In a perfect world, every day would be sunny on a golf course. However, reality stands in the way of this. Fortunately, modern golfers have an option for the times when obstacles such as the weather, make golfing outside much like squeezing water out of a stone. A golf simulator is a fun way to practice your game at any time in any weather. In this article we review some of the top indoor golf simulators for home use.
There’s a barrage of golf simulators that have flooded the market in recent years, with different price tags attached. This is a result of technology becoming more affordable and therefore more players in the market. The upside for juniors is that there are now some great options for home simulators for families that are much more affordable than in previous years.
But with so many options the question is, which ones are the most reliable, offer the best home golf experience, are the most suitable to your needs, meets your space requirements and, of course, your budget. So then which should you buy?
But first, if you’re new to the scene, we’ll begin with the million-dollar question:
What Is A Golf Simulator?
It’s a computer generated visual representation of a golf shot that that shows a simulated golf shot (ball flight) on a screen and can sometimes also compute various shot statistics such as golf ball trajectory, spin, ball speed, club speed etc. Having a golf simulator in the haven you call home can mean hours of fun practice and also great competition with family members and friends. Some options even offer the option to compete with other on-line.
A golf simulator is also an excellent way to both introduce golf to juniors and also to help keep their interest in the sport through the long winter months. It can also be used to develop certain golf techniques such as playing low, high, draw and fade shots. A golf simulator can paired with a golf mat and hitting net for home practice. For some simulators this is required while for some it is an option.
Many golf simulators are also programmed with some of the world’s best golf courses. This allows you to play the Old Course at St Andrews or Pebble Beach, for instance, which is every golfer’s dream.
If you truly want a golf simulator, then there’s no reason you shouldn’t own one. There are many options available that will suite most budgets. These range from top-tier golf simulators that run into thousands of dollars to more affordable options in the booming market that do an amazing job of game simulation while providing true-to-life golf ball response.
Indoor golf simulator prices range from less than $150 ($) to over $15,000 ($$$) depending on the technology and the related accessories such as hitting bays, nets, large screen projectors, advanced computer hardware and software etc.
Without further ado, let’s take an in-depth look at some of the top indoor golf simulators that are worth every coin. Read on!
Top Rated Golf Simulators
Optishot2 ($ to $$)
Experienced golfers can be forgiven for being skeptical that indoor golf simulators in this price range are capable of offering top-notch replications of outdoor golfing experiences. But, the Optishot2 has changed a lot of minds. This excellent simulator is among the most affordable options without skimping on performance. It provides usable feedback coupled with realistic live-play in a compact package that’s the size of a shoe box.
The Optishot 2 uses 16 infrared sensors which are implanted in a small hitting mat. They’re excellent for capturing your club-head speed, and swing path through the hitting zone. As is the case with other simulators on the market, the Optishot 2 isn’t a launch monitor. The Optishot simulator doesn’t measure the ball’s flight or spin after impact. Therefore, you can use foam practice balls, actual golf balls, or none at all. The sensors flash at a speed of 1,000 times per second. This accurately captures the club-head as it passes through the hitting zone.
The path and speed of the club head are accurately measured and the software then computes the resulting flight of the shot. The visuals are in 3D with the shot displayed on a monitor just like it would look on a golf course. You’ll be pleasantly surprised with the outcome. This is a great option for smaller budget.
FlightScope Mevo+ Launch Monitor and Simulator ($$-$$$)
Rapsodo Mobile Launch Monitor ($$)
Tittle X ($)
If you’re looking for simplicity and diversity while saving on space, then the Tittle X golf simulator was built with you in mind. It offers you more than 80 worldwide virtual golf courses at your disposal, simulated range and fun games like the Demolition Driving Range.
The simulator works by using a lightweight sensor device that mounts onto your golf clubs. The simulator also comes with a "smart stick" that can be used instead of a real golf club, thereby making it ideal for junior players to have fun even in tight indoor spaces. It should be noted that because the data is based on a sensor as opposed to radar or high speed photography, the readings may be off by +- 10% vs actual.
Once you’re armed with the Tittle X smartphone or PC app, you’ll be ready to kick-start the action. Since this simulator can function without actual golf balls, it is good for small spaces because a net isn’t required. But, if you’re not pressed for space then the device works well with both foam and actual balls.
The simulator has E6 Connect with 4K ultra high definition for large screen golf experiences. The simulator connects to iOS devices (iPhone and iPad) and Window PC. Note that it currently it does not support Mac and Android devices.
4. Sky Trak ($$)
Are you on the quest for a one-stop, immersive, and analysis workhorse golf simulator? Then Sky Trak is your go-to. With high-definition (HD) simulations, Sky Trak taps into the world’s best golf courses. This allows golfers to use their golf clubs to participate in live tournaments on more than 100,000 virtual courses with friends, including four-ball, stroke play, and match play competitions.
Sky Trak technology is based on high speed camera technology, has a realistic practice range and also provides in depth stats such as launch angle, ball speed, spin, carry distance, total distance etc.. This enables you to discover your weak spots and improve your game. However, the advanced technology comes with a higher cost than many other home golf simulators.
Multi-player and single-player tournaments tap into the sport’s competitive nature whereas the ‘improve’ functionalities aid in pinpointing your weaknesses and strengths. There’s also a feature that assesses your skills coupled with ‘bag mapping’ that aids in selecting the ideal golf club for any situation.
Additionally, a wedge matrix comes in handy to help you become proficient in the short game. The Sky Trak functions wirelessly once connected to your PC or smartphone. When it comes to battery life, the rechargeable lithium-ion battery lasts up to 5 hours. Throw in a hitting mat and net to complete the indoor setup to take your game to the next level.
5. TruGolf Vista ($$$)
This EU TruGolf Vista is definitely a top of the line indoor golf simulator that’s armed with amazing features. This includes HD visuals that look impressive on the 136-inch screen, state-of-the-art tracking software, and an E6 simulation system.
Moreover, you’ll be blown away by advanced functionality such as bag mapping, club fitting, skills tests etc. The E6 connects you to a a huge library of virtual golf courses and offers multi-player features such as online peer-to-peer golfing. This makes the TruGolfVista a top choice for indoor home golfers and commercial centers.
This high end golf simulation package does however comes with an extremely high price tag and as a result it is out out of the range for most owners.
The Bottom Line
With the fast evolving golf simulation industry, there’s no better time to be a golfer than now. Golfers of all income ranges can now practice indoors and make use of the computational feedback that was previously reserved for professional players or golf stores.
If you really love golf, then you will quickly find that with an indoor golf simulator, you will have access to realistic play indoors, which is amazing for those bad weather days you can't get your practice outside - or for those living in the northern climates where golf courses close over winter.