Golf simulators are something any golfer wants in their home. However, the overall cost and time may be more than the average scratch golfer can manage. If you are into DIY projects and are an avid golfer, you can build a golf simulator in your home for less than you think.
This guide will show you what you need to build the perfect golf simulator for you and your home, all while saving money and effort. We will also cover everything you need to consider before you do any work so that your final output is perfect the first time.
Table of Contents
Why Build Your Own Golf Simulator?
There are many reasons you may want to build your own golf simulator at home. The primary reason most often attributed to the project is cost. Golf simulator studios can get pricey real quick. For top-tier studios, the price can exceed $30,000. You can go as ambitious as you want with a DIY project, but saving money is a primary concern.
For less than $3,000, you can have a golf simulator to play during the winter months, hone your swing and shots during your off days, or have your friends over for a friendly round on a virtual course.
Building a golf simulator yourself can be a daunting task. If you would prefer to buy a golf simulator that requires less effort and gives you everything you need, may I recommend the OptiShot 2 Golf-in-a-Box Pro 3 series? You will get everything you need with this set up, and can begin playing within an hour of receiving your shipment.
The best part is, that for the DIYers out there, the OptiShot 2 studio is capable of upgrades and advancements on a piece-by-piece basis. Think of it as the best of both worlds.
Permanent or Removable?
The first thing you need to decide is where the simulator will be set up and if it will be a permanent structure or not. If you have a game room, you may want the simulator to be removable, only assembled when you plan to use it.
On the other hand, if you have the extra room in the garage, you may opt for a permanent solution that stays up year-round. The choice is yours, but before you start buying parts, you need to make the decision.
If you are unsure about the permanence of your simulator, we suggest you start with a mobile or removable plan. If you decide later to make it a permanent fixture, you can upgrade some of the pieces, or leave the simulator assembled. This works better than planning for a permanent structure only to find later you need to tear it down.
Before you set up your simulator and call your friends over, you must ensure you have enough room. Not only do you need elbow room to set up the equipment and have enough room left over to maneuver, but you must also have enough headroom to swing a club.
Pick the spot where you want your simulator mounted and ensure there is enough room to swing a club. If you are right-handed but plan on having left-handed players join you, you should accommodate by allowing for more width in the space. Let’s look at the space requirement minimums.
|Side||Minimum Space||Optimal Space|
|Back Wall||8ft W x 9ft H x 6in D||10ft x 12ft x 1ft|
|Left and Right Sides||12ft from back wall||14 – 16 ft from back wall|
|Ceiling Height||9ft bare minimum||12ft +|
|Front (Hitting Area)||12ft W x 9ft H||12ft x 12ft|
When measuring your space, you should ensure that there is plenty of room for your backswing and follow-through. The average golfer needs at least nine feet head clearance to swing a club. Taller golfers will need more.
The Parts that Make Up A Home Golf Simulator
One of the fun aspects of building your golf simulator is that you don’t have to do it all at once. You can decide which pieces you want, and if you are required to save for a better option, you can. Once you have all of the required articles, you can then begin building your simulator. Let’s take a look at the minimum required equipment parts and pieces.
I assume that you aren’t in the habit of hitting golf balls through your walls or windows. Unless you are fond of drywall repair, you will need a net. The purpose of the net is to protect the surroundings from getting hit with a ball or causing damage.
There are many types of nets to choose from, but we suggest one that can withstand a golf ball impact from a driver, and that has a back and both sides on a sturdy frame. Some of the monitors (see below) come with kits that include a net. However, it is optimal to go with a stand alone net, such as those from Net Return. Galileo Golf sells netting cages designed for high-impact shots as well.
The screen serves two purposes, and both are optional. The first purpose is to display the images from the projector or monitor. This is what you will use to see the virtual course you are playing on and the ball trajectories as well as other visual readouts.
If you have a large blank wall behind your net, you can display the projector image onto the wall instead of a screen. This could potentially save you a bit of cash, but you will soon find out that a screen is a much better option than your wall.
The second purpose of the screen it to block shots that may make it through your netting. As it happens, everything will break down, eventually. The golf net is no exception, and if you are hitting a golf ball when it does, the screen can provide some extra protection.
For an amazing all-in-one system, check out the Net Return Simulator Series Bay. This excellent piece of equipment contains the net, the screen, and framing for instant set up without having to rely on your walls or ceiling. It also has a place to mount your projector.
3. Hitting Mat
I also don’t suppose you are fond of hitting your golf balls off of the concrete or hardwood flooring. You will need to invest in a hitting mat. This is a simulated turf square that you will stand on and hit your balls from. Most simulator mats will have slots for tees (or include rubber ones).
