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Best Bang for the Buck Home Golf Simulator

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This is a really deep question, possibly with no right answer. I think that usage and accuracy of equipment are the main components in deciding what you want, and price just follows suit. I kind of divide it into three categories: toy (not accurate or not simulators), recreational sim (more accurate, but comes with limitations on certain data and isn't as accurate as the final category), and professional sim.

The toy category is comprised of sub 500 dollar options (the measuring device itself) that measure a couple of things. The OptiShot line is the prime example. It only measures the club going over an array of infrared sensors (2 lines of sensors). It can track face angle, speed (kind of), and perceived strike location based on which sensors are triggered at what time. It doesn't even require the use of a ball to get its data, so it can be quite inaccurate. The other options here would be Mevo or SC300, though neither of these truly offer sim capabilities but are more accurate than an OptiShot as they use ball data.

The rec sims only have 2 that I can think of. The Mevo+ and the SkyTrak. They operate in very different ways, with the Mevo+ operating on radar and measuring mostly the ball for the first part of flight, and the SkyTrak operating on optics measuring the point of impact, both ball and club. These are both fairly robust devices for the price (probably around 3k each for a full sim) but both have drawbacks and it could be argued over which is better. From my small knowledge about launch monitors it seems that for indoor simulation the optic driven devices excel, but outdoors radar is king, i.e. SkyTrak for indoors and Mevo+ for outdoors.

On to the big dogs, the professional sims. Once again there are really two choices at the moment, and like the previous category, one is radar driven where the other is optic driven. Trackman is the premium radar system available and comes in just under 20k USD on price. Big bucks for big performance. The GCQuad (or GC2+HMT) is king for optical launch monitors and can be had for around 12k USD, but with the putting analysis and head monitoring add on, it also comes in just under 20k. Same thing here, gotta pay to play. These prices don't include the bay (mat/projector/screen) so you can really spec them as you please.

The GC2 without the HMT upgrade kind of splits the difference between recreational and professional launch monitors, and the price follows suit. A certified preowned unit can be had for around 5500 USD. It really does split the difference in the optical category, being a big step up from a SkyTrak, but comes up short to the GCQuad or if you were to add the HMT unit.

I know this is a lot of info, although it's just the basics when it comes to launch monitors/sims. For the actual question:

If I had a room with a tall enough ceiling in my house, I would probably go for the SkyTrak at first. One of the biggest reasons is that it has compatibility with "The Golf Club 2019" which is a video game that I have on home computer. That package comes at an up-charge, but between the official courses designed by the game developer, and the many recreated courses done by fans (even has Augusta in there), there are something like 180,000 courses to play. That's a big draw for me.  There is something to be said for course packages/subscriptions and which best fits your interest/needs. I might grow tired of the SkyTrak, or find it lacking in accuracy at some point and then it would be a GCQuad for me. Snce it would be indoors only, I would prefer an optical system. 

There is plenty of info online, and plenty of reviews to go along with them. I have only used the GC2s that are in my local golf galaxy, so I don't experience with most of these, but this is most of the info I have gathered. I hope this helps in some way, and if you have any questions, I can try to answer them.

Edited by Bonvivant

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15 hours ago, Bonvivant said:

The toy category is comprised of sub 500 dollar options (the measuring device itself) that measure a couple of things. The OptiShot line is the prime example. It only measures the club going over an array of infrared sensors (2 lines of sensors). It can track face angle, speed (kind of), and perceived strike location based on which sensors are triggered at what time. It doesn't even require the use of a ball to get its data, so it can be quite inaccurate. The other options here would be Mevo or SC300, though neither of these truly offer sim capabilities but are more accurate than an OptiShot as they use ball data.

Optishot, I agree, dont know much about SC devices, but I wouldn’t categorize Mevo as a toy, however it’s also not a simulator. I’ve compared my numbers from my Mevo at home against GC4 at my lesson and there’s not much difference, so it’s a powerful too to practice with. The data that Mevo does provide is very good. It’s got a lot of power in a small package.

If money is not a consideration, you’ll be best off with one of the high end launch monitors by flightscope, trackman, or foresight. The setups for these are quite expensive beyond just the launch monitor which are around $15000-25000 I think. You need space to hit, nets, a nice mat, screen, a computer to run software, software subscription/package. etc. Mevo+ and skytrack seem to be the middle ground at around $2000 for the device. If you just want to do something like a golf video game where you swing a club, optishot is the cheapest option I know of, but not sure if it has any value as a practice tool.

