Are you looking for the best golf simulator to help take your game to the next level this year?
While everyone wants to conquer this game (even Tiger), avid golfers will do nearly anything to shave a few strokes from their game. That includes buying any training aid or golf gadget available… including a golf simulator!
First of all, golf simulators are one of the coolest things ever. They are like a giant 3D video games for the child that lives inside us all and can help you shoot lower scores. They make it easy to go into your garage, play a quick 18 holes at the most famous courses in the world and still make it to work on time.
Could you imagine what it would be like to walk down the hall to a spare room or walk into your garage and play a full 18 holes? Thanks to this amazing technology, it’s never been more realistic to play golf without ever leaving your house.
If you’re looking for a golf simulator, you are one of the most committed golfers out there. Like so many golf gadgets, there are tons of options to choose from. Some are a few hundred bucks while some are $30,000 plus. There’s an option for every player out there.
In this post, we’ll cover the best golf simulators on the market to make sure you have everything you need to make an educated buying decision.
But first, it’s important to understand what is a golf simulator and how one works to make sure you have the room and equipment to make it happen.
What is a Golf Simulator?
So what is a golf simulator anyways?
A golf simulator is an indoor device that allows you to practice and play a full round without ever leaving your house. Golf simulators are great if you have tons of space and have bad weather that limits your time on the links.
No, this isn’t some video game version of golf either. With golf simulators, you are using a real golf club to take full swings and see very similar results as if you were actually playing outside.
Chances are you’ve probably used a golf simulator at your local golf store when trying out clubs before. They’re great to help get instant feedback and compare golf clubs for a side by side comparison.
How Does a Golf Simulator Work?
A traditional golf simulator has a large screen that is connected to a computer with sensors that are designed to capture all the data for your shot. Depending on the simulator, you also need a computer or iPad, net, and projector for it to all work together. As soon as your ball hits the screen, the data is sent to the computer to instantly display your results.
Typically with most golf simulators, you get data such as speed, distance, spin, shot angle, and trajectory. The more high-end simulators will deliver even more data, record your swing, and let you save shots or rounds.
Best Golf Simulators
Now that you have a better understanding of how simulations work, here are some of the most popular options available for every budget.
Rapsodo R-Motion Golf Simulator & Swing Analyzer
If you’re brand new to owning a golf simulator and don’t think you can afford it, think again. The Rapsodo R-Motion is not only a simulator but a swing analyzer as well. The best part? It’s the most affordable on this list.
The Rapsodo R-Motion attaches to your own golf clubs and then delivers the results via USB cord to your PC computer. The device also comes with tons of useful data to help you improve your game including ball speed, smash factor, club speed, swing path, distance, and launch angle. It will even let you know how far you sliced or hooked the ball based on side spin.
All you need to provide is a net and hitting mat to get started. Then, attach the tracker onto the shaft of the club and hit away. The results are delivered to the computer in a super clean interface that has tons of valuable data.
This device is a part simulator and part launch monitor at a fraction of the cost. I couldn’t recommend this more if you’re just getting started.
Optishot 2 Simulator Bundle
The Optishot 2 Simulator Bundle is a very low-cost but effective golf simulator. It gives you almost everything you need to create your own residential home simulator.
While it doesn’t come with a fancy screen, it simply connects to your laptop or computer with a USB cable. Instead of a screen, it comes with a hitting net, USB enabled hitting mat, and 2 practice balls that sync with your computer. Even though it isn’t as advanced as some of the simulators on this list, it can still help you track your ball speed and some additional data points.
All you need to get started is a Mac or Windows computer or laptop. The simulator is pre-loaded with 15 courses like Torrey Pines, TPC Scottsdale and others. At a very affordable price, this is a great low-cost way to own your own home simulator.
Click here for a detailed review of the Optishot 2.
SkyTrak Budget Golf Simulator Studio
The SkyTrack Budget Golf Simulator Studio is one of the best resident golf simulators on the market. In fact, in 2017 and 2018 it was voted as the best value simulator by Golf Digest. This simulator is sleek and looks super professional at a fraction of the costs of some devices.
It has unbelievable accuracy and comes with nearly everything to get your room put together. The minimum room size for the simulator is 8 feet high, 10 feet wide, and 12 feet long.
Here’s what included in this simulator in addition to the SkyTrak Launch Monitor:
Net Return Simulator (Net + Screen)
This is one of the simulators that comes with a screen instead of a net, is extremely durable and would look awesome in your garage or family room.
Projector and Mount Kit
This package includes a short throw HD projector hand picked to fit your golf simulator setup. This can be an expensive part of assembling a simulator kit yourself, so it is very nice to have this included in the package. The package also comes with a universal mount kit that allows you to tilt the projector 30 degrees up, down, left or right so you can have the perfect alignment for the projector.
Net Return Pro Turf Mat
The standard mat with this option is a six feet wide by ten feet deep which is nearly twice the size of the one at your local driving range! Plus this mat can be rolled up to save space when it is not being used.
