The sun was beating down on your back, and there was a breeze just strong enough to worry you as you gripped your club and took a deep breath. Your co-worker was heckling you in a friendly way as you got ready to take your last shot – land this hole in one stroke, and you’d win. You gently tap the ball with your club…only to watch it lurch infuriatingly to the left. One more stroke against you.
If this scene is familiar to you, you’re not alone. Golf, a Scottish sport invented some 500 years ago, is exploding in popularity as more and more people try for that 30 minutes of recommended physical activity each day. There are now thousands of golf clubs across the U.S., but the real draw back of golf, is that you need a nice day and 125 acres of land to practice your sport.
Not anymore. Thanks to technology, those of you who’d like to practice your golfing in the off season or just have a little high tech fun can now invest in a home golf simulator. Home golf simulators are like the grown-up version of your kid’s Wii Sports console, but only for golf. With a home golf simulator, you can enjoy your favorite sport and reduce your handicaps year round in the comfort of your own home. However, before you run off and purchase a home golf simulator you end up hating, here are some things to consider:
1. Understand What You Want out of a Home Golf Simulator
Some golfers really want to work out the kinks in their game. For these serious players, purchasing a home golf simulator that prioritizes accuracy is very important. Others are simply recreational golfers. For these players, maybe the course graphics and the immersive experience take priority. Before you shop around and start comparing models, get in touch with what your priorities are so that you can make the best trade-offs between features.
2. Understand That you Get What you Pay for
Home golf simulator models range in price from a few hundred dollars all the way up to $70,000. This is a product with many moving parts, from the mats to the projector to the program complexity, meaning there are a lot of cost variables. When deciding on the budget for your home golf simulator, it will be useful to ask yourself whether this is something you’re just experimenting with, or whether this is a real investment in the overall strength of your golf game that you hope will last a good long time.
3. Make a List of Needed Materials and Space Considerations
Whatever you do, don’t try to jam simulators into small rooms with low ceilings. Ideally, you want enough space to make a long drive swing comfortably and without worrying about punching a hole in the dry wall accidentally. You should also understand that good mats and protective nets are crucial to the experience created by a home golf simulator, so when you’re shopping around for models, pay attention to what is and is not included, and fill in the gaps accordingly with high-quality materials.
4. Make Sure Your Computer is up to the Task
Almost all home golf simulator models will need to run their software on a computer. If you’ve purchased a desktop or laptop recently, it is likely capable of running the software, however you may want to update your graphics card to really make the images pop into HD focus. If you’re able, it is also convenient to have a computer dedicated to your golf simulator. It can be a real mood killer to have to fight with wires for ten minutes each time before and after you want to get in a few holes.