play a round of golf with your buddies from time to time, then you may want to look at entertainment focused golf simulators.
Conversely, if you're in the market for a system that comes loaded with stellar graphics and game improvement features then you'll want to consider a golf simulator training package.
Things will become a bit clearer in the upcoming section where we will cover three different DIY golf simulator options based on cost.
OptiShot - A Great Entry Level Option
While there are several budget friendly options, the OptiShot 2 is probably the most robust and best golf simulator for under $1000.
While the OptiShot is the leader in the affordable golf simulator space, it does come with a few drawbacks.
Mainly, Optishot2 doesn't provide golf ball data, it measures golf club data. This is because the Optishot2 is an infrared based system, as opposed to the photometric or doppler based systems found in more expensive golf simulators.
For some looking to piece together a homemade golf simulator this is a real deal breaker, but for others more interested in the entertainment aspect of the game the OptiShot2 will suffice.
On the plus side since it only measures clubhead data, you don't have to use real golf balls and can opt for foam or dummy balls.
If you can stretch your budget up a bit to $799, you can upgrade to the Optishot 2 Golf In A Box package which includes the OptiShot2 golf simulator, a golf mat, and golf net.
SkyTrak - Big Step Up In Performance
Here is where we start to find more premium options. It's remarkable what a bit more in budget will gain you.
Our favorite option at this price point is the SkyTrak Golf Simulator & Launch Monitor with a price of $1995.
Since it's release a couple of years ago, the SkyTrak has completely changed the indoor golf simulator market.
The SkyTrak launch monitor captures ball data and provides a level of accuracy/performance previously only found in more expensive systems running upwards of $15000.
This is the reason Golf Digest voted SkyTrak the 2017 & 2018 Best Value Golf Simulator.
If you are interested in full golf course play, there are plenty of golf simulator software options that are compatible with SkyTrak, which we will cover in detail further along in this guide.
With comparable home golf simulator prices in excess of $15k, the SkyTrak's attractive price of $1995, stellar reviews and unparalleled performance make it a great choice for any DIY golf simulator.
For those interested in complete SkyTrak packages, be sure to check out our line of SkyTrak Golf Simulator Packages for all-in-one solutions.
Foresight GC2 - Used By The Pro's
The GC2 by Foresight Sports is our premium launch monitor recommendation for your DIY golf simulator.
If you've ever been to a Golf Galaxy to try out new golf clubs, you may have noticed the GC2 launch monitor in the hitting bays.
Foresight Golf's GC2 has long been the choice of club pros around the world due to it's accuracy. It's similar to the SkyTrak in that it measures ball data, however it is a bit more accurate.
The main advantage of the GC2 is that you can pair it with the HMT add-on which provides club head data, giving you insight into more aspects of your golf swing such as angle of attack.
For a full comparison be sure to check out our SkyTrak vs GC2 guide.
Here at Shop Indoor Golf, we've partnered with Foresight to offer our customers Certified Pre-Owned GC2's at a discount. These are all newer devices and come complete with 6-month warranties.
So you're getting one of the top golf launch monitors at a heavily discounted price (starting at $5400), without sacrificing quality and warranty.
If you're a golf guy that's into the data, and your budget allows for it, the GC2 is the ideal launch monitor for your DIY golf simulator.
Golf Practice Mat
The next item you will need when building your own golf simulator is a golf mat to hit off of.
There are three things to consider when choosing the right golf mat for your diy setup: durability, performance, and forgiveness.
There are many golf practice mats available that are durable (think driving range mats), many mats that perform well, and many that are forgiving and easy on your wrists and elbows. But there aren't many that excel in all three.
The good news is we've already done the dirty work and found the best golf mat options for your diy golf simulator.
It's important to not overlook the significance of the golf mat within your setup. There are lots of cheap and economical golf mats available, but keep in mind that you get what you pay for. We've seen people try to cut corners and opt for $20 or even $50 golf mats before.
Too often we've seen this result in one of three things: the golf mat doesn't hold up, the mat results in poor golf simulator readings, or your elbows and joints start to take a toll. For these reasons we recommend you invest in a reputable mat right out of the gate. A quality indoor golf practice mat will run you between $250-$1000.
Golf Simulator Impact Screen
Most golfers will choose to build their diy golf simulator in their basement, garage, or media room. Unless you're ok with damaging your walls and windows, you're going to want a golf net and/or golf simulator screen to hit into. There are many options in this space, but there are two items you should consider when deciding what option is right for you: display type and portability.
The first consideration to take into account is how you will be viewing the golf simulation results. If you're planning on only viewing the simulation on your iPad or computer then a standalone golf net will suffice. You could also run an HDMI cable to a larger display or TV screen with this option.
On the flip side, if you're looking for a more premium experience then you're going to want to project the simulation results onto a golf simulator screen. This is an awesome setup and really lets you feel as if you're out on the driving range or playing a round of golf on your favorite course.
The second consideration is portability. Is it easy to assemble and disassemble, how much space will it take up, and how many people will it take to put up and take down are all important questions to consider.
For those that have a dedicated space for their golf simulator setup this may not be as important a factor, and we would recommend the Net Return Simulator Series golf impact screen.
But for those that will be using a flex-space or multi-purpose room, this is critical. If this fits your profile then there are two options we feel would work great.
On the golf net side, we'd recommend any of The Net Return golf nets. They're extremely portable and really simple to put together and take down. They've incorporated a color coded assembly process that allows for a quick plug and play solution.
If you're looking to project onto a screen, but don't have a dedicated space, take a look at the HomeCourse Pro Retractable Simulator Screen. This screen is versatile and a space saver. At the push of a button the simulator screen comes down and transforms your flex-space into your diy golf simulator room. Push the button again and the screen retracts. It's that simple.
Computer and/or iPad For Golf Simulator Software
In order to run the golf simulator software you're going to need a computer or tablet. In most cases a PC computer will work fine.
In some instances though an iPad will be required. For example, the WGT Play & Improve Plan which allows for golf course play on your SkyTrak Golf Simulator requires an iPad to run the simulation software.
Be sure to reference the system requirements section of the simulator you are considering to cover your basis.
Golf Simulation Software
Most golf simulators and launch monitors will come with a free version of the basic software. Usually the free version will mimic a driving range environment and will allow for you to obtain key measurements such as carry distance, total distance, spin rate, etc. It will also visually display your golf shot in the form of a 2-D shot tracer.
If you're needing something with added features for your DIY golf simulator such as game improvement options, bag mapping, challenges like closest to the pin and longest drive, or full golf course play then you will have to upgrade to a paid golf simulation software.
The good news is that there are lots of quality options available at various price points. Be sure to check out our Golf Simulator Software Guide for an overview into the most popular options currently available.
Golf Simulator Projector
If your diy golf simulator setup will include a simulator screen then you will also need to get a projector. There are lots of options in this space as well, but in our experience we've found the best success to be with Ultra Short Throw projectors with a 4:3 aspect ratio.
There are many projectors that meet these requirements, but the one that we use here in the office is the Optoma EH200ST Short Throw Projector. The neat thing about the Optoma projector is that it displays in HD quality and is perfect for turning your simulator screen into a home theater.
Have Questions? Ask Our Experts
This guide is intended to help you become familiar with the various items you will need to build your own golf simulator. We realize however that this DIY golf simulator guide may not provide every answer that you're looking for. If you have any questions along the way, or need some help in selecting which golf simulator package is right for you just give us a call at 866-723-0311. You can also reach us via email at Support@ShopIndoorGolf.com. Our team of experts are knowledgeable and ready to help you build your homemade golf simulator.