Unfortunately, most golfers find that they don’t get as many opportunities to play as they would like. For a lot of people, getting to a golf course with your buddies just isn’t something you can do every day. Many of those in this position might want to consider getting golf simulation software.
It may not be quite the same experience as real golf, but many will find that a good golf simulator package can help to emulate a realistic experience from the comfort of your own home. But how good are they really, and will you even be able to afford one?
If these are the questions you’re asking, you’ve come to the right place, as we’ve got all the information you need to make the right calls.
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The quick answer
Well … there isn’t one answer fits all scenario, but let me try:
The cheap DIY option – This can range anywhere from $750 – $15000 depending on what you need. A good setup for fun can easily be achieved around the $1000 mark. But, if you are looking for one that can give you pro-level data and stats to analyze your game, you’ll need a great launch monitor/tracker, so expect to need at please $5000 for that and probably close to $8000 for a full set up.
The pro installation – there are great companies that will come and build everything for you. If you are not very handy or want to make sure you get the most accurate set up and calibration, this would be the best choice. A cheap one wil be around $5-$6000 going up anywhere to $25000 and beyond for the best. I’d say around $10000 is a sweet price point.
So, with that said, let’s take a closer look.
Is it worth getting an indoor golf simulator?
If you don’t know too much about golf simulator software, you might be wondering if these devices are really worthwhile. If you’re curious about getting one though, you’re likely to find it to be a good buy.
Do you want to play a round of golf, but don’t have the chance to go out and play? Or do you simply want to get in some practice at home?
If so, a good-quality home golf simulator could be a worthwhile purchase for both the casual and avid golfer alike.
How does the simulation experience work?
A golf simulator setup will use advanced technology to help replicate the experience of golf without having to go outside and actually play it.
Most will feature a virtual driving range or world-class golf courses – and many will have different options for you to choose from too. There will often be different golf courses on the simulator, from famous courses that you might have seen on a world golf tour to interesting scenic ones, like a pebble beach.
Whenever you’re not able to go out, you can still practice hitting shots into golf nets at home, which is something that either a professional or average golfer can benefit from.
For the most part, golf simulators will work by displaying an image of the course on screen; all you’ll need to do is hit the golf ball and it will measure your shots.
Like launch monitors, you’ll be presented with accurate data on your shot, usually including parameters like golf club speed, launch angle, ball speed, and many more.
You can use these parameters for game improvement in several ways, from your golf swing to learning how hard to hit balls. If you’re a serious golfer or a rookie looking to get better, this could be exactly what you need.
A launch monitor might even have a golf simulator included – although this isn’t the cause with all of them. If you’re buying one specifically for your home setup, it’s worth considering ones that offer a golf simulator as part of their software.
How much are golf simulators?
Now that you have a better idea of what these devices could offer, you might be wondering what you’ll be looking to spend and the general costs you’ll find.
For the most part, the best golf simulators don’t come cheap, and you should often expect to spend at least a few thousand dollars even for average packages – and for the best value on a simulation system, you might be looking to pay a little more.
I think Optishot are a great example. In their range you can get the Optishot 2 for around $500. This is a simple home system that will allow you to connect hardware and eiter a computer or projector and have some fun. However, you won’t get great data from it.
As a mid-range option, they have their Ballflight system. This offers waaaay more data and accuracy, but costs around $5000. You can also include the studio or upgrade to the pro system for closer to $10000.
Then, there is the Optishot vision. This is a complete, professionally installed home set up and looks epic. But, it will set you back between $15000 – $20000.
While this is just one brand, it is a great example of what you can expect to get at the various price points.
DIY golf simulators
In most cases, you could save quite a bit of cash by doing it yourself. There are some less expensive simulators that don’t come with the whole set up, but you might still get the golf net, projector, and golf mat.
We’ll have a bit more on that later, but here is a quick idea of some rough pricing:
- Golf hitting mat – $50 for a basic mat – $500 for real turf feel
- Projector – $200 for a standard projector – $2000 for a full, real time HD set up.
- Launch monitor – $500 for something like the Flightscope Mevo – $5000 for the Ernest Sports ES16
- Impact screen – $30 for a simple net – $2000 for a full GolfBays Golf Simulator Enclosure.
- Golf simulator software – This will depend very much on the launch hardware you decide upon. Many come packages with software of varying quality. One good option, though, is if the game is more important than the accuracy, you can consider a cheaper launch monitor but more expensive software such as E6 Connect which is close to $2500, but epic!
*note – all these prices are a rough ballpark figure and will vary.
