Home Golf Simulator Guide - Everything You Need To Know To Build The Perfect Indoor Golf Simulator
The Complete Guide: From Golf Simulator Comparison To Complete Golf Simulator Packages
Most golfers would love to have an in home golf simulator of their own. For year’s simulators and launch monitors 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 average at home golfer. The good news is the industry has come a long way and you no longer have to shell out $30k to $50k to own your own golf simulator in the comfort of your home. With advancements in technology and a growing home golf market it is now possible to purchase an indoor golf simulator at much more economical prices. Simulators are now available for as little as $500 upwards to as much as $15000 for complete golf simulator set-ups. It is important to note that with golf simulators and launch monitors 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 system.
If you’re seriously considering building out an indoor golf simulator set-up in your home it’s important to be aware of what your options are. There are several items that will make up your golf simulator set-up. 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.
First Things First - How Much Space Will I Need For My Home Golf Simulator?
This is one of the more common questions our customers have when finding a space for their home golf simulator set-up. 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 is wide enough, deep enough, and tall enough to accommodate both your golf swing AND the golf net and screen.
A good rule of thumb is for your golf simulator room to have a ceiling height of at least 9'. In our experience 9’ provides more than 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 the flatness of your swing. Again, the important thing here is to make sure you can make a full golf swing comfortably. It’s also important to note that many of the simulator enclosures, impact screens, and nets have minimum height requirements. Make sure to reference the minimum height requirement of the simulator screen or golf net you intend to use and compare that with your actual ceiling height to determine if it will work.
It's important to consider a couple of things when dealing with room width. First and foremost is the width of the impact screen and/or golf net you intend to use in your simulator room. Most of the golf simulator screens and nets that we carry are between 5' and 10' wide. Another important consideration is whether both right and left handed golfers will be using the golf simulator regularly. If both types of golfers will be playing regularly then it would be wise 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'.
The last component to consider when planning out your space is the 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 15' is very comfortable and more than adequate for your set-up. All of the golf simulators and launch monitors that we offer here at Shop Indoor Golf will work within this depth. To help paint a picture, the room depth break down looks something like this:
- Distance between the wall and the simulator screen: 1'
- Distance between the screen and the golfer: 7'
- Distance behind the golfer: 7'
While the 15' room depth works with all of the indoor golf simulators we carry, there are other golf simulator systems that will require more room. For example, doppler-based systems like the Trackman measure ball data from behind the golfer and can require as much as 25' to accurately simulate the golf shot. Since doppler-based systems require so much space it is our experience that these virtual golf systems are better suited for outdoor use and not for the indoor home golf set-up. In contrast, all of our golf simulators are photometric-based systems. Photometric-based systems, like the SkyTrak and Foresight GC2, capture data from beside the ball and measure what the ball is doing immediately after impact using high speed cameras. These systems are ideal for indoor golf since they only require a few feet to simulate the virtual golf shot.
What Materials Will I Need To Build Out My Home Golf Simulator?
There are six components that will make up your golf simulator system. The golf simulator, the golf mat, the simulator enclosure (golf net and/or simulator screen), the computer or tablet, the golf simulation software, and the projector. All of these items will be covered in length in the following section of the golf simulator guide.
1. Golf Simulator / Launch Monitor
The main component of your home golf simulator will be the actual simulator or launch monitor system. Think of it 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. Whether you're considering a SkyTrak Golf Simulator, a Foresight Sports GC2 launch monitor, or a TruGolf Simulator the important thing to remember is that all units are different and have a unique set of offerings. Common things to consider are:
- Golf Course Play
- Golf Course Availability
- 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 not want to invest in something with all the bells and whistles. 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 spend a bit more to ensure you get one of the best golf simulator systems that has all the features. Things will become a bit clearer when we reach the golf simulator comparison section of this guide.
2. Golf Mat
The next item you will want to obtain is the golf mat. These are the three items to take into consideration when choosing the right mat for you: durability, performance, and forgiveness. There are many golf 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 home golf setup. 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 mat will run you between $250-$1000.
3. Golf Simulator Enclosure - Golf Net and/or Golf Simulator Screen
Most golfers will choose to install their 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 simulator screen to hit into. There are many options in this space, but there are three items you should consider when deciding what option is right for you:
- Display Type
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 next consideration is durability. If you're not concerned about the lifespan of your net or maybe you're not planning on using it regularly then a more economical option that is less durable may be the right option for you. But if you're planning on using your golf simulator regularly, or if you're a golfer with a high swing speed then we would highly recommend investing in a higher quality golf net that is more durable and can withstand the punishment. There are a couple of golf nets that come to mind, but the most popular and highly rated is The Net Return Pro Series Golf Net which comes complete with a 250k golf shot guarantee. Another neat feature about the Pro Series Net is that it is designed to allow for automatic ball return.
