When it comes to a golf simulator setup the projector is one of the least popular topics to consider. But if you want to build one of the best golf simulator setups you need the right projector for high image quality.
However, it’s a little intimidating when searching for the best golf simulator projector. A quick Google search and you see all kinds of terms like laser light source, lens shift, contrast ratio, low input lag, throw ratio, ambient light, and more.
If this sounds familiar, trust me I get it. But we’ll help you understand everything you need to know about golf simulator projectors in this article to buy with confidence.
Best Golf Simulator Projectors
First off, if you intend to use a net vs. a hitting screen, you don’t need a projector. Instead, you can use a computer or TV monitor to display the graphics which is a much cheaper option. As you’ll learn, projectors are pretty expensive compared to other golf accessories.
But for the most immersive, realistic experience you’ll need a projector to play a virtual round of golf. Unfortunately, most golfers focus on the launch monitor and screen then settle for a projector. However, if you want the best simulation experience for your indoor golf simulator, you need to prioritize the projector.
Because different projectors work with different screen sizes; it’s not one size fits all approach. You’ll need to make sure the screen and aspect ratio match so the graphics fill up the screen perfectly.
Larger screens also require a brighter projector so the picture doesn’t get washed out. Plus, golf simulators need plenty of light so the launch monitor can effectively analyze the shot. Otherwise, it might not be able to capture your data properly.
- A projector is one of the most important components of a golf simulator and we researched the best projectors to help make the decision easier.
- To build a golf simulator it’s important to find a room (indoors or outdoors) that has the right dimensions for the projector.
- It’s recommended to buy a projector and screen together to get the proper dimensions and fill the screen properly.
- Projectors are either mounted to the ceiling or short throw projectors rest on the ground in an enclosure.
Keep reading to learn about different types of golf projectors to find the one that will make your simulator complete.
1. Optoma 4000 Lumen Full HD Short Throw Projector
The Optoma 4000 golf projector is the top pick at Rain or Shine Golf. It is a fully optimized golf simulator projector that is one of the most trusted models in the industry.
This golf projector is a high definition, high contrast, and high lumens (4,000 lumens). This creates a crisp image that will make it nearly feel like you’re on the golf course.
The Optomoa comes with a six foot 1080P HDMI cable, wireless remote, and carry case. It does have a 4K signal and is HDR compatible too. The projector has easy connectivity with HDMI, VGA, or a 10W speaker.
This projector also built to last significantly longer than a lot of the best golf projectors with 15,000 hours of lamp life. It’s easy to see why this is number one of the best options on our list.
2. BenQ TK700STI Short Throw Projector
Another similarly priced short throw projector to the Optoma is the BenQ TK700STI. It does have 1,000 less lumens (3,000 total) than the previous option but is a 4K high definition output.
The native resolution is 4K UHD with a 16:9 native aspect ratio and is also compatible with 4:3 aspect ratio as well. It has a 30-bit display color, 1.2x zoom ratio and weighs a little less than seven pounds.
The BenQ TK700STI 4k projector comes with remote control/batteries, power cable, Android TV dongles, warranty card, and user manual.
3. BenQ MX825STH Golf Simulator Projector
If you’re looking for a budget friendly golf simulator projector it’s hard to beat this BenQ model. It’s a fraction of the price of some on this list and a great short throw projector for golf.
Some of the highlights include .61:1 throw ratio so you can place it very close to the golf simulator screen. It also has 3500 lumens of brightness, 12,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, and will provide a great experience… even if the room has a lot of ambient light.
This is definitely a great budget golf simulator projector and has about 5,000 hours of lamp life.
4. Optoma 4K400STX Short Throw Projector
Optoma also makes another top projector that had to make our list in the 4K400STX. Here’s how Rain or shine Golf described this upgraded model.
“Choosing a projector for your golf simulator/home theater can be a very daunting task with all of the possible options. Take the guess-work out knowing that we have done the legwork to select a Full HD 4K option that is specifically designed for use with golf simulators. The Optoma 4K400STx is perfect for your indoor golf simulator/home theater!”
This projector provides an even better image than the Optoma 4,000 and is great if your simulator doubles as a home theater. It has UHD resolution 16:9 native aspect ratio and is 4:3 aspect ratio compatible too.
