Do Golf Simulators Actually Help You To Improve Your Game?
Who else remembers growing up playing golf games on the sega mega drive and then going out into the back garden to practice hitting some shots, trying to emulate the success they were having on the screen. I sure did and little did I know that 30 years later those two activities would actually combine as one with the use of a golf simulator in your living room.
While there is no direct substitute for hitting the course and getting some real golf practice in, Launch monitors and simulators are an excellent way to improve your game. Not only are they awesome for practicing in your own home, you can also take them to the driving range with you as well. As the technology improves, golf simulators are becoming more and more accessible to the average golfer as their prices keep coming down, new models are released and the technology continues to improve.
I’ve been lucky enough to test some of the best simulators in the Trackman, GCQuad, Skytrack and the latest simulator to join the party in the Flightscope Mevo Plus.
So how can a Golf Simulator/Launch Monitor really help you to improve and how does it compare to actually practicing on the course are at the driving range.
Practice Makes Perfect
They say it takes 10,000 hours of practice at any discipline to become an expert and golf is no exception to this rule. That represents 417 days solid of playing golf, night and day. No wonder it is so beneficial to take up golf as a kid and learn the game young.
As you work your way towards those 10,000 hours, you are going to see marked improvement at each increment you reach toward that goal. You will probably see the most improvement in the first 100 hours and then the improvements in your game can become almost unnoticeable until you notice how your scores have actually been improving over time.
It is not always going to be possible for the average to play 3 or 4 rounds a week to get better at the game more quickly and that is where the Driving Range and Golf Simulators can come into play.
Golf Simulators Turn Your Home Into A Personal Golf Course
There are plenty of reason why you cant make the golf course or even the driving range every day but if you a room in your house that is dedicated to your simulator, you can literally practice every day to improve.
The quality of the simulators you can get today also means that you can get a very realistic experience without paying a fortune for the privilege. You can play on the best courses in the world on some great simulator softwares such as the The Golf Club 2020 and E6 that some awesome graphics as well as incredible game play and options.
Play During The Winter
Golf is a sport that is predominantly enjoyed during the summer months and that can hamper our efforts to improve. It gets dark earlier and the weather can be terrible. You can always still hit the driving range but a golf simulator will give year round access to playing golf during winter in the comfort of your own home and the you can easily adjust the weather settings to boot.
Find Your Perfect Swing
Your golf swing is a series of mechanical movements one after the other that results in how we actually connect with the ball and where it ends up landing.
If you have ever tried to improve your golf swing, you’ve probably ended up watching countless videos on Youtube and the advice sounds perfect but by the time you get to the course or the range, it is hard to put them into practice.
In the comfort of your home you can easily practice new improvements to your swing over and over again without anybody watching you or putting you under pressure and you can simply whip out your smart phone to record how you are doing.
Work On Our Weak Points
With the exception of putting and maybe short chip shots around the green we can focus on the areas that need improvement whether that is in our driving, fairway woods, hybrids or Irons. If you are hitting your shots with a hook or a slice, you can also correct that in your practice at home and eliminate the problem for the next time you are hitting the links.
Receive Instant Feedback
One of the biggest benefits of having a golf simulator in your home or even a launch monitor is that you get instant feedback on your shots so you know what kind of improvements you are making in terms of distance, launch angle, ball spin and smash factor. You can try out new things and see how they effect your shots and make permanent changes to the way you are hitting the ball over time.
Know How Far You Are Hitting Each Club
When I started out playing golf, I used to pick my club based on the how far away the hole looked without really even check the markers on the course to see what kind of distance I had remaining.
I was able to get good at golf like that but when I started using the data to my benefit, my game improvement dramatically in a short period of time.
The first step is knowing how far you hit each club and your launch monitor/Golf Simulator can give you your distances with each club.
The second step is to use a rangefinder or a GPS Watch/Device to know how far you are away from the green at all times.
Knowing this information takes the guess work out of the game and allows you to take a full swing every time and not come up short of the green consistently like I used to do.
It’s More Fun Than The Driving Range
We all know that the driving range is an excellent place to hone our skills and make good improvements to our game and out swing. We also know that it can be difficult to get down to the range after a long day of work along with all of our family and other commitments.
It is that much easier to get those practice strokes in when we can play in our own living room. We can play some music while we whack a few balls and even have a beer if we feel that way inclined.
Hitting balls at the range is repetitive and I for one will stop hitting good shots once I lose my concentration at the range.
The Golf Simulator is a much more enjoyable and encapsulating experience because there are consequences to hitting a bad shot and we want to have a better overall round than we had yesterday.
It’s Faster Than Real Golf
We all know that navigating around the course is the part of the game that is going to take up the most time even if you are on a motorized golf cart. The golf simulator eliminates that part of the game and while you are not going to get the benefits of all that exercise, it will allow you to finish around much quicker, get more strokes in in less time and improve at your game much more quickly.
All the walking on the course can also make you physically tired and your concentration dipping on the later holes, with a simulator you can play a full quickly and while you are still fresh.
Play Multiple Different Courses
If you are a member of a golf course, there is more than likely a high fee involved for membership and it won’t be worth your while financially to play at other courses that often unless you get invited to try out a friends course and vice versa.
