How Accurate Are Golf Simulators? My Experience With Them

People often ask me how accurate golf simulators are. My first response is unless you are a low handicap amateur looking to turn pro, it doesn’t matter that much. My second, more considerate point is that an indoor golf simulator is only as accurate as the data the launch monitor records from your shots.

Professional launch monitors such as the doppler radar-based Trackman device measures an impressive quantity of data. This includes ball data, club speed, spin rate, and club path.

Obviously, this device is far more accurate than the OptiShot 2, but it costs approximately 60x more. The average golfer doesn’t need this precision. You just need a platform to work on your golf swing whenever you have a spare moment.

 

How Accurate Are Home Golf Simulators?

The accuracy of your golf simulator setup boils down to the calculations that the launch monitor computes. Launch monitors, such as the GCQuad and Trackman 4, are highly accurate. For example, Trackman suggests that their device can accurately detect the landing point of your golf ball by 1½-yards.

I have found these premium launch monitors to be incredibly accurate. This provides detailed insight into my golf game and helps me better understand my club selection, swing path, and launch angle.

However, this level of accuracy is not found in more affordable home golf simulators. That is because they measure fewer data points. For example, the OptiShot 2 measures your club speed, path, and face angle at impact. This helps you determine the apex, distance, and direction of each golf shot.

Conversely, the Trackman 4 measures detailed club and ball data to receive a clearer picture of your shot. Naturally, the added data points help the Trackman provide more accurate readings. As opposed to its affordable competitor.

That is understandable and something to keep in mind when planning your golf simulator setup. As an average golfer, you need golf simulation software to enable you to play on a virtual golf course and driving range at any time.

Your mission is to improve the mechanics of your swing and ball striking. You do not need to focus on highly accurate data. Your mission is to learn how to consistently strike a ball with your golf clubs first.

 

Golf Simulators vs. Launch Monitor

The majority of golf simulators require a launch monitor for operation. However, launch monitors can be used independently of the simulator. Launch monitors are portable and can be employed on the driving range, the course, or as part of your home golf simulation setup.

Launch monitor technology calculates output for your shot. Therefore, it measures your clubhead and ball speed, face angle at impact, and launch angle. This information is then calculated to provide the direction and distance results. Golf simulators partner with launch monitors to provide a virtual experience.

Golf simulator software allows you to play a virtual course, practice on the range or undertake different challenges. The simulator provides a visual representation of your ball flight, direction, and distance on the screen.

An accurate golf simulator gives you the experience of a life-like round, showcasing your distance and direction. Less-accurate devices may present a few yards less or more than their premium competitors. However, this is no train smash for the average golfer.

Let me use a car analogy for the motorheads. The launch monitor is the engine, and the simulator is the chassis. It brings the work of the launch monitor to life, displaying your shot results on the screen.

There are a couple of golf simulators that do not require launch monitors. They are entry-level products that are easy to use. One that I have already mentioned is the OptiShot 2. It uses optical sensors to measure club data, eradicating the need for a launch monitor.

In addition, there is PhiGolf Mobile Home Simulator, where a motion sensor stick detects your club data. The results are displayed on your TV screen through the WGT golf game. Although I love what they are doing, I find this more like playing Nintendo Wii than using a home simulator.

 

Do Golf Simulators Improve Your Game?

Golf simulators give you the platform to improve your game. If you transform your garage or basement into a home simulator, you can practice every day of the week. You can still get some training in, on days where it is impossible to make it to the range.

They help your game because they provide detailed insight into your shot to help you take corrective action. A simulator allows you to practice with purpose instead of aimlessly whacking balls at the range and achieving the same outcome.

Understanding your average ball speed, smash factor, face angle, and launch angle empower you to improve your game. Once you identify your ideal backswing and angle of attack for a shot, you can consistently practice it and awaken your muscle memory.

 

Do Pros Use Golf Simulators?

Yes, Pros use golf simulators. A popular choice among the game’s finest is the Full Swing Golf Pro Series, which sets you back a cool $54,000. Players on their roster include Tiger Woods, Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, and Brooke Henderson. In addition, Steph Curry and Patrick Mahomes have kitted out their abodes with this golf simulator.

