Are Golf Simulators Worth the Investment?

Guest article written by Alex, from mygolfsimulator.com

What are the benefits of a Golf Simulator?

Golf simulators allow you to play an incredible amount of golf, so much more than if you only have the opportunity to get to the course once a week. You can play early in the morning, late at night or even in the early hours if you want to. 

You get to play simulated golf at some of the best golf courses all over the world, from the comfort of your own home. You can also play these amazing courses against your friends or in competitive leagues. 

Golf simulators also allow the golfer extended time and opportunities to practice and improve. You can hone in on almost any part of your game and even watch your swing in slow motion on camera. 

With all these amazing golfing features afforded to happy owners of golf simulators across the world, you’ve surely wondered whether it’s worth the big investment. Have you ever considered how much money you could actually start saving on your golf by pulling the trigger on a home simulator setup?

How much does a Golf Simulator Cost?

Golf simulators are expensive and a large investment for almost any golfer. To achieve a setup worthy of showing off on Pinterest, you’re going to be spending several thousand dollars. However, golf simulators come in many shapes and sizes. There are simulator setups to fit a wide variety of budgets. 

A modest golf simulator setup featuring a Skytrak launch monitor, Carl’s Preferred Impact Screen, Optoma GT1080 projector, Fairway Series Golf Mat and a Carl’s DIY metal frame enclosure will set you back just over $5,000. 

Note that the components mentioned below are priced new, you may be able to pick up second hand projectors and other parts. On the other hand there will be other smaller costs associated with your setup such as lighting and heating as we describe below. 

SkyTrak Launch Monitor $2,000
Carl’s DIY Golf Enclosure + Preferred Impact Screen 13 ft x 7.7ft $899
Optoma GT1080 HDR Projector $735
Fairway Series Golf Mat $499
TGC 2019 Software $950
Total $5,083
Carl’s DIY Golf Enclosure + Preferred Impact Screen 13ft x 7.7ft
Carl’s DIY Golf Enclosure + Preferred Impact Screen 13ft x 7.7ft

A more premium golf simulator setup featuring a Uneekor EYE XO launch monitor, Carl’s Premium Impact Screen and Pro Golf Enclosure, with an Optoma EH412ST projector will cost around $18,500

Uneekor EYE XO + Mount with View Software $10,000
Carl’s Pro Golf Enclosure + Impact Screen
15.5ft x 9.5ft with Safety Baffles
$5,594
Optoma EH412ST Projector $1,029
Truestrike Academy Mat $1,018
TGC 2019 Software $950
Total $18,591
Carl’s Pro Golf Enclosure + Impact Screen
15.5ft x 9.5ft with Safety Baffles

You can of course build golf simulators cheaper and more expensive than these examples, some of the ultra-high-end simulators can stretch into many tens of thousands of dollars. 

The setups above assume the golfer already owns a PC with capability to run the software. If you need to add a computer to fit your setup then you can pick one up for around $800. You’ll need one with a graphics card capable of running your chosen software. The GPU is the most important piece. 

There are several hidden costs associated with building a home golf simulator, as well as the costs of finishing touches to make the space your own. Check out this article over at mygolfsimulator.com where we discuss all the costs, hidden costs and ways of saving money in a golf simulator build

Golf Simulator Cost Calculator

How many rounds can you play in a home golf simulator?

The costs of a golf simulator when totted up in total can seem scary. However, this cost needs to be weighed against all the extra rounds of golf you’re going to be able to play with your new simulator. 

As an example, here in the UK, golf courses have been shut for many months due to the pandemic. I don’t think I’d have been able to swing a club at all between November and April if I did not have my simulator. I’ve played over a hundred rounds of golf in this time and practiced even more. I’ll be ready and practiced for the new season when my club finally opens, and my friends won’t. I can’t wait!

You can play a quick 18 holes in a golf simulator in around an hour if you’re on your own. A warm up, practice session and 18 holes can therefore be done in 90 minutes or maybe two hours if you take your time and practice your putting stroke too. This means many golfers could play every single day, or whenever they have 1-2 hours to spare. 

You can also hit balls for ten minutes whenever you can only squeeze in a little bit of time, and because your simulator is at home there is no commuting time.

There is really no limit from an equipment perspective on how often you play golf in your simulator. There will come a point when your hitting mat and your impact screen come towards the end of their life, which means buying high quality items in these categories is important. 

Getting the most life from your Impact Screen

I therefore recommend the Premium Impact Screen from Carl’s for this reason. Carl’s Premium Impact screen is rated to last through at least 15,000 shots, which is excellent in comparison to other screens on the market.  I recommend the following tips to improve the life of your impact screen:

When you install your impact screen, try and maintain an equal amount of tension on each side of the screen, and avoid significantly raised tension on any one fixing point. Carl’s impact screens come with the option of grommets attached to all sides of the screen with which you can use adjustable bungees and zip ties to achieve the optimal tension in the screen. This will ensure the energy of the golf ball’s impact is distributed evenly throughout the screen every time.

