We are now living within a truly digital age. Artificial intelligence has become commonplace. A growing number of individuals are working remotely as opposed to heading into a physical office. Smartphone games have advanced in leaps and bounds during the past few years. It is even possible to become friends with chatbots.
Some of these very same digital advancements hare just as applicable within the world of golf. We are not only referring to classic games such as Golden Tee in this sense. On the contrary, golf simulation software packages are beginning to transform the sport as we know it. This brings up an important point. Can these simulators really help to improve your skills? Are there any drawbacks to consider? Let’s take an in-depth look at these two important question so that we can begin to understand the big picture.
A Look at the Mechanics of a Golf Simulator
Before discussing the pros and cons of this interesting technology, it is wise to understand how they function on a very basic level. Most simulators are very easy to work with and will require no previous experience. Here are some of the general steps which players will have to perform:
- Placing the ball within a certain area such as a swing mat.
- Standing in the correct position.
- Taking a swing.
So, we can see that these simulators are rather straightforward. They still employ extremely advanced technology in order to better analyse your swing. This can include optical sensors, haptic mats, cameras, and even radar. The end result is that you are provided with a detailed analysis; helping you to make any changes along the way.
Launch Monitors Versus Simulators
It is also a good idea to go away with a bit of confusion before moving on to the crux of this article. It can sometimes be difficult to tell the differences between a launch monitor and an actual simulator. So, let’s begin by clearing the air.
Launch monitors are more scientific in nature. They are primarily intended to analyse the mechanics of your swing. Monitors will measure vectors such as swing speed, angle, loft, and flight path. These metrics are then provided so that you (or a trainer) can apply the necessary corrections.
Simulators take this functionality to the next level. While they offer all of the technical benefits mentioned above, they also provide replications of real-life situations (such as courses and weather conditions). These are ideal if you have been looking to take advantage of the “whole package”. This is also the reason why many pros utilise simulators on a regular basis.
The Benefits of Using Simulator
Now that we know how to practice with a golf simulator, wat about the positive effects that this hardware can offer? Are they worth the investment and if so, what benefits might you be able to leverage? Let’s take a look at some of the most prominent.
A Host of Customisation Options
One of the drawbacks which was often associated with traditional simulators was the simple fact that they had difficulty simulating any environment in terms of realism. This is once again when technology has made all of the difference in the world. Many modern machines such as the GOLFZON simulator will enable players to adjust numerous variables. These include (but are by no means limited to) wind, weather, pitch and tee height. Anyone who has practiced golf for an extended period of time is well aware that this type of variety is key when dealing with challenging on-course conditions.
Furthermore, modern simulators have the ability to mimic other challenges that you are likely to come across. Some mats can be tilted to simulate inclines and declines. Bunkers can be added on a green. It is possible to customise a course from scratch or to play on some of the most famous greens that the world has to offer. Even the training surfaces themselves can be adjusted on occasion; ideal for those who will play on a wide variety of different terrains.
It can sometimes be difficult to obtain expert advice and feedback within a real-time scenario. This is another variable which simulators are able to address. You will be provided with all of the most important data after each and every swing. The good news is that these packages are often associated with a user-friendly edge. Even those who are not technically inclined should therefore have few issues when interpreting what they have been presented with. The majority of simulation packages also offer handy guides in the event that you wish to learn more about a specific course or you are having trouble diagnosing a problem with your swing.
A Host of Smartphone Apps
It should come as no surprise that the simulator market has taken into account the growing prevalence of smartphone apps. While many of these are technically termed as “launch monitors“, some still offer simulations in regards to 3D modelling and analysing the mechanics of your swing.
Another benefit to mention is that the majority of high-end simulators offer a dedicated smartphone application at no extra charge. So, you can even track your progress while out and about. Some of the top simulators to examine in greater detail include:
Foresight Sports GC2
Trugolf Vista 10
HD Golf Simulator
These are only four examples of some of the latest simulators to have entered into the marketplace.
More Than Drives Alone
One common misconception involves the belief that simulators are only intended to analyse and correct long-distance drives. While this is certainly one of their main functions, you can leverage a plethora of other possibilities. Many packages will now provide you with the ability to view putts and chip shots. In other words, you are now offered a means to examine your entire game. This is why so many individuals have chosen to use simulators.
Are There Any Drawbacks Associated with Modern Simulators?
Similar to all of our articles, the main intention is to provide you with the whole package in terms of an objective point of view. This is why it is important to highlight some possible pitfalls associated with modern SIM packages. Let us therefore take on the role of the devil’s advocate for a moment.
A Golf Simulator vs Reality
Do you recall playing early digital golf games such as Golden Tee Clubhouse Edition 1997? At the time, this arcade platform seemed to represent the next best thing to actually hitting the green. Times have naturally changed. While the Golden Tee franchise is considered to represent a timeless classic, it hardly replicates the realistic conditions that you can expect while on the green. The same holds true in terms of the first “true” simulators; some tracing their histories back to the 1970s.
We need to remember that even the most advanced simulation packages will never be able to fully mimic what you may experience while on the course. This is why some players are shocked to learn that their performance suddenly drops within real-world scenarios. Although this technology is undeniably impressive in and of its own right, the fact of the matter is that it is a far cry from the physical experience. Always remember this in order to avoid developing unrealistic expectations.
If you happen to be currently working a part-time job at a local restaurant, the chances that you can afford one of these simulators is slim. This has actually represented one of their pitfalls for quite some time. At the time that this article was written, the price of these packages can range between $800 and $70,000 dollars. This is largely due to the technology involved as well as any associated amenities.
There is an important trade-off to be mentioned here. While you may be tempted to commit to a cheaper simulator, the chances are high that it will not offer more advanced features. You could therefore be better off heading to a local course or hiring a personal trainer at a more amenable price.
Perhaps Not the Best Option for Beginners
Let’s imagine for a moment that you have just recently taken up golf as a hobby. Is one of these simulators really necessary? The answer to this question will depend upon your ultimate goals. After all, there is nothing wrong with taking advantage of the technology at your disposal (assuming that you can afford such a luxury). Still, some experts will state that using a simulator at a very early stage is akin to trying to learn how to pilot a Cessna aeroplane by flying the Space Shuttle.
To put it simply, simulators tend to be ideal for those who already possess a fair amount of knowledge and experience. The main concern in this respect is that those who are presented with too much information might become overwhelmed; not being entirely certain where to begin. It is much better to perform a local online search in order to determine if any clubs within your local area offer on-site-simulators. This will help you avoid making an expensive (and perhaps overwhelming) commitment.
The Amount of Space Required
We