How do golf simulators work?

Golf simulators, also known as virtual golf work by compiling information from each golf hole on the course and using software to calculate the distance to the hole. The simulator then projects the image on the simulator screen.

The golfer then plays the shot as they would on a real golf hole. You use your own golf club and ball playing off a golf simulator mat.

Sensors built into the simulator monitor everything from golf swing speed, club head speed, spin rates and how the golf ball launches off the tee.

Golf simulator terminology

  • Launch Angle – records the angle the ball leaves the tee or mat.
  • Carry – Measures the distance the ball travels
  • Spin rate – After impact the simulator measures the spin of the ball
  • Ball speed – Measures the speed of the ball after impact
  • Smash Factor – Records the energy at impact of the clubhead and golf ball
  • Club speed – Measures the speed of the clubhead
  • Face angle – Records the angle at which the face of the club makes contact with the ball

How golf simulators measure your golf shot

Golf simulator technology use radars, cameras, optical sensors and mat sensors to collect data from different aspects of what happens from the start of your swing to the striking the ball an your follow through.

Information is collected in milliseconds and the calculations work out the flight and distance of your ball.

With all the information the golf simulator shows you visually the path of the golf ball, and display’s all the data on the projector screen.

After your shot is completed, the simulator will move to your next shot, and so on. You continue chipping and putting until you have finished the hole.

What’s the difference between a golf simulator versus a launch monitor?

Golf simulators include everything you need to record your golf swing. Part of the equipment included is a launch monitor this machine records all the data of your golf swing, the path of the ball golf, swing speed, club head speed, spin rates and how the golf ball launches off the tee.

The information will be shown on a computer or laptop, rather than a golf simulator screen. Launch monitors are portable and can be taken onto the golf course, and setup to record your golf swing.

If you just want to record the data or don’t have the room for a golf simulator. Then just purchasing a launch monitor is going to save you money, and can be used in a smaller space.

You won’t have the visualization of your golf shot on a projection screen, which can be a disadvantage when you want to see the flight path of you shot.

Golf SimulatorGolf Launch Monitors
ProsTechnology improving all the time
High quality & realistic
Can be used anytime
Small & Portable
Can be used on the golf course
Cheaper than simulator
ConsPutting & Chipping can feel unnatural
Limited visualization of shot

The advantages of a golf simulator

Although nothing can replace playing real golf, a simulator does have benefits.

With the ability to continue practicing your golf game in the winter months when the weather is foul, or if you work unsocial hours a golf simulator can be an ideal solution.

A beginner will find the advantage of using a golf simulator will help them improve their game quicker than infrequent visits to the golf course or driving range.

Playing a round of golf can take 4 – 5 hours, using a golf simulator you can shoot round in significantly less time.

If someone offered you to play the Augusta National or Pebble Beech, I’m sure you would jump at the opportunity. These machines come with different golf course simulations including some of the top golf courses in the world.

On the golf course or driving range, it’s not possible to get data on every component of your swing, so having that data from a simulator is a great instructional aid.

You can download and replay each hole, with this valuable information you can make adjusts when you play the hole again.

Setting up a simulator in your home, garage or at work is easy. They don’t take up to much space, and can be easily packed away when needed.

A space of 10 x 15 feet would be enough for the majority of simulators. Don’t forget you’ll need a ceiling height of about 9.5 feet for a full swing.

How accurate are golf simulators?

The technology of golf simulators are improving year on year and becoming increasingly realistic.

A few years ago the only way you would have the chance to play these simulators would be at the golf shop. Now with prices decreasing, they are available for home use.

A golf simulator will never be as accurate as playing on a golf course, the reason is there are too many variable conditions, like weather to give you a true result.

As the name suggests they are only simulations of what you would find on a real golf course.

Are golf simulators actually an effective way to lower scores?

Lowering your golf score is a sign that your game is improving. A golf simulator can help you achieve better scoring out in the real world.

Generally, you’re going to improve with more practice whether on the driving range, golf course or golf simulator.

Repetition in golf is the key to improvement and lowering of scores, and a simulator will give the opportunity to play as often as you want.

Although many courses are being added every year to golf simulator databases, the chances are that your course won’t be included.

An accurate simulator will record the distances you hit with your woods, and irons. Knowing these distances you can hit with each club will help you when you head the golf course.

The data and the amount of extra practice you you get from a simulator would quickly benefit a beginner in lowering their scores more than an advanced player.

Most of the courses are famous and exclusive clubs, that us mere mortals can only dream of playing.

What you want to achieve is to improve your game, from driving off the tee to putting, you’re going to benefit from all the data, and the just by having more opportunities to practice.

What’s the cheapest golf simulator?

If you’re on a budget, but would love to own a golf simulator, don’t worry! at $399 you can get the OpiShot simulator. You’re not going to get a full set up, but it’s going to help you practice at home.

The simulator connects to a laptop and you need to download software. You’ll also need to purchase a larger mat, net and projector to get the feel of a more expensive set up.

If however, you’re looking just to get some practice and get the feel of what a golf simulator can do for you, then a this budget model is ideal starter set.

How to build a home golf simulator

How much do golf simulators cost

Golf simulators have come a long way and new technology has made Simulators start as low as $400 for basic setup and as high as $80000 for a 4K Ultra Ultimate setup.

You can do-it-yourself which would be a fraction of the cost, although the data you get back won’t be as accurate.

  • Low Priced Golf Simulators: $399 – $3,500
  • Mid Priced Golf Simulators: $4,000 – $7,800
  • High Priced Premium Golf Simulators: $20,00 – $80,000

In conclusion

If you’re keen to improve your game, but limited on time, then a golf simulator is a great piece of equipment that could easily take your golf game. to the next level.

The cost maybe hard to justify for a golf simulator package, so it could be worth just purchasing a launch monitor, and then add extras to build a full setup when you can justify spending the money.