We all know that one friend with the golf simulation setup in his garage. He has the screen, turf mat, and gets to spend his evenings and rainy days playing famous courses and improving his game. It’s hard not to be jealous, golf simulators rock.
Yet what most golfers don’t realize is that these setups can be shockingly affordable and easy to set up. The problem is there are a lot of different golf simulation products out there, price ranges from the hundreds to the hundred-thousands, and there are enough variables to make you slam your laptop shut and just head to the driving range.
Well lucky for you, golf is my passion and simulators are my expertise. In this golf simulator review I’m going to review what I believe are the top 5 home golf simulators for the money and give you some recommendations of suggested complete best golf simulator setups for each simulator. If you want to start off with a better basic understanding of golf simulators, I highly recommend you checkout my home golf simulator 101 article. Please feel free to shoot me an email or leave a comment below!
Our Best Indoor Golf Simulators in 2021
- Mevo Plus (Best Overall)
"This brand new golf simulator proves just how incredible the latest technology has become. With simulation and gaming capabilities already integrated, the Mevo+ is not only budget-friendly but ready to go straight out of the box."
- Skytrak (Best Reputation)
- OptiShot 2 (Best on a Budget)
- Foresight GC2 (Best Upgrade Pick)
- TruGolf Vista (Best All-Inclusive Bundle)
- Our Best Indoor Golf Simulators in 2021
- Best Golf Simulator
- Top Five Finishing Touches for your golf simulator room
- Frequently Asked Questions FAQ
- The basic components of a golf simulator setup
Best Golf Simulator
FlightScope Mevo Plus
Recently released in January 2020, the FlightScope Mevo Plus is sure to disrupt the golf simulator industry. The makers at FlightScope realized that as technology improves and production costs go down, there was an opportunity to create an ultra-accurate simulator with incredible golf simulation capabilities at just a fraction of the price golfers expect to pay for a similar product.
I believe it is only a matter of time before the FlightScope Mevo Plus dethrones the reigning golf simulator of the same price point - the SkyTrak.
One of the main distinguishing factors between the FlightScope Mevo+ and its predecessor, the Mevo, is that the Mevo Plus has incredible golf simulation capabilities in addition to being an incredible launch monitor. A purchase of the Mevo+ includes the industry-leading E6 golf simulation software. This includes 5 simulated golf courses (Stone Canyon, Sanctuary, Wade Hampton, Aviara, and the Belfry), 17 different practice ranges, different skills challenges, and a darts mini golf game. If that isn’t enough to keep you entertained, I don’t know what is.
The FlightScope Mevo Plus launch monitor uses 3D doppler radar technology to instantly measure the following 16 club and ball parameters: Carry Distance, Clubhead Speed, Ball Speed, Smash Factor, Spin Rate, Angle of Attack, Spin Axis, Spin Loft, Horizontal Launch Angle, Vertical Launch Angle, Lateral Landing, Total Distance, Roll Distance, Apex Height, Flight Time, and Shot Shape.
The Mevo+ simulator can be used indoors and outdoors. It is set behind the golfer, and therefore can be used by a right or left handed player without needing to move it from one side to the other. Being a radar-based launch monitor, it does require more space than photometric devices listed below, usually about 7 feet behind the golfer is sufficient, 8 ft if you have a higher swing speed.
If you want to read more about the Mevo Plus, including some impressive accuracy stats when paired up against the $14,000 GCQuad launch monitor and simulator, check out my full review here.
FlightScope Mevo+ Simulator Package
Best Complete Indoor Golf Simulator Setup using the FlightScope Mevo Plus
FlightScope Mevo+ Compact Golf Simulator Package - This set includes everything you need, including the Mevo+ itself, to be ready for endless indoor golf simulation. Each component was hand selected for quality and durability to ensure your setup will provide long-term entertainment. With the Mevo+ launch monitor and simulator as the basis of this package you'll be sure to have a blast. Get ready to look forward to rainy days!
The SkyTrak golf simulator is the reigning champion of the $2k price range, and for good reason. Its hardware provides ultra-accurate readings that allow its software to produce an incredibly realistic golf simulation experience. It’s no surprise that this simulator is found in so many happy golfer’s homes across the country.
If you’re reading about golf simulators, there is sure to be one brand name that is included in every review, and that is the SkyTrak launch monitor and golf simulator.
Case in point, Golf Digest, awarded the SkyTrak launch monitor “Best Value Golf Simulator” in 2017, 2018, 2019, and now 2020. Needless to say, the SkyTrak launch monitor and golf simulator has a solid reputation for accuracy, fun, and ease of use.
