Poor weather and season changes do not have to stop you from playing, thanks to the advancement in technology and the affordability of simulators available on the market today. In this article we review the best golf simulators for indoor use, to help you choose the right one for your needs and the space you have available.
What Is a Simulator and How Do They Work?
Golfing companies have developed systems that will simulate 3D driving ranges and golf courses to allow you to play in the comfort of your home and even include your favorite fourball partners.
They are used for fun and leisure as well as serious practice sessions.
These simulators can track and analyze your swing, and determine what the ball trajectory will be after the contact between the ball and clubhead based on high-tech algorithms. After contact, the ball travels a short distance and crashes into a net to enable the algorithms to have a better chance to produce the most accurate results.
Simulators are furthermore extremely flexible, and the software will enable you to play several courses from the comfort of your home. This will avoid your game getting stale playing the same course all the time. Many also give you the opportunity to play on courses that would generally be out of the reach of most golfers.
Another benefit of a simulator is that, in most cases, you use your golf clubs and ball rather than simulating a swing with a virtual club swinging at a virtual ball thus providing you with a realistic feel of how the club and ball react to the shot.
Quick Overview: Our Top Picks for Best Golf Simulators
|SkyTrak HomeBay® Golf Simulator Studio||VIEW LATEST PRICE →|
|OptiShot 2 Golf in A Box||VIEW LATEST PRICE →|
|Phigolf Mobile and Home Smart Golf Game Simulator||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
|Zepp Golf 2 3D Swing Analyzer||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
|Rapsodo R-Motion and The Golf Club Simulator and Swing Analyzer||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
The Top 5 Golf Simulators For Home Use
1. SkyTrak HomeBay® Studio
- Amazing Portability
- Excellent all-around value for money
- Optimized for 4:3 projection
- Premium quality impact screen
- The full netting enclosure system
- Incredible accuracy
- Excellent game improvement features
- Easy to use
- Small footprint
- You have to mount brackets on the wall for setup
- The projector requires blackout side curtains for optimal display
- Setup requires a minimum of 9 feet high x 12 feet wide x 14 feet deep
Once you have installed the easy to assemble screen and netting the software can be completed in 2 minutes by pairing your devices via the built-in Wi-Fi.
Connecting to the projector is done via your PC or mobile device which in turn is connected to the projector via an HDMI cable.
The SkyTrak device must be set approximately 12 feet behind the ball, at the same level as the hitting surface, and exactly parallel to your intended target. The accelerometer-based internal leveling system will level the unit when placed on the ground. No calibration is required before you can start hitting your golf balls.
A red dot on the hitting mat will indicate the spot where you have to place the golf ball for the most accurate results.
What comes in the box?
Included in the SkyTrak HomeBay studio:
- SkyTrak Launch Monitor & Protective Case
- Game improvement software
- HomeBay simulator screen & enclosure
- Choice of hitting mat (SwingTurf 4 feet wide x 5 feet deep is included)
- Optoma 1080p HD short throw projector
- Ceiling projector mount
- 25-foot 1080p HDMI Cable
Instant feedback is provided on all the shot and ball data you require such as distance, ball speed, clubhead speed, launch angle, backspin, sidespin, flight path, and more.
Game Improvement Package
The SkyTrak game improvement plan software enables you to practice on your virtual driving range and get immediate accurate feedback and data for every shot.
The Game Improvement Plan also gives you access to incredible software add-ons like The Golf Club, where you can play world-class courses with your friends and family.
1st-year subscription to game improvement plan includes:
- PC & iPad Compatibility
- Longest Drive Competition
- Closest to the Pin Contests
- Target Practice
- Skills Assessments
- Custom weather and course condition settings
- Bag Mapping for Club Fitting
- Track Progress, Charts & Graphs via SkyGolf Mobile App
Using high-speed photometric technology and advanced algorithms, SkyTrak is comparable to some of the most expensive simulators on the market.
A wide range of software and other options are available to make this a complete, all-around, and portable package.
2. OptiShot 2 Golf in A Box
- 15 world-famous courses
- Presents a lifelike environment.
- Up to 4 players can play
- Fairly inexpensive
- A frontrunner in simulator technology
- Play against golfers in real-time from around the world
- It can use foam or real balls
- Compatible with Mac OS and Windows
- Connect to a projector/TV or computer screen
- Ultra-HD Replicas of World-Famous Courses
- Top-selling simulator internationally
- Could be more accurate
- Putting is challenging.
- The illumination requirement is a bit rigorous
Ease of Use & Setup
Setting up the OptiShot 2 is simple and straightforward. Start by downloading the software and installing it on your computer. Once it is installed, plug the sensor into your computer and it works. The more serious-minded golfers will choose to take a moment and calibrate their clubs to make sure you’re getting the most accurate results.
