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Every golfer dreams of playing a round in the comfort of their own home. Having a home golf simulator is now within reach for many golfers thanks to advancements in technology and cost savings.
For some time now I've wanted to make a comprehensive guide for all of you. I finally got in touch with someone who is an expert in this landscape. Recently I spoke with Cory Gauvreau, the president of Par2Pro. They are one of the leading providers of home golf simulators in North America.
After two hours of talking with Cory, one thing became abundantly clear. There are endless combinations of materials you can use to build a home golf simulator. In his words, it's an absolute jungle out there, which is why he's created a successful company that helps golfers navigate that world.
You can spend anywhere from $ 500 to $ 70,000. There is no one solution that is right for everyone, and the purpose of this article is to give you an overview of the materials you will need, the space required, and some of the options you will have at different price points.
Keep in mind that each home golf simulator has its nuanced features and will individually meet the needs of golfers. If you want to buy supplies for your home setup, I highly recommend checking out Shop Indoor Golf. I have referred many readers of Practical Golf to them over the years and everyone is more than happy with their customer service.
I've divided the article into several sections that discuss some of the most important things you should know.
To build a home golf simulator you need five items. In each category you will find different costs based on the quality and durability of each material.
Be warned; you get what you pay for.
If you buy a cheap golf mat, net, or projector, it probably won't last over time. One thing to consider is whether or not this will become a long-lasting confirmation in your home. If this is just an experiment and you will upgrade later, it might make sense to opt for the cheaper options.
Keep in mind that some of these suggestions are very general. Cory from Par2Pro doesn't necessarily stand behind some of these as he tailors each specific product to the customer's needs.
All Cory stressed is that mats are crucial. Impact mats are very expensive to manufacture because they are so heavy that shipping costs can add up quickly.
There are some budget options available, like this one from Cimarron.
A quality turf will cost you a minimum of $ 300 – $ 500, like this one. They can go up to $ 800 if you want the best performance and durability.
My two favorite premium options are the SIGPRO golf mat (which I use now) and TrueStrike. After years of installing my home simulator, I can tell you that investing in a premium mat is worthwhile. It will make the experience more enjoyable, help prevent injuries and last longer.
The reason I like the SIGPRO mat so much is that it has a removable insert that is very forgiving and can be replaced (the turf is also very comfortable to stand on)
You can also check out my guide to golf mats for more options.
Projectors can be very tricky for many reasons. Each room has its own needs based on light, size and the resolution required by the simulator software. Not all projectors out there are suitable for a home golf simulator.
There are many cheaper projectors out there for as little as $ 100 that might tempt you, but you're likely to face many problems with usability, quality, and longevity. You get what you pay for!
Optoma is a brand that typically meets the needs of many home simulators. Their H412ST model is highly recommended.
Nets and Impact Guards
To avoid damage to your walls, you need a net or impact screen.
If you're using a projector, you need an impact screen. The price can range from $ 250 to well over $ 1000, depending on the quality and design. This is an excellent option if you are on a tight budget. Depending on the room you are using, you should also consider placing nets around the perimeter of the impact screen for any false shots.
Another option is to just use a net without a projector and run the simulator on a computer screen. You can even connect it to a TV on the side. This pop-up net
from Spornia is a good option for the entry-level model. If you want a more premium solution, check out The Net Return. They are by far the best just in my opinion . I've taken tens of thousands of shots in my Mini Pro series over the years and there is no noticeable wear and tear.
This is what my original SkyTrak setup looks like my Mini Pro Series Net (I've since upgraded to a TV and upgraded mat)
My guide to golf nets explores some other options as well.
This is the most crucial piece of the puzzle for your home golf simulator. The actual sensor system you choose will have a huge impact on your experience. After talking to Cory, I began to understand that there are endless variables. It all depends on the kind of golfer you are, your budget, the size of your room, how important accuracy is to you, and a host of other factors.
