To be sure, golf simulators are a lot of fun—and they can be a great way to improve your game, too. With a quality system, you can play some of the best courses in the world, right from the comfort of your own home! With that said, how accurate are golf simulators? Are the results that you see on the screen really what you would experience out on the course? Let’s take a closer look at this question. We’ll walk you through what features influence accuracy and discuss some top models to consider.
We are going to start with a relatively obvious point. The equipment you are using to run your golf simulation is going to have a great deal to do with the quality of the output. For instance, if you are using a quality product such as the SkyTrak Launch Monitor, you have a good chance to receive accurate data in return. However, if you are using a lesser product, typically less expensive, you may have to wonder a bit more about the numbers that are being reported.
Doppler Vs Photometric Accuracy
Typically, launch monitors use two types of technology to monitor the path of the ball: doppler radar and photometric cameras. Most devices will use one or the other, but some even combine the two.
- Doppler Radar devices take advantage of the Doppler Effect. Emitting microwave signals, the device is able to detect interference in the waves to track moving objects. When thinking about accuracy, note that this is the same kind of tech that is used in the military to track missiles!
- Photometric Technology devices incorporate a system of hi-def cameras that record club and ball data at impact. They then calculate a projected flight and distance pattern using high-tech software.
One popular doppler based simulator is the Trackman. These are considered top of the line systems, but they also come with a hefty price tag. SkyTrak, on the other hand, is a photometric device that has been proven in unbiased trials to be 98% as accurate as the Trackman—while only being a fraction of the cost. To give you an idea of the accuracy of a launch monitor, here is the range for the SkyTrak:
- Ball Speed: 0-200 mph (+/- 1 mph)
- Launch Angle: 0-55 Degrees (+/- 1 Degree)
- Back Spin: 0-12,000 rpm (+/- 250 rpm)
- Side Spin: 0-4,000 rpm (+/- 250 rpm)
- Side Angle: 0-20 Degrees (+/- 2 Degrees)
Manage The Settings
To some degree, how accurate a golf simulator is will come down to how well you manage the device. There are sure to be settings that need to be manipulated in order to get the best possible feedback. If you ignore the settings or don’t take the time to dial them in just right for your set up, you’ll always be left with something less than ideal accuracy. Factors that can impact the way your simulator performs include whether you are hitting balls inside or outside, your club choice, and even the type of golf balls you are using.
Mark Crossfield does a great job of showcasing and explaining the differences in accuracy between common simulator setups, using the Trackman and GC2:
Use Common Sense
It’s too easy to simply trust that the simulator is right, even when the results don’t make a lot of sense. Don’t let yourself fall into that trap. If the data you are receiving doesn’t quite add up, it’s worth thinking about why that may be the case. Signs of trouble include:
- Distances that are well outside of your typical on-course range (both long and short)
- Ball flight patterns that never appear in your game, such as hitting draws when you always hit a fade
- Yardages that are out of sequence from club to club, like hitting your seven iron farther than your five iron
If you want to get the best performance from your launch monitor and your golf simulator, it’s important to pay attention and think about the result of each swing. With time, you should be able to dial in the settings and get better accuracy.
Shop Top Golf Simulators
Are golf simulators perfect? No, but they are very good when used correctly. To pick out the right golf simulator for your game and your home, explore top golf simulators at PlayBetter today. We offer free 2-Day Shipping and 60-Day Returns on most items!