Out of the box, the OptiShot 2 comes with:
- Infrared Optical Swing Pad
- OptiShot 2 Software
- 2 Foam Balls
- 10 Foot USB Cord
- 2 Adjustable Rubber Tees
- Quick Start guide
The accuracy of the OptiPlus2 is well within the range for the average golfer but the more advanced golfer will find the accuracy not to their taste.
The clubhead speed, face angle, and swing path will be measured and the effective 48Mhz infrared sensors were designed to track the position of the club’s head before, during, and after impact. This data will allow you to concentrate solely on enhancing your swing
Ball Flight Trajectory
The areas measured collect ample data to precisely determine the ball trajectory and the distance that the ball is likely to travel.
- Putting with foam balls of the simulator matt is extremely challenging
- Settings allow you to set a distance for gimme putts
The Optiplus 2 is an extremely reasonably priced system that will enable hours of fun and less accurate than the top-end simulators. A plus point is that it is compatible with the Mac OS
The sensor that screws into the back of the handle of any golf club is small and inconspicuous weighing in at 0.32 Oz and receives power from a Lithium Polymer battery that delivers roughly 4 hours of battery life.
The sensor links to the software via Bluetooth similar to your phone pairing to your car’s hands-free kit. Lastly, there is an app that needs to be downloaded and installed. Charge the sensor for around 2 hours to fully charge for 4 hours of playtime
What comes in the box?
- Phigolf Sensor: 9-Axis club sensor
- Compatibility: iOS 9.0+ / Android 6.0+
- Battery: 4 hours life, full charge in 2 hours
- Bluetooth: BLE 4.1 – Works up to a distance of 10m from source
- 24.4 inches Swing Stick
- Works with 2 Apps: WGT Golf (1 course free, $1.99/month for full access) & Phigolf (completely free)
There is no screen to be set up as there will be no contact between a ball and a clubhead. PhiGolf can be displayed on a big screen TV or mirrored via the app to a smart TV.
The software allows you to select different clubs to achieve different distances and there are several different functions available to choose from.
- Swing Analysis – This option will allow you to analyze your swing and will provide a 3D view of attributes such as head speed, swing path, tempo, face angle, attack angle, and estimated distance data required for swing coaching. It will also allow for screenshots to be forwarded to your coach for analysis.
- Putting Analysis – The unique putting line of PhiGolf can teach you to find the correct putting line and through practice, you can increase the consistency of your putting.
- Stroke game – This function allows you to play a stroke-play game against up to 4 friends based on an actual 18-hole course.
- Driving Range – The driving range mode allows you to hit golf balls on the driving range select a club and distance to practice swing and shot tracer to track the trajectory of your shots.
- Nearest the pin mode – The nearest to the pin mode enables you to practice your short game from 120 yards and less and sharpen your wedge shots while having fun and competition with friends.
- Online multi-game – This enables you to play competition with golfers anywhere in the world while online.
PhiGolf is a great way to improve your golf game in limited space as there is no contact between club and hardball.
4. Zepp Golf 2 3D Swing Analyzer
- Straightforward to use
- Record your swing
- Instruction plans based on your swing information
- Automatic video recording and swing analysis
- Measures 7 key metrics
- Up to 8 hours of battery life
- Android and iOS app
- Excellent in-app interface
- Accuracy could be a problem
- The most importance is placed on the speed and length of the backswing
The setup of the simulator and analyzer is straightforward, and it connects via Bluetooth. Power is provided by a battery that can be fully recharged within 1.5 hours and will provide full functionality for up to 8 hours. Measurements are taken via dual accelerometers and dual 3-axis gyroscopes
The Zepp Golf 2 3D swing analyzer calculates your swing; club speed, club plane, tempo, backswing length and permits you to replay and evaluate your swing in high definition exploring at 360 degrees from every perspective while equating it to your favorite professional golfer.
The system provides you with instant evaluations to help you determine which part of your swing requires the most focus thus increasing the improvement in your swing instantly. You can furthermore compare your swing to previous swings and see how your improvements are coming along.
The Smart Coach program offers personalized training programs that are based on the information compiled from your swing analysis. The program is compiled from Tour players and Tour instructors for rapid improvement in your game.
5. Rapsodo R-Motion and The Golf Club Simulator and Swing Analyzer
- Selection of 15 courses
- Accurate sensor
- Can use your golf clubs
- Multiple player option
- Runs optimally on PC
- Lightweight and solid design
- Straightforward to set-up
- There are only 4 clips in the package
- Fewer features than more advanced analyzers
- IOS app is not available
Ease of Use & Setup
Although not an exceedingly trying exercise, the initial setup of the R-motion can be a bit time-consuming. Once set up and ready to play, the system will be ready within a short time for ensuing games.
