We Setup a Golf Simulator at Swirlo's Headquarters

We Setup a Golf Simulator at Swirlo's Headquarters

We've had a ton of rain here in Northern California this winter, so it seemed like the perfect time to setup our own golf simulator.  I started by doing a ton of research online but there are so many different use cases it can be overwhelming to get a clear view of the various options and reviews.

Fortunately in late January I attended the PGA Show in Orlando, Florida and was able to demo just about every golf simulator on the market.  Some of them are truly incredible but they can cost as much as $40k for a full setup and often require a large footprint.

In the garage I only had about 11 feet of space wide and I also wanted to be able to set the sim up so that there would still be room for a couch behind it, that way your friends have a spot to hang out in-between shots.  So that narrowed my scope significantly, as did our budget.

Finally we came to the conclusion that the best bang for your buck is the SkyTrak+ in terms of cost and accuracy of the setup with all of the important data like swing speed, ball speed, RPMs, launch angle, etc.  You can find a lot of packages out there online that include the SkyTrak launch monitor, a projector, hitting screen, the encasement, extended side protectors, and hitting mat.  Regardless of which flight monitor you go with, I recommend some of the various packages from Top Shelf Golf.  This is not a paid endorsement.

A few notes and words of advice:

- Due to the lower height of my ceiling and a large light centered over my swing area, I had no choice but to use a floor case for the projector.  It works fine but if you have the space I'd highly recommend a ceiling mount instead.

- Get a protective case for the launch monitor.  It only takes one shank to ruin an expensive piece of equipment, but also the case I got from SkyTrak includes height adjustments so you can place a bubble level on top of the monitor to make sure it's perfectly level.  This is important for accuracy of your simulator.

- A lot of sims require a computer to host the software, but in this case I was able to simply buy an iPad and HDMI adapter and place it on an adjustable stand.  It works great.

- Don't cheap out on the golf mat.  Sure, you can use a standard golf mat and place it on your concrete floor and it will work, but this can be really tough on your wrists over time and it also doesn't provide a realistic hitting surface.  The nicer, thicker mats that also come with a thick rubber base to hold it are worth every penny.  The three piece mat I purchased has a specific hitting strip so it's easy to replace just that piece down the road after it wears out after hundreds of thousands of shots.

- Most of the packages don't include a fake turf surface for inside the screen encasement.  In my case I found a simple 10' x 7' rollout turf rug on Wayfair for around $100.

- Buy plastic cone tees so when you're playing an actual course on the simulator, there's no need to move the sim between driver and iron shots.  They come in packs with several tee heights available.

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