The idea of practicing golf at home with your own in-house golf simulator is an attractive one. After all, it can be hard to fit a trip to the range into your already-busy schedule, so it is much more likely that you will practice often if you can do so right at home. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have several hundred yards of space available for a full-blown driving range. What most of us do have, however, is a garage (or a basement), and that just may be all the space you need for your own practice station right at home.
If you decide to build a practice area in your garage, you will need a golf mat to hit off of, a launch monitor for feedback on how you are hitting and an indoor golf net of some sort since you can’t go blasting shots right into the back of your garage door.
Buying a golf mat is fairly straightforward. For your golf simulator you will want a mat that is large enough to stand on comfortably. A mat that is 3 feet by 5 feet would work well.
To track how you are hitting the balls you will want a launch monitor of some sort. This is where things can get expensive. To give you an idea of the price range of launch monitors the two that made the biggest splash at the 2017 PGA Merchandise show were the Flightscope Mevo which will sell for $500 and the Foresight GCQuad which sells for nearly $18,000. This is quite the range in prices.
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Do you need a launch monitor to have a set up at your home? It isn’t necessary, but adding one will make your set up a lot more functional. Having a setup will help you understand a lot of important data points on your swing including how far and straight you are hitting the ball. Without a launch monitor, you will just need to rely on how good the swing feels.
You could also look at golf simulator packages like SkyTrak and OptiShot, both of which provide launch monitor data and can also simulate famous golf courses.
To add an indoor golf net to your garage, you are really looking at two options - buy a practice net or build one yourself. Certainly, there are plenty of viable options to consider in terms of commercial nets, so be sure to take a look around the market for yourself. However, if you don’t find any that suit your needs just right, building one from scratch may be the way to go. In this article, we will look at how you can go about tackling just such a project.
The Advantage of a Custom Practice Net
One of the best things about custom building your own golf simulator setup is the ability to create something which is perfect for your space, including a custom practice net. When you shop the open market, you will be restricted by the dimensions that are available for those products. That is not the case with your own custom net. You can take measurements in your garage, decide on the perfect size, and then build it to spec.
If you have a little bit of skill and know-how in the DIY world, you may feel better about hitting balls into your own net rather than one your bought. This will depend on your own DIY skills, of course, as some people will have more confidence in a commercial product than their own creation.
Buy the Right Netting
To make sure that your final product is going to be able to hold up to your shots, you need to buy the right netting for the job. The best way to go on this point is to buy from a company which specializes in golf-specific netting. A quick web search will reveal plenty of suppliers for such netting, and most of them are willing to sell in small sizes to individual consumers. With reliable, heavy-duty golf netting serving as the centerpiece of your build, you can be confident that golf balls will not be flying on through to the other side.
Framing Brings the Net to Life
With quality netting in hand, the other big piece of this puzzle is the framing you will use to actually construct the net. Since you are building your net indoors, you won’t be able to go down into the ground as you could when building in the yard. With that in mind, PVC pipe is going to be the right choice in most cases. PVC is relatively inexpensive, it is easy to combine with various joints, and it is easy enough for the average homeowner to work with. Create a design that fits your space, assemble the pieces, and your net should come to life in no time at all.
A Couple Key Tips
Before you dig out your tools and get to work on this fun project, you need to keep a couple of key tips in mind -
- You need to know if your space is going to be, more or less, permanent, or it's one that will need to be flexible. If the latter, then you're going to need to avoid framing the simulator and practice space with wood. You're going to give up some decor, and perhaps ideal light conditions, in exchange for being able to break it all down more easily.
- Be sure to hang the netting loosely enough from the frame to allow it to ‘catch’ your shots before dropping the golf balls straight to the floor. If you string the net too tightly, the netting will act as a trampoline and golf balls will be flying everywhere. Also, pulling the net too tight will make it more likely that a golf ball will break through to the other side.
- Provide yourself with plenty of space to make swings. If you build the net so large that it takes up half of the garage, you may find that you suddenly don’t have quite enough room to swing the club as you would like.
The last point on your mind for this project should be storage. We would all love to be able to practice golf at all times, but you probably have other uses for your garage space beyond working on your game. When the garage needs to be used for other things, it would be helpful if your golf simulator can pack up and be stored out of the way easily.
All in all, building your own indoor golf simulator could be a fun project. If you are handy around the house and you enjoy such projects, you will be able to take on a job that leaves you with a finished product that can help you perform better on the course. Have fun with this build, and here’s to many great nights of indoor practice ahead!
Dan Wheeler lives in Los Angeles and writes about golf equipment at GrumpyGopher.com.