I'll cover some basics as we go into different budget levels. Each system has its pros and cons, and there is no such thing as a perfect solution for everyone.
Anyone who regularly reads Practical Golf knows that I have been a satisfied SkyTrak user for years (here's my full review). I use it to practice, play simulated courses and, more importantly, test for the site. I'll cover more options later in this article, but I still believe this is the best overall option for most golfers if you combine the price, accuracy, and simulation software integrations.
Almost every simulator package will require a computer to run the software. Hardware is an additional expense that many golfers will not consider. You may already have a laptop, tablet, or desktop option that can run the software. Most systems require a more robust graphics card, which you can easily upgrade on an older computer if you are handy.
In addition, it is also worth considering whether or not to have a dedicated computer. It can be annoying to keep bringing in and out a laptop. Depending on your situation and the simulator you choose, you may have to pay an additional $ 500 – $ 2000 for these costs.
The amount of space you have in your home for a golf simulator is another critical factor to consider. Cory stressed that you want to have enough room to swing a club comfortably. He has often seen customers squeeze simulators into small spaces. They may have seemed appropriate for the installation, but the golfers found it very difficult to swing freely once the screen and net were set up.
There are three separate components here, and each of them is equally important: ceiling height, room width, and finally depth .
A ceiling height of 3 meters is a & # 39; safe & # 39; distance appropriate for the length and type of swing of most golfers. Cory said he was able to build a simulator in a room with a ceiling of 8 ′ 2 ″ . However, the pair was smaller than average and had very flat swings. You may be able to freely swing clubs in a ceiling lower than 3 meters, depending on your height and how flat or vertical your swing is. Don't forget to consider other golfers who may use the space if you plan on letting friends or family members use it too.
When considering the width of the room, there are two things to consider:
Is the room only for a right-handed golfer, or is it left-handed?
Sh * nks happen, do you have enough space to protect your walls?
If you want left and right handed golfers, then 15 feet might be suitable . Some people have made it work in rooms that are 3 meters wide but you may need two sensors, or you can move them back and forth when you switch players.
According to Cory, the minimum depth of the chamber you will need is approximately 4.5 meters . This includes 1 foot from the wall to the screen, 8 feet from the screen to the tee, and finally six feet of safe distance behind the golfer.
However, if you are using a radar system like Trackman, you may need as much as 7 meters.
Photometric systems such as Skytrak and Foresight measure from the side of the ball, and the depth of a room is not much of an issue. Trackman, however, measures from behind the golfer and he must track the ball for at least two revolutions to get an accurate reading.
In general, Cory recommended carefully setting up the room in advance and taking measurements. Swing all your clubs in the room, but keep in mind that once everything is set up, things can seem smaller due to their stance, mats, ceiling and wall protection.
Another thing to consider is that any home golf simulator can function as a multipurpose room. Many people will also use it as a home theater, children's playroom, and even a place to serve Thanksgiving dinner (true story).
Budget / DIY Settings – Less than $ 5000
This is the level I was most interested in. I know most of you reading this will not be able to invest $ 10,000 – $ 70,000 in a home golf simulator.
If you're on a tight budget but want a full simulation experience, you can do it for $ 5,000. But there will be some trade-offs
For this price you are probably looking at an OptiShot 2 simulator. It is currently around $ 300, and this is the entry level. You can have a lot of fun with a product like this, but keep in mind that accuracy is limited. Optishot only measures the speed, path and face angle of your club. From there, it calculates where your ball is going, but does not directly measure the actual golf ball after impact. So you may not be making good contact, but OptiShot simulates a shot that was shot almost perfectly. It is essential to understand that the information provided can be misleading on individual shots, which could frustrate players.
The advantage of using a system like OptiShot is that you don't have to use a real golf ball. You can use a foam ball or a plastic ball. This can save you a lot of money because you don't have to use a powerful projection screen or net. Cory has seen some people use a canvas or a sheet.
