Golf Simulators vs. The Real Thing

John Russell

Mar 17,2014

Fitting Room

With advances in technology, sophistication of electronic games and the imaging associated with them has improved greatly — one could say exponentially. Not only has technology improved, but the number of offerings by different providers has increased significantly. One only has to look at the number of mobile apps and computer games now on offer.
Most games can be played on mobiles, tablets, computers, and through TV screens, but how realistic are these games compared with going into the field? Certainly combat games, where participants are beaten, stabbed, shot, burned, poisoned or blown up, have no resemblance to reality and definitely enjoyed more in the electronic medium  than in real life — although an excursion to the real life scenario might chasten participants to engage in more humane and productive activities; such as golf.
The modern day golf simulator requires more setting up than other games to be effective. After all, real golf clubs and balls are used. A typical simulator requires a room approximately 4 metres wide by 6 metres deep by 3.3 metres high. The system comprises a large screen capable of resisting ball impact, protective netting, synthetic grass for putting and cosmetics, hitting mats, speakers, hi-speed cameras, ball flight sensors, computer with software of golf course layouts and images with software to calculate ball flight data to project the ball flight path, and an LCD projector of over 3,000 lumens to cast the consolidated image on the screen.

Now golfers can play up to 80 different courses — not only with friends in the simulator but link online with golfers in other countries to play a ‘live’ tournament. Simulation is amazingly realistic, even for putting.
Five years ago I invited a friend from the US to comment on our Pebble Beach program’s accuracy. He had played Pebble Beach over 50 times and commented that the bounce and roll was exactly as he encountered on course. With highly accurate sensors to detect ball flight data, club head speed, path, orientation and so on, golf simulators also provide laboratory-like settings for effective golf instruction and club fitting. Some well-known Doppler radar sensors, such as Trackman and Flightscope can be used both indoors and outdoors.
The upside for simulators is that they are convenient and one can switch modes immediately between playing on course, practicing, teaching, and club fitting. And no long car trips to the course which chew up a whole day.
One big downside for simulators is cost — USD 20,000–40,000 depending on the system you choose. Unfortunately, there is not an abundance of users over which the developers can amortise the cost of their R&D. However, there are no green fees to play on your own simulator and the cost per game can soon come down for enthusiastic players.
The good news is that there is a trend towards specialisation and partnerships, where one company provides programs with the golf course mapping and imagery, while others specialise in ball flight sensors and associated software, and prices are going down.
With a golf simulator you can’t smell the roses and enjoy a sunny walk in the park, but you can play on rainy days, and that counts for a lot lately.
Simulator or the real thing. On balance, I will take both.

Beerdy Bar - Gandaria Mall
Beerdy Bar – Gandaria Mall

PT Golfmax Indonesia — Bellagio Mall
Kawasan Mega Kuningan Barat Kav. E4 G Floor
Kuningan Timur, Setiabudi, Jakarta Selatan, 12950
Phone: +62 21 3002 9858
Beerdy! Virtual Golf and Bar
Mal Gandaria City Lt G 17-18, South Jakarta
DKI Jakarta, Indonesia
Phone: +62 21 2900 7808
Golf Gallery (Driving Range) Pondok Indah Golf Course
Jalan Metro Pondok Indah, Jakarta Selatan 12310, Indonesia
Phone: +62 21 769 4906 (hunting)


  1. A great article John and I agree that golf stimulators are great for perfecting skills and overall technique. They really have come a long way in terms of development and provide an almost real experience. It can’t really compare to the real thing though can it? I think golf is an experience that is enjoyed with others outside. Having said that, the stimulator is a great option for those who don’t have courses near them or for the seasons when golfing is impossible.

  2. Your article was really interesting. I am Wondering whether it possible to buy a simulator in Jakarta for a personnal use? Where can we find a sélection of simulators for sale?
    Thank you very much for your kind answer

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