“Neither snow nor rain nor gloom of night can keep them from the completion of their rounds” Is this your golf motto? Most golfers hate playing in bad weather and as a result, their golf game suffers because of it. A home golf simulator solves this problem. With a simulator like the Optishot or ProTee you can play all year-long and never have to worry about summer ending. The problem lies in the fact that these are not the only programs out there and they each come with different features and costs (some upwards of $50,000). So how does average golfer improve and choose the best home golf simulator? This comparison guide should help.
Golf Simulator Technology
Golf simulator technology in 2017 is incredible. These devices allow golfers to play in a virtual golf world that is graphically displayed in 3D on a screen or computer. Amazing!! These machines give golfers access to golf all year-long. Furthermore, golfers can compete online, practice on a virtual driving range or play some of the best 18 hole golf courses in the world all from the comforts of their own home. As witnessed by the abundance of simulators being demonstrated at the PGA Merchandise show. The virtual simulator is the future of golf.
For too many of us, golf is not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle. You want to reach your potential and will get any golf equipment, gadget, or training tool necessary to get that done. The problem lies in that you have to make choices and getting a home golf simulator is major decision that can not be taken lightly. The software and equipment can run anywhere from $1,000 to $50,000. Therefore, you MUST get it right. With over 30 different simulators and monitors to choose from you will need narrow it down by considering your skills, needs and budget. Check out my step by step guide if you want to build a home golf simulator room from scratch.
The chart below will help you narrow down your choices of golf simulators based on your specific golf game. Note: I have not personally used every system in the chart.
Golf Simulator Comparison - Budget*All simulators are under $3000 but may need other equipment such as an impact screen, computer, and projector. SimulatorOptishot 2ProTee TGC 2016P3ProSwing LiteSkyTrak Price$349$2,995$1,199$1,995 Tracking SystemClubClub and BallClubBall SoftwareWindows or Mac Optishot 2Windows TGCWindows P3Windows or Ipad WGT Golf # of Courses15100,0009228 (*$199/yr) Online PlayYesYesYesYes (*199/yr) Game ModesStroke, Better Ball, Match/Stableford/Skins/AlternateStroke/Long Drive/Closest To PinStroke/Match, Stableford/Skins/Long Drive/Closest To PinStroke/Long Drive/Closest To Pin Video CaptureNoNoYesNo Best FeaturePrice Number of Courses12 Point Swing Analysis with Video CaptureSkills Assessment Other FeaturesPinPoint Practice PortableCourse Designer Putting Sensors Stats History *All-In-One Kit AvailableBall Spin LicenseSkill Challenges Portable
Golf Simulator Comparison - Mid Range Kit*All simulators are from $5,000 - $20,000 and should include equipment such as an impact screen, computer, mats and projector. SimulatorGSA Advanced F3Full Swing GolfP3 ProSwing MastersTruGolf Vista Price$11,995$19,900$14,999$12,995 Tracking SystemClub/BallClub/BallClub/BallClub/Ball SoftwareWindows (Installed) E6, TGC, Red Chain, Perfect 11, Pro XWindows or Mac E6 WindowsWindows or Mac E6 # of Courses15 + TGC8713215 Online PlayYesYesYesYes Game ModesDepends on Software32 + (*Showdown Add-on)Stroke/Match, Stableford/Skins/Long Drive/Closest To PinStroke/Long Drive/Closest To Pin Video CaptureNoNoYesNo Best Feature5 Software ChoicesShowdown Contests12 Point Swing System Portable Other FeaturesSand, Rough and Fairway Turf 5 Software Options Interactive Practice I7 Laptop Challenge Course UpgadeBall Spin License Video Capture 14 Shot CamerasTruTrac System Beginner Boost Tension Impact Screen Space Needed10 x 12 x 1512 x 9 x 1718 x 11'6 x 12'69 x 12 x 8
Golf All Year’s Best Golf Simulator Awards
****BANG FOR YOUR BUCK AWARD****
The ProTee TGC golf simulator packs a ton of features into this “Base Pack” model. Priced $2995 it is at the top end of the “budget” simulators but it makes up for it in range of things it can do. From course designing to online play to skill development this home golf simulator has it all. In addition to having 4K Ultra HD quality graphics the ProTee TGC uses high-speed optical sensors to track both a Club and Ball giving accurate flight trajectory for flop shots, shanks, skied shots and bounces. With thousands of course to choose from this device gives the most bang for the buck.
*Courses and Designer
One of the best features of the ProTee TGC is the wide variety of courses you can play. This simulator gives players the access to over 100,000 courses…that’s right 100,000. No golf simulator I have researched even comes close.