The SkyTrack Budget golf simulator is just below $5,000 for the kit. Plus, you have to add on an iPad or computer and the yearly software that allows you to play golf courses. Depending on your plan, the software ranges between $199-$499/year.
SkyTrak Platinum Compact Golf Simulator
If you have some extra garage space, the SkyTrack Platinum Compact Golf Simulator package is an awesome choice. This simulator has glowing reviews for it’s easiness to assemble. Plus, it’s extremely portable if you’d like to share with a friend or move into a different part of your house.
The recommended room dimensions are 9′ height by 10′ width by 12’ feet deep. Here is what is included in this simulator:
The Simulator Series Screen & Enclosure + Landing Pad Turf
This package really gives you the feel of being in a simulator. Your get a simulator style enclosure with a highly durable screen. In addition, this package comes with Landing Pad Turf which prevents your golf balls from landing directly on your floor and potentially doing damage over time.
Projector and Mount Kit
Just like the previous package, the HD projector is included and there is a universal ceiling mount to help you get started. The ceiling mount is sleek and shouldn’t take you long to assemble. The only thing you need to mount this is to find a single stud to get it set up.
Country Club Elite Mat
The standard mat with this option is the premium Country Club Elite five feet wide by five feet deep. If you’re looking for a little bigger hitting surface, there is an upgrade available to the 9 foot by 4 foot FibreBuilt Hitting Studio mat.
The SkyTrack Compact golf simulator is just under $7,000 for the kit. Like the kit mentioned above, don’t forget about the yearly membership with access to all the courses and the need for a computer or iPad.
It goes without saying, we are big fans of the SkyTrak launch monitor and simulators. For more details on the actual SkyTrak launch monitor, read our review here.
TruGolf is the industry leader in high-end golf simulation that come in a variety of different options depending on your budget and room requirements. There are three main options to choose from.
TruGolf Vista Series Simulators
The portable golf simulators from TruGolf are a fraction of the cost of the free-standing and built-in models but are still amazing devices. The Vista 8, Vista 10, and Vista 12 are all amazing choices. Each one is slightly larger than the previous model and also has even better technology as well. All three units come with the E6 Golf Simulator software that allows you to play very realistic golf courses.
The Vista 8 Base Unit starts at $10,495 and comes with the projector, impact screen, one-year subscription and TruTrack to help improve your game. The other models range from $15,000 to $20,000. The screens are so clear it looks like you are actually playing the real golf course. It’s amazing how good the technology is with these simulators!
TruGolf Free-Standing Simulators
The next version of TruGolf simulators are the free standing version. Both versions (Premium & Signature) are designed for lasting performance and can work at home or at an actual golf facility. There aren’t any pricing for these devices as they highly customized, but it’s safe to say they’re more than the Vista Series.
TruGolf Built-In Simulators
The best that TruGolf has to offer is the built-in simulators. There is both the Horizon monitor and the ability to 100% customize one as well. These function not only as golf simulators but full on entertainment centers.
Similar to the Free-Standing models, price by quote only. Have your checkbook ready on this option. For more information, check out our detailed review of the TruGolf simulators.
Trackman Golf Simulator
If you’re an avid golfer you’ve probably heard of the Trackman. Known by elite golfers as the end all be all of golf gadgets. This Tour-proven device is only used by the best players in the world or people with a lot of extra money to spend on a golf training aid.
But with the Trackman Golf Simulator, not only do you get all of the Trackman launch monitor features, you get the simulator as well. This device ranges is custom made for your home, office or garage. Because when you’re spending that type of money, why not right?
While the price is outrageous for most people, the simulator is nothing short of amazing. Its 3D virtual golf at its finest and seriously looks like you’re playing the actual course. The library of courses is insane too. It includes courses like PGA National, St. Andrews, Muirfield Village, and others.
Trackman even made a cool feature that allows you to practice the hardest shots that are feared by even tour players on your favorite course. It’s a fully immersive experience that delivers on the high price tag. Add this one to your bucket list and you might not ever have to play a real round again!
Foresight GC2 Launch Monitor Platinum Studio
Foresight offers top of the line launch monitors and golf simulators. They offer both commercial and residential options so you can create just the right one. Yes, with Foresight, they specialize in helping you create the exact one for your intended space.
While there aren’t any prices on their website, it’s safe to assume these are in the $20,000+ range as they custom built. One perk is that it has the FSX software which creates an epic experience as if you were on the golf course. With Foresight, you can design online or speak to someone for a custom order.
Or if you would like to look at a pre-owned unit, click here.
Flightscope Mevo +
Although not technically a golf simulator. The Flighscope Mevo + launch monitor was just released in February of 2020. Paired with software and a hitting bay, the Flightscope Mevo+ will give every simulator on this list a run for its money. Go here to see our latest review of the Flightscope Mevo+.
