Golf Simulator vs Driving Range: Which is better?

When it comes to game improvement or pure fun with golf, there are different options in today’s golf market.

In the past decade, the cost of a golf simulator in a residence setting has drastically decreased and is rather affordable for the everyday person, who truly loves golf.

There are benefits to both the golf simulator setting and the driving range setting, which we detail below.

My golf journey included purchasing and setting up a golf simulator in my garage and I have now played over 1000 golf simulator rounds over the past 5 years.  The game improvement from a pure ball striking standpoint and increased distance has made it all worth it in addition to my scores dropping to right around par on most rounds on my home golf course.

I still use the driving range on occasion, but it is far less frequent, as I prefer to use my golf simulator setup for numerous reasons.

My golf simulator setup has been a complete game changer! The amount of fun and improvement has been well worth the investment!

Golf Simulator vs Driving Range: Which is better?

Pros of the Golf Simulator Setting

  1. Realistic: I find my golf simulator setup to be very realistic.  My good shots are good shots and my bad shots are truly bad shots.  I have the same swing faults (the overdraw) on both real golf and simulator golf.  The visual nature of the golf simulator setup, where you are forced to hit an actual golf shot is great preparation for when you play actual golf.  The Skytrak, which is the launch monitor I purchased, has a slight shot delay.  After each shot, I consider my feel for the shot and predict the shot.  Many times, I am very accurate, which has helped develop feel in my golf swing.  I wrote a previous post titled, “Golf Simulator vs Reality”
  2. Great Practice Modes: The practice mode that I appreciate and use the most is the auto-rewind feature within The Golf Club (TGC) software that I run with my Skytrak.  They way I utilized this for practice is to pick a challenging shot like the 18th tee shot at Pebble Beach, or the 12th hole par 3 at Augusta, or the island green at TPC Sawgrass #17 and hit that shot over and over again to challenge my game.  One of my other favorite shots is the par 3 tee shot on hole 16 at Augusta.  A slight draw is the perfect shot shape for that hole!
  3. Data: With every shot you take on a launch monitor or golf simulator you get instant data to help you better understand what took place in your swing.  This data can be helpful if you know what you are looking for.  Overtime, you can start to feel certain swing paths, quality of contact and spin rates.  Many golfers underestimate the value of spin rate and the impact it has off the tee and on the approach shots.  Some of this data that can be at your fingertips includes:
    1. Ball Speed and Club Speed
    2. Carry and Total Distance
    3. Spin Rate
    4. Launch Angle
    5. Spin Axis
  1. Pressure to Shoot A Score: Too often we can all get in the mode of playing golf swing vs golf score.  This is where we are so focused on making a great swing on every shot when the reality is that we must learn to play the game.  In the golf simulator setup, you are playing golf.  You get reminded of your score after every hole and you can compete against yourself or others all in the setting.  At the driving range, oftentimes, we hit ball after ball without any real pressure to produce when needed.  When the water is staring you down on the 18th tee shot at TPC Sawgrass, hitting the perfect tee shot is rewarding and hitting in the water makes you reflect!
  2. Competition: Golfers have several options with the golf simulator.  You can invite a friend over, connect with someone online or play against a round that was previously played on the course you selected.  I enjoy playing match play to try to build the competition and the pressure that comes with it.  There are also communities of golfers that post scores as part of a weekly tournament.  This is truly better than simply hitting at the range!
  3. Time: I can play a complete 18 hole round of golf on my simulator in under 45 minutes.  If you start to do the math, if you have 1.5 hours to practice you can play the equivalent of 36 holes.  True game improvement can take place from the pure number of repetitions you can get in!

So with all of that being said, why would someone still go to the driving range to work on their game?

Play some of your favorite holes in the world or use the golf driving range setting on the simulator software!

Pros of the Driving Range Setting:

  1. Grass: While there are some great hitting mats, the ability to practice from a nice fairway lie or thicker rough is difficult to replicate indoors.  During certain times of the year, I will head to the range to test my game on different types of lies.
  2. Outside: Who doesn’t enjoy the outdoors on the first beautiful spring day or the perfect summer evening!  Being outside and hitting at the range can be highly beneficial to our overall mindset with golf.  Embrace the joy of being outside and taking in the fresh air!
  3. You Can See the Ball Fly: While the shot tracer on a golf simulator is rather impressive, some golfers prefer to see their driver fly to check out the ball flight as far as high and low and the direction it is curving. The driving range can be good for this as long as you get quality golf balls.  The unfortunate part is that many of the driving range golf balls are either flight restricted, too old with worn out covers or have a slight crack in them.  Sometimes doubt can creep in on whether you hit a bad shot or if the golf ball was of poor quality.
Play your most challenging or favorite holes in your mind at the driving range to maximize your results!

Related Questions: Golf Simulator vs Driving Range

What golf simulator would you recommend?

I went with the Skytrak and am thrilled with the accuracy, ease of setup, reliability and the TGC software it can be paired with.  The price entry point makes it affordable and well worth the investment!

Do professionals use golf simulators?

I have heard of many professional golfers who have used golf simulators at different times.  Oftentimes it can come down to time efficiency and working on a golf swing in a controlled environment!

Obviously, they use a driving range quite frequently. In fact most use it before after round on a daily basis and sometimes after the round to work out any issues they might be having. You will often find them with a Trackman or other Launch Monitor device. 5 Trackman Alternatives!

Take Action!

Check some of the posts I have created on golf simulators and consider treating yourself to the ultimate gift for any golfer!

My Secret To Golf Improvement

Let’s face it, in order to get really good at golf, we must practice frequently.  About five years ago, I made the leap and invested in a golf simulator build for my garage.  I went with a SkyTrak Launch Monitor and the TGC software and can now play over 100,000 courses including Augusta, Pebble Beach, Bethpage Black, Whistling Straits. St. Andrews and many other of the top 100 courses in the world.

This golf simulator setup, which is more affordable that you might imagine, has been a game changer.  I can now play golf everyday of the year regardless of rain, snow, cold weather or time of day.  I can practice or play rounds of golf.  I can stand in the 11th fairway at Augusta and with the auto-rewind feature I am able to practice my approach shots from various differences.

It is worth checking out through Rain or Shine Golf as they offer some incredible packages along with financing offers that are difficult to beat.

Some direct links to Rain or Shine Golf for pricing and financing:

Recent Posts