Running a golf simulator without course software is like buying a brand new car without an engine. Sure, you can get on and swing the club to get some feedback, but the visual representation of the course and ball flight make the simulator what it is. A lot of the in-home simulation studios will come with one version or another of a simulation software package.
For the DIYers that are building their studios, though, you have choices. A lot will depend on the compatibility with the launch monitor. You also have the computer system requirements to consider. This article will cover the most popular software to help you pick the perfect option for you and your golf simulation studio.
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Golf Simulation Studio Software
By and far, the most popular software is that which is designed specifically for golf simulators. A vast majority of the simulation companies have a deal with one or more software companies to use their software. The one exception is OptiShot, who has designed their own software and use it exclusively.
Simulation software is designed to work with the launch monitor. The sensors relay the swing information to the computer, which then processes the data and transfers it into a visual shot you can see on the screen. You will also get some form of HUD with information such as ball speed, rotation, distance, swing speed, angle, etc. Not every software or launch monitor will record all data.
It is essential to find out which software records and displays which data. This way, if you are looking for specific data, such as club head angle, you will know which software to focus your attention to.
Many different companies produce simulation software. Some newer introductions into the industry haven’t been vetted enough to warrant inclusion in this article. That being said, keep an eye on GSA’s Pro X II. The software looks promising, even if their website is a bit of an eye sore.
Instead, we will focus on the most popular, complete, and simulation studio software. We will include a few alternatives in the next section. However, let’s focus on the software we know will work in your simulator.
The Big Three
When it comes to the software, courses you can play on, and data feedback, three names will continuously rise to the top. The Golf Club (TGC), E6 Connect, and World Golf Tour (WGT) are the biggest course software included with most simulators (some are optional or come as a choice).
The Golf Club
TGC offers the most in terms of customization and play. With over 150,000 included courses, you won’t have to ever play the same course twice. If you find that you scroll through all the included courses and can’t find one you like, you also have the opportunity to build your own.
With four simple clicks, a random course will be generated using various holes from the library of courses. However, there is also the option to customize every hole. You can add trees, water hazards, and all other course additions. Once you begin the game, you will have the option to create an avatar to represent you and up to three others for in-game and online play.
In addition to all of that, you will get stunning graphics in full 4k resolution and access to monthly tournaments. If you are so inclined, you can also play TGC 2019 on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and the PC through Steam. There is even a TGC VR version for those that enjoy the virtual reality game space.
E6 Connect is the simulation software designed by TruGolf, one of the leaders in the industry. It is available for other simulators like SkyTrak, as well. You get access to 15 of the most popular courses from around the country in incredible detail.
The software will allow up to eight players at a time, and each can choose how they play and from which tee box. Even though there are only 15 courses and not hundreds of thousands, you won’t miss it. Being able to play on Big Horn Mountain or Spyglass Hill should more than makeup for it.
You also have the option to join the program with an annual subscription or a one time “buy it and own it” plan. You will need a computer that meets the minimum system requirements. However, as long as you have a modern PC, this shouldn’t be a problem.
World Golf Tour
WGT offers players a chance to play in gripping 4k definition, enjoy online play, and choose from 16 professional courses. Unlike TGC, there is one mini-game to play; closest to the pin, plus the driving range. If you are looking for skills challenges or mini-games, E6 is your choice (there are over 20 games).
WGT isn’t multiplayer compatible, though, but it is the only one of the top three that is iOS friendly (when using the iPad). If you have a PC, you will need to choose from the other two options.
WGT is also the least expensive option, and it, like E6 Connect, comes with a buy it all price or an annual subscription.
There are other simulation software options worth mentioning, especially if you are looking for a DIY option. You will have your choice of courses, features, and prices. We will add another six to your list here.
Perfect Parallel and Jack Nicklaus Perfect Golf are separate software packages, but the same company makes them. Each one has incredible gameplay, graphics, and courses.
