Building a custom golf simulator can be a fun and rewarding project for golf enthusiasts. A golf simulator allows you to play golf indoors and practice your swing year-round, regardless of the weather outside. With a custom-built simulator, you can tailor the experience to your specific needs and preferences.
The first step in building a custom golf simulator is to select a room or space in your home that will be dedicated to the simulator. This space should have enough room for you to swing a club comfortably and should have good lighting. A spare room, basement, or garage can work well for this purpose.
Recommended Golf Simulator Room Size
My recommendation is to at least have 10 vertical feet of clearance for a proper design & 12 feet is preferred. Obviously the more the better but most homes don't have a space with that much vertical clearance, so 10 feet will do if that's all you have in your space.
The next most important thing for building your golf simulator, is finding a golf simulator enclosure. You will want to have the following components in your golf simulator enclosure: a high-quality impact screen, frame, and netting. The easiest way to accomplish a DIY golf simulator set up is to buy all of these components as a complete kit. Our recommendation that we used for our own golf simulator enclosure build is our DIY Golf Simulator Enclosure Kit with Impact Screen (below), which comes in various sizes and with 3 different levels of impact screen quality.
Next you should be looking for a golf simulator projector. You are going to want to buy a projector with a minimum of 2,000 lumens and preferably over 3,000 lumens. You will also want to ensure you have the proper throw ratio. If you don't know how to calculate that ratio, you can check out below in our FAQ's on building a DIY golf simulator. There are also plenty of online tools for finding the throw ratio of a DIY golf simulator. Our favorite one is the Carl's Place Golf Simulator Screen Size Calculator.
In terms of a golf simulator projector we have 3 levels of recommendations:
Entry Level: LW500ST - The LW500ST is an entry-level LED golf simulator projector with a price tag of less than $800. It has a throw ratio of 0.72 to 0.87 and delivers 2000 ANSI lumens with a native aspect ratio of 1280x800 resolution. This projector is ideal for small rooms with impact screens measuring around 10-12 feet wide and ambient light control.
Middle of the road: TK700STi - The TK700STi is a 4K lamp golf simulator projector that costs under $1,700. It has a throw ratio of 0.9-1.08, which can easily fill up a 12-foot impact screen from a distance of 10 feet. With its 3000-lumen short throw feature, this projector is perfect for use in a medium-sized room with ambient light control. Moreover, it offers excellent cinema-level color and versatility, making it an excellent option for its price range.
High End Golf Simulator Projector: Optoma UHD35 - The Optoma UHD35 projector is an ideal choice for a golf simulator set up due to its true 4K Ultra HD resolution, ultra-fast 240Hz gaming capabilities, and low input lag. These features allow for a realistic and immersive golfing experience, where every detail on the course is visible and the smooth visuals make for a seamless game.
The final & most fun part of building a DIY golf simulator is choosing a golf simulator system. There are several types of golf simulator systems available, each with its own set of features and capabilities. Some systems are designed for use with a computer and a projector, while others use advanced cameras and sensors to track your swing. Some systems also come with software that can simulate real golf courses and provide detailed analysis of your swing.
Our recommendation & the system that we choose to use for our in-house golf simulator is the EYE XO2 Launch Monitor. We used this monitor as well as the Uneekor Premium Swing Motion Camera Set & the Uneekor Frame Mount. You can see a picture of our set up below.
Our biggest advice when it comes to using the golf simulator software is to use a properly powerful windows computer to run the software. We initially had issues with the computer we choose to run the software on, but after we replaced it with this computer that we purchased on Amazon, things went much smoother. Our understanding is we needed a computer able to run a more intense level of graphics processing so this cheap gaming pc did a great job for us.
The final piece to your golf simulator set up is choosing a hitting mat. As you can see above, we choose to build a putting green inside our simulator as well as place a hitting matt in the center to make optimal use of the space for indoor golf practice. Most hitting mats are pretty much the same but we can say you certainly get what you pay for in useful life of a hitting mat so plan accordingly with your purchase there.
