The Best Golf Simulators for Your Home in 2020

Golfer practices at home.

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.

Portability

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.

Build Materials

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.

Warranties

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.

Hidden Costs

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.

Check out our in-depth OptiShot 2 Review here.

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.

 

Conclusion

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!

 

FAQ

How does a golf simulator work?

Golf simulators use various sensors to detect club speed and movement, ball speed at impact and trajectory as well as range, and other points of data. The launch monitors record the swing data and transmit it to a computer where the virtual ball is shown on the screen flying on the course. You then get a detailed output of your swing and ball data for every shot you take.

Do golf simulators improve your game?

Golf simulators can improve your game based on the instant feedback you receive after every shot. The visual representation of ball flight mixed with the fun of a video game simulation make the repetitive swings easier to manage. When you begin perfecting certain aspects of your swing to improve your data, it will translate onto the course in real life. With the proper golf simulator you can decrease your score, shave strokes off your game and contact the ball more accurately.

What is the best golf simulator for the money?

There are three standard types of golf simulators and each has its best for the category. Mobile simulators are lead by Rapsodo R-Motion. In-home studios come in mid-tier and top-tier range, with SkyTrak and OptiShot fighting for the top spot in the mid-tier and TruGolf and High Definition Golf fighting for the top-tier lead. In the Professional range you have simulators like Full Swing and Trackman fighting for the top spot.

What is the best golf swing analyzer?

While questions regarding “best” will always be debated, the current leader for swing analysis goes to ProTee (Check out our in-depth ProTee Review). Their use of dual high-speed monitors makes every swing you take completely and fundamentally analyzed for the most accurate swing data available.

How much does a good golf simulator cost?

Golf simulators have as wide a range in overall cost as they do various parts. The base models will range from a few hundred to a few thousand for a system or set up. Top-tier in-home studio options can go for between $5,000 and $30,000.

How much is a Full Swing golf simulator?

Full Swing has a lot of customization packages available, but they also have a couple of standard options. The base price for the Pro Series simulator starts at $54,900 while the Sport Series base model starts at $39,900.

What size room do you need for a golf simulator?

The size of the room you set your golf simulator in must be tall enough for you to swing a driver and be wide enough to allow room on both sides. The recommended dimensions for most golf simulators is a minimum of 10 feet wide by 10 feet long and 9 feet high. However, the ideal recommendations are for a room 12 feet wide, 14 feet long and at least 10 feet high (12 feet is ideal for height).

How high should a ceiling be to swing a golf club?

The minimum suggested height for a ceiling should be nine feet. This varies based on the height of the golfer swinging the club. It is recommended that the ceiling be at least 10 feet high to cover most size golfers. 

How big is a golf simulator?

Golf simulators come in a lot of various sizes. The majority are between eight and nine feet tall. However, the width and depth will vary greatly. Some models will be larger to accommodate a bigger impact screen. You will find an average width of nine to ten feet, while the depth can be as shallow as as three feet or as deep as ten feet.

How much space do you need for SkyTrak?

SkyTrak recommends that you allot a ten foot by ten foot space for the studio and room to swing the club. This is the minimum required spacing for the SkyTrak Platinum, but more room, especially in width, is highly suggested.

How much space does SkyTrak take?

The SkyTrak SwingBay measures 9Hx12Wx14D feet. The SkyTrak Compact is 9X10X12 feet and the SkyTrak Retractable is 9x10x12 feet.

How much does a SkyTrak cost?

SkyTrak golf studios start at $6,200 and can reach prices as high as $10,000.

Does SkyTrak work outside?

SkyTrak can technically work anywhere you set it up. However, it is not recommend to use in direct sunlight as this can mess with the sensors. According to the owner’s manuals and the SkyTrak website you should set up indoors and use halogen or incandescent lighting.

How good is SkyTrak?

SkyTrak is a reputable and dependable golf simulator. They are not as high-quality in the build material as TruGolf or ProTee United. However, they are slightly better than the OptiShot studios. SkyTrak is considered a mid-tier range studio system.

Is TrackMan the best golf simulator?

TrackMan recently released the Trackman 4, using dual radar sensors (one for the club and the other for the ball) it is quickly becoming a fan favorite. Trackman is used by PGA tour professionals when they are on the go because they system is reliable and portable. It is hard to say if it is the “best,” though Trackman makes a great case for itself in the top-tier department.

How much is a TrackMan system?

The Trackman 4 system starts at a price of $19,000 and can go up from there depending on the features and studio designs you choose.

How accurate is OptiShot 2?

OptiShot 2 is among the most accurate in-home simulators in the mid-tier range. While it won’t be able to compete in accuracy with the likes of TruGolf, Trackman or ProTee, for less than $1000 you won’t find a more accurate golf simulator.

What golf simulator does Tiger Woods use?

Tiger Woods is known to have a TrueGolf simulator set up in his home that cost over $33,000. He also uses a Full Swing Pro system that was fully customized for him, and has since 2007.

What golf simulator does Jordan Spieth use?

Jordan Spieth uses a Full Swing customized simulator that cost a reported $49,000.

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