The SkyTrak launch monitor uses photometric technology to measure data, meaning, a high speed camera and sophisticated algorithms are what produce your data. This technology makes the SkyTrak better suited for tight indoor spaces as the simulator requires less space than a radar based launch monitor. Each swing measures ball speed, launch angle, back spin, side spin, side angle, and ball flight.
The SkyTrak launch monitor is compatible with some excellent golf simulator software including World Golf Tour courses and The Golf Club Game, which offers an obnoxious 150,000 golf courses to golf on including Erin Hills, Chambers Bay, and Brandon Dunes. There are also live tournaments and online challenges to take on with friends or online players.
The catch is, to access simulations courses beyond the basic practice range, you need to pay an annual subscription for either the “Game Improvement” plan or the “Play and Improve” plan (for full details, you can see SkyTrak’s chart here). This usually ends up at around $8/month which most golfers find well worth the money, but it is still something to consider in your cost analysis of different golf simulators.
There’s no doubt the SkyTrak offers a ton of golf simulation options, however, I will point out that if you are dead set on using E6 Golf Connect, you will need to pay at least $1,500 extra for the software. But don’t let that get you down, with SkyTrak’s immense popularity, you can bet that the current simulation options available will keep you in golf simulation bliss for years to come. I wouldn’t get too hung up on the E6.
If you want to learn more about the SkyTrak, I took a more in depth look at all the Skytrak launch monitor and simulator has to offer in my dedicated review here.
SkyTrak Simulator Package
Best Complete Indoor Golf Simulator Setup using the SkyTrak
SkyTrak SIG12 Golf Simulator Setup: What I love about this golf simulator setup is that the projector actually sits on the floor in front of you. This eliminates the hassle of mounting a projector on the ceiling or having to worry about your projector shadow blocking the image. This package is all-inclusive and contains high quality and durable materials.
Best On a Budget
As one of the most inexpensive launch monitors on the market, it’s easy to dismiss the OptiShot 2 as cheap and junky, but to do that would be a big mistake. The OptiShot 2 truly brings loads of home golf simulator fun at a fraction of the price. If I’m ever asked the secret to the most inexpensive DIY golf simulator, I always point to the OptiShot 2. Do NOT underestimate this simulator!
The OptiShot 2 is wildly inexpensive compared to other golf simulators, yet unlike other cheap simulators, it still delivers a super fun golf simulation experience and has really opened up indoor golf entertainment to a much wider audience.
The OptiShot 2 is unique in that it measures your club data via 16 high-speed 48MHz infrared sensors located UNDER your swing. In other words, the OptiShot 2 is more like a very high tech piece of golf mat, as you can see from the picture, with your tee inserted right in.
Given the price, the golf simulation package included with the OptiShot 2, called OptiShot Live, is more than adequate as it comes preloaded with 15 standard courses and more premium courses available for an extra $30 each.
The simulator connects to your computer (either iOS or Windows) via a USB cable, it is not wireless enabled. With each swing the OptiShot 2 launch monitor measures club head position, speed, alignment, and path. It then calculates ball flight, direction, distance and final position.
Another budget-friendly feature of the OptiShot 2 is that you have the choice of using real or foam golf balls. This is because the simulator gets its data from your swing, not your ball motion. In fact, you can use no ball at all and it will still work!
Foam balls are much less catastrophic to drywall as compared to a real golf ball, which makes setting up indoor golf simulation that much easier. More on that later.
Interestingly, the OptiShot 2 measures your swing data and then calculates ball stats, whereas most launch monitors measure ball stats and then calculate swing data. Because of this, you can use either real golf balls or foam balls, or actually even no balls if you really want to go basic. This opens up the possibility for a VERY budget-friendly, yet complete, golf simulator setup - buy some foam balls from Amazon for $9 (I recommend to play with these), hang up a bed sheet, and you’re ready to play some simulation golf courses! Let’s call this the college garage option.
It’s important to note that, given the price of this golf simulator, the accuracy will not be able to keep up with the more expensive golf simulators mentioned in this review. The accuracy seems to diminish with increasing swing speed and distances, but will still be in the right ballpark of your game.
In other words, think of the Opti Shot 2 as being a really fun and affordable simulator for golf simulation entertainment, but not a launch monitor for precise swing practicing or finely tuning your golf game. It is also important to note that this simulator is for indoor use only whereas the other golf simulators in this review can also be taken out to the driving range or golf course.
In conclusion, the OptiShot 2 simulator is wildly popular because it gives golfers on a budget the option to have a full golf simulation game setup at a fraction of the price of the other guys. While it should not be seen as a precision practice tool, it can still pack a punch with the entertainment value and has really opened up the possibility of having an indoor golf simulator setup to just about any golfer’s price.
