We considered 11 golf simulators from 5 manufacturers, and once again Foresight’s GCQuad came out on top. Find out why we picked GCQuad as the best golf simulator this year, and check out 3 other recommended simulators below, with options to fit all budgets.
Which golf simulator is right for you? A quick summary
Before diving into the detail, let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way:
Your choice of golf simulator is going to be driven in a big way by your budget.
And at the more affordable end of the scale (i.e. well under $1K for everything you need), there’s really only one choice: the OptiShot 2. It’s a solid simulator, if lacking in some of the pro level feedback you’ll get from the higher end golf simulators.
I really wouldn’t recommend going any cheaper. While there are a few options available, I’d call them “golf games” rather than actual simulators. Sure they’ll simulate ball flight on a screen to some degree, but accuracy is not going to be there, and you’ll be getting false feedback. Which is not going to help your game.
So at the budget end, it’s OptiShot 2 all the way. And I’d recommend going for the “golf in a box” package ($799 here) which includes a hitting net and mat designed specifically for the OptiShot sensor.
If budget isn’t so much of a concern, you have a lot more choice.
In the mid range, we’ve got the ever popular SkyTrak system. This is going to set you back anywhere from $2K for just the simulator, to mid 4 figures for a full setup including hitting cage, mat, projector etc. It’s expensive, sure, but SkyTrak is close to pro (and in fact “pro enough” for 99% of golfers), and is coming in at least 50% cheaper than the high end sims (which I’ll get to in a moment).
Which is why, I’d recommend SkyTrak to most golfers who have a reasonable budget and are looking for a true “at home” golfing experience.
But with that being said, it’s not my place to say what your budget is. And if $ aren’t a concern, then you have two options at the “premium end”.
First up, we have the TruGolf Vista range of golf simulators. There are several models, with prices ranging from just under $10K (TruGolf Vista 8), right up to $17K (TruGolf Vista 12). But whichever TruGolf sim you choose, these things are packed with data, insanely accurate, and the visuals are quite simply, stunning. It’s as close to simulating real golf as you’ll get.
And then, right at the top of the golf simulator tree we have Foresight’s GCQuad simulators. These are the sims you’ll see the top online golf instructors like Rick Shiels using in their videos. They’re the best golf simulators on the market, but the GCQuad launch monitor alone is $14K (with sim software), and for a full simulator setup you’ll be looking at around $20-$25K.
So that’s your options. For many golfers, the OptiShot is going to be more than sufficient, and for those looking for more accurate feedback, SkyTrak is going to do the trick. But if you have cash to splash and want a true indoor golf experience, then it’s a toss up between TruGolf and GCQuad, with GCQuad for us just shading it as the best golf simulator in 2021.
Now let’s look at each of the simulators in a bit more detail.
1. OptiShot 2
best golf simulator under $1,000
If you’re looking for an affordable golf simulator that will give you some valuable feedback on your swing, and just let you “play” golf at home, then the OptiShot 2 should be your choice.
It’s the world’s best selling affordable golf simulator, and it’s easy to see why.
Their “golf in a box” package gives you everything you need to get started for under $800, which is ridiculously cheap when compared with the higher end golf sims.
You’ll get 15, 3D rendered courses pre-loaded onto the OptiShot, with the option to add another 45 with a subscription. The courses have slightly different names to the ones they emulate (we assume for budget/licensing reasons), but it’s easy to figure out what’s what, and the emulations are pretty faithful. Bottom line: you’ll be playing PGA tour courses on your OptiShot 2.
The OptiShot 2 tracks your club using sixteen precisely-tuned, high-speed 48MHz infrared sensors. And I say “your club” for a reason, as the OptiShot isn’t actually tracking your ball, it’s tracking the path of your clubface. Which means you can hit real golf balls, foam balls, or even no ball at all.
Of course, while this is an advantage to some degree (you don’t even necessarily need a hitting net), the fact that the OptiShot is not actually tracking your ball means the stats should be taken with a healthy grain of salt. There’s no substitute for hitting real balls and observing true ball flight.
And in terms of the stats, you’ll get club speed, club path, face angle, tempo, distance, and estimated contact location on the clubface. Club path is particularly useful if you’re looking to groove a more in to out swing/fix over the top.
The OptiShot is not a pro level golf simulator. But you’ll get some useful stats and can play a simulated round of golf at home for a wallet friendly price.
Which is why the OptiShot 2 is our pick for the best affordable golf simulator this year. In fact, it’s the only golf sim we considered in this category.
If that’s what you’re after, then no need to read any further. Just go here and buy it.
best golf simulator under $5000
Overall, SkyTrak would be our number one recommendation for most golfers who have a reasonable budget and are looking to accurately measure their stats and play golf at home.
Sure, it’s not got all the bells and whistles of the truly high end golf simulators. But it’s a big step up from the OptiShot 2 and is close enough to “pro” as most amateur golfers will need.
Price wise, you’re looking at anywhere between $2K (for the SkyTrak system only) up to $7.5K for a full rig with high end hitting net, projector screen et al. But even at the top end, that’s still coming in cheaper than the most “affordable” TruGolf and GCQuad simulators.
The main difference between the SkyTrak and the OptiShot 2 is that the SkyTrak is an actual golf launch monitor. It uses high speed cameras to track your ball flight immediately after impact. Which means it can accurately measure speed, spin, trajectory etc, and give you stats that are much more precise than the clubface tracking of the OptiShot.