No matter how impressive your golf course is, you may get tired of paying it over and over again.
With the top golf simulators like E6 and The Golf Club, you can play as many different courses as you want and what is more, you can also play some of the very best courses around.
Play Online Or With Your Friends
The golf simulator can get boring too, if you play constantly in offline mode on your own but luckily you can add a little bit of spice to the occasion by playing online against real players or even inviting your friends over for a few beers and some simulator action.
There is even competitions online for some tournaments like on the trackman where the price money can be over $25,000 for the winner.
Golf Simulators Vs Reality
Ok, we have been building up Golf Simulators to be the best thing since sliced bread but we all know deep down that there is nothing like playing a real game of golf with our friends, in tournaments or even on our own.
Seriously though, don’t be surprised if you are scoring a good bit lower on a simulator than you do in reality and that is down to a number of reasons?
Perfect Lie Every Time
I know I rarely hit perfect shots from heavy rough or out of the sand but on a golf simulator, you are going to be hitting from a perfect lie every time. We know these softwares try there best to make it more difficult to hit out of sand and rough but to be honest, that is not going to really help you to improve your game when you do get into those positions because you are just hitting off a mat every time.
During the summer, you may get the perfect weather for a round of golf or if you are lucky to live in a place with good weather all year round.
If you are like me and live in the Uk or Ireland, you will know what it feels like to play golf in the wind, rain or worst case scenario, a combination of the two.
Now you can play with the settings for weather on a simulator but the truth is that, playing in a perfectly dry and warm room and just aiming a little bit to the right or left or using a bit more club is not the same as actually getting out there and playing your round.
Hitting Off A Mat All The Time
Hitting off the mat can be the next best alternative but there is nothing like hitting off the real grass or teeing off on a real hole. The simulator can definitely help you to improve but there is nothing like standing at the first tee and see the hole play out in front of you in real life as opposed to in a simulation.
The Pressure Is Off
Playing at home on your own, the pressure is off and if you are anything like me, you will probably play a better when you are on your own whether it is in a simulator or the real course.
Being on your own takes away all the pressure and this will really allow you to focus 100% on your game for maximum improvement.
That being said, you will still need to deal with the pressure when you actually play a ‘Real’ round of golf.
1 way around this is to invite you mates over, have a four ball or play online and put a little wager on it. That is sure to get the pulse racing a little bit faster.
How Accurate Are Golf Simulators
Golf simulators are surprisingly accurate but there are plenty of different price levels where you should see the accuracy increasing as you move through the levels:
High End Commercial Golf Simulators
These Simulators can cost from about $14,000 to $20,000 plus.
Around the $14,000 mark is the GC2 and the GCQuad which we can expect to be hugely accurate within about 5 yards.
The Trackman is the undisputed king of commercial Golf Launch Monitors and Simulators and is used for high end tournaments with prize money available for the winners. Trackman is going to come in at around $20,000 but we can expect to see devices just as good for a lot less, sooner than you might think.
Personal Level Simulators
Two Golf Simulators stand out at around the $2,000 and that is the Skytrak and the Mevo Plus.
The Skytrak has been around for a few years, it is accurate and effective. You need to pay for a few extras like the Golf Simulator program and the advanced stat tracking.
You can bring it the range with you as well but it is not going work as well in direct sunlight.
The Mevo Plus has burst onto the scene this year and it is one of the hottest golf simulator and launch monitors available on the market today. This is small and portable and it comes with the excellent E6 golf game and 17 different golf games for the range included as standard.
It’s accuracy is right up there with the best simulators as well like the GC2 and the GCQuad so this is certainly one of the best value devices on the market right now at $2,000.
Budget Golf Simulator: The Optishot 2
If you don’t want to fork out even $2,000 for the simulator, you can go with the Optishot. It is actually quite accuracy for only a couple of 100 dollars and the graphics are light and easy on your laptop so it doesn’t drain your memory and resources.
You can play with real clubs and balls or the foam balls that come included. Worth a purchase but the $2,000 are probably better for those who are serious about improving their game.
How Is Putting On Golf Simulators
Putting is probably the area that let’s Simulators down the most as they can find it hard to pick up the balls speed when it is moving slowly. The combat this, most golf simulators offer gimmes for putts inside a certain distance.
There are two types of Simulator and this effects how accurately the pick ups putts.
Photometric Golf Simulators:
Takes a series of photos of the ball and determines the shots statistics based on the amount of change from one shot to the next. These types of simulators can struggle a lot with putts like the Skytrak.
Dopplar Or Radar Simulators
Uses radar to ping the ball and computes the shots states based on changes in the data as the shot progresses. These can pick up putts more easily but every simulator will struggle with short putts.
To combat this you can chip the ball lightly for putts.
Simulators are the absolute best way to improve at home and can be just as rewarding as heading to the driving range. You get to take a full swing and really hone in on your technique with instant feedback.
If you have the spare cash available and the space in your house, we would definitely recommend for you to go with a home simulator and probably the brand new Mevo Plus if you have the space in your house (It needs 16 feet of depth). This is the newest and hottest simulator available today with amazing accuracy.
Hi, I am Matthew, a mid handicap golfer who likes to play as much as possible. I love trying out new gear and this blog is where you can find all the gear I have tested over the years!