You don’t always have time to get out to the links—and for those of us in colder climates, there’s a good part of the year it’s too cold to play, anyway. A golf simulator is a great way to practice your swing at home, and thanks to advancements in video technology, it’s a lot easier and more affordable than you might think.
If you’re thinking about setting up your own golf simulator, check out the tips below. The advice here will help you get swinging in no time.
1) Decide on your simulator first
There’s a huge amount of variation in price when it comes to golf simulators and a lot of that comes down to the simulator itself. You can get a hitting pad for as little as $300 if you’re willing to go with a more bare-bones model. The more accuracy and course options you want, the higher that price will go.
The style and performance of your simulator software and hardware is going to determine everything else about your build, from how much space you need to how many and what kind of display will work best. Getting the simulator first and building around it will save you time and frustration in the long run.
2) Don’t skimp on the display
Even if you’re making your simulator on a budget, it’s no good for you if you can’t track and see your shots. Using a projector rather than a standard flat-screen display is the most affordable way to get an immersive simulator experience.
You can get a projector with the size and quality you need in the $1,000-$1,500 price range. You can find cheaper options—these days you can get home theater projectors for just a couple hundred bucks. These models will be sorely lacking in brightness and resolution, though, and the screen lag can prove incredibly frustrating in an active application like a golf simulator.
Most projectors with a native 1080p resolution will also have the brightness and response time to function as a projector for a golf simulator, but you’ll find the ideal models by looking at projectors targeted at gamers. These will give you the overall performance you need.
3) Give yourself plenty of space
Most people only play golf outside where there’s plenty of room to take your swing. Sometimes, this can mean people don’t realize how much space their swing actually covers—at least not until they line up in front of the simulator and end up with a few broken lamps.
Remember that a golf swing is not simply a forward and backward motion. You definitely need to leave enough room in front of you and behind you, but also make sure the space has enough clearance on the ceiling to accommodate the top of your swing. You’ll need a space that gives you at least 15-foot clearance between you and the screen, with a 10-foot clearance behind and above. Take things installed on the ceiling into account, too, like ceiling lamps and light fixtures.
4) Plan for imperfect shots
Nobody gets a clean drive every time they step up to the tee. Don’t just install netting where the ball is supposed to go but also put up protection on any place the ball might go. If you don’t hit your shots straight they can bounce at angles you aren’t expecting—even shooting back at your head if you’re not careful.
As you’re setting up your space, don’t only put carpeting and netting ahead of you to catch the balls but also to the sides and behind you. This will prevent less than stellar shots from ricocheting off the walls and causing damage or injury.
The Joy of DIY
The bulk of your budget for a golf simulator will go to two areas: the screen and the simulation software itself. Everything else, from the structural aspects of the simulator to the carpeting and netting, can come fairly cheap. Keep this in mind when you’re first planning your project.
Building your own golf simulator is more work than buying one out of the box, but it doesn’t take a technical wizard—just a bit of time and ingenuity. And it’s definitely the most affordable way to go about it. A fully-functional, high-end simulator package can cost as much as $40,000. Taking the DIY route, you can build a system with similar functionality for around $3,000-$5,000, and while you can spend more to make it more sophisticated, you’ll still end up spending money with the DIY option.
Hopefully this article has inspired you to set up your own golf simulator! Don’t forget to let us know how it went in the comments. You’ll likely be surprised how easy it is to give yourself a way to practice your shot year-round.