Finding the best golf simulator for home use can be a difficult choice. You have to balance functionality, budget, and area size to find the perfect fit. While it would be easy to go straight to the top of the industry and buy the best simulator possible, even that is subjective.
We will take a look at various options for home simulators and help you decide which one is the best match for your needs and space.
Before You Buy
Before you head out and plop down your hard-earned cash on a new golf simulator, there are a few things you should think about. Knowing these smaller details will help you decide which model or range of simulators to research further.
- What is your budget? How much you can spend on a golf simulator will be one of the most significant factors. Since simulators range in price from under $100 to well over $10,000, you need to decide how much you can feasibly spend.
- How often will you use it? Another thing to consider is how much you will use the golf simulator. While it would be exciting to say you will use it every day, this probably isn’t close to the truth. Be honest with yourself when answering this question. Knowing the frequency of use will also help plan your budget.
- Where will you use the simulator? Because there are a lot of different styles of golf simulators, knowing where you will use it the most will help you decide which type to focus on. If you want a home studio, for example, then you won’t want to look at the portable options. Likewise, if you plan to take it with you to the driving range, a home studio won’t work at all.
- How much space do you have? Before you bring home a golf simulator, you should be aware that they take up a lot of space (studios more than most). You will need enough elbow room to swing a club and make sure you aren’t pulling your punches because you are scared to hit something.
- Who will be using the golf simulator? If you are the only person that will utilize the simulator, you may not need to purchase something designed for multiple users. Knowing how many people will regularly use the simulator can save you a lot of money.
Golf Simulators Buying Guide
We have covered the questions you need to ask yourself about the use and location of the golf simulator. Now, let’s take a look at what you should research when deciding which specific model you will buy.
Many golfers want real-world feedback and choose to go with a mobile or portable unit instead of a permanently mounted home unit. There are a few benefits to a portable golf simulator since it can be set up almost anywhere you can swing a club. However, they aren’t as accurate as a full simulation studio will be. You will need to decide where you want the trade-off to be.
Quality construction is crucial to your investment. If you are buying a home studio, for example, you will need to know if it requires unique golf balls or if you can use real ones. Some screens will be perforated by a real golf ball, which isn’t a good thing. Sensors and other electronic equipment should also be durable and built to last.
Ease of Setup or Use
Using a golf simulator should be relaxing and fun, not a chore. You should review the setup process and what it takes to use the product before you bring it home. If you have the opportunity to test a simulator in person before making a purchase, all the better.
Many golf pro shops will have a simulator for use. It may not be the model you are looking at, but it could be the same manufacturer. Friends who own simulators are another option to try before you buy.
When dealing with a golf simulator, there are going to be times when something goes wrong. Perhaps a sensor stops recording data, or it won’t turn on. For these situations, it is vital to know the limitations of the warranty.
Make sure you read all the fine print. Some warranties will require your original purchase receipt, while others will make you register the simulator within a specific time frame after purchase.
Finally, you should be wary of hidden costs. This can be something simple, like requiring you to purchase unique golf balls to use with the system that aren’t included. It can also be something as substantial as needing a hitting screen or putting mat before the system can be used.
Check all requirements and find out what does and does not come included with the purchase. That “budget” model you have your eye on may end up costing you more in the long run.
Best Golf Simulators for Home
So you have done your research and studied your options. Now it is time to see where the best models rank and find out which model is perfect for you.
Best Golf Simulator on a Budget – OptiShot 2 Golf-in-a-Box
If you are looking for a golf simulator that will analyze your swing, ball trajectory, and more, but are limited on how much you can spend, OptiShot 2 has the solution. The Golf-in-a-Box simulator has a few different options. However, the golf simulator with the mat and net is the best budget option.
Everything you need is included to get swinging right away and set up couldn’t be easier. As long as you have the space to hang the screen and put up the net, you can mount the sensors and monitor in less than an hour.
The instant feedback and 15 professional courses to play are available right out of the box. You also have the option to purchase the OptiShot Season Pass and open up an extra 30 courses to play.
Best All-Around Golf Simulator – OptiShot 2 Golf-in-a-Box Pro
Stepping up from the standard Golf-in-a-Box, the OptiShot 2 Pro gives you everything. You get the monitors, the hitting mat, the sensors, and even a short thrown projector! You will have to calibrate each of your clubs individually before you can get accurate readings.
However, the calibration process is simple, and with the hitting mat, your feet are level with the ball. The pro kit includes everything from the version above, plus you get the impact screen, hitting mat, and short thrown projector.
With the ability to play up to 40 courses and against three other people, there isn’t a more well-rounded studio option available for the price. OptiShot Season Pass is available, as well. The unit is also recently upgraded to include support for Windows and Mac computers.
Best Simulator for Putting – Full Swing Golf Virtual Green
Putting has always been one of the major downfalls of a simulator. While most have the option to track putts, the technology just hasn’t caught up yet. You won’t get very much feedback from a putt, and there isn’t a real way to play various slopes and curves – until now.