You can filter courses by suggestions, public, private and handicapped rated or you can just type in a search for a particular course. You can also see important information about the course.
If you get bored with the 100,000 courses, don’t worry the ProTee gives you the ability to design and shape your own. Move greens, bunkers, hazards anywhere you want to make the game more or less challenging. This feature brings out the creative and artistic side of any golfer and adds to the years of enjoyment.
Not only that but the realism is amazing, as the graphics are in 4K Ultra giving the course a “movie-like” quality. The picture will not look static like most projections out there but will get a feel actually being on the golf course.
*”Paradox of Choice”
There is a psychology theory out there known as the paradox of choice in which the more choices you face the more likely you are going to be unhappy. Well, that theory applies here as you have SO MANY options to choose from that in the end you may be spending valuable time choosing and setting up your experience rather than playing (especially if you are using the course designer).
How To Improve With This Simulator
The ProTee TGC home golf simulator has an excellent stats database. It will breakdown and keep your round scores as well as your all-time stats. This is invaluable in trying to improve.
Not only that but the software will also record your greens in regulation, driving distance, fairway accuracy, putting percentage and more. Moreover, the stats are all displayed on easy to read graphs and charts. If you want to track your handicap on the machine, the simulator will do that also. If you want to track your stats this the a great buy.
****AFFORDABLE SIMULATOR AWARD****
The Optishot home golf simulator is perfect for the average golfer or beginner who wants to practice, play and improve without breaking the bank. At only $349, the Optshot is the most affordable golf simulator on the market. In addition, it is the simplest to use, as after downloading the software, plugging in the swing pad and setting up your clubs, you are ready to go. Play 18 holes on one of 15 different courses or take your game to the driving range for some practice (use real, foam or no golf ball). Furthermore, you can test your skills in tournaments in their Mini and Pro Tours. This simulator also tracks swing stats which can be exported for later use. The Optishot 2 packs a mighty punch for a very low price and is the best golf simulator if on a tight budget.
This simulator is not only affordable but it is clean and simple to play. You will not be overwhelmed with swing stats that only a Pro instructor could decode. Six main stats are used and recorded by the device but they still give the average golfer plenty to think and mull over. The 15 included courses are clear and graphically pleasing and fun to play.
The practice range is where you can really take your game to the next level. With its Pinpoint accuracy practice, a golfer can work on both driving and iron play. The target practice gives you 4 circle grids to shoot for on each of the practice greens while the driving practice provides 4 vertical line grids to try to keep the ball between. The computer will track each stat and plot them on a colorful bar chart.
Since the Optishot only tracks the club and not the ball, miss reads occur more often. This can be very frustrating especially when playing with friends (They may shank it and it may go straight).
*Chipping and Sand
For some reason the chipping and pitching feature on the simulator is not as realistic as it could be. Punch shots are very successful. You will not want to use the technique needed in the game out onto the course. This can also be said about hitting out the bunker. If those are a huge weakness in your game that you want to focus solely on then you might need to look elsewhere.
How To Improve With This Simulator
The average golfer should love this system. It is inexpensive, easy to use and has all the stats and functions needed to improve. The pinpoint practice graphically gives a golfer an idea of how accurate they are. How many shots can you get into the white circle? How many drives can you keep between the white lines? You can easily use this for daily practice sessions and watch as your stats improve. Furthermore, since there are only 6 swing stats to track you can focus on main weaknesses in your game.
Follow my Break 80 Challenge as I am using this home golf simulator to try to break 80 consistently.
SEE FULL IN-DEPTH REVIEW OF OPTISHOT 2 (after 5000 shots) Click Link
****TAKE IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL AWARD****
The Skytrak is technically a personal launch monitor but if you are really looking to improve your game this is the simulator to get. Even though you need to find a way to project onto an impact screen from a tablet, this device really allows for golfers to study their game. The practice modes in this machine surpass all others in the field. SkyTrak home golf simulator allows you to practice, compete in challenges, and assess your golf skills at a high level. In addition, the SkyTrak can convert into a simulator where you can play some of the great courses using one of 4 different course software. This system is the best if you are really looking to take your game to the next level.
This is the basis of the game improvement functions of the SkyTrak. Pick a distance/club and create up to 10 target stations to practice on. The program will track your progress and display the important data in easy to read graphs and pictures. Spot your weakness easily and focus on improvement using their dynamic handicap. The Skills Assessment will keep your data history so you can see your progress.