If you're interested, you can read a more in-depth review about the OptiShot 2 experience here.
OptiShot 2 Golf In A Box Simulator Package
Best Complete Indoor Golf Simulator Setup Using the OptiShot 2
OptiShot 2 Golf In A Box Simulator Package: This complete package, including the OptiShot 2, comes in at LESS THAN $1,000 TOTAL! When golfers come to me asking for the best complete home golf simulator setup on a budget, I send them to the OptiShot 2 golf in a box and nothing else! Please note - since the OptiShot 2 lays on the ground, it’s important that the golf mat used has the correct shape cut out as you can see in this recommended package.
Best Upgrade Pick
The GC2 is Foresight Sports’ “best-selling professional-grade launch monitor of all time” and for good reason! A Foresight golf launch monitor boasts incredible accuracy and can handle all the simulation features and top notch graphics every golfer dreams of.
When it comes to golf launch monitor technology - what you pay for is what you get. The Foresight GC2 Golf Simulator is the most expensive on our list, but with the accuracy and simulation features this device provides, I believe if your budget can handle it, this high end simulator is well worth the money.
The GC2 uses a steroscopic camera system for measurements. This means 2 separate high-resolution cameras capture up to 10,000 frames per second to precisely capture and analyze ball data. With each hit the GC2 directly measures the ball's speed, launch angle, back and side spin, and azimuth, and then calculates the carry distance and total distance of the shot.
The GC2 never compromises on accuracy. The larger hitting window of the simulator means it picks up more shots with more accuracy (specifically those that are a little more erratic). This adds to golf simulation fun because the shot you hit will accurately be simulated in your game, not just a ballpark estimate, further adding to the feeling that you are truly playing the course. The accuracy of the GC2 also means you can use the simulator beyond golf simulation such as for club fitting and fine tuning your game.
The Foresight GC2 works both indoors and outdoors. On a beautiful day, the 4 lb simulator with 6-8 hour battery life can be easily taken out to the driving range or out on the course.
One great feature of the GC2 is that it has a self-leveling accelerometer and golf ball identification system. This means you can simply take the GC2 device out of your golf bag, set it in front of you, and it will automatically calibrate and be ready to measure data, all on its own, in less than a minute!
The built-in outdoor-readable LCD display will instantly show ball performance data (or read it out if you’d prefer). This makes this golf simulator the only one on our list today that doesn’t actually require a computer to see your feedback!
Where the GC2 really shines is with indoor use. First off, the photometric technology means that it requires much less space than a radar-based launch monitor like the Mevo+. Basically, as long as you can swing a golf club in your space, you can use the GC2. The free Foresight Sports App is available for download for iOS or Android devices and provides a free driving range and displays 2D shot tracers.
For some extra cash it is highly recommended to purchase the brand new FSX 2020 Sports Software Program which provides incredibly vivid 4k resolution including 5 world-class golf courses (Broken Tree, Blue Bayou, Teton Pines, Linfield National, Willow Crest), true-to-life gaming, and online skill-building competitions.
The only issue is that this software will put you back about $3,000 which I am well aware is a hefty sum on top of the price of the GC2 itself. But check out those incredible graphics and I think you'll see why many golfers find it worth the money to play such high quality simulation with one of the best golf simulators.
The other add-on you will see as an option when you purchase a GC2 is HMT Club Head Analysis. The HMT is actually an additional piece of hardware that connects to the GC2 via a cable and sits next to it for full swing data. To read our full GC2 review click here.
As the name states, HMT is all about picking up ultra accurate data for feedback on your swing and club dynamics. It measures club head speed, horizontal club path, smash factor, dynamic loft, and impact location for full swing analysis. This add-on will set you back an additional $4,900, ouch. If you are looking to get precise feedback for skill improvement this is absolutely a valuable tool. However, if you’re more focused on having a really fun and realistic golf simulation experience, I think you can easily skip the HMT and save some money.
Overall, the Foresight GC2 is a pricey item, however, the incredible golf simulation experience and extreme accuracy are why it landed a spot on our list in this golf simulator review as most luxurious.
ForeSight GC2 Simulator Package
Best Complete Indoor Golf Simulator Setup using the ForeSight GC2
GC2 SwingBay Golf Simulator Package + FSX: Due to the higher price of the GC2, I’ve found that many online stores try to cut corners with their packages, such as this one that includes a projector mounting kit, but no projector! This simulator package includes everything you need for a complete setup at home PLUS the FSX software that you would otherwise need to purchase separately for an additional $3,000. You may notice the GC2 is certified pre-owned. Due to the high quality of the GC2 I have never heard of a problem from pre-owned devices, but if you have heard otherwise, please shoot me an email!