Full Swing Golf’s Virtual Green is a behemoth of a putting surface. It is intelligent, as well. The green will change slopes and angles so you can practice putting in your home just like you would in real life. Full Swing Golf manufactures their products for the serious and professional golfers, and the $30,000 starting price tag reflects that.
However, if you are serious about improving your short-game, there is nothing in the world that can compare to the Virtual Green. Actuators change the pitch and slop of the green to replicate any putting green in the world. You can also include lighting that will show you the lie, angles and slopes so you can visualize your putt. Once you try Virtual Green, you will never want to putt anywhere else.
Best Studio – High Definition Golf Simulator
With names like Bubba Watson, Steve Stricker, and Fred Couples standing behind High Definition Golf, you can’t go wrong. The simulator packages come in three standard sizes (customization available). You will get everything you could ever need, including a dedication HP workstation computer, ceiling tracks, and professional installation.
When it comes to in-home simulator studios, there aren’t much better. Not only do you get multiple monitors (visual, infrared, and camera), you get an immersion experience like no other. You can also play in tournaments, practice putting and chipping, and have fun playing mini-games like Tic-Tac-Toe or Window Smash.
If you are looking to train for the tour or go from scratch to professional in as little time as possible, the HD Golf Simulator is your answer.
Best Portable Simulator – Tittle X-Golf Simulator
For the golfer on the go, nothing is better than being able to take your simulator with you. Tittle Golf provides you with just that. The X-Golf simulator uses club clips for when you are on the go. Take your clubs to the driving range and get instant feedback.
If you prefer to stay indoors and don’t have a cathedral ceiling or room to swing a full club, the X-Golf provides you with a swing stick. This weighted, gripped mini-club can be swung anywhere and replicates a real club reasonably well.
If you prefer the club clips and want to use them indoors, this is completely possible as well. With the X-Golf simulation, you can swing away and improve your game whenever and where ever you are.
Best Golf Simulator for Small Spaces – PhiGolf Mobile Smart Golf
If limited space is your primary concern, you can still get the benefit of a golf simulator in a compact package. The PhiGolf Mobile Smart Golf game is designed to help you improve your swing while giving you a video game feel.
You still get to play golf on some of the most beautiful courses in the country and can compete right on your smartphone with friends no matter their location (provided they have PhiGolf, too). You can even cast the smartphone app screen to your living room TV and play on the big screen.
There is no need for actual clubs, golf balls, or projectors. Everything is handled in the Swing Trainer club that is compact enough to swing in even the most cramped apartment.
Best Simulator for Accuracy and Performance – SkyTrak HomeCourse
SkyTrak is quickly becoming a household name in the Golf Simulator market. Their affordable simulation studio is among the best mid-range simulators and beats out our best all-around OptiShot 2 model. However, OptiShot 2 wins because SkyTrak is so computer-intensive you will need to upgrade or purchase a new computer just to run the program.
The effects are worth it, though, as the screen images are crystal clear and the monitor’s sensors are second to none. You can putt, pitch, drive, and practice on the short irons right in the comfort of your own home.
You will need significant space for a proper setup, though, and the guidelines for the dimensions vary based on the package you get. If you are looking to take the next step in your golf simulator world, the SkyTrak HomeCourse is the next rung on the ladder. From there, you get into the PGA caliber simulations.
Best Golf Simulator for Those Just Getting Started – Rapsodo R-Motion
If you are just getting started in the golf simulator game, you may not want (or be able to) spend thousands to get a decent simulator. Enter Rapsodo. Their virtual simulation allows you to use your existing clubs without calibrating each one, share clips with your friends to compete against them and gives you access to 15 of the most popular PGA courses.
What’s more, the price is affordable for almost every golfer. You can even take the simulation on the go with you. Even in a hotel room, you can play Pebble Beach and improve your game. While the tracking isn’t the best, it will provide you with enough information to help you make minor adjustments. These adjustments could potentially shave strokes off of your scorecard.
Best Simulator for Serious/Professional Golfers – Full Swing Po Series Studio
For the serious golfer and the PGA tour pro, there is only one golf simulator. Full Swing (makers of the Virtual Green) bring a home studio that rivals real life. Tiger Woods uses Full Swing, and he isn’t alone. With each setup being fully customized, no two systems are identical.
However, if you are looking to drop your handicap to a pro-level, are a touring pro looking for better practice time, or are a serious golfer looking to enter the amateur ranks, Full Swing Pro Series is the answer.
Just like the High Definition system, you get everything included, even a stand-alone power PC, to run the entire show. Nothing is left out, and no corners are cut. This simulation can withstand a PGA caliber blast with a driver and is fine-tuned enough to detail the smallest putter actions.
As you can see, there is a golf simulator for every golfer and budget. You have first to decide what type of simulator you need, how it will be used, and where you will set the simulator up. From there, other concerns such as your budget and number of players will come into play.
If you can’t decide, the OptiShot 2 Golf-in-a-box Pro studio is the best all-around simulator on the market right now. You won’t get as detailed as some other models, but it will suit your preferences nicely. Whichever model you go with, a golf simulator will help you improve your swing, ball speed and lower your score. Happy golfing!