5. Panasonic PT-VZ580U Golf Simulator Projector
Panasonic is another trusted name when looking for the best golf simulator projectors. The Panasonic PT VZ580U is similarly priced to the first few on this list and offers 5,000 lumens of bright light.
Other features include 7,000 lamp hours, 16,000:1 contrast ratio, 16:10 native aspect ratio, and a longer throw ratio. It’s also very lightweight and extremely portable too.
6. Benq LK936ST Golf Projector
The Benq LK936ST is another great way to complete your golf simulator setup. As mentioned on their website, “The LK936ST features a 4K UHD 3840 x 2160 resolution with 8.3 million pixels, or four times the resolution of full HD 1080p, providing awe-inspiring clarity and crisply-defined details.
This is especially important if you are using high end simulators optimized for use with software such as E6 CONNECT or TGC 2019, which support 4K output.”
Other highlights of the Benq lk936st include:
- 5100 lumen projection.
- Surround sound output.
- True to life colors with 3,000,000:1 contrast ratio.
The only downside is that it’s one of the most expensive options. But there’s no doubt it’s a great overall golf simulator projector.
Ceiling Mounted vs. Floor Projector
Another consideration when comparing these simulators is deciding if you want a ceiling mounted projector or a unit on the ground. Ceiling mounted projectors are ideal with larger hitting screens and typically provide a better golf simulation experience. These are known as long throw projectors.
While a short throw projector for golf is better for small spaces. Some are known as an “ultra short throw projector” which have a throw ratio of .04 or less. This allows them to create a bright image quality even if it’s very close to the screen.
Golf Simulator Projector Ceiling Mount
Once you find the right projector for your DIY golf simulator it’s important to mount it properly. This is why we suggest buying a high-quality ceiling projector mount to protect your investment.
We like this projector ceiling mount. This universal mount has a full 30-degrees of up, down, left, and right tilt. It also has an adjustable folding extension arm that allows you to adjust the projector as needed to fit the screen perfectly. The universal adapter legs, extension bar, ceiling bracket, and all hardware needed is included.
How to Choose a Projector for a Golf Simulator
As you can tell there are tons of great picks for a golf simulator so how do you choose the right one? We break down the biggest things to think about so you can buy with confidence.
DIY vs. Sim in a Box
The first thing to consider is if you should buy a SIM in a box or buy each part of the simulator separately. For some players buying everything together is a better decision as it can get a little overwhelming making sure all the components work together. If you get confused on all the components, read our article on how a golf simulator works.
Buying a pre-package simulator ensures everything will pair properly right out of the box. You might also save money by buying it together too.
If you decide to buy each component individually the first thing to think about is the size of the room. Whether you’re building a DIY simulator indoors or an outdoor simulator, the space dictates where you should place the projector.
Smaller rooms will typically require a short throw projector as there isn’t as much distance between the projector and screen. Larger rooms – like a media room or outdoor patio – might have more room and benefit from long throw projector.
Read our full article on golf simulator room dimension requirements.
Aspect ratio is the relationship of height and width of your projected image. The ratio will ultimately play a big role in the overall simulation experience. With simulators there are four common ratios:
- 16:10 – These aren’t as common as a 16:9 projector and might have some issues trying to match the impact screen. But this might be a safer enclosure if you’re able to get a larger size hitting screen.
- 16:9 – This ratio is great for a majority of the simulators mentioned above and work with a ton of 4K simulators.
- 4:3 – This ratio is common for golf simulators as they’re taller than they are wide. Since a lot of golfers struggle to find a room wide enough, this size is very common.
- 1:1 – The final option isn’t nearly as common in the golf simulator world but can work in very small spaces.
It’s best to match the screen with your projector for the highest image quality. While you can use different projectors with different aspect ratios you’ll likely lose out on the quality.
Also, it isn’t to be confused with contrast ratio which is the relationship of luminosity between the brightest white on a screen and the darkest dark.
4K vs. 1080p (Resolution)
The second thing to consider is the resolution from each golf projector. The higher the resolution, the more you’ll forget you’re playing virtual golf. Just like buying a TV, resolution makes a big difference in terms of overall image quality.
