Golf simulators help aspiring golfers to have a play or practice their favorite golf courses in the comfort of their own home, office, and other indoor spaces, when you could not play outside. It’s the coolest things ever made for golf lovers.
Imagine being inside of a giant 3D video game that helps you to shoot lower scores. It makes it easy and fun to play a quick 18 holes at the most famous courses in the world. (And you're only ever a few steps away from the 19th hole!)
Ready to learn about what you need to set up a golf simulator and take your game to the next level? Read on!
How to Setup an Indoor Golf Simulator
For those on a budget, a low-cost golf simulator setup could consist of just a popup net, an ipad, computer, and some sort of display (TV or monitor) next to your hitting area where you can view your shot after your swing. This might still work when there is limited space indoor and limited money in your bank account.
However, if you are looking to enhance your golf simulation experience and ready to invest a little more, using a projector screen helps to make the experience much more realistic. Due to recent advancements in technology and cost reductions, having a home golf simulator is now within reach for many golfers. You no longer have to hire a golf pro to help perfect your swing and shape your shots; instead use the data analysis provided by the golf simulator to improve your skills and abilities.
So convert your bedrooms, basements, and garages into your favorite golf field. This guide gives you the insight of various options to consider helping you choose for your dream golf simulator setup.
1. Room size - How Much Space Do You Need for an Indoor Golf Simulator ?
Whether it is Den, Office, Garage, Basement, you would need enough space for full swing, hitting net, and extra space between net and wall as you do not want to end up with a hole on the wall!
Here is the breakdown of golf simulator room dimensions
You would need to have enough room height to comfortably swing with your golf club without modifying your swing and contact with the ceiling. You might be comfortable in a space as short as 8 feet, or 9 to 10 feet depending on your height, club length and wingspan. To get an idea if you have enough height of the room available, practice few swings with your longest club in the room. You will know if you can easily take a full natural swing.
As a general rule, a minimum of 9-10’ of width room is recommended. Considering both left and right handed golfers and the swing area to the left/right of the tee position, there needs to be enough width room to swing without hitting a wall on either side. So while 12’ total is recommended, 15’ or more is ideal.
Not only you need to consider the distance from tee to the impact screen, but also enough space behind the screen - The minimum depth for the golf simulator room would ideally be 10-15’, and extra 1’-2’ between the impact screen and wall/hard surface. So this makes 15’ total.
Recommendations for Golf Simulator Projectors
In addition to having this overview of how to set up and choose a projector, we have listed some specific models as a kind of starter list. Below are the recommendations with key specs that can help you to select.
2. Heavier screen with archery net as backup for Golf Impact
Talking about the Projector Screen set up, choosing the screen quality is crucial for a great golf simulator experience. Impact screen bounce back can make you wary of getting hit and injured by the ball after the impact. To solve this problem, some golfers put memory foam mattress topper, blankets, or heavy curtains behind the screen to absorb impact and minimal bounce back.
A permanent solution? Get a heavy screen with Archery net. It’s designed to absorb the energy of the golf ball, allowing it to drop and gently return to the place. It’s a cost-effective solution available in a variety of sizes and this should minimize the uncontrolled Bounce back. 3. Impact screen enclosure – why do you need it?
Even when there is an impact screen, sometimes a mistimed or wrong shot can result in hitting the side walls too. Screen enclosures are helpful and important element for the indoor golf simulator. It is a protective frame or structure which holds the simulator screen in place, restricting it from crumpling or displacing. Additionally, there is a hitting net extension attached to the enclosure that secures your balls from going haywire and hitting the wall.
There are services available from commercial packages of Enclosure Kit that comes with all the tools/equipment if you are willing to pay more. Also there are various brands of different Screen enclosure available. If you are looking for economic way for your specific budget, how about building a gold simulator enclosure on your own? This Do-It-Yourself (DIY) for your own simulator enclosure is easy to set up with a few simple steps.
3a.Building your Own DIY Golf Simulator Enclosure
Let’s assume the measurement of 16′ x 9′ x 4′ (W x H x D) for golf simulator enclosure. Below are the 3 steps for this process.
Step 1 : Framing
Items you will need
- 1″ EMT (Electrical Metallic Tube) conduit - 10′ long pipes – 11 pcs
- Pipe cutter (or ask the store to cut the EMT poles for you)
- Connector fittings -
- Flat Roof Corner – 6 pcs
- Mitre L – 2 pcs
- Tubing Splicer– 3 pcs
- 6” Foam Pipe Insulation -18 pcs
Cut the pipe based on the measurement mentioned above with Pipe cutter, or you can ask the store to cut the EMT poles for you. Fit them loosely in the connectors first, so that you can adjust it later in case it bends and shapes differently. Once they are fixed in proper shape, tighten them down the connector screws.