The last thing to consider is the portability and flexibility of the golf net and/or simulator screen. 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 ask when considering which golf net and/or simulator screen is right for you. For those that have a dedicated space for their golf simulator setup this may not be as important a factor. 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 taking a look at 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 needing something more premium and are looking for a simulator screen enclosure, take a look at the HomeCourse Pro Retractable Simulator Screen. At the push of a button the simulator screen comes down and transforms your flex-space into your very own indoor driving range or golf simulator enclosure. Push the button again and the screen retracts. It's that simple.
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.
5. 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 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.
6. Projector & Projector Mount Kit
If your golf simulator setup will include a simulator screen then you will also need to get a projector and projector mount kit. 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. We'll get into the projector specifics as well as other recommendations later in this guide.
Best Golf Simulators And Launch Monitors
In this section we'll provide a brief overview of the different golf simulator options. We've broken this down by price range to make it easier for you to determine which simulator is right for you based on your budget.
Golf Simulators For Under $1000
There are several golf simulator and launch monitor options in the under $1000 price range. Most notably you have the Ernest Sports ES12 Launch Monitor at $199.99, the Optishot2 at $299.00, the Voice Caddie SC200 at $349.99, the Ernest Sports ES14 at $495.00, and the Optishot 2 Golf In A Box series starting at $799.00. These are all great options under $1000, but it's important to note that there are a couple of trade-offs. For example, in this budget only the Optishot2 provides you with a full golf simulation experience. The other launch monitors in this space will provide all of the golf shot readings but will not allow for simulation. Another item to note regarding the Optishot is that it does not provide golf ball data, instead it measures golf club data. This is because the Optishot is an infrared based system as opposed to the photometric or doppler based systems found in more expensive simulators. 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 golf balls.
Golf Simulators For Under $2500
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 which costs $1995. This is our most popular and best selling golf simulator and it's not hard to see why. Since it's release a couple of years ago, the SkyTrak has completely changed the indoor golf simulator market. Designed specifically for the home golfer, the SkyTrak launch monitor provides a level of accuracy and performance comparable to systems in the $15k-$30k price range. Head-to-head studies have shown that the SkyTrak more than holds its own against more expensive launch monitors like the Trackman. This is the reason why Golf Digest voted SkyTrak the 2017 Best Value Golf Simulator. It's a steal at $1995 and really an excellent choice for your indoor golf simulator setup. Check out our complete line of SkyTrak Golf Simulator Packages for all-in-one solutions. The other unit at this price point is the Ernest Sports ES15 Range launch monitor at $2095. The ES15 is really popular with golf professionals and teaching instructors. It's three doppler radars provide for very accurate golf ball and club head measurements. One thing to note is that since the ES15 is a doppler based system it requires a bit more room than photometric based systems like the SkyTrak. So if you're limited to an indoor space it may not be the best option for you.
Golf Simulators For Under $6000
We have two golf simulators for sale that are priced under $6000. The first option, and the one we highly recommend, is the Foresight Sports GC2 coming in at $5400. Now the GC2 normally retails for $12,900 but we've established a partnership with Foresight to sell their certified pre-owned units. The great thing about these used GC2's is that they are all recent units that have undergone rigorous testing. All certified pre-owned GC2 launch monitors undergo a robust two week testing period performed by Foresight themselves. Each unit is passed through a round of automated/robotic testing and a round of user testing in both an indoor and outdoor environment. In order to qualify as a Certified Pre-Owned unit the launch monitor has to pass both rounds of testing with flying colors. Foresight is so confident in their CPO units that each launch monitor comes complete with a full 6 month warranty backed by Foresight. So you're getting one of the top golf launch monitors in the industry at a heavily discounted price, without sacrificing quality and warranty. The second option at this price point is the Ernest Sports ES16 launch monitor. This is another great launch monitor that combines both doppler and photometric technology. It's one of the few systems out there to combine both. This allows for golfers to get both clubhead and ball data with each golf shot.
Golf Simulators For $10,000 and Above
Prices in this category will vary greatly from $10,000 up to $100,000. Popular choices at this price point include the TruGolf Vista 10 golf simulator coming in at $15995, and the TruGolf Vista 12 at $18995. The great thing about the TruGolf Vista series line of simulators is that you are getting a complete setup. Everything is included from the golf simulator, the computer, the projector, simulator enclosure, golf mat, etc. Other premium golf simulator options include more expensive simulators from Trackman, HD Golf, Full Swing Golf, and About Golf. All of these systems carry steep price tags starting at around $20000.
Best Indoor Golf Mats
Fiberbuilt Golf Mats
Fiberbuilt has long been the leader in the indoor and outdoor golf mat marketplace. Their proprietary blend of nylon fibers simulate real fairway grass and as a result allow you to hit down and through at impact. The turf is designed in a way that not only offers a realistic feel, but also is easy on your joints making practice effective and safe. It's that quality that makes Fiberbuilt golf mats one of the more popular choices to pair with you golf simulator. In fact Fiberbuilt believes in their product so much that each golf mat comes complete with a 300,000 shot guarantee. The variety of sizes and configurations ensure that you'll find the right Fiberbuilt mat for your space.
