Create Your Own Home Golf Simulator
In this article, I want to show you how you can build your own golf simulator at home without breaking your bank. Golf simulators are really expensive but there is a way to create your own driving range simulator in a cost effective way. Maybe you are exhausted after a long day at work and you just want to hit a few balls to release the stress from work, but it’s dark, cold and windy outside.
Now its time to create your own personal indoor golf studio and a drive range. Think of it as a place where you can unwind and relax playing 18 holes, master your swing, step-up your game-play and have fun at home with friends and family. You can easily build your own golf course, 18 holes and play in the comfort of your own home.
What is a Golf Simulator?
If you have seen or played golf at a golf simultor sports bar, club or studio that has one of those sophisticated $60.000 simulators and a detailed hitting screen, then you know how realistic and accurate they are to measure the speed of your swing, ball flight, spin ration and trajectory. On the screen, you will have all the information you need to know, such as the distance, direction and shape of your golf shot. This information will be reproduced on the screen in a virtual environment.
Now, let me try to explain to you what exactly is a golf simulator. A golf simulator is brilliant equipment that will allow you to play golf indoors. Not only that, but it will also provide you with realistic information about your golf progress. They realistically calculate your process by monitoring your swing and ball flight with the use of powerful sensors.
These sensors will then send information to your laptop/desktop computer and the computer will then instantly process the information, such as the shape and distance of your shot and then project it onto a virtual golf course that you will see on the screen in front of you. The size of the screen is really limited to the space you have, for example in the big sports centers, there are huge wall-sized screen that you can read all the information about your shot and swing.
Golf simulators are extremely useful and practical to practice your golf game. Any golf instructor at the range will agree on that. However, having a golf simulator is not about mastering your swing, it’s also about having fun. You can use a golf simulator to train intensively and practice your game and you can also use it to have a lot of fun too with your friends and family.
However, the reality is that those sophisticated golf simulators come with a hefty price tag and I doubt you have $10.000 – $50.000 to put on the table for an industry-leading golf simulator installation in your home. Luckily, for you, you won’t need anywhere close to that amount to enjoy a home golf simulator studio at home. Today you are able to get your hands on several products that are easy to install and with an appealing price-tag that will help you to have your own 18 holes golf course at home.
Have in mind though that your homemade golf simulator might not be at the same sophisticated level as the huge simulators at the sports bar. The accuracy and realism are not going to be the same. However, the compact systems that are sold today are extremely powerful training equipment and they will do exactly what advertised. You will be able to practice your long shots, approach shots, chipping, putting or just play 18 holes with your friends over beer!
It’s possible to build your own golf course for less than 800$. Before we get started, you need the following four items to maximize your golf experience.
- You need an indoor golf simulator
- You need a practice mat
- You need a golf net
- You need an indoor putting green
Don’t worry, I will take you by the hand and explain the whole process throughout this article. After reading this article, you will be on your way to construct your own golf course in your home. I will show you exactly how you can do this. A part from the 4 main things above, you need some space in your home, few hundred bucks, a laptop and your golf clubs. That’s basically all there is to it.
However, before we dig in…
You Need to Consider the…
It can be a daunting and tricky task to find out what the minimum ceiling height you need for your simulator. There are some recommendations out there that claim you will need 10’x10’x9′(ceiling) if you are an average sized golfer but then again, what’s an average sized golfer? We come in all sizes and shapes! Therefore it is important to figure out our own needs. You are the only one that can determine the minimum ceiling height that will suit your personal swing. My best advice to you is to test your swing using your longest club in the bag. That is the only way you can find out how much space you need that fits you game play.
Before you start the whole process, you need to ask yourself if you have enough space to play golf inside your home. Almost every item that I mention in this guide is portable and you can rest assured that you will be able to easily pack it after each playing session. However, it’s not enough just to have portable items that you can take-down and pack easily, you need plenty of room to swing your club. It makes no sense to build a golf simulator if you don’t have enough room to make a full swing!
So, how do you figure out if you have enough space for your golf simulator? Visualize where you will put the practice net and the golf mat. Next, you should grab your driver and make few practice swings. You have to make your swings slowly, and make sure that your driver is not going to scratch your ceiling, wall or any of your furniture. Once you have made sure that there will be no unexpected impacts, you should steadily speed-up your practice swing until you are swinging at full speed. Your longest club in your golf set is the driver, so if you are swinging your driver at full throttle without hitting anything in the way, you can be sure that you have enough space to swing all your clubs freely.