To start off with the framing process, cut the pipes according to the measurements mentioned with help from the pipe cutter. Then fit them like the following diagram using proper connectors (shown in the picture). Keep it loosen at first, so that you can adjust it later if it bends and shapes differently than your expected size outcome. Once they are in proper shape, tighten down the connector screws.
Step 2 : Attaching the screen
- 32mm Tube Clips – 20 pcs(every 4 feet or so on the top and bottom of the screen)
- Tarp Clips - 12 pcs (every 2 feet or so on the sides of the screen)
- 6″ Ball Bungees – As needed(wrap around the side pipes and attach to the tarp clips)
Attach the screen to the frame made in previous step, ensuring proper tension of the screen without the wrinkles. If you have a screen with attaching holes pre-installed, then you might not need the clips. If you do not have such screen, you can use tarp clips to the sides of the screen with equal distribution on each side.
When the clips are tight enough to hold the screen in good tension attach the ball bungees with it then seal it to the frame.
Step 3: Covering the enclosure
You can use any netting/black cloth to cover the top and sides so you can block light. Wrap the cover over the frame and affix it to the pipes with 32mm Tube Clips listed earlier. Start from the outside bottom of one side using tube clips to secure it, then wrap it up the side, over the top, and down the other side. Make sure you have proper tension on the screen from all sides. Then find the gaps from where a ball can pass and cover them with the extra black cloth width you should have with your enclosure.
Voila! These are the steps for your own DIY net enclosure. This would add more protection for your room from damage and now you can be ease.
4. How to limit the ambient light in a golf simulator room?
Ambient lights such as ceiling lights, a lamp on your side, windows, or light spilling in from another room through the sides of your curtains will hit your screen within your viewing space that results in less saturated, dimmer, and difficult to see on the screen. Ways to avoid the ambient light are:
- Drawing curtains or blinds and shut off your lights.
- Using blackout drapes, dark/black walls, an ALR (Ambient Light Rejecting) screen specifically designed for UST(Ultra short throw) helps to combat the Ambient light.
- Last but not the least a bright projector helps. Brightness is measured in lumens. So minimum projector lumens are about 1500, which is Ok for dark rooms that have good surrounding screen blackout. Preferable is > 3000 and ideal > 6000 lumens.
5. Golf Launch Monitor
Launch Monitors are so cool as they give you the data to help you figure out your ball flight, launch angle make every practice more effective. Just like golf gadget, there are ton of choices of various Launch Monitor available that you can choose from - such as OptiShot 2, SkyTrak, Foresight Sports GC2 etc. They have their own features such as Ball accuracy, data, Price, Indoor/Outdoor use, some of them even comes with simulator software.
6. Golf Simulation software
Speaking of software -even if the Launch monitor you choose does not come with the simulator software, there are variety of options available for a surreal golf simulation experience. Each of them offer different features, game modes, compatibility and budget.
Popular Golf Simulator software are The Golf Club (TGC), E6 Connect, FSX BY Foresign Sports, OptiShot, WGT Golf and others. Each of them offers different features and game modes that you can compare them like :
- Driving Range
- 4K compatible graphics
- Peer-to-Peer Local Multiplayer
- Closes to the pin challenges
- Windows/Mac compatibility
- Extra games and skills challenges
- Multiple game play formats
- Design your own course
- Unique Mini games
- And more…
Keep in mind, for each of their simulation software, there are different hardware requirements. You might want to dig in the specific system requirements on their respective sites.
7. Computer system requirements for Golf simulator
Sometimes computer is overlooked for a key piece of Golf simulator set up. To play for your dream courses, you’ll need a PC with a reasonable modern processor and a standalone graphics card (GPU). This renders the visuals from golf ball movement to the flickering of individual blades of grass for high resolution at impressive frame rates. These are considered as minimum requirements. Being a gamer, you do not want a low quality and significant lag on screen, so exceeding the minimum requirements, most off-the-shelf budget PCs come with at least 8GB RAM and a dedicated graphics card with at least 2GB of RAM.
8. Golf Hitting mat
Do not forget about getting the right golf mat. There are various options available with the level of quality, durability, and performance. Look out for features like comfortable to hit off, not too grabby, not too firm, suitable for both right and left-handed golfers.
Place the mat in front of your net. Put it directly on concrete to keep you safe from sliding. Set it perfectly so that you can feel comfortable with your shots.
How to choose the right projector for your golf simulator
Want to find out which projector is the right one for your golf simulator? Below are key features to look for in your golf simulator projector.
1. Ceiling or floor mounted projector?
If it’s the first time you are looking for projector, you might be wondering as to which projector to go for – ceiling or mounted? There is no absolute good or bad decision for this. It depends on the screen size, room size and the projector itself. Both have their own advantages.