Personally, even though I own a Mevo, I’ve got my eyes on Mevo+ because it provides good data for practice, but also includes some gamification. I’m not into sim golf, but sometimes I wish I could have a more “real golf” experience when practicing, and the Mevo+ seems to offer that balance at a price that I might be able to get the wife onboard with. 

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Just now, Darkfrog said:

I agree, dont know much about SC devices, but I wouldn’t categorize Mevo as a toy, however it’s also not a simulator. I’ve compared my numbers from my Mevo at home against GC4 at my lesson and there’s not much difference, so it’s a powerful too to practice with. The data that Mevo does provide is very good. It’s got a lot of power in a small package.

The SC line is fairly accurate as well. I should have made the first category toy/tool. You can either have simulation, or decent accuracy for 500 bucks, but not both. I'll blame my misnomer on the fact it was late.

 

Just now, Darkfrog said:

Personally, even though I own a Mevo, I’ve got my eyes on Mevo+ because it provides good data for practice, but also includes some gamification. I’m not into sim golf, but sometimes I wish I could have a more “real golf” experience when practicing, and the Mevo+ seems to offer that balance at a price that I might be able to get the wife onboard with. 

I think that this a pretty good option too, especially if you plan on using it at a place like the range, or your own outdoor hitting setup as long as the ball has 8-10 feet to fly before the net.

 

Indoor sims kind of funny, because usually if your house has the space, you are wealthy enough to splurge on top end stuff, sometimes getting into the 50K+ range. The SkyTrak kind of falls behind here, because even though I think it is the best budget indoor sim available, most people with the indoor space don't mind to pay for the best.

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I am also looking into golf simulators for my garage. My budget is under $4k. My plan is Skytrak, projector screen that we can hit the balls into, short throw projector, side netting, mat. I am not sure yet what is the best way to connect Skytrak to a short throw projector. Also, do we need special mat? It seems like Skytrak is easily connected to Ipad with an app. How can we bypass the Ipad and connect it directly to a projector?

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On 9/16/2020 at 2:19 PM, khalespace said:

I am also looking into golf simulators for my garage. My budget is under $4k. My plan is Skytrak, projector screen that we can hit the balls into, short throw projector, side netting, mat. I am not sure yet what is the best way to connect Skytrak to a short throw projector. Also, do we need special mat? It seems like Skytrak is easily connected to Ipad with an app. How can we bypass the Ipad and connect it directly to a projector?

You need something to run the interface. The SkyTrak itself doesn't have any software perse, so an app is needed to translate an image of ball flight. This doesn't necessarily have to be an ipad though, it could be a laptop or desktop computer. My recommendation would be to get a cheap one of these (computer not tablet, maybe from craigslist or FB marketplace. shouldn't have to spend more than 100 dollars on this) that has the correct connections to go to the projector (probably HDMI I am assuming). Another big thing about having another in between, is that you will be able to log data to see shot analysis and improvement over time. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions that I can try to help with.

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9 hours ago, Bonvivant said:

You need something to run the interface. The SkyTrak itself doesn't have any software perse, so an app is needed to translate an image of ball flight. This doesn't necessarily have to be an ipad though, it could be a laptop or desktop computer. My recommendation would be to get a cheap one of these (computer not tablet, maybe from craigslist or FB marketplace. shouldn't have to spend more than 100 dollars on this) that has the correct connections to go to the projector (probably HDMI I am assuming). Another big thing about having another in between, is that you will be able to log data to see shot analysis and improvement over time. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions that I can try to help with.

Thank you, I will try to use my Android tablet or buy a used laptop. I wonder if a Chromebook works.

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SkyTrakLaunchMonitor.jpg

So, you’ve picked up a SkyTrak Launch Monitor. Maybe you’ve also set up a hitting area with a net or even a screen and projector, and you’re ready to start practicing your game. To get the full golf simulator experience, you...

@khalespace, here are some of the software options for skytrak. In the "Requirements" section of each, they explain costs of software and the hardware required to run the programs. If I were you (assuming you can afford it), I would go with TGC 2019. I wanna say the one time fee is somewhere north of 500 USD, but for 170k courses, it's worth it. Here are the PC requirements to run it. This might require another small investment, but I think it would be worth it.

The Golf Club 2019 Featuring PGA TOUR - System Requirements
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system.
  • OS: Windows 7 64 bit, Windows 8.1 64 bit, Windows 10 64 bit.
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-760 @ 2.80GHz or equivalent.
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM.
  • Graphics: AMD Radeon HD 5770 or NVIDIA GTX 650 with 1GB video RAM.

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