For each shot you’ll get:
- Ball Speed
- Launch Angle
- Back Spin
- Side Spin
- Side Angle
- Carry/Total Distance
- Distance Offline
- Roll Distance
- Clubhead Speed
- Angle of Descent
Head to head studies have shown that SkyTrak’s stats are 98% as accurate as Trackman, which for many years has been considered to be the gold standard of golf simulator/launch monitor accuracy. And as a Trackman system will set you back somewhere between $25K and $50K, a 2% difference in accuracy seems more than acceptable.
Game play on the SkyTrak is great, and unlike OptiShot you’ll get properly named PGA Tour courses. Playing “closest to the pin” at Pebble Beach is a great way to while away the hours, and teeing it up in front of the R&A headquarters at St. Andrews will give any golfer the chills — even if it’s only in pixel form.
Overall, SkyTrak is our top recommendation this year. It hits the right balance between affordability (relatively speaking) and pro level shot tracking.
3. TruGolf Vista
Now we’re getting to the “big beasts” of the golf simulator world.
Our first pick, TruGolf’s Vista sim, is going to set you back anywhere between $10K and $20K depending on the package you choose.
There’s a step up in accuracy from the SkyTrak. And really here, you’re looking at Trackman levels of precision with regards to launch conditions. Not only are the cameras that little bit faster and sharper for capturing ball flight, TruGolf have invested a ton of time (and we assume money) researching the physics of golf impact, to get as close as you can to simulating how a real golf ball will fly based on that first foot or so of launch.
If you hit it 5 yards offline in real life, you’ll hit it 5 yards offline on a TruGolf simulator. If you hit it 30 yards offline in real life… well you know what I’m going to say.
But as much as the stat tracking is a level up, what really impresses us is the way the courses look. Quite simply they are stunning. And while SkyTrak has nice looking golf courses, there’s no doubt they have that digital look. You know you’re playing a game. TruGolf’s courses look about as real as you can get with modern tech. To put the difference in simple terms, it’s like comparing a PS5 (TruGolf) with a PS2 (SkyTrak).
The speed of feedback is also impressive. As soon as you hit the ball you’ll be able to see your stats and ball flight on the screen. There’s literally no delay.
Highly accurate launch and impact statistics, instant feedback, and stunning graphics (at up to 4K) make the TruGolf Vista a truly pro level golf simulator.
4. Foresight GCQuad
best all round golf simulator
Our final golf simulator, and the one we’d say is truly the “best” golf simulator this year, is the Foresight GCQuad.
I’m not going to go big into features (we’ve got a full GCQuad review here). Suffice to say the GCQuad is insanely accurate. It’s trusted by PGA pros like Rickie Fowler and Francesco Molinari. You’ll see Martin Hall using it on the golf channel. You’ll see YouTube golf gurus using it to test clubs in their videos.
If every mm and fraction of an angle matters. If you need an exact RPM for spin. If you need to know your distances to the yard for every club, then Foresight’s GCQuad golf simulator is what you need.
What will it set you back? Anywhere between $14K (for the launch monitor and sim software) to $26K for a premium setup with all add-ons.
So about the same price as a small car then. But if you really want the best golf simulator on the market, then that’s what it’s going to cost.
Golf Simulator FAQs
answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about golf simulators
What’s the difference between a golf simulator and a launch monitor?
A launch monitor is part of a golf simulator setup and is the “brains” that measures what’s happening at impact, and how the golf ball will fly. These measurements (which include statistics such as club path, clubhead speed, spin, trajectory, distance) can be read in isolation on a stand alone launch monitor, or used to simulate ball flight on a screen as part of a simulator setup.
What equipment do you need for a home golf simulator setup?
For a basic home golf simulator setup you’ll need a launch monitor, a hitting mat, a hitting net, and a connected device (iPad, laptop, phone) for viewing the simulated ball flight. However to get the most out of your home golf simulator setup, it’s recommended to also purchase a projector and screen, rather than viewing ball flight on a small device.
How much does a golf simulator cost?
Golf simulator costs range from under $1,000 for a full setup at the lower end (OptiShot package) to over $20K for premium simulator setups such as TruGolf and GCQuad.
Check out our full golf simulator cost guide here.
What height of room is needed for a golf simulator?
The minimum recommended room height for a golf simulator will vary depending on the exact setup, however, a good rule of thumb is that a simulator setup will require a room height of at least 8.5 feet.
How much space is required for a golf simulator?
The exact space required for a golf simulator will depend on the setup, however, most golf simulators will require a minimum space of 10’W x 10’L x 8.5’H.
How accurate are golf simulators?
The accuracy of a golf simulator will correlate roughly with the cost. A high end golf simulator such as GCQuad can simulate ball flight with an accuracy of around 95%.
Ready to choose your new golf simulator?
As I said at the start, a lot of what drives your choice here is going to be budget.
If you’re just looking for some basic stats, and to play golf at home, then the OptiShot 2 will get you going. The SkyTrak system takes things up a level. And then at the top end you’re choosing between TruGolf and Foresight GCQuad.
There are several other golf simulators on the market, but we wouldn’t look beyond these 4 when making your decision.
Hopefully we’ve covered what you need to know. But if you have any questions, then just drop a comment below and we’ll get back to you asap.