Best golf simulators: The best performing golf simulators for every budget
When it comes to finding the best golf products, every golfer needs a little guidance. Don’t sweat it, we got you covered! For our new Best of Everything series, we’ve canvassed the golf accessories, apparel and game-improvement space to identify the very best stuff for your game. Think of us as your personal shopping assistant.
BEST GOLF SIMULATORS
We are living in a Golden Age of golf simulators, sophisticated setups that let you turn your room of choice into a high-tech practice range.
Den. Office. Garage. Basement.
“No matter if you you’re trying to break 100 or win your next major, you’re getting the same technology and feedback,” says Jason Fierro, senior vice president of sales and marketing for leading simulator maker, Full Swing. “The goal is to give you the most accurate and realistic experience, so that you can play the game your way, whenever you want.”
Originally devised as a form of entertainment, golf simulators have evolved over the decades into refined tools for game improvement, their transformation pushed by technological advancements and the golf world’s growing demand for data. Though today’s simulators still allow for gaming (how about a virtual round on a digital rendition of your favorite layout?), their strongest selling point is their shot-tracking power. Launch angle. Spin rate. Club path. Carry. Name your favorite specs. They’re all tracked faithfully and furnished instantly.
In recent years, surging consumer interest has given rise to an increasingly competitive simulator market and a wide variety of products, and dizzying assortment of optional add-ons. Choosing the simulator that’s right for you is apt to boil down largely to your budget (prices start as low as $3,000 for the barest bones of home simulators and range as high as $125,000). Other factors to consider are ancillary features (how many virtual courses do you want in your archives? are you interested in simulated versions of other sports?), as well as the simulator’s footprint and the space you have for it in your office or your home.
To help narrow down your search, here’s a list of five leading players in the simulator market, along with a fly-by look at what they offer.
Every simulator in the company’s collection gathers shot data within one-and-a-half feet of impact, which makes them customizable to almost any space. If you’ve got room to swing a club, you’ve got room for a Foresight.
Best Foresight Sports simulator for value
Includes a camera-based GC2 launch monitor, a gaming platform with 15 virtual courses and a portable hitting area that you can that you can install almost anywhere, then pack it back into the box in which it came.
Best Foresight Sports simulator for all-around performance
GCHawk Overhead Launch Monitor
The refined launch monitor in the GCHawk has four built-in cameras, each of which tracks ball flight different perspective. In this configuration, it is mounted overhead, allowing for greater flexibility in simulator design and game-play.
Jordan Spieth, Brandt Snedeker and Jason Day rank among the Tour pros who’ve installed a Full Swing in their homes. A large part of the allure is the company’s dual tracking system, highlighted by infrared sensors that capture ball speed, launch angle and direction at the speed of light.
Best Full Swing simulator for value
Sports Series Simulator
Optimized for smaller spaces, with a dual camera tracking system, and a metal and fabric enclosure.
Best Full Swing simulator for all-around performance
Pro Series Widescreen
One of the major upgrades here is the infrared tracking system, which provides a true representation of your ball’s actual flight, as opposed to a projection based on software calculations. The fully tricked-out option includes an upgraded projector, Lasershot software with three radar guns; Showdown Golf Software; and Swing Catalyst Swing Analysis with three cameras.
Up to $121,000
A pioneering name in launch monitors, the company is also in the simulator game. Its reputation for reliable data is such that more than 800 Tour pros have purchased a TrackMan.
Best Trackman simulator for value
Golf simulators have three main components: a launch monitor to gather data; virtual courses and practice grounds; and a physical enclosure, surrounding a projector and a screen. The budget-friendly TrackMan 3e is a refurbished, available as stand-alone item; you can set up your own enclosure around it.
$11,995 for indoor only / $13,995 for indoor/outdoor
Best Trackman simulator for all-around performance
TrackMan 4 Indoor with FlexCage I or FlexCage II
Along with the TrackMan 4 Indoor launch monitor, both offerings include an aluminum-and-elastic-fabric enclosure, a projector, a touchscreen monitor and durable, true-to-real-grass turf.
One of the company’s calling cards is the flexibility of its designs, which are available in range of sizes, ringed by a soft enclosure or a customized hardball. “At this point, we feel like we’ve got that data part pretty much dialed in,” says aboutGolf CEO Randall Henry. “We’re really focused on continuing to fine-tune the user experience.”
Best aboutGolf simulator for value
Classic and Widescreen
Like all of aboutGolf simulators, these entry level models come a three-camera tracking system and an archive of the distinction between them is the size of the screen.
Best AboutGolf simulator for all-around performance
Curve Screen Simulator
Along with a curved screen for an immersive experience, aboutGolf’s blowout option includes such added features as video swing recording and aG Balance pro, an under-the-turf system that measures weight shift in your feet throughout your swing.
High Definition Golf
“I’ve played most of these courses in real life, and both the realism and accuracy are amazing.” That was ’92 Masters champion Fred Couples, referring to the visual courses in the HD Golf simulator that he recently acquired for his home. For everyday golfers, the three-camera tracking system might also be of interest, to say nothing of the video swing analysis function.
Best High Definition simulator for value
Model 4:3 Flatscreen
This standard version of the entry model comes with a 10-by-13-foot flatscreen, nylon turf and a computer-vision tracking system that measures launch angle, ball and club speed, club-face angle and swing path.
Best High Definition simulator for all-around performance
The Grand Champ
Features such as virtual courses, practice facilities and gaming competitions are included in every HD Golf simulator. But the bigger your budget, the more of these bells and whistles you can afford to add.
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