How I Built A Golf Simulator For Under 5k
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Tyler Green |Publish date: September 17, 2020
TGC19 Driving Range-My indoor golf simulator
All real men have pondered what it would take to install an indoor golf simulator in the house.
What most of us don't realize is we can do it for under five Grand.
What if you could convince the wife to transform that third car garage or the rec room that the kids never use anymore into the ultimate man cave.
When I started doing research I thought there was no hope. I thought there was no way I could convince my wife. But eventually I put together a solid string of products that snuck in just under 5 grand and its been three years and a lot of swings. Heres how all the options below.
How To Build an Indoor Golf Simulator
Alright so one of the biggest questions I get asked is the following:
How much did it cost?
Can you send me everything you bought?
Im going to list everything with prices and links of where I purchased from below:
No particular order
I will give some other upgrade options as well for those of you with some bigger budgets. For me personally I was trying to create an accurate affordable simulator. I think I did a pretty good job.
One of the ways I convinced the wife was that I made sure it doubled as a home theatre.
It also lets me play Call of Duty like this .
Now in My opinion the order in which you purchase things really doesn't matter but it is important that you are very mindful of some room dimensions before you get started.
I can personally attest to this because I have had the simulator in rooms as small as 8'6" and as tall as 10 feet and it makes a huge difference.
Unfortunately the last thing you want to do is to squeeze your simulator into a room where you cant swing fully.
You dont need to be a PGA pro to know that it will not be good for your swing and to be honest it wont be fun .
So before you buy anything make sure you have a room that is at least 14 feet wide and 9 feet tall. Now this in my opinion the smallest you want to go. You will be offset from the middle of the screen at only 14 feet wide but it will do.
The picture above is a 14 feet wide screen with 9 foot ceilings. I am 5 foot 6 so these dimensions worked for me. I would recommend a minimum of 9 foot 6 ceilings for anyone who is not vertically challenged like myself.
The best test: Go into the area you want to put the golf simulator in and let it rip like John Daly.
This is the hardest part of building your indoor golf simulator if you are doing it yourself.
I will list some projector options BUT you must use this projector calculator and understand the throw ratio and your distance to screen before you purchase.
If you don't do this homework than your picture will look awful no matter how much you spend.
As soon as you understand what space your golf simulator is going in you will need to decide where you can hang your projector. Luckily technology is advanced enough where you can hang it anywhere from 4 feet from the screen back to 15 feet or further depending on your screen size.
Unfortunately, I don't have the time nor the patience to explain throw ratio and give 100 different examples but Im confident that the calculator will get you the answers you need. Just take one of these models below, plug it into the calculator and make sure it can give you the screen size you desire.
Top Projector Choices:
1. BenQ TH671ST 1080p Short Throw Gaming Projector ( this is my personal one)
4. BenQ TK850
Dont Forget Your ceiling mounts
This mount should work for most. If not just search amazon and you should find a relatively cheap one for your projector .
These are my top four from my research that I believe would be good fits for any indoor golf simulator. Now obviously I have only tried one and I am extremely happy. I am going on three years with the same bulb and absolutely no issues. For a $700 price point I don't think you can beat that value. If you have an unlimited budget you may want to bump up to a commercial grade projector.
We also watch football games and movies and people are always amazed at the picture quality, there is no lag and as long as the lighting is correct the picture looks amazing.
In my opinion and research, I would not go cheap on the projector. Image quality is going to be key for a good clean look when your all finished.
This is BY FAR the most asked question when people are building a sim setup. Let me tell you a couple of things here.
YOUR MAT MATTERS.
You must have a good mat, not having a good mat can cause inaccurate readings, hurt your body, and create bad habits. I can say this from experience as I tried to go with two cheap mats before finally biting the bullet. The difference was so big I was actually mad at myself for not doing it earlier.
With that being said here is a list of my top 3 and a little description of each. Do not go cheap here.
Fiberbuilt is one of the biggest names when it comes to hitting mats.
1. Very Forgiving
2. Easy on the Joints
3. Replacable Hitting strip
1. Some models are pricey
2. Very heavy
I personally went with the one with the black base because it is able to break down and is was only $270!
Country Club elite is also a great choice. They don't have a budget option like fiberbuilt but there mats are top notch.
1. Outdoor Rated
2. Able to use a golf tee
3. Easier to move
1. As you can see the turf is dense which leads to higher injury
2. Can move on you if you don't have the proper flooring or anti slid material in place.
Now to be honest this is one of the easier pieces so I wont spend to much time here. Here is what you need to know.
Your launch monitor that measures the data from the ball and/or your swing will push that data into a software program. That program will have minimum requirements needed from your pc. Usually any old pc will not cut it.
The processing power and the Graphics card are the two main things to look for. I will place links to the minimum requirements below when we review software.
Here are some PCs that will work for any and all golf simulator software. Please make sure to double your minimum requirements. Desktop or laptop doesn't matter. I personally chose a laptop so I could use it when I was not playing. If you have the budget to dedicate a desktop to, I would recommended that.
Top Computer Choices:
1. ASUS TUF FX505DT Gaming Laptop ( best value)
When it comes to the actual luanch monitor itself everyone pretty much agrees on the pros and cons of each launch monitor. The launch monitor stays very true to the moto "you get what you pay for".
I personally have hit on almost every single one and can attest to that is a very true statement. Now what I would say for someone who is a hobby golfer and not a professional the lower end launch monitors are great.
They are very accurate comparitvely speaking and much easier on the pocket book.