The Golden Bear himself designed all of the courses in the Jack Nicklaus version. Both also come with mini-games and your choice of 12 courses. They are among the most expensive options, but it isn’t a choice you will regret.
OptiShot uses proprietary software that was designed in-house and is only available with the OptiShot 2 simulation packages. With the OptiSHot system, you will get access to 15 courses, including both Torrey White and Black. Optishot has a subscription option that unlocks min-tour and pro tour courses as well.
Creative Golf 3D is another option for those looking to have some of the best courses and feedback available. If you like the games and love playing European courses, this is your software. Unrivaled in mini-games, Creative skimps a little on the graphics in order to bring a more enjoyable atmosphere to the experience. You also get to play over 100 courses, all located in Europe.
Fitness Golf isn’t great at being a simulation engine that renders real courses for exciting gameplay. Instead, they focus on getting in your round of golf with the addition of a fitness angle. With more exertion than you would get with a real round of golf, Fitness Golf not only lets you play a round, but it also gives you a work out to stay in shape during the offseason.
ProTee Play is designed as an accuracy game with nothing but mini-games. You can play games like Zombie (a first-person shooter, but with golf balls- on fire!) carnival games and others. You won’t play on any courses, and there aren’t rounds of golf to play. But if you want to improve accuracy and swing mechanics while having fun, this is for you.
To learn how golf simulators work, check out this article.
Golf Simulation Video Games
Golf on the computer and home consoles is not new. What is new is the ability to play these games with your body. Thanks to Xbox Kinect, PlayStation Move and the Nintendo Wii, you will be out of your seat and playing golf with titles such as Tiger Woods PGA Tour and Real World Golf.
There are also PC versions that will work with virtual reality. Video games are still games, but you can get a lot from them if you practice enough. They are included in this list mainly for the alternative option, but with the original Xbox and the GameTrak, titles like Real World are almost as enthralling as a full studio simulator.
Running software will require a computer. Each software version will also have minimum system requirements. For example, if you plan to broadcast in 4k resolution, you will need a video card that can handle 4k.
Before you purchase your software, you need to check the minimum recommended computer specifications for that particular program. You will also need to inspect the recommended system requirements. These are the requirements the game was designed to run on.
While we can’t feasibly list all the minimum and recommended requirements for every software version available, there are a few things you should make sure you have that are universal.
You will need free hard drive space. Most will require at least five gigs, though the larger simulations will have to save data and require more disk space. If you can manage to have 20 gigs set aside on your hard drive for installation and save data, you should be fine.
Your graphics card should be modern and support Direct-X 11 or newer, as well as OpenGL 2.0. Most of the software will run on four gigs of RAM, but a minimum of 8 gigs should be in your computer for everything to run smoothly. More RAM is always better, though, so you can have a lot more.
You should also be running Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 (E6 is still working on patches for a flawless Windows 10 experience as of this writing). In the case of WGT, you will need an iPad Air, Air 2, Mini, Mini 2, or Pro.
Your computer should also run an Intel i5, i7 or i9 with at least 2.0 GHz. Of course, you can also run the AMD equivalent, such as the Ryzen 5 1600 or higher.
“Best of” Breakdown
Let’s take a look at the different software options side by side to get a better idea of what they offer you.
|Creative Golf 3D||100+||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||$$$|
|Jack Nicklaus Perfect Golf||12||Yes||Limited||Yes||No||$$$|
|Console Games||Varies by game and platform||No||Some||No||No||$|
Sometimes choosing your simulation software won’t be an option for you. In the case of OptiShot 2, for example. However, if you are building your won studio or are going with a pre-built system from various vendors, you will be able to choose.
Everything from data, display, and feedback should be taken into consideration. When you set out to buy simulation software, be sure to look at all the details and don’t get caught up in the course rendering graphics alone. If you still can’t decide, The Golf Club offers you the most in almost every category, and we can’t recommend it enough. You won’t regret any purchase you make, but your next simulation software is waiting for you!