While you can build your own, it is often better to buy a hitting mat designed for golf simulators such as the Fiberbuilt studio mat. These mats have adjustable tees, mounting areas for your launch monitors, and allow you to hit down and through with realistic grass turf.
4. Launch Monitor
The launch monitor is the most important part of the entire set up. This is the box that will record your swing data to give you feedback on your swing speed, club direction, and much more. These are also the devices that will show you the course you are playing on with the help of a projector and screen, as well as your swing data.
Without a launch monitor, you have an indoor driving range. The addition of the launch monitor is what makes your set up a golf simulator. There are many options for every budget here, but since we are most likely trying to save money with this DIY project, there are two options to consider.
The first option is the OptiShot 2 golf-in-a-box. There are several packages available, but we are interested in the simulator only, which will run you less than $300. The OptiShot 2 gives you 15 courses to play, full launch monitor data, and decent graphics on the display. It is a well-rounded launch monitor, though it only tracks club data. The ball data information is calculated but not monitored.
The second option is the next step up. The SkyTrak launch monitor has much better graphics and tracking abilities, but it will cost you a bit more. It is also worth noting that both systems require a computer (details below), but the SkyTrak system is much more demanding.
A lot of customers report they are required to either upgrade an existing computer because it doesn’t meet specs or buy a brand new one. For budgeting, this is something you should keep in mind.
The projector is an optional piece but highly recommended. If you are going with a screen purchase, there is no point unless you also include a projector. Almost any projector will do in a pinch, but a dedicated model with HDMI and USB inputs is suggested.
You should look for a mountable, short throw projector with HD quality, low lag (will sometimes be referenced as “ideal for gaming”), and at least 3,000 lumens. There are two mid-range options that fit the bill for smaller budgets.
The ViewSonic SVGA has one HDMI port and is lightweight for a ceiling mount. There are upgrade options as well, but for a starter projector, it doesn’t get much simpler.
The other mid-range option is the Optoma S343 has a built-in speaker, 3600 lumens, and a few options to choose from. There is a “PC Free” model, but this isn’t recommended since you will need to connect the launch monitor to the projector. Running the simulation off of a USB stick isn’t possible, so save yourself the money.
6. Computer & Software
Finally, you will need a dedicated computer that can run the simulations and record the data sent from the launch monitor. When you have all of the other electronic pieces, you will need to read the minimum specifications required and ensure your computer meets or exceeds them.
A laptop will work in most cases as long as it is relatively new. Some DIYers prefer to purchase a desktop computer tower that is dedicated to the simulator, so they don’t have to lug the computer back and forth.
You will also need to install specific software, especially if you want to upgrade your launch monitor. Most monitors will come with a few courses to play on, but require a subscription to upgrade to unlock other courses and features. Your PC will need to be able to handle the graphics and data output.
There are many simulator software choices out there. E6 and The Golf Club are among the most popular. However, there are a few in the top five that truly stand out. Let’s see a breakdown of the different software options.
|E6||The Golf Club||Perfect Parallel||World Golf Tour (WGT)||Jack Nicklaus Perfect Golf||Creative Golf 3D|
|Works With||SkyTrak, ProTee, TruGolf, et. al||SkyTrak, ProTee, TruGolf, et. al||SkyTrak, High Definition||SkyTrak, ProTee, TruGolf, et. al||SkyTrak||SkyTrak, TruGolf, High Definition|
The Golf Club offers the most courses, as well as the ability to create your own courses and even host up to four players with avatars. TGC is the most well rounded and high-end of all the software options; it is also one of the most expensive.
The most popular options are E6 and WGT. Each offers competitive online play, which makes it ideal for simulator installation. Perfect Parallel (who also makes Jack Nicklaus Perfect Golf) combine to bring simulation play to life.
The cost can vary, and they are quite limited in their applications, but if you have a SkyTrak launch monitor, you don’t have to worry about compatibility. SkyTrak has the most integrations with its launch monitors. Unlike OptiShot, which uses its own software.
Building your golf simulator for home doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. As you can see from the guide above, you can go out and purchase everything you need right now, or select certain pieces as you go along.
The important thing is to get parts and pieces that work together and will provide you with useful entertainment and detailed feedback. While you can go out and purchase a ready-made simulator studio, you will find that unless you go with a High Definition or True Golf package (they start around $20,000), you won’t get everything useful to your specific needs.
Being able to piece together a simulator that is tailored to you and costs a fraction of a pre-built system is always worth it.