 

Do I Personally Use a Golf Simulator?

I do not personally own a golf simulator. The reason is simple – my apartment in the bustling metropolis of Buenos Aires does not offer the floor space for one. However, I make use of the Foresight GC Quad at my home course for the purposes of testing equipment for reviews.

 

Recommended Golf Simulators

I recently unveiled my top 10 golf simulators under $1000. They are ideal for casual golfers to practice and play virtual tournaments. I recommend looking at the post to get an idea of what setup is best for you.

Furthermore, I have compiled a mini-review of my top 3 home golf simulators, including entry-level, mid-range, and premium products.

 

SwingLogic Home Golf Simulator

Pros

  • Super affordable
  • The sensor clips onto your shaft
  • The set includes a swing stick
  • Measures 5 data points
  • It includes a license to E6 Connect

Cons

  • Inaccurate data
  • The price does not include a complete simulator setup.

The SwingLogic Home Golf Simulator is an entry-level simulator that is easy to operate and is suitable for beginners and high handicappers. A sensor clips onto your shaft below the grip, and measures distance, backspin, sidespin, face angle, and swing tempo.

It records fewer data points than premium models resulting in less accurate information. However, it is not a train smash for the average golfer who can live with imperfections.

Although it is an affordable golf simulator, it does not include a mat for your hitting surface, nor an impact screen or net. It does include a subscription to E6 Connect software, enabling you to play virtual rounds of golf and practice whenever you have a moment.

Ultimately, it is an ideal product to consider if you are not willing to pull the trigger on a complete setup at this point.

 

OptiShot 2 Golf In A Box

Pros

  • It includes a net
  • Easy to setup
  • Measures club data
  • The set provides a hitting mat
  • Affordable

Cons

  • It does not measure ball data.

The OptiShot 2 Golf In A Box Simulator is the best value for money simulator that you can get. It works for mid and high handicappers looking for entertainment and a platform to train. For less than $1000, you can take home a complete set.

This simulator includes a hitting net, mat, and impact pad, packed with 16 sensors that respond to infrared light. The sensors track your club path, clubhead speed, and face angle to calculate the outcome of your shot. Naturally, the lack of ball data leads to inaccurate results. But again, this is not the end of the world for casual golfers.

The OptiShot 2 Simulator lets you play on 15 renowned golf courses as you work to lower your handicap. Call 3 buddies over for a couple of beverages and a night of fun on the simulator. You can play 18-holes or tackle challenges to see who is the best in your group.

 

Foresight Sports Sim-In-A-Box

Pros

  • Highly accurate data
  • Access to 21 world-renowned golf courses
  • It measures ball and club data
  • The package includes hitting mat, impact screen, PC, and access to the FSX software

Cons

  • Too expensive for the average golfer

I understand that it is difficult for the average golfer to justify dropping more than $16,000 on a golf simulator. However, I want you to see why a premium launch monitor costs thousands of dollars versus an entry-level model.

The Foresight Sim-In-A-Box Birdie Package is one of the more affordable (believe it or not) premium simulator setups. It includes a GC3 launch monitor, a gaming optimized PC, an impact screen, and hitting turf. Plus, the set is sold with a frame to provide the appearance of an enclosure around the screen.

Besides the robust features of this set, it also provides access to the company’s FSX 2020 software. It contains 21 world-class golf courses and a virtual practice range and gives you the chance to compete against other golfers across the globe.

The GC3 launch monitor measures 10 ball and club data points to increase the accuracy of the measurements. Therefore, its superiority in this field makes it an ideal option for low handicappers and serious golfers.

 

Matt Stevens

Matt Callcott-Stevens started playing golf at the age of 4 when Rory Sabattini's father put a 7-iron and putter in his hand. He has experienced all the highs and lows the game can throw at you and has now settled down as a professional golf writer. He holds a Postgraduate in Sports Marketing and has played golf for 28 years.