TruGolf Vista Series
Best All-Inclusive Bundle
The TruGolf Vista Series are some of the best golf simulator setups. The company does not separate out the individual golf simulator device, they instead insist on having full control of all components to be sold as a complete package deal. What this results in is some incredibly well put together golf simulator setups that run as one smooth functioning machine.
When I first started looking into the TruGolf Simulators, I have to admit I was initially frustrated, confused, and tried to give up several times. However I’ve now made a complete 180 and I have only the highest respect for the TruGolf company and their Vista simulators are easily some of the best golf simulators.
Whereas other golf simulator companies simply make a Golf Simulator device and leave you to build up the rest of your simulation experience (mat, net, etc), the TruGolf team said - you know what, let’s remove the guessing work for our customers and sell the full golf simulation setup as a complete package. And THEN they decided to do something I think is pretty incredible - they make all hardware in house! Not only the golf simulator itself, but also the computer, projector, and monitor!
TruGolf initially intended to have their complete golf simulation setups only in pro shops, indoor golf facilities, bars, bowling alleys, etc. However, due to the immense popularity of their immersive indoor golf experience, they decided to create a line of golf simulator setups meant for home golf course simulation, and thus the TruGolf Vista line of golf simulators was born.
The Vista series brings essentially the same immersive indoor golf experience as the company’s other high-end golf simulators, only this time at a fraction of the cost.
The hardware used by these simulator setups is called The TruTrack2 System. Much like the OptiShot 2, this hardware is WITHIN the hitting mat. The TruTrack2 is composed of 3 rows of ten optical sensors within the hitting mat that measure club data as you swing past including face angle, launch angle, smash factor, and clubhead speed. Additionally, patented sonic triangulation positioning technologies obtain ball flight characteristics with every swing. All of the above makes this one of the best golf simulators in terms of accuracy, making it that much easier to improve your game.
One of the best features of the TruTrack2 is that this method of obtaining club and ball data makes for extremely accurate putting simulation. Just about every other simulator on the market has short game difficulty, so the fact that TruGolf can measure putts inside of 10 feet is a huge plus.
The software used by the TruGolf Vista Series is the E6 Connect, considered by many to be the most lifelike and highest-quality golf simulation software on the market. The E6 Connect simulator uses 4k graphics and with the included subscription provides 27 golf courses, online events, peer-to-peer play in real time, mini games, and 4 driving ranges.
The computer that comes with the Vista packages is called the TruGolf Level 2 which is basically a gaming PC with the E6 Connect software preinstalled. The rest of the included hardware is a 21” touchscreen monitor (for easy E6 software navigation) and an HD projector.
As you can see, the TruGolf Vista Series takes ALL the guessing work out of a DIY home golf simulator setup. With every single piece hand selected to work as one big functioning unit, you can be certain to have seamless integration of all components. With TruGolf's reputation for top commercial golf simulators and E6 software, you know you'll be getting an incredible golf simulation experience at a very budget-friendly cost. You can read my full TruGolf review of the entire Vista Series here.
TruGolf Vista 8 Pro Golf Simulator Package
Best Complete Indoor Golf Simulator Setup using TruGolf Vista
TruGolf Vista 8 Pro Golf Simulator: Although there are more expensive TruGolf Vista setups, I’ve spent way too much time studying the differences and I am convinced the Vista 8 Pro Simulator is the best setup for the money. This all-inclusive package is made entirely by the TruGolf team, no piecemeal setup here! That means everything fits and works together perfectly. No worrying about hitting mat dimensions fitting your projector screen or if the hardware and software are compatible! You can rest assured that once you have this setup installed you'll be fully ready for a complete and vivid golf simulation experience.
Top Five Finishing Touches for your golf simulator room
Once you have your golf simulator set up, be it the garage or basement, you might consider these five finishing touches to really impress your best golf buddies when they come over:
Golf Club Storage Rack
You’d be surprised at how often this gets overlooked. Your golf clubs have to go somewhere, might as well keep them organized and off the ground. Here's the best golf club storage rack for you and your friends' golf clubs.
Connect via wireless Bluetooth with any device to listen to tunes or crisp sound for your simulator gaming for the best golf experience. Here's our most popular sound bar.
Wink at your friends as you open up your globe and serve them your favorite liquor before you play with your simulator setup. Here's our most popular globe bar.
Smart Refrigerator Coffee Table
Beer fridges are for college, this coffee table not only cools your favorite beverage but charges your phone AND tells the time! Here's our most popular smart coffee table.