Budget options will certainly help to save you some cash, but there are some significant differences between DIY and investing a little more for a higher quality product.
Either way, you could still get a good home indoor golf simulator if you consider what will work best for your unique needs and you can tailor the package to suit you down to a tee.
Buying a full set up
If you want better launch monitor data, you will probably have to deal with higher golf simulator costs.
There are some excellent products available to those with a higher budget – and for those looking for high-end simulators, there are a few that are quite expensive but have much more to offer for the additional cost.
Another important aspect to consider is the fact a full system will often include installation, setup and calibration all handled by a professional.
Consider your personal preferences when looking for golf simulators
As you’ve probably heard before, you get what you pay for. The best golf simulator package might come with a higher price, but you might find it to be worth it if you’re looking for the best possible quality.
If having the best golf simulator isn’t a concern, you are after a bit of fun with a couple of beers, a few buddies and playing for bragging rights, then a DIY option may be the best choice for you.
However, if you are looking for super-accurate data to help elevate your game to the next level, you’re likely to be happier with a higher-end or even mid-tier option.
What’s the right golf simulator for you?
Your own preferences and budget will often come into play when determining the best type for your needs, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t help you out with making a decision.
From a premium simulator, you can expect to get high quality. These might come at a much higher price, but if you’re going to be getting a lot of use out of it and need something that will deliver accurate results, you might find it to be worth the investment.
While there are some cheaper alternatives that aren’t bad, there’s no doubt that the best are those that come with higher price tags.
For example, when you compare a lower-end golf simulator system with a newer one, you’re likely to see some significant differences. While still good, there’s no doubt that the cheaper options just don’t perform at the level that the premium ones do.
Most quality models will also have everything you need, from the simulator enclosure to the projector, so you won’t need to put in much effort to start playing at your home’s new golf studio.
If you buy a cheaper option or even a mid-range one, there may be a few components that you have to buy separately to complete your golf simulator, like a hitting mat. Even so, you could still save yourself a few thousand dollars.
Is it worth building your own simulator?
Feel like the prices are all just a bit too much? If so, you might still be interested in a budget/DIY option. In general, building your own doesn’t have to be a bad idea; in fact, if you can find the right components to put it all together, you could end up having a great set up while lowering your overall cost.
You could even make your simulator a permanent fixture, which could be ideal if you want to create your dream golf studio and don’t have plans of taking it down any time soon.
Outside of the golf simulator software and projector themselves, here are the main components that you’re going to have to purchase in order to set up your own DIY golf simulator:
A launch monitor
There are plenty of good launch monitors available on the market that can help to enhance your golf game and if you’re an avid golfer, you might have one of these that you could use in your home set up.
If you don’t, it’s well worth investing in a good brand, since these can benefit you both at home and while you’re playing golf outside. When buying a new one for this purpose, it’s important to consider how well they work indoors/outdoors and how that will come into play during your practice sessions and games.
Something to run the simulator on
Luckily, most people will already have a device that they can use for this, whether it’s a gaming computer or iPad, so there isn’t usually much need to buy anything new in this regard – although you might need to pay for the app, depending on which golf simulator you opt for.
You may not realize just how important hitting mats can be – but they’re just as important as every other aspect of home golf simulators. You need this to hit off of and you’ll have to consider the durability and performance of the mat.
Forgiveness is another important factor, but there aren’t too many mats on the market that are perfect in all three of these, so it’s often worth doing your own research to see what golf mats will work best for your needs.
If you’re making your golf studio in your basement or another part of your home, you need to be careful that you don’t hit the windows or damage anything else.
Because of this, it’s generally wise to get a golf net, also commonly known as an impact screen or projection screen, to help prevent you from hitting any golf balls astray into areas they shouldn’t be. While it could still be possible to swing completely off, a hitting area can make it far easier to keep everything under control.
What about buying second-hand equipment?
If you’re concerned about the costs, it’s well worth checking out the second-hand market. There are plenty of people who sell their old golf simulators when they upgrade, and you could take advantage of this by getting a quality product for a lower price.
You might even be able to find individual components for much cheaper second-hand, which is certainly a bonus if you’re looking to go the DIY route.
If you love golf and want to improve your game, then a home golf simulator may be just what the doctor ordered. Golf simulators allow people to practice their swing in any kind of weather without having to travel or spend money on greens fees. They can also teach you which clubs are best for certain situations while saving you time and money in the process.
With so many benefits it’s easy to see why they’re becoming more popular than ever before!
Hopefully, now you know a little more about how much you can expect to spend, anywhere for $500 to $25000, now it’s over to you!