Golf Simulators: Are they really worth the money?

If you’ve spent any time playing golf, you know that you can’t just pick up some clubs and automatically be a great golfer. There is a lot to work on, as the nuances make it such a challenging game for many. For those who are tremendous drivers, their short games may lack. That’s why practice is so important. Having the ability to practice at home can vastly improve your game, and one way to do that is with a golf simulator. While golf simulators can be costly, like most things with golf, are they actually worth the money to improve your game?

For the serious golfer who is willing to invest time and money to improve their golf game, owning a home golf simulator can certainly be worth the money. There are many options on the market, ranging in price from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.

In short, golf simulators will end up paying for themselves, depending on how you use the data you’ll get from them. After just a few rounds with lower strokes, you’ll know exactly why. They can help you track important data, like your carry distance, clubhead speed, and vertical launch angle, and help you figure out where you may be going wrong on the course. You’ll be able to analyze your swing and work to have a more consistent one time and time again. You’ll notice a difference on the course after using a golf simulator. 

For those who are just starting to get into golf, you have to think about your clubs first. Once you’re set with those, then comes your swing repetition and your practicing of different shots. If you want data to show you how you’re swinging and ways to correct it, a golf simulator is the way to go. This guide will show you reasons why it makes sense to get a golf simulator, which one may be right for you, and how owning one can improve your game for the better.

The Reason Golfers Buy Golf Simulators

Everyone wants to believe that they can be as good as a pro when they step up to a tee. Not all of us have the amount of time it takes to reach those levels, but we sure try our hardest. With items like a golf simulator in our arsenal, it can help us shave off strokes by figuring out where we may be going wrong in our swing. Rather than setting up your phone behind you and recording your swing, you’ll get real metrics that show you what you’re doing well and what needs improving.

Golf simulators can be used indoors or outdoors, making them very valuable teaching tools. You may have tested your golf clubs at a store with a simulator with a screen and a hitting mat. There are driving ranges you can go to that have these as well, or there are even luxury apartment buildings that have them. But can they help you in your own home? It depends on what kind of setup you’re looking for. You can be in the market for:

  • A full projector setup with ball mats and trackers
  • A simulator with a swing stick that has a tracker on the end of it
  • A launch monitor that sends information to your mobile device
  • Some combination of these with a net and a tracker

How Much Room Do You Need?

woman golfing with a golf simulator

You may be looking around your home and wondering if you need more space. For indoor swinging, you obviously need enough room to swing your club inside without any obstructions.

The minimum required room dimensions for indoor golf simulator setups are 10′ wide x 12′ deep x 9′ height. Having at least 9′ ceilings are the most important part, as you need enough clearance to swing your club. If you have more space, a more comfortable room size is 15′ wide x 15′ deep x 10′ in height. Shooting for outdoors or in a garage or basement is definitely your best bet, as you’ll have the most room available.

If you’re using a simulator with a swing stick, you’ll be able to use that more comfortably, but it’s all going to depend on your accommodations and your size as well. You don’t want to feel cramped as you’re swinging, as you won’t put forth your most fluid and accurate swing to measure. The ability to repeat your swing over and over will help you get the best data to reflect on. Bottom line: if you can’t swing a 7 iron comfortably in the room, you probably shouldn’t be using a golf simulator in it. 

How Much is a Golf Simulator?

This really all depends on what kind of setup you’re looking for. If you have the room and the money, a complete simulator set up with a projector screen, mat, and trackers can go a long way to lowering your handicap. But if you’re trying to keep your costs down, a full simulator set may not be the best money you can spend. If there are smaller areas of your game that you want to focus on, such as swing speed and launch angle, a monitor can do the trick. 

Large setups can run up to $4,000 or more, while some swing simulators can cost around $250. If you’re spending 4 to 5 hours a day, multiple days a week, playing golf during the year, then you’re already investing the time to play the game. Investing more money into playing better makes a lot of sense. For someone who plays casually, a launch monitor or swing simulator may be the better bet.

Golf Simulators Will Improve How You Approach Each Shot

At the end of the day, what you take from using a golf simulator is a breakdown of your swing. Your swing is different than anyone else’s. But we all want to be able to put a ball in the fairway with regularity and get it onto the green without too much trouble. Using your golf simulator can help you achieve that, solely by providing you the data that your swing offers. 

You’ll have a better idea of why you may be spraying shots to the left, pulling balls to the right, or topping balls because:

  • You can compare data from swing to swing
  • You’ll know how hard you were swinging
  • You’ll be able to see where the ball goes each swing
  • You can take your data home with you rather than just looking at your scorecard

Another reason you can get the most out of each shot in a simulator is that it allows you to use your own clubs. You’ll be more comfortable getting into your swing each time when you’re swinging your own sticks. Whether the setup comes with real balls with trackers in them or foam ones, you’ll still be able to get the same swing in. 

Which Golf Simulators Should You Look At?

There are many options, and there are ones that will fit almost anybody’s budget and space. If you’re investing money into the game of golf, you should make sure it’s worth it for you. Remember to consider the area you have at home before purchasing anything, even if you’re going to be using it in your yard. You can take a look at the following options on Amazon.

OptiShot2 Golf Simulator (Golf in a Box Series)

Thie OptiShot2 Golf Simulator (Golf in a Box Series) includes a projector, 9’ x 12’ x 5’ bay, hitting mat, swing pad, infrared sensors, and more. The turf the mat is made from is the most lifelike you’ll find to use in your home. This will work with Windows or Mac systems and lets you practice and record your data on 15 virtual courses.

OptiShot 2 Golf-In-A-Box Golf Simulator

This home golf simulator allows you to play various courses in different game formats like match play and skins. You can get the whole family involved, play with your buddies, or practice as much as you want.

What’s Included:

  • OptiShot 2 Golf Simulator
  • 2 plastic golf balls
  • 2 plastic tees
  • 1 rubber tee
  • USB cable
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FlightScope Mevo

With the FlightScope Mevo, you’ll get real-time data sent directly to your phone or mobile device. This can be used indoors or outdoors to provide data parameters like spin, apex height, flight time, carry distance, and more. You can compare your videos over time to see how you may be improving.

Best Overall Launch Monitor
FlightScope Mevo Launch Monitor

This is one of the most trusted launch monitors on the market. It is used by pros like Bryson DeChambeau and Bubba Watson to track their data. You can capture videos of yourself and send all the data straight to your smartphone or tablet for further review. It’s easy to use this indoors or outdoors.

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06/27/2022 10:33 am GMT

Rapsodo Mobile Launch Monitor

The Rapsodo mobile launch monitor tracks your data in no time and only takes 30 seconds to set up. This can be used indoors or outdoors by hitting into a net, and it will sync with select Apple devices. It provides instant feedback to track your historical data like dispersion, trajectory, and standard deviation for each club. It will even use your phone’s GPS to tell you where your shots would have landed on the course or range you’re at.

Rapsodo Mobile Launch Monitor

The best personal launch monitor for outdoors that runs right on an iPhone or iPad.

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06/27/2022 12:19 am GMT

In Summary

You can now see what kind of options there are when it comes to using a golf simulator in your home or outside it. Taking the data you collect from a session with a golf simulator can help you translate your bad habits into good ones and your good habits into consistent swings. You can work on any swing with a golf simulator, so you’ll save a trip to the range. While simulators can be expensive, they provide important information to help you become a better golfer. 

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Joe Morelli

Joe's been playing golf for 25 years, starting as a junior golfer in his early teens. He loves getting out on the links with his dad and friends -- whether an early weekend foursome or his weekday, afternoon league.