Hey your buddies have to sit somewhere while they watch you swing, they might as well sit in style. These chairs also double as movie theater seating when you want to turn your simulator screen into movie night with the family. Here's our most popular three seat audience seating.
Frequently Asked Questions FAQ
What Does a DIY golf simulator cost?
A home golf simulator system can cost between hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars. In this article we have discussed the best DIY golf simulator on a budget which can be put together for less that $500. However, if you want high quality simulation images and a full setup, you should expect to pay somewhere between $5,000-$10,000 as a start.
How much room do you need for golf simulator?
You need a room that is approximately 9' high x 10' wide x 16' long for a golf simulator system. If you are looking at radar-based golf simulators like the Mevo+ you will need more space while photometric golf simulators like SkyTrak and Foresight GC2 require less space. Keep in mind if you are tall you may want to round up on space so as not to compromise on your full swing!
What is the best home golf simulator?
The best golf simulator for you depends on your budget. If you have unlimited funds by all means go for the 100k simulator system, and please invite me over! For those golfers with a reasonable simulator budget, the best home golf simulator is the brand new Mevo Plus. You can have a lot of fun improving your golf game and swing and the simulator is incredibly accurate.
How much does it cost to put in a golf simulator?
If you want to put in a golf simulator system you can expect to pay between $500 - $50,000. If you want to buy an OptiShot 2 and swing at foam balls into a sheet in your basement you can do that for about $350. However, if you want to put in a permanent golf simulator system I would highly recommend using the TruGolf Vista Series. These are the best golf simulators in that they are completely all-inclusive with all parts put together by the same company, the simulator system is incredible, and yet they are still within a reasonable budget starting at about $12,000.
Will a golf simulator help my game?
Absolutely! If you pitch in the extra money to buy a decently accurate golf simulator, you will get valuable feedback on every shot to help improve your game. It's impossible to not pay attention to your personal swing data as you play simulation courses. You may start to notice the distance you get with different clubs on the simulator which will be invaluable out on actual courses. You can also make adjustments based on other data like smash factor to improve your swing technique. Our top pick for best golf simulators is the FlightScope Mevo Plus with the SkyTrak launch monitor as a close second.
Are golf nets worth it?
Do you like to keep your windows and drywall intact? Then yes they are worth it! But in all seriousness, you absolutely need some sort of impact screen or golf net to hit your ball into to absorb the impact and allow net return. If you are using foam balls you can get away with a swing into a bed sheet. As for the side nets, I would personally recommend you go for it, the best golf simulators always include them. But if you're not worried about damaging the walls you can probably get away without them.
The basic components of a golf simulator setup
To spare you unnecessary confusion and headaches, I’ve compiled this easy guide to quickly get you setup to have fun with the best golf simulators for your specific budget and situation to get you playing ASAP.
Although there is a lot of variation between different golf simulators setups, they all typically contain the following basic components:
A golf simulator is essentially a golf launch monitor that is set on the ground and “watches” your full swing with sensors to measure your club and swing data (ie ball speed, shots). It then uses algorithms and software to be a simulator of your shot and game on a screen on various courses around the world. Launch monitors have different measurement abilities and the quality of the simulation are highly variable and price-dependent but are all ultimately geared as a way help you improve your game while having fun. No home simulator is complete without this system!
For your home simulator system you will need both a golf mat where you stand to hit shots and a golf mat that serves as a landing pad turf to catch your golf ball shots rebound off the impact screen, called net return. Make sure you have enough space in your room for the mat. Net return is important to avoid going back and forth to your impact screen pick up your ball after your shots. If you want to learn more, check out our full review here.
Net and Impact Screen
The net and impact screen usually come as a pair and are used to both display your virtual golf game projector and capture the ball with the screen after you hit it, called net return. Be sure your game space allows for full swing shots into the screen and that it is durable for the impact. It should also make the most of your projector as the game displayed should be a vivid experience. If you are serious about improving your swing game, you want to be sure your simulator setup has a way to catch your ball and offer net return. You can read our full review on practice nets here.
This is the part of the simulator system used to project the simulation onto your impact screen. As a way to save money, you can also have your simulation system displayed on a TV screen, computer screen, or tablet screen, although this is considerably less simulator fun. To swing your way through life-sized simulator courses is by far the best system!
Between the golf simulator sensors and the projector you need a middle man. Luckily your home laptop will likely work just fine, but be sure to double check your golf simulator’s specific requirements. Some courses are a full world and the game can use up a lot of space and stress your computer simulator system, so be sure to double check. Overall, the faster your computer, the better the simulator system will spit out your game and the more realistic your swing will feel.
Last update on 2021-03-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API