How Do Golf Simulators Work?


When I started dreaming of a home golf simulator and was researching the different options and considering my budget, I started wondering…So just how exactly does a golf simulator work?  It all comes down to various forms of technology.  The technology utilized ultimately impacts the accuracy and other key factors.

The accuracy of golf simulators has increased while the entry price point has decreased over the past ten years. Right now is the perfect time to consider a golf simulator if you want to play golf 365 days a year and not allow snow, rain or cold weather to slow down your progress and fun with the game of golf.

We are currently in the perfect buyers market as there are impressive options for different price entry points depending on your budget.  We will provide an overview of how the different top golf simulators in today’s market work and what they measure.

Here is the SkyTrak which is a launch monitor.

At the end, we will breakdown which one has the easiest out of the box setup options for those explore a golf simulator build DIY approach. The most popular current options in the market:

  • SkyTrak Launch Monitor
  • ProTee Golf Simulator
  • Foresight GC2
  • Optishot
  • R Motion
  • TruGolf

How Does the SkyTrak Launch Monitor Work?

The main technology behind the SkyTrak is Photometric technology.  This technology has produced two very good options in the both the SkyTrak and the Foresight GC2. While both have some limitations, overall the quality of the experience at the different price points is phenomenal.  Game improvement and entertainment are readily available to the average person.

This style of launch monitor measures the ball solely and the SkyTrak has a slight delay.  However, the ease of setup and being able to play in a short time after removing the product from the box, makes it a viable and competitive option in today’s golf simulator market.  The SkyTrak website markets,

“You could be this guy. Get the accuracy, reliability and authentic simulation of a professional grade launch monitor. SkyTrak is an affordable, all-in-one practice, play and game improvement system.  Bring it into your space and build your own golf experience, 24/7.”

The really awesome part is that I am that guy who went the SkyTrak route and have now played over 300 rounds of golf on some of the best courses in the world including: Pebble Beach, Le Golf National, Augusta National, Torrey Pines, Bethpage Black, PGA West, an St. Andrews just to name a few.  

One of the brilliant benefits of The Golf Club (TGC) software is they created software to allow the general public to design and build golf courses. This has resulted in many of the great courses around the world becoming a reality. So in the month of January when it is 20 degrees and snowing, I am able to play simulator golf in a warm, controlled environment and develop my game while having a blast.

How Does the ProTee Golf Simulator Work?

The technology behind the ProTee golf simulator is both an IR 96 Shadow technology and a LA Camera.  One provides the golf data and the other provides the ball data. This system plays without delay and allows for golf between both righties and lefties to occur seamlessly.  The only downside is the difficulty in setup.

However, the company provides plenty of resources to guide the golfer in the DIY setup. The software that it runs is the The Golf Club (TGC) software which provides over 150,000 courses now including many of the most popular throughout the world.  ProTee markets their product and promotes,

“The ProTee Golf Simulator is state-of-the-art and having undergone 10 year of development it offers features at and beyond those of other systems costing 10 times as much. High speed optical sensors track the club head and ball to give an unparalleled realistic ball flight trajectory”

How Does the Foresight GC2 Work?

Very similar to the SkyTrak when it comes to the technology side, it also utilizes photometric technology.  They do have an optional piece to now track golf data as well. One of the drawbacks of the GC2 is the delay in play between right and left handed golfers  The ProTee does not have a delay in switching from a right handed to left handed golfer due to the technology it utilizes and the positions of the cameras that it utilizes.  

I have read many great reviews on the GC2 and have seen comparisons to some of the technology twice the price and it holds it own. Foresight promotes the GC2 by promoting,

“With the GC2, you can practice or play golf in any environment with equally trusted results. Outdoors, the portable GC2’s exclusive self-leveling technology provides verifiably accurate results on every surface and on every shot. Indoors, the GC2 produces the most accurate measurements of ball characteristics at launch – period. And at less than 10 inches long and under 4lbs, the GC2 moves from outdoor to indoor as easily as it fits in your golf bag.”


How Does the Optishot Work?

The Optishot uses the IR 32 Reflection technology.  Optishot started with the original Optishot and has now progressed to to the Optishot 2.  They company promotes the products claiming the following,

“OptiShot Golf designers and engineers are leaders in the world of golf analytics. Through continuous research and development, the award-winning OptiShot2 has a swing and ball shot accuracy that is just like playing real golf. OptiShot2 has sixteen precisely-tuned, high-speed 48MHz infrared sensors. Each is calibrated to track your favorite clubs, before, during and after contact, giving you precise and instantaneous feedback on every shot.”

Some Pretty Impressive Course Options!

There are 15 courses available to play. The major advantage to the Optishot is the entry point into the market. There are numerous packages available that come in below $1000 and can get you playing in no time.

One limitation when compared to more expensive golf simulator technology is the accuracy and the opportunity for game improvement. Also, the limitation to 15 courses might be a drawback to some.

How Does R Motion Work?

The technology utilized is referred to as Gyro technology.  The R Motion is a clip that is attached to the shaft of your club and tracks club data.  The low entry point for one R Motion clip is enticing to some. One of the drawbacks is the potential limited accuracy and the need to move the clip from club to club.  It is designed to bring entertainment and help you deal with the snow, rain or cold weather that is preventing you from playing golf. Once again, as a consumer, it is great to see the different options hitting the market and providing golfers with many solutions at different price points to choose from.  They promote their product encouraging the following,

“Track every swing you take on the range with the seamless R-Motion mobile app. Our lightweight sensor lets you swing freely and track everything from tempo to ball speed. Use the swing path visualization to work on your swing and fine tune your game.”

Another benefit of this product is that it works with the highly impressive TGC software which provides access to over 150,000 courses including many of the top ranked courses in the word.

R Motion can work on the TGC software that has an amazing course selection!

How Does the TruGolf system work?

The technology for the TruGolf system is an IR Shadow system with Sonic.  They explain it as,

“Our system, based on patented technology, uses three rows of optical sensors that measure your club path and clubface angle during impact. After every shot, we analyze and show you information instantaneously, on a clear, easily understood Swing Analysis screen.”

One of the downsides of this quality technology is the price entry point. It appears that the golf simulator needs to be purchased in a package that starts at $13,000 and quickly increases in prices capping out at just under $23,000 for a 16’x10’ setup. The E6 software comes highly recommended and enjoyed by many.

Easiest Out of Box Setup for Golf Simulators

Four out of the Six above get a 5 star rating on out of box setup.  The only ones with some limitations from a setup perspective include the ProTee and the TruGolf systems listed above.

This shouldn’t keep you from purchasing, but if you are attempting a DIY golf simulator build, you must know your ability levels with utilizing technology and setting it up or be willing to pay someone, which is always an option, if you do struggle with this skill set.  

When making a big investment in a golf simulator, you want everything to be perfect. Also if the total width in your space is limited you may consider the launch monitor approach in the SkyTrak or GC2 as it allows the golfer to move the monitor around if needed.

Final Thoughts

You have many options and different types of technology when looking to enter the golf simulator worlds.  The essential pieces for any simulator starts with the technology above. Once selected, one then needs to decide on a computer, enclosure and screen, hitting mat, and projection system.  Overall, it can start to add up, but I would recommend starting with the technology in the actual golf simulator that best matches your dreams and then build from there.

At the end of the day, being able to play golf 365 days a year and now allowing rain, snow or cold weather to stop you have been a dream come true for me and has helped me improve my game.  The consistency that has resulted from my investment along with the hours of entertainment cannot be beat. Anyone who is a golf fanatic should consider a golf simulator for your home.

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