Golf Simulator Comparison: What You Need to Know
As you can tell, investing in a golf simulator can set you back a few hundred bucks or tens of thousands of dollars. It’s important to find the right one for your budget, home, and game.
Here is what I would recommend comparing so you find the best golf simulator this year.
Screen or Net?
Choosing between a screen or net is one of the biggest decisions for your simulator. In a perfect world, I would always recommend a screen if possible. It provides a realistic look at your ball flight and gives you additional insight that a net simply can’t provide.
But if you don’t have the space or money quite yet, a net will still work as long as you have a computer, TV or iPad to stream your shots. With a lot of the simulators, you can plug them into one of these three devices and it will act as your screen. Plus, you will still receive a lot of the data, if not all, to better understand your game.
If you want the full effect, you can also purchase this golf simulator enclosure to create a fully immersive experience as well.
Also, check out our favorite golf nets if you think a net is the right move for you.
Unless you are going to set this up outside. You will need a mat. Don’t overlook this. Mats are a very important part of the simulator experience. A $30,000 system with a $100 mat is going to give you a $100 experience. We’ve got a full article on golf mats here.
Size of Golf Simulator
As you can imagine, one of the biggest considerations for a golf simulator is the size it will take up in your home or garage. Most of them are between 10-12 feet wide and 10-12 feet high.
If you don’t have this type of space available, make sure to check out some of the portable simulators mentioned above. These are much more convenient if you have a smaller space but still want to get started.
The price of your golf simulator is another big decision as the price range differs greatly. Make sure that you buy one that won’t break the bank but is quality enough to last for you a few years or more. Remember, you can always buy an upgraded one in the future!
Also, depending on where you buy the simulator, some of them offer pricing options as monthly installments for a fixed time frame. Make sure to read the fine print and understand how the financing works before pulling the trigger.
Real Golf Balls vs. Practice Golf Balls
Another thing to consider when comparing simulators is to determine if you hit a real golf ball or a practice ball. Unfortunately, not all devices are equipped to hit real golf balls. Personally, I would buy one that allows you to hit a real ball to stimulate the same conditions as if you were playing or practicing outside.
One of the perks of a golf simulator is being able to play a course that is difficult or expensive to play in real life. Remember that some simulators and their yearly plans include a lot more courses than others.
I recommend choosing one that has a good selection of courses pre-loaded and ask if they continually update the selection. Of course it’s not going to be like playing Pebble Beach in real life, having different courses are part of the fun of having a simulator.
FAQs about Golf Simulators
What is the difference between a golf simulator and launch monitor?
Golf simulators are more about providing an experience as if you were playing a round anywhere in the world. While launch monitors are devices to help you learn more about your swing and game. Launch monitors provide data like spin rate, apex, launch angle, distance, and more.
But depending on the golf simulator you go with, some of them will provide a lot of the same data. If you’re not quite ready for a simulator, make sure to check out the best golf launch monitors to find the right one for your game.
Is Trackman the same as a golf simulator?
Unfortunately, they are not the same. A Trackman is a highly advanced launch monitor that is commonly used by Tour professionals. The devices alone are very expensive, but will provide every detail you need to know about your golf swing.
While a lot of the simulators have a ton of great data, the Trackman is the next level. Paired together with a simulator, you might become unstoppable.
What is the best golf simulator under $5,000?
As you can tell there are a number of great options out there. I recommend going with the SkyTrak Budget Golf Simulator Package as it under $5,000 and has a ton of perks.
Remember though that sometimes you will have to buy an iPad, computer, and projector as well. So make sure to double check your budget and the space needed so you don’t break the budget (or a window).
How much is full swing golf simulator?
Most full swing golf simulators range between $3,000 to $10,000 or more per unit. Each one has its own advantages and disadvantages, so make sure to do your research beforehand.
What is the cheapest golf simulator?
Like any golf gadget, you get what you pay for. Some of them listed are a few hundred bucks while some of them are $30,000 or more. Make sure you find one that works for your budget but also save enough so you have plenty of money leftover for golf trips and rounds outside.
How much room do I need for an indoor golf simulator?
Every simulator is different so make sure to double check the recommended room dimensions above. Installing them in your garage is always a great idea s you tend to have more room and some are retractable as well. This makes it easy to park your car and still practice your golf game!
How accurate is a golf simulator?
Even the fairly inexpensive units are pretty accurate. Obviously, the more you spend the more accurate the units are. High-end units measure much more data and therefore can project more accurately.
There are so many options when it comes to choosing the best golf simulator so its important to read this article a few times.
First off, I’d recommend reviewing the space you have available as this will dictate which type of simulator to buy. Then, I would review the budget you have and the total amount you are willing to pay. Lastly, where you live plays a big role as well. If you live somewhere with 3-6 months of non-golf weather, maybe spend a few more bucks on the simulator.
While golf simulators and launch monitors are great, don’t forget to get out there and enjoy real golf with friends and family. Hopefully you found one simulator to buy today and another one to dream about for the future.