Golf simulator buyer's guide: How to start playing indoor golf on any budget
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Golf simulator buyer’s guide: How to start playing indoor golf on any budget



There has never been more interest in in-home golf simulators and indoor golf.

With millions of Americans staying at home for an indefinite, extended period of time, and a number of states closing golf courses to promote social distancing, golfers are quickly realizing there may be no better time than now to get a golf simulator setup.

However, before you whip out your credit card, there are several things to consider to find the right golf simulator for you.

We're here to help. With advice from our friends at Rain or Shine Golf, we've created a buyer's guide with the questions you need to answer and the best golf simulator products for practically any budget.

(DISCLOSURE: Golf News Net is a member of Rain or Shine Golf's affiliate program, and we may earn a percentage of sales from purchases made through our links. We think they're great and can help you with your setup, regardless of budget or space constraints.)

Golf simulator buyer's guide

The questions you need to answer

Do you have enough room? Rain or Shine Golf recommends you have at least 9 feet of clearance for your setup. That's enough space for most anyone to swing a driver and not damage the ceiling. They also recommend a space that's 12 feet by 12 feet (or 144 square feet) for the whole setup, including a mat and a net and/or screen. There are some more compact setups available that could accommodate smaller spaces.

Will you install your setup permanently or need it to be portable? More often than not, people do not have space in their home for a permanent golf simulator setup. If you have a room in your home for indoor golf, then you may want to look at setting it up as a dual home theater room and golf simulator room. If you don't have space you can dedicate to a permanent setup, there are nets and even projectors that can be setup and taken down in minutes. Mats are, by nature, portable and can be stored away when not playing golf on the simulator.

Which room or space will you use? This, of course, is based on personal preference and space limitations. But there's really no limit on where you can put your golf simulator setup. Beyond space considerations, you need electrical outlets for your projector or display monitor -- whether that's an iPad, computer or TV monitor -- and will need a way to connect to the internet to play in online competitions through the likes of World Golf Tour or The Golf Club video games.

What equipment do you need to buy? When buying a home golf simulator setup, you're going to need a minimum of four things: a simulator product, a quality mat (with good padding), something to hit balls into (a net and/or a projector screen) and some way to display the simulator's visuals (a projector and screen, a TV monitor, a computer or a tablet).

What is your budget? You're going to need a minimum of $750 to get some kind of golf simulator setup where you live. It can go as high as $30,000, depending on the product you purchase.

The best golf simulators based on your budget

OptiShot 2: You can get a golf simulator setup in your home for under $1,000. Really! You can purchase this basic OptiShot 2 package from Rain or Shine Golf for $799 that includes a mat, a net, foam balls (in case you can't hit real golf balls inside). The OptiShot 2 offers both 15 simulated golf courses and a range. OptiShot uses a swing pad on which you place the ball and hit it, with infrared sensors determining data like tracking club head speed, face angle, swing plane, distance, tempo and face contact point. There are a variety of OptiShot 2 packages with  options that combine higher-quality mats and nets, with some adding projectors and screens.

SkyTrak: SkyTrak is the most popular golf simulator platform for people with slightly bigger budgets. The SkyTrak unit itself is less than $2,000, and it doubles as a launch monitor and golf simulator. It uses high-speed imagery to capture 11 data points and turn that into a simulation in either practice ranges or golf courses. The device runs on battery power, so you can charge it wherever you have an outlet. You just need to download the SkyTrak app for your mobile device, including phones or an iPad, or your personal computer, and you can get going.

The SkyTrak is compatible with World Golf Tour (iPad only) and The Golf Club, meaning you can access scores more courses to play with your SkyTrak.

SkyTrak golf simulator packages can start as low as $3,400 with the SkyTrak unit, net and mat.

Flightscope Mevo+: Flightscope has come to market in 2020 with a new budget launch monitor, called the Mevo+, that's around $2,000 compared to the $500 price tag on the budget-minded Mevo. The Mevo+, which captures 16 data points, also comes with simulation capabilities, with 17 different practice ranges and 5 simulated golf courses to play out of the box with E6 Connect software. It's also compatible with The Golf Club video game, which has tens of thousands of courses available for play. It also has a Wi-Fi hotspot for reliable connectivity in rooms where you may not be able to connect with a hard-wired solution. You can also use the Mevo+ outdoors and take it with you to the range.

Flightscope Mevo+ golf simulator packages are slightly more expensive than SkyTrak packages, but you can get one for under $7,000.

Foresight Sports GC2 or GC Quad: If budget isn't much of a consideration for you, then you should look at Foresight Sports products. In 2020, the company realized the growth of golf simulators and indoor golf, creating various Sim in a Box packages which ship with all the components you need, including either a GC2 launch monitor or a GC Quad, with the Quad costing more money. If you're on a budget, you can look at Rain or Shine Golf's selection of Foresight Sports simulator packages with refurbished or pre-used launch monitors.

About the author

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Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for over a decade, working for NBC Sports, Golf Channel, Yahoo Sports and SB Nation. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He used to be a good golfer.

Ballengee can be reached by email at ryan[at]thegolfnewsnet.com

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