Golf simulators need at least full HD 1080p resolution to see details about the golf course. While some software will benefit even more from a 4K golf simulator projector.
As you can tell from the options above the lumens can range significantly from projector to projector. But unless you’re a video expert you might wonder, what is a lumen anyway?
Here’s how Epson described this feature. “The brighter the projector the higher the lumen rating, and, all else being equal, the more it will likely cost. When shopping for a projector, be sure to look for two lumen specifications: One for color brightness and one for white brightness.
If the information provided only gives you one lumen rating, it is typically referring only to the white brightness of the projector. The actual brightness of color may be as little as one-third of the lumens stated.”
Lumens equal the brightness of your projector. The amount of lumens you need has a lot to do with the space for your simulator.
For example, home theaters require at least 1500 lumens as they’re much darker than a room with windows. If your simulator space has windows you’ll likely need at least 2500 lumens.
Most simulators require 3,000 to 5,000 lumens for the highest-quality image. This will offer a clear image and make it the most realistic virtual golf environment.
Lamp Life and Response Time
There are two major types of projectors; lamps or laser based. A laser projector is more expensive but also is built to last longer than lamp based projectors. Lamps typically don’t last as long (the total hours is typically listed in the product description) and will need replacements over time.
Aside from the lamp life you’ll also want to consider the response time from each projector. Higher end projectors will have a faster response time which means less lag to display data after the shot. Cheaper projectors tend to have a longer response time which means you’ll have to wait a second or two longer to see the graphics after impact.
Finally, it’s important to also factor in the price of the projector as they do vary quite a bit. Some of the lower end projectors tend to cost less than $1,000 while some of the higher end projectors cost more than $4,000.
FAQs About the Best Projector for Golf Simulators
Do you have more questions about golf projectors and building a DIY simulator? If so, keep reading our most frequently asked questions and answers now.
What is the best projector for a golf simulator?
The best projector ultimately depends on the size of your room, budget, launch monitor, throw distance, and room dimensions. The right simulator can make a huge difference when playing a virtual golf course.
Is a 4K projector worth it for a golf simulator?
Yes, buying a 4K projector is typically worth it if you have the right space, software and screen to maximize it. If you’re using E6 Connect or TGC 2019 as your software we definitely recommend a 4k golf simulator projector. If you’re looking for the most realistic golf simulation experience there’s no doubt that a 4K simulator is the way to go.
Do I need a short throw or long throw projector for a golf simulator?
It depends on the room dimensions. If you have a larger room – such as an RV garage or large covered patio – you can hang the projector further back for a long throw projector. Unfortunately, most golfers have space issues especially if it’s being built indoors. If you don’t have as much space you’ll need a short throw projector instead.
How many lumens do I need for a golf simulator?
Most golf simulators work best with at least 3,000 lumens with a short throw lens. This works great for a 10-foot square screen. Laser projectors tend to work better with 4,000 to 5,000 lumens and a larger 12-foot screen.
How much do projectors weigh?
Most of the projectors on this list are about eight pounds or fewer. Which is why it’s important to buy the right type of ceiling mount if you intend to hang it vs. leave it in a floor enclosure. Otherwise, a cheap mount might hold the unit properly and could damage it if it falls.
Do you need a special projector for a golf simulator?
Yes and no, projectors can work for more than just your golf simulator. Ultimately, the right projector for your simulator depends on the lumens required, room dimensions, and where you intend to mount the projector.
The right impact screen and projector can make a big difference in your simulator graphics. I’ve found that too many golfers focus on the launch monitor but neglect the screen and/or projector.
While the launch monitor is very important, the projector screen combo is what creates an immersive simulation experience. Buy your golf simulator projector with your screen to ensure a proper fit and the most immersive golf simulation experience.
Final Thoughts on Best Golf Simulator Projectors
A projector might not be the most fun thing to think about but it plays a pivotal role in golf simulator setups. It’s very important to make sure your projector works with your screen to provide a bright and clear image.
These golf simulator projectors are all solid choices; it just depends on the room, budget, and other factors mentioned above. Lastly, make sure to double-check the screen and software are compatible.
Have you ever built a DIY golf simulator? If so, what is your favorite golf simulator projector?
Let us know in the comments below.