Once you have opened the pack and unpacked all the items, you will be obliged to charge the sensor, set up your R-motion account, and download the R-Motion software and The Golf Club game. The Golf Club software is quite substantial and will require a good-sized internet connection and a fair amount of time to download.
Once downloaded, follow the installation instructions, and run the software. Once you have affixed the adapters to your clubs, you will be ready to commence play. Relocating the adapters between clubs during a round will be where most time is consumed. Arranging the controls for The Golf Club software are fairly simple.
R-Motion is intended to be a fun way to practice golf at home and not to be a rival to the top end of the simulator market.
The R-motion software provides accurate data for you to scrutinize. The sensor measures clubhead speed, face angle, club path. and overall distance. It does not measure the ball speed, launch angle, spin, or quality of contact. The consequence of this is some discrepancies in the results.
Ball Flight Trajectory
The R-motion will track the trajectory of your ball and identify slices, pushes fades, pulls and hooks.
There is a rechargeable battery that can be charged via a USB interface and the battery life is approximately 4 hours which should be sufficient for a 4 ball to complete a round of golf.
Runs on PC/mobile phone application
The R-motion software can run on a Microsoft Windows PC via a dongle or connect to a mobile app via Bluetooth. It is not available on a Mac.
An excellent value product for the price providing great fun and enjoyment and delivering valuable feedback on shots.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Big Should My Golf Room Be?
To set up an indoor simulator you will require a good-sized room. The size of the room depends on the simulator that you employ and the clubs you will be using. If your requirement is to only play or practice your irons, your room requirement will be less than when you want to utilize your driver and woods.
To make a full swing there ought to be sufficient space for the best results. Your swing plane, length, arm length, club selection, etc. will all play a role in the size of the room required. The recommended size for a room to accommodate an indoor simulator is 10 feet wide and 15 feet long.
The height of the ceiling will determine the length of the club that you can swing inside the room. The minimum height required to swing irons is approximately 7 feet and for woods, a minimum of 10 feet is recommended.
Taller golfers or those of us with longer arms may require even higher ceilings, but the dimensions described above should be workable for most golfers. Ensure that there is sufficient space behind the net to prevent creating spots on the walls after contact.
Can a Simulator Improve Your Game?
Playing golf regularly and practicing different shots on a golf course or a realistic virtual environment will have a beneficial impact on your golf game.
The indoor simulator will not only provide you and your friends with endless fun and entertainment but will also keep your game sharp during the winter months and even improve areas that require you to work on. It will give you an advantage over golfers that cannot practice during the winter months.
Can You Practice Your Putting in a Simulator?
You can putt using a simulator and most simulators will allow you to putt directly into the screen where a tracking device will determine the speed and the direction of the ball and calculate the path towards the cup from the information. You also get specialized simulators that focus purely on putting.
How Long Does It Take To Play 18 Holes on a Simulator?
A single player can complete 18 holes between 1 and 2 hours and a fourball will be able to complete 18 holes within about 4 hours.
When deciding on which product is right for you, it is important to determine what you want to get out of it. Should you require it only for entertainment and retain your golf swing during the months that you are unable to play golf on a real course, you should be able to benefit from most of the simulators on the market.
However, if you aim to improve your golf game it would be beneficial to invest in the most accurate simulators that will provide you with detailed feedback and precise measurements.
Final Thoughts on Simulators For Home Use
Simulators have become immensely popular for various reasons. These include keeping your golf game in shape during the winter months where the snow or extremely cold weather makes outdoor play impossible or for indoor entertainment while keeping in shape.
You are now able to purchase excellent value-for-money simulators for a couple of hundred dollars or spend up to $50000 or even more for the top-of-the-range indoor simulators that are used by professional golfers.
We have reviewed simulators at the lower end of the scale in this piece. While they all provide great options and different features, we feel that the Rapsodo R-Motion is our winner as it provides the most versatility and accuracy combined with the option to use your clubs for a realistic feel that can be transferred onto the golf course.
- Best Commercial Golf Simulators
- The 6 Most Expensive Simulators On The Market
- Simulator Price Comparison
- Where to Buy a Used SkyTrak Simulator
- SkyTrak vs OptiShot 2
- SkyTrak vs Foresight GC2
Nick Lomas is the founder of GolfSpan, an avid golfer, not quite a pro but has over 15-years of experience playing and coaching golfers from all over the world. His mission is to bring the golfing community a better experience then it comes to choosing the right golf gear, and finding the right set up for your game.