General rule of thumb to maximize the experience and efficiency of a golf simulator, OptiShot recommends a minimum space 10’x10′ with a minimum 8.5′ ceiling height. For the simulator to work, you will need a laptop or desktop computer and I advise you to make a space for a computer table close-by. Maybe it is not your cup-of-tea to confidently swing full speed and smash a real golf ball over 100mph in a enclosed room. If so, there is always an option for you to opt in for practice balls.
What Portable Golf Simulator Should I Buy?
OptiShot Golf are the industry-leaders when comes to portable golf simulators and the OptiShot 2 Golf Simulator and Dancin Dogg OptiShot are the best portable simulators, and the most popular ones. You can get your hands on OptiShot for less than 400 dollars and this brilliant compact device will measure your club-head speed, club-face angle, swing-direction and many other important data utilizing its outstanding 16 optical sensors to maximize accuracy. This is basically monster data in a tiny compact box and quite impressive to say the least.
All you need to do is to hook up the device to your laptop with the included 10 feet USB cable and you will instantly see your shot projected on the computer screen together with all the important information about your swing. The sky is the limit, and you don’t have to focus only on long shots. You can practice your chipping, pitching and put and after every swing, the device will evaluate your swing and give you accurate feed-back after every swing. In addition, you don’t have to use real balls, you can opt in for practice balls or even no balls at all. The OptiShot sensor will turn your swing into a virtual shot with or without a ball.
Now you can invite your friends over for a beer or play with your family for a full 18 holes. The OptiShot includes highly realistic virtual golf courses and you will be able to purchase upgrade packages as well. Are you left handed? Great! OptiShot is for all golfers, left or right handed.
It’s not just pure joy with the OptiShot because there are some limitation that you need to have in mind. Below, I have listed few of the restriction that you need to consider:
- First, you can’t use the simulator outdoors
- Second, it will not measure trajectory
- Third, don’t except the same accuracy as the sophisticated sports club machine simulators valued over $50.000
- Fourth, there is a chance you will have to calibrate your actual on-course shot distances
- Lastly, you will need a good laptop that can run smoothly and can cope with the graphics
I’m aware that these are relatively common sense points here and please don’t be put off by these few limitations. OptSshot will provide you with superb golfing experience and it will most definitely aid you towards a better swing and step-up your game significantly if you practice hard enough.
Golf Hitting Net
It goes without saying that it is not enough just to invest in a golf-simulator. As I did mention above, there are few things that you need to invest in to make the most out of your home golf simulator. Obviously, you can’t go full swing without a golf hitting net to stop your golf balls and it doesn’t matter if you are using practice balls or real golf balls, you need a net to prevent any damage.
Going full-throttle on a golf swing can have your golf ball fly away and reach over 150mph and it’s obvious that once your swing goes a little off-course, there will be some serious damage. In order to catch you golf balls, you should avoid at all cost the cheap low quality nets around. You can get your hands on a really cheap golf net for less than 30 dollars but it will not have the same quality as the state-of-the-art golf nets that are built with quality and durability in mind. Its way better to invest in a durable and top-rated net than having to worry about ripping a hole in the net after each shot. You need total confidence to swing hard if you want to get the most out of your golf simulator.
I have been praising the Net-Return repeatedly in my reviews. I won’t deny it, I’m a big fan of the Net-Return and I absolutely love the Ball-Return feature and also the way it’s designed. Once you touch the net, you will immediately realize that this is top-quality all over the place.
Another net that I’m a big fan of is the Dura-Pro Golf Cage. What I like the most about the Dura-Pro is how reliable and strong it is. It is the only golf hitting net on my whole webpage that is specially designed to use with real golf balls. This is the only net that I can confidently recommend to practice with real golf balls. Now, I do realize that CAGE is not really what you are thinking about in terms of golf hitting nets but this awesome product will stop all your golf balls efficiently.
Back to my top-favorite golf net, the Net-Return. It is as good as it will get and this is a golf practice net that you should seriously look into if you are planning to set-up your own home golf simulator. The Net-Return is extremely flexible net, multi-sport net and was designed to last for many years to come. In addition, it is very easy to assemble and takedown.