More detailed Questions & Answers for building a DIY golf simulator:
- Can I use a regular projector for a golf simulator?
Although a standard projector may function well in a home theater setting, a golf simulator has unique requirements that set it apart. One of the challenges in selecting a suitable projector for a golf simulator is determining the correct throw ratio, which is calculated by dividing the distance from the projector to the screen by the width of the image.
However, because projectors are typically designed to assume that the entire width of the native resolution will be used, this can lead to misleading throw ratio measurements. In the case of a golf simulator, where the entire width of the screen may not be utilized, the throw ratio needs to be calculated differently.
- How do you figure out the throw ratio and throw distance?
In a golf simulator, the screen dimensions are different from those of a regular projector, which typically has a 16:9 or higher aspect ratio. The screen must be tall enough to capture the ball flight while still fitting into the room. Therefore, a 4:3 aspect ratio is often used instead of 16:9.
To display a widescreen image on a non-widescreen surface, a 16:9 or 16:10 projector can be adjusted to a 4:3 aspect ratio with letterboxing. The process varies depending on the computer and golf simulation software being used.
Calculating the throw ratio for a 4:3 letterboxed image is more complicated than for the original specification of the projector. The formula must be adjusted to use the screen height instead of width.
- How can I find the throw distance of a golf simulator setup?
To determine the appropriate projector placement in a golf simulator, we must consider the throw distance - the distance from the projector to the impact screen. Typically, the optimal position for the projector in a simulator is approximately 4 feet behind the tee, making the throw distance relatively straightforward to calculate. However, since simulators can vary in design, it is necessary to measure the throw distance independently to progress to the subsequent stage.
- How to calculate the throw ratio?
You can find the throw ratio by using the following formula:
Throw Ratio = Distance / (Aspect Ratio X Height)
This means that the result will not be the same on a 16:9 projector and a 16:10 projector. Instead, these are the results you can use:
16:9 Aspect Ratio: Throw Ratio = 0.5625 X Distance / Height
16:10 Aspect Ratio: Throw Ratio = 0.625 X Distance / Height
or you can just use this awesome tool from Carl's Place: https://www.carlofet.com/screen-size-calculator
- Results of What Projector You Can Use - What projector can I use for a golf simulator?
Once you have measured the throw distance of your golf simulator and applied the aforementioned formulas, it is probable that you will require a projector with a short throw range, which rules out several regular options. In case you found these calculations overwhelming, there are multiple online throw ratio tools at your disposal that can aid you in identifying the ideal projector for your golf simulator.
- How bright a golf simulator projector be?
The brightness requirements for a projector used in an indoor golf simulator are similar to those of any other projector used in ambient light conditions. However, since a 4:3 aspect ratio is used instead of the native 16:9 or 16:10, only a portion of the total lumen output is utilized.
As a result, when using a 16:9 projector, only 75% of the lumen output is used, requiring you to multiply your brightness requirements by 1.33. On the other hand, for a 16:10 projector, you need to multiply it by 1.2 instead.
To ensure an optimal experience, we suggest purchasing a projector with a minimum of 2000 lumens, preferably over 3000 lumens.
- Can you use a regular projector screen for a golf simulator?
A conventional projector screen is not appropriate for a golf simulator because it cannot withstand the impact of numerous golf balls without being damaged. Therefore, an impact screen is the preferred option, as it can absorb the force of golf balls hitting it without sustaining any harm, regardless of the intensity of impact.
- What size screen do I need for a golf simulator?
The ideal size for your impact screen may vary based on your room dimensions, but we suggest opting for a screen approximately 9 feet in width and 7 feet in height. This size will allow you to hit high ball flight wedges and compensate for missed shots.
- How big is a golf simulator screen?
The screen size for golf simulators varies based on the location and the projector used. For a 4:3 resolution, a screen measuring 9 feet wide and 7 feet high is adequate, allowing for miss-hit shots and high ball flight wedges. However, if you aim for top-notch quality with a 16:9 aspect ratio, your screen must have a minimum width of 13.5 feet.