I recently posted this review of Optishot 2 if you want to read more about its features.
The popular "Golf In a Box" package for Optishot is available for less than $ 1000.
If you want to go for a higher quality mat, projector and net then you should check out Shop Indoor Golf's Silver Entertainment package for around $ 3000. You don't have to buy everything separately and you get overall a better deal.
However, if you want the best experience, I recommend investing a little more money. The difference is enormous.
Mid Range – Under $ 10,000 (best value)
If you have a bigger budget you can get a much more accurate simulator and increase the quality of all the materials you will be using. For most golfers, I think this is the "sweet spot" between money invested and performance. I will discuss several popular options available now.
SkyTrak – My First Choice in General
A launch monitor called SkyTrak was released several years ago that was aimed at consumers. It was a real game changer for the home golf simulator market. It provides accuracy of ball data that was comparable (no pun intended) to systems that were much more expensive. For $ 2,000, Skytrak is a great option for golfers who demand more accuracy. As I said before, this is the product I am using and I still believe it is the best overall option.
Something to note about Skytrak is that it currently only provides ball data (spin, distance, etc.). It does not provide measurements of your actual swing.
SkyTrak has many software integrations with companies such as E6 Golf, World Golf Tour, Creative Golf, and The Golf Club. It lets you play thousands of different golf courses, and SkyTrak also has a great native software package for you to practice. Keep in mind that many of the software plans have annual fees, so that should be factored into your budget.
If you have a little more money to invest in a unit like SkyTrak, then you want to make sure that the rest of the materials you use last. If you want to buy everything together, which I recommend, there are plenty of packages available.
Here are three popular options for less than $ 10,000:
Training Package (less than $ 3500)
SkyTrak SIG10 Package (Most Popular Package)
SkyTrak SIG12 Package
You can read my full review of SkyTrak here.
Cory from Par2Pro also said you could check out TruGolf's Vista 8 system. This is a really nice integrated package that costs just under $ 10,000.
You get pretty much everything you need: a case, turf, projector, impact screen, and heading software.
TruGolf offers clubhead data (angle and path of the face) and integration with E6 Connect, one of the best software providers for home golf simulators.
High End – $ 10,000 and Up
When your budget gets above $ 10,000, many more options open up to you regarding accuracy, software and the quality of your installation.
You can now purchase starter monitors from Foresight, Trackman, and Flightscope. In addition, there are more premium packages from high-end home golf simulator companies such as Full Swing Golf, SwingTrack and TRU GOLF. At these levels you can expect to get a lot more accuracy with regard to trajectory and your swing information. In addition, the simulation software will be much more robust.
High-end systems can really drive you crazy. The Full Swing S2 was highly recommended by Cory and starts at around $ 20,000. Believe it or not, that's actually at the bottom.
Some systems can cost you as much as $ 50,000 – $ 70,000. High-quality home golf simulators can be fitted in beautiful enclosures and have the best of everything. If your budget fits into this premium category, it is best to work directly with a house golf simulator company. It is a significant investment and you want to be sure that you will be happy with your money.
SwingTrack Garage Installation
Which Home Golf Simulator Is Right For You?
If you made it to the end of this article, your head may now be partially spinning. What I have mentioned is actually not all there is. One of the last questions I asked Cory is whether he thought the cost of more expensive systems would drop. In his opinion, that is unlikely to happen. Companies are constantly upgrading their technology and always offering new features for which they find a way to charge more.
The entry of Skytrak into the market was a major change, and it is possible that other systems will become available at that price. However, it is costly and time consuming to develop these products and there are only a limited number of companies interested in this market.
If you are looking for a home golf simulator, there are options at every price point and hopefully you now understand what you are getting for your money. A great resource to buy items and do it yourself is Shop Indoor Golf.
If you are interested in working directly with a company that can help you make the right decision and build the system for you, I recommend you contact Cory and his team at Par2Pro here.