Smart Buys: How To Prioritize and Finance Your Golf Simulator

So, you've caught the golf bug and are itching to bring the game home. With a bit of extra cash and a vision of your very own golf haven, you're ready to dip your toes into the world of golf simulators.

But where to start? There are different ways to go about this: you can start slow and buy just the necessary golf simulator equipment to get in some indoor swings, or you could go bigger and get your dream setup, but pay it off slowly by financing your golf simulator.

Fear not, fellow golfer, for we're here to help you prioritize what is most important in your golf simulator setup.

Note: Before embarking on this journey, make sure you have enough space to safely swing

Teeing Off: Golf Simulator Necessities

Well, a golf simulator is made up of many different pieces - many of which are a necessity, while others might be considered extra.

Let's begin with the essentials, the must-haves, the can’t-do-withouts, to turn your space into a golfing oasis. All of the following are of equal importance: 

  • Golf Clubs and Balls: Just like on the course, you'll need your trusty clubs and a stash of balls to get swinging. (Make sure to use clean clubs and golf balls though to keep your setup looking great.)

  • Hitting Mat: You’re not going to want to replace that outdoor fairway hitting surface with your shag carpet or cement garage floor, so you’ll definitely need a hitting mat.

  • Net or Impact Screen/Enclosure: Safety first! If you swing your golf club and hit a ball from your hitting mat, you won’t want that golf ball hitting your drywall, a window or violently bouncing around in your garage/basement, so you’ll need something to catch it. The most budget friendly option would be a net, which is where a lot of people start. However, if you’re thinking about the future at all and how you’re going to want to add on to your golf simulator to make it as realistic as possible, you might think about swapping out that net for one of Carl’s enclosures and impact screens to catch your balls.

  • Launch Monitor: The brains behind the operation, a launch monitor provides invaluable data for honing your swing and tracking your progress. Sure, you could get swings in without it, but how do you know if you’re actually improving or getting worse? 

    Buying a launch monitor is a huge decision for many reasons, two of them being: budget and what you want to get out of it. You can find very budget friendly, entry level launch monitors under $1,000, or you can invest up to $20,000 into your launch monitor; it all depends on what you’re looking to get out of it.

    That said, many people will start at the entry level and upgrade over time as more funds become available. Most launch monitors will require you to have a mobile device or PC to see the actual data provided on their basic driving range software, but some, such as the Uneekor EYE MINI or the Foresight GC3 and GCQuad, have built-in screens on top of the unit that provide the data right there. 

With these essentials in place, you're ready to take your first swings without fear of wreaking havoc on your budget … or your surroundings.

Navigating the Fairway: Golf Simulator Enhancements

Once you've mastered the basics, it's time to elevate your setup with these enhancements:

  • Projector: You won’t have that realistic golf simulator experience without projecting an image onto your screen. It’s not a necessity, but man is it nice to project the golf course on the screen so that when you hit your shot, the ball takes off on the screen in front of you as it would in real life! They do vary in price, and you typically get what you pay for; however, entry level projectors can certainly do the job.
  • Third-party software: Expand your horizons by accessing a vast array of virtual courses with third-party software designed for realistic gameplay. Most launch monitors come with their own driving range software. Some also come with some course play options, but if you want to play some of the most popular, graphically intense courses, you’ll want to invest in a third-party software.
  • High-powered computer: Maximize your gaming experience with a powerful PC capable of handling graphically intense simulations. You can run some third-party software off of a mobile device or tablet, but the most popular ones work best with a high-powered PC. Each software will have recommendations on what the specs for that high powered PC should be.
  • Safety baffles and net wall extensions: For added peace of mind, consider installing safety baffles and net wall extensions to contain any errant shots within your designated golfing space.
  • Turf or soft flooring: Enhance comfort and realism by installing turf or soft flooring beneath your hitting area, minimizing bouncing balls and maximizing your enjoyment.

With these enhancements, you'll feel like you just flushed a 7 iron onto the green. 

Beyond the Green: Golf Simulator Extras

Now, for the cherries on top, the extras that take your simulator from great to exceptional. There are so many options here to add to your golf simulator setup, but none of them are necessary to get your simulator up and running.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t useful or practical! I mean, just look at Carl’s Swing Cameras and club holders. The swing cameras can help you improve your game faster than you ever thought, while the club holders help keep your space organized so you don’t trip over that club you just tossed to the side.

Oh yeah, those neon lights around your enclosure and other ambiance-enhancing decor … definitely not a necessity, but wow, super cool!

Note From The Author

I am a mid-30s father of two young children with little to no extra money to spend on a golf simulator. However, I love the game of golf and not only want to be able to play more often and conveniently at home, but also teach my kids how to play as they grow up.

Oh yeah, I’d also like to use my golf simulator for other reasons, such as watch sports or movies, let the kids play other games, and so on. This type of content is very relatable to me, and since I work in the golf simulator industry, I figured I’d give my opinion because it might actually be valuable!

So, here is how I would start out my home golf simulator build:

  • Clubs and balls: already have them … however, the clubs are getting old and the balls are often lost on the course. Might need a restock on both of these soon!
  • Hitting Mat: I definitely don’t want to skimp on my mat as that may cause some joint pain, which might lead to spending more money on medical bills than I anticipated. So, I would look for the best value mat - one that is decent quality and won’t kill my joints. Of course I’m a bit biased, but I do love Carl’s HotShot Mat. But others, such as the Country Club Elite or some of the Fiberbuilt options would work too.
  • Net or Impact Screen/Enclosure: I would not totally be against using a net with a TV as the monitor here, but then I wouldn’t get the benefit of watching sports or movies on a large screen. So I think I’d bite the bullet and do the upgrade to the impact screen and enclosure right away. But that also means I’d have to get a projector to take full advantage of having an impact screen.
  • Projector: For the projector, I’m not a huge snob when it comes to 4K vs. 1080p HD. I’d look for a more entry level 1080p option, such as the BenQ LH600ST. Or, I’ve also thought about trying to find a used one for sale, or even testing out a cheapo Amazon projector to see if I could get it to work. Not so confident in that, though.
  • Launch Monitor: Personally, I think the entry level launch monitors we offer at Carl’s Place are pretty solid for the price. I’d go with the Rapsodo MLM2PRO, though, as it offers more features, such as swing and impact replays. Only issue is that you have to pay for a subscription after the first year, but I’ll just cross that bridge when it comes, hopefully with more money in my pocket.
  • Software: The best value software on the market at the moment is GSPro. Great price for great courses and graphics. As of the writing of this piece, Rapsodo and GSPro do not officially work together, but there is typically a back door way to get them connected. And hopefully they will be officially integrated in the future. 

I’d follow the path of starting near the entry level, and then upgrading different pieces throughout the years.

The best part is that Carl offers a buy now, pay later plan with interest-free payments for your golf simulator! With some larger purchases in there, such as the launch monitor and projector, that is the route I would want to take.

In conclusion, whether you're starting small or dreaming big, prioritizing your golf simulator purchases is all about creating a space that suits your needs, budget, and ambitions. So, tee up, swing away, and let the journey to your ultimate golf sanctuary begin!