Now without going too much in depth on each one I can tell here is the biggest differences between a high-end launch monitor and a more cost effective launch monitor.
The higher end launch monitor meausers more data and has less misreads. It's that simple, if you want to see where and how far your ball goes then skytrak and mevo+ are great fits. If you want to see every data point available on your swing then Uneekor, GC2, or the beloved Trackman is what you desire.
SkyTrak was my personal choice for a launch monitor and I still do believe it is the best bang for your buck.
At a price point of $1799 you really do get a great machine. This thing is accurate, durable, easy to move and lots of fun.
With that being said there are some cons to this lower price point.
In my opinion the biggest con was the misreads. Skytrak struggles if the lighting is not perfect, especially when it comes to putting. This can be very frustrating when playing online or with some buddies in the basement.
To give you an idea, in a typical round I would usually have 2-4 misreads. Thats obviously not the end of the world but it is worth mentioning.
Here is the Skytrak driving range view. Also there is a poorly hit hybrid shot.
Mevo+ is one of the few monitors I have not hit off of. It is a new release and is a radar monitor. This simply means it measure ball data differently. Where as the skytrak sits very close to the ball and takes high-speed pictures, the mevo plus sits back behind the hitting station and measures flight and ball data differently.
I have heard and seen good things. At a similar price point here are a couple things to note.
The Mevo+ does require more room. As you can see in the picture above that my skytrak is able to sit right next to the hitting area. The mevo+ needs to sit behind your hitting mat as well as you must maintain a certain distance from mat to screen so it has ample time to read ball data.
As far as accuracy and ease of use I have seen very similar readings to most monitors. I know it did struggle detecting side spin in one study that I saw but most of the software and reading issues will be fixed with software updates as the mevo gets better and better.
If I had unlimited funds this would be my choice of launch Monitor. Coming in at 6 grand this still is an amazing value for what you are getting. The biggest reason I love Uneekor is because it is an overhead launch monitor.
That means nothing is sitting on your floor, it mounts to the ceiling above you and it looks beautiful. Not to mention its accurate as hell.
It has tons of cool bells and whistles for 6 grand. Some people may call me crazy but I think I would take this over a trackman just because it can be mounted overhead and from what I have seen the data is just as good.
3D Driving Range
Two High speed cameras
Club Fitting data
Comes with Ignite software
If you have a 10-15 grand budget or more I would definitely make this my priority.
Now This part sometimes confuses people so I feel like I need to take a second to explain. The expensive launch monitors above do come with driving ranges to hit around on but that's it. So if you truly want to play a round of indoor golf you are going to need separate software that runs that fancy PC you bought.
These are the minimum requirements I was talking about. Let me give you an example. Skytrak for instance will run on an Ipad. That means right out of the box I can hook up a Skytrak up to an Ipad and hit golf balls with real data.
What I cant do is play a round a golf. I will need a bigger and badder computer and I will need different software. Here are the top choices below.
This is by far my favorite for an indoor golf simulator. It will work with any launch monitor.
It's available for a one time purchase of $899 and it looks amazing. The graphics are stunning, the gameplay is smooth and as realistic as one can get in 2020.
You can play online, or you can play multiple player when buddies come over. You have hundreds of courses at your disposal for free and you can even build your own if you want.
Also, a huge perk to the new version of TGC19 is being able to select which tees you hit from. This is huge when you play with someone of different skill level than you
I personally have TGC19 and can strongly recommend it.
TGC19 Driving Range View
Now if you have ever hit on a simulator at a store or in a bar than you have probably seen E6. This is one of the most well known software out there. I definitely am not a huge fan now that TGC19 came out but before that this was by far the best choice.
It has all the same features as TGC19 but in my opinion, there are a couple places where TGC19 takes the cakes. I don't think its as realistic, hitting trees, hitting out of sand, etc. I also think TGC19 has better graphics overall. And Lastly for the $2500 package you only get 25 courses.
Now don't get me wrong E6 is a great platform, its tested, tried, and true. So If you like some of the features better than by all means you should not hesitate. But for what its worth I saved $1600 and I still feel like I got the better product.
Impact screens are a neccessary evil. No matter how much you want to just throw up a white sheet and let it ride, it just wont work.
A good think impact screen will make the room come together as well help deaden noise.
Pro Tip: Buy a package of these moving blankets and hang them behind your impact screen to deaden noise and the ball from bouncing.
I would check out two places for Impact Screens.
Lastly dont forget all your small items. Here is a list of things that I used. You may need more you may need less but this should get you thinking.
1. HDMI cables
2. HDMI Splitter ( if you have a surround sound system)
3. Indoor Birdie Tees
4. Alignment sticks
5. Clean Golf Balls- Any dirt that's on your club or ball with stay on the impact screen. Make sure everything is clean. I learned this the hard way.
I hope this helps you get a grasp on what it takes to build an indoor golf simulator. Almost all these items I went with the value purchase and I stayed right at 5 Grand.
I personally am very happy with my setup and I believe most recreational golfers would be as well. If I had unlimited funds then yes I would have splurged on some of the items above and if you that's you then I would encourage you to!
Also I will leave you with this, If this all seems way to complicated and to much work then I would strongly recommend you buying a pre package simulator from Rain or Shine Golf.
They have tons of pre built setups that are turn key and can save you from piecing this all together yourself.
Here is their rebuild simulator page: Rain or Shine Golf
Don't Forget Fiverr is a great place to outsource tasks that either you hate doing or that you just aren't good at.
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