Recently a friend asked me to provide some information on golf simulators to his wife, a university golf team coach who needs to present a proposal to the school for an indoor practice room.
Whether you are looking to create a commercial facility, a team practice area, or a home practice room, there are a lot of choices out there when it comes to a golf simulator.
What I would advise anyone who is looking to buy one is to look at the following factors. Each one will have an impact on the golf simulator actually chosen.
- What is your budget?
- How do you intend to use it?
- Do you intend to use it for club fitting or lessons?
- How much space do you have?
What is your budget?
Golf simulators range from a few hundred dollars to more than 50,000 dollars. Interestingly some of the lower end units can rival the more expensive units for a certain type of customer.
Generally though, your budget will determine what you can actually look at, realistically for an installation.
On the lower end of the price spectrum (but nonetheless an excellent simulator) is the Optishot from Dancin’ Dogg. You can see my review here of this golf simulator.
At the higher end of the spectrum you have something like the PGA Tour Simulator which will run you $50,000.
Another thing to consider is how many you want or need to install. One is perfect for home use, but you may want to have 5 or 6 bays for a team practice center or commercial facility.
How do you intend to use it?
There are many excellent uses for a golf simulator. You can use a golf simulator to stay sharp over the winter, you can use them in a commercial venture and host golf leagues, or as an add-on to a bar or restaurant, to sharpen your short game, or you can use them for lessons and club fitting. How you intend to use it will again, affect the choices available to you.
While I wouldn’t use the Optishot for club fitting, it can certainly be used for commercial or home installations for practice, and camaraderie. On the other hand, a launch monitor like the Vector Pro should not be used to play rounds of golf with friends as the software doesn’t support that. It’s best use is for club fitting and lessons.
Do you intend to use it for club fitting or lessons?
Club fitters typically need more data than other users of simulators. Club fitters need to look at things like back spin rate, side spin, angle of attack, in addition to the normal data offered by most simulators (club head speed, path, club face angle).
If you give lessons you may want a simulator or launch monitor that integrates with you V1Pro or Catalyst package.
How much space do you have?
This is an important question. I can fit my Optishot system in a small room in my apartment or house as long as the ceiling is high enough and I have clearance. The system is flexible so that I can start out with just the base unit connected to a computer, but at any point I can add stance mat, net, screen, projector etc, creating a system that would rival the big boys.
However if you have the funds and the space you can start out with a fully loaded system like the PGA Tour Simulator that can have 50 courses and counting, and can have multiple screens projected on them simultaneously to create a true panoramic view. That kind of system takes up a lot of space.