Carl’s Premium Golf Impact screen

Avoid using golf balls with dirt or sharpie marks on them, as these can rub off onto your screen with impact and lead to discoloration. You’ll then have to clean the screen. 

You should also pay attention to the quality of the golf balls you use in your simulator. I recommend using new or near-new balls and changing them up every so often, as once golf ball covers become scuffed with repeated use, the imperfect golf ball surface will damage the screen on impact. Golf balls that are higher spinning, with softer covers will scuff more easily. 

You have the option of turning the screen round in the vertical axis to get a little extra life from it. You can’t switch it back to front.

Check out this dedicated article all about maximizing the life of an impact screen

How can you save money with a golf simulator?

Do you know how much it costs to play golf at Pebble Beach? Although the links on the California coast is a public golf course, it’s expensive to play. 18 holes there will set you back $575 in 2021 and that’s before you factor in the costs of a cart, caddie, caddie tip, food, drink and travel. You can see this getting pretty expensive for a four ball can’t you?

Every time you play a new premium golf course at home on your simulator, you’re saving money on the green fee that you’d have paid had you travelled there. 

Now say we’re not comparing a home golf simulator to Pebble Beach but to the average American visitor’s green fee. Research from the National Golf Foundation shows that the average green fee for one round of golf in the United States in 2020 was $61. Then you have to factor in travel and amenity (food, drink and accommodation) costs. 

Sure, it would be cheaper to buy a membership to one golf club and play there every weekend, though you wouldn’t get the variety and new challenges that come with playing so many different golf courses in your home simulator. 

Now, imagine you play 18 holes in your home golf simulator just four times a week. That’s 208 rounds a year. As each round only takes 60-90 minutes this is easily doable. You are likely to improve your handicap dramatically playing so often too. 

$5 x 10 every week for a year4 Rounds per Week in your home golf simulator $61 per round x 208 rounds /year $12,688 saved in green fees
6 Rounds per Week in your home golf simulator $61 per round x 312 rounds/year $19,032 saved in green fees
10 x 50 ball practice sessions per week $5 x 10 every other week/year $2600 per year in practice / driving range balls

Weighing the Costs of a Golf Simulator vs. the Benefits

For the cost of 83 average green fees, you could buy your own amazing home golf simulator that will last you many years and allow you to hit the golf ball tens or hundreds of thousands of times from the comfort of your own home. 

These 83 average green fees (or less than 9 rounds at Pebble Beach) will buy the Skytrak package with Carl’s DIY enclosure we described at the top of this post. 

You could pick up the Uneekor package we described earlier, featuring the Carl’s Pro Enclosure and Premium Impact Screen for the cost of 304 average green fees. You could easily play 304 rounds of simulator golf in a year if you practice often. The same Uneekor package costs the same as just 32 rounds at Pebble Beach. 

Of course, you’ll have to have enough space at home to build your dream simulator. Check out this post all about the length, width and height requirements of a golf simulator room, over at mygolfsimulator.com.

Golf Simulator Room Requirements

Weigh the other Benefits of a Golf Simulator

The benefits of a home golf simulator stretch far beyond the added ability to play 18 hole courses though. You can benefit from:

  • Numerous practice modes and skills challenges, dialling in your distances, practicing shot shaping, honing your short game and even working on your putting. 
  • You can work on playing golf in strong winds, while in a comfortable home environment
  • Competitive simulator golf is rapidly growing in popularity, you can join leagues across the world and take on other golfers on the world’s best courses
  • Your golf simulator can be a place to relax, unwind, watch sports, movies or play games
  • There is the opportunity to record your swing and improve, you could even send the video to your coach. 
  • You can introduce your kids to the sport whilst keeping everything fun
  • You can get some practice in before actually arriving at the golf course for a real round. 

The single most important benefit of a golf simulator is that you will play more golf. You will play significantly more in the winter and you’ll start the season ready for your club competitions. 

Sure, a golf simulator is a significant investment in your golf game at the start, but it is a highly valuable asset that will keep getting cheaper over time as your golf game improves. That’s why I believe golf simulators are absolutely worth the initial upfront cost!

Remember, for the cost of 83 average American green fees, or just 8 rounds at Pebble Beach, you can build an amazing home golf simulator featuring a quality enclosure and fantastic impact screen from Carl’s Place.

About the Author | Alex

mygolfsimulator.com

Alex has written extensively about golf simulators and how to achieve the best home golf simulator possible. He plays to a 5 handicap in the UK and his first hole in one came with a slam dunk 8 iron. Check out his blog for additional golf simulator questions and resources.