*Launch Monitor vs Simulator
The issue with the SkyTrak Launch Monitor is that it requires additional work to get the program to project on a screen. The SkyTrak is compatible with some Ipads and PC computers and tracks the ball. Also, the program requires additional costs for the WGT courses which can run up to $200 a year.
How To Improve With This Simulator
The SkyTrak was made for the golfer who wants to work on specific skills in their game. The Skills assessment shows green accuracy, shot dispersion and tendencies as well as showing the individual shot stats. Moreover, the program assigns a dynamic handicap which lets you see how good you are with that particular club or distance. Every important swing statistic is measured and charted. The assessment is very graphically pleasing and easy to read so that any golfer can really improve their golf game.
SkyTrak Simulator Packages – All-In-One (Simulator, Net, Projector, and Mat)
****MOST VERSATILE SIMULATOR****
TRUGOLF VISTA 8
The TruGolf Vista Series simulators are one of my favorite for home use. These simulators are one of the only truly portable golf simulator on the market with easy use and setup. The Vista uses the E6 software that so many companies use and comes with 15 courses (of course you can add-on courses for an additional cost). One of the other standout features of the Vista is the TruTrac sensor system which tracks both club and ball. This is revolutionary technology. If you are a beginning golfer then this model is perfect as it has a “beginner’s boost” to help those just starting out to get more distance and accuracy. The Vista Series home golf simulator can even be used as home movie theater making it the most versatile simulator out there.
Being able to move your golf simulator is a great feature that you don’t find in many other simulators. The Vista tension system pulls the impact screen tight so that you have a flat surface giving great graphics but also is easy to take down. The poles, floor mats, and screen easily come apart can be stored in the simulator travel bag for moving it from place to place. See how easy it is with the setup video below.
*TruTrak Sensor System
The sensor system is unlike other systems in that it will track your club and ball but it does it with both sonic sound and 3 rows of optical sensors. Most home golf simulators use optical or camera sensors. Sonic sound is a new innovation that sets the TruGolf Vista apart from the rest.
The Trugolf Vista series is one of my favorite golf simulators but does have its limitations. As with everything that can be moved, the durability of the poles and screen may not be up to par with some of the stationary models of golf simulators. The Vista package also only comes with 15 courses and costs more if a golfer needs variety.
How to Improve With This Simulator
With the TruTrak sensors this golf simulator provides excellent accuracy in tracking swing statistics. The Vista swing analysis has all the major categories including launch angle, club head speed and ball backspin. In addition, you can adjust the conditions of the course or practice to really challenge their skills. Practice on the driving range, chipping area or putting green and get better with the most versatile home golf simulator.
TruTrak System Sensor System
****BEST CONTEST and CHALLENGES****
FULL SWING GOLF
As Golf Digests best golf simulator of the year in 2015, the Full swing system is one of the best. This is the choice of many top pros including Tiger Woods who has become a partner with Full Swing. Full Swing simulators use lite wave technology and track both ball and club and has 87 courses (Bethpage, Firestone, and Troon and others). Furthermore, you get an I7 touchscreen computer and interactive practice. It uses the E6 software like Trugolf and many others but sets itself apart with the many contests and challenges it provides golfers.
The Contest and Challenge capabilities really drew my attention to Full Swing golf. With Showdown Golf (an add on but well worth it) you get in-game skill tests with unique scoring systems. Practice hitting targets, fairways, over hazards all while keeping track of your points. These games will give you an arcade feel while practicing and are unlike most practice sessions you will ever complete.
Here are 10 of the challenges you can participate in with this simulator:
Leagues and contests using these tests of skill would not only be fun but would really help your game.
*Space Needed and price
The Full Swing home golf simulator is the choice of many top professional but also comes with a large price tag. With its S2 model coming in at almost $20,000, it is the highest of the mid-range simulators out there. This price tag may push many average and beginning golfers out of the running as you can find more affordable golf simulators. Unlike the Trugolf Vista, this package requires a ton of space in your home (see comparison chart above for actual dimensions).
How to Improve With This Home Golf Simulator
If you are interested in improving your golf game then this simulator can help. It has interactive practice where you can move the ball anywhere on the course and it has many skill challenges with Showdown Golf. Nothing works on your skills better than to challenge yourself by keeping score that is why this simulator ranks as one of the best overall.
****DREAM HOME GOLF SIMULATOR****
HIGH DEFINITION GOLF
X-GOLF (The X-Plate and X-Balance)
****UP AND COMER****
Let me know if I missed any features or specs as I want to provide a valuable resource to the average golf. I have not played all the simulators but hope to as these in-home golf simulators get more affordable and popular.