- Ideal option if floor mounting does not work out for lack of space
- Keeps the projector out of the way from chipping the ball
- Works for permanent setting
- Keeps the floor space cleared from Power cord and wiring
Floor mount projector
- If you wish to use the projector for other purposes like work, movies, backyard theater, it will be quick and easy access to it
- If you have low ceiling height, the floor one works
- If you are concerned about the security of your space and wish to take in along with your computer, launch monitor and projector, the floored one gives you the flexibility
- However, make sure you buy a shield to cover it to prevent damage.
Throw Ratio of a projector – Ultra short throw/Short throw vs Regular throw Projector
When you browse/shop for the projectors, you always come across the word ‘Throw ratio’ or ‘Projector throw’. So what is Throw Ratio of a Projector?
Before this, let’s talk about Throw distance. It’s the distance between the projector's lens and the projected image. And Throw Ratio is the relation between the throw distance and the image width. This tells us what image size we can project from a certain distance away.
Throw ratio = Throw distance / image width
So for a projector with a throw ratio of 2, it means for every 1 foot of image width, the projector is 2ft away from the screen. Projectors come in ultra-short, short, and standard-throw options. When deciding, you should make the size of the room, the placement of your projector and size of the screen into consideration. The key is to choose the projector with correct throw ratio that is linked to your room set up.
Ultra-short throw projectors may seem to work as they display high image with crisp quality. They have the throw ratio of less than 0.4. They need to be a little too close to the screen. You might hit the projector with the ball, which you would need protective case. And, it could obscure your view of screen from where you’re swinging.
Short throw projector ranges between 0.4:1 to 1:1. Perfect for golf simulator, gets you clear image as well. It eliminates your worries about your shadow showing up on your screen. It enables the projector to display a large image when mounted directly above, or slightly in front of the golf.
Longer throw ratio projectors also works only if you have larger room and if they are sufficiently elevated behind the golfer to avoid shadows. In some cases, this type of projector will likely need to be positioned too far from the screen unless it has a zoom lens. Overall short-throw projector appears to be the sweet spot.
What resolution do I need for my golf simulation projector?
Resolution is the number of pixels inside the image. The more pixels, the higher the image quality. Whereas Aspect ratio is the ratio of width and height of the image, basically the shape of the image on the screen. Below are the different aspect ratios and resolutions:
4:3 Aspect ratio
- Resolution: 800 x 600(SVGA), 1024 x 768 (XGA)
- Looks like square shaped image on screen
- Lowest cost option, suitable for simple data, charts, and video clips
16:10 Aspect ratio
- Resolution: 1280 x 800 (WXGA), 1920×1200 (WUXGA)
- Looks like rectangular image
- Crisper picture but more costly than XGA & SXGA
- Useful in some applications like business settings
16:9 Aspect ratio
- Resolution: 1920 x 1080p (standard HDTV)
- More rectangular image
- Most popular ones, this is the perfect resolution for your golf simulator projector
Also be aware of the native resolution of the projector when you are checking. Some of the lists “up to” in the resolutions field, which means the image will technically be displayed even in blurry and distorted state. So, make sure you check the native resolution which is what you need.
Projector Light Source technology – Lamp or Laser?
There is another option when it comes to selecting a Projector. Some uses traditional lamp, and others use laser technology. Lamp projectors can be cost effective, provides life span of 5000 hours for intermittent usage scenarios, suitable for use-case of couple of hours a week. This works best for smaller impact screen. The downside - there would be hassle of buying and installing replacement lamps. And, the high brightness lamps start losing their brightness after a few hundred hours. Once they reach 50% brightness, they need replacing. Though replacement lamps are becoming less expensive, there’s also labor involved to replace it.
On the other hand, Laser projector offer Higher brightness for a long run, 20,000-hour lamp life , can use for several hours in a week, and free of lamp maintenance. Though the cost of Laser are higher than Lamp ones, when you balance the figures with the electricity and maintenance savings, and other additional expenses of a laser projector over its lifetime, Laser ones make the benefits obvious. Keep in mind, you will likely need to clean the filter once in a while, regardless of which technology you choose.
How bright should my projector be?
Regardless of the light source of projector you use, brightness requirement are the same for any projector in ambient light. You would always come across with the word ‘Lumens’ when looking around for a Projector. Lumens are the measurement of brightness that a projector gives. It determines the brightness of the image your projector displays. If you have a brighter room, more lumens projector is needed. If you have dark rooms, lumens above 2000 would work, however it is recommended to get a projector with above 3000 Lumens for the best golf simulation experience.
Moreover, when you determine the Lumens output you need for the screen size, level of ambient light, and the environment that is going to be set up, this resource link will help to you how bright the projector needs to be.
I would also encourage you to check out the using projector calculator on site or call to speak to our rep to determine the best pick for you!
As most simulator launch monitor have HDMI connecting ports, projectors with several ports and connectors helps to connect to provide better quality visuals. So a projector with HDMI connectivity is a must for getting the simulation onto the screen.