If you want to lower the budget a little bit, I would opt in for the Callaway Tri-Ball or RukkNet. These are reliable, cost-effective and compact golf-hitting nets.
Overall, whatever net you end up with, just make sure that the netting is strong and durable enough to withstand the force of your high-end driver shots. The construction needs to hold in place by strong and flexible poles. If you are a beginner, I totally understand that you might not want to go ALL-IN regarding nets but you do have to look at this as a long-term investment. Invest in a net that is made by reputable manufacturer and includes only top-rated materials.
For those of you who are looking for something cheaper than Net-Return and something a little more expensive than Tri-Ball, have a look at the Rukk Pop-up practice net. This is extremely effective mid-level golf hitting net that just hit the market recently and is getting raving reviews for its durability and portability.
Now we have covered the best golf hitting net, best portable golf simulator, and now we need to look into a practice mat. You can use the OptiShot by itself without using any practice mat. However, I advise you invest in a quality practice mat to use with the OptiShot. Let’s look at the major benefits of having a practice mat.
To begin with, the OptiShot golf device is around one and a half inch high and if you don’t have a mat, you would be hitting the ball from 1.5in above your feet. Although that this does not sound much at all, the reality is that it will most likely affect you with topped shots once you head out to the real golf course. Therefore, it is essential, in order to maximize your training results or gameplay experience, to invest in a quality practice mat.
Another benefit that a practice mat will provide you is that you will be able to swing whenever you feel like without the use of the simulator. It’s likely that you just want to perform few swing and pitch, chip or practice long shots right before sleep or before breakfast without having to turn-on the laptop and configure the simulator. If you have a mat, you will be good to go.
I highly encourage you to invest in the Monster Tee Golf Turf if you are serious about getting the most out of your simulator. It’s not the cheapest mat on the market but this is one of the highest rated practice mat available and current owners are extremely happy with this product.
- Measures exactly 1.5in and this mat will perfectly match you up with the surface of the OptiShot simulator.
- Extremely thick, quality turf that simulates realistic fairway conditions
- This mat will provide you with feedback on the quality of your swing by adapt to your clubs head, just as a real turf would do.
- This mat will reduce any chances of injuries with its flexible surface as it places less strain on your body than a hard surface.
- Extremely portable and easy to pack and store. You just roll it up and store it!
- This mat is one of the most durable mats available on the market and won’t wear out quickly
- Its dense enough to hold real golf tees without affecting the construction
Indoor Putting Green
Putting is a big part of the show also and you should make space for a compact putting green in your game room. If you want to be a good golfer, you need to practice putting also. Just by learning how to putt well will help you to become a better golfer.
I believe you are not loaded with cash in your pockets to invest in an adjustable putting surface and you don’t need big bucks to set-up your own home putting area. It’s all about practicing rhythm and pendulum stroke that will aid towards mastering your putting shot.
As I said above, you don’t need invest in a sophisticated putting green to practice. You can invest in a simple and budget-friendly indoor putting green. One of the popular putting greens out there is the 9′ Accelerator Pro Putting Mat from SKLZ that will do the job fine and I urge you to consider this mat to practice your putting. I’m sure that the SKLZ will be a useful addition to your golf portfolio.
You should now have an idea about what to look for to create your personalized home golf simulator that suits your playing style and needs. With the recommended products in my guide, you will be on your way to construct your own efficient simulator that will cost you from $600 – $800. The final cost will of course depend on what kind of golf hitting net you opt in for and what type of golf mat but overall you should have a decent simulator up and ready for around 700$.
Also, keep in mind that you will need a decent computer as well. There are some heavy-duty graphics to deal with. Just make sure that your computer graphic card is up-to-date to make the practice as real as possible. Keep in mind that if you are planning to upgrade your laptop, the overall cost will increase accordingly.
Finally, if you want to take the step a little bit further, you could invest in a projector. That will of course increase the cost but you the overall experience will be more enjoyable. There are many projectors available on the market and you have to be sure that you invest in a good projector.
My personal favorite is BenQ HT2025 because it is reasonable priced and you don’t have to close all the curtains in your home to play. It works fantastically in light conditions and it will significantly take your golf game to another level if you invest in a projector. With a laptop, proper golf net, a mat and projector, the cost should be around the $2000 mark