True Strike Golf Mats
True Strike golf mats are another option to consider. Similar to Fiberbuilt, True Strike's mats are commercial grade golf mats that will give you a much more realistic experience when striking the ball. The main difference is the hitting surface used. True Strike uses a silicon gel panel on top of an injection moulded foam underneath their turf. The gel reduces the amount of vibration and shock sent back up the club making it really easy on your joints. The gel insert also allows for much more "give" as your club makes contact with the turf and allows it to dig into the surface similar to how you would on the golf course. They are a little bit heavier than Fiberbuilt golf mat but both are great options.
Best Golf Net & Golf Simulator Screen
Pro Series Net by The Net Return
This is the best golf net in the market hands down. The Net Return is the absolute leader in the golf net space and are known for building quality products. While we like all of their products, the Pro Series Net stands out as the elite net in their product offering. Priced at $595, The Net Return Pro Series golf net is the only golf net in the world with automatic ball return AND a 250,000 shot guarantee. It can handle ball speeds of up to 225 MPH and is designed for years of use. Each and every Pro Series net is handmade, individually inspected and tested, and proudly made in the USA. Each Pro Series net also comes with a duffle bag for easy transport and storage. If you're in need of a slightly smaller net, The Net Return Home Series Net makes a great alternative. It's lighter and slightly smaller than the Pro Series. The Home Series net is a little cheaper as well coming in at $449.
Simulator Series Studio by The Net Return
Great for a dedicated golf simulator room, the Simulator Series is one of the premier standalone golf simulator enclosures on the market. At $2495 it's a great option for those seeking a premium setup at a budget friendly price. It's light and rugged, built with a 1.5" tubular aluminum frame, and easy to assemble. The push button assembly and quick color connect system allow for one person setup in as little as 45 minutes. Connecting your projector has never been easier with the Net Return Projector Mount Kit. This kit mounts directly onto the Simulator Series. Simply attach the mount kit, slide in your projector, and you're ready to go! Please note that the actual projector is not included with the purchase of the Simulator Series and must be purchased separately. Projector options, including the Optoma EH200ST Short Throw Projector , will be covered in greater detail in the upcoming section.
Homecourse Pro Retractable Screen
A relative newcomer in the space the Homecourse Pro Screen is quickly becoming one of our favorites. Priced at $1999, it's slightly less expensive than the Simulator Series, but more versatile in the sense that the Homecourse doesn't have to take up a fixed amount of space. Since it's retractable you can place the Homecourse pro screen in virtually any room. Want to play some golf? Push the button on the wireless remote and instantly transform any space into a golf simulator room. Need your room back? No problem, push the button again and instantly your screen retracts. The Homecourse screen is also surrounded by sky netting along the top and sides creating a true simulator enclosure and shielding your walls from errant shots. Unfortunately the Homecourse does not come with a projector mount kit, however universal projector mount kits such as the QualGear Mount Kit work great with this unit. Alternatively you could pair the Homecourse pro screen with the All Sports Systems TerraShield Projector Enclosure which allows you to place your short throw projector directly on the floor.
Best Golf Simulator Projector
Optoma EH200ST Short Throw Projector
As you can imagine there are lots of projector options for your golf simulator setup. We've tried several over the years but there is one that stands out and separates itself from the rest. The Optoma EH200ST Short Throw Projector, in our opinion, is the best projector for the golf simulator options we offer. It has a sharp 0.5:1 short throw projection lens that allows you to project large, bright, and crystal clear 1080p graphics directly onto your simulator screen.
- 20,000:1 contrast ratio adds visual impact
- Throw ratio of 0.5:1
- 3-D capable
- Connect via HDMI
Best Golf Simulator Packages
SkyTrak Golf Simulator Package With Simulator Series Studio - Starting at $5299
We like to call it the MacDaddy of golf simulator packages. Our best selling package is hands down the most complete and robust golf simulator package available. This package has everything you need to set up a premium indoor golf simulator right in the comfort of your home. You're getting the top golf simulator and launch monitor (SkyTrak), the best golf simulator enclosure (Net Return Simulator Series), one of the better golf mats available (Pro Turf Mat), and the projector mount kit. All at a great price of $5299.
What's Included In This Golf Simulator Package?
- SkyTrak Launch Monitor and Golf Simulator (a $1995 value)
- SkyTrak Golf Simulator Software
- Net Return Simulator Series Studio (a $3000 value)
- 6' x 10' Pro Turf Mat (a $449 value)
- Projector Mount Kit (a $600 value)
That's a total value of $6044...yours today for as little as $5299BUY YOURS TODAY
Other Golf Simulator Packages For Sale
Have Questions? Ask Our Experts
This guide is intended to help you become familiar with golf simulator packages. We realize however that it may not provide every answer that you're looking for. If you have any questions along the way, or need some help in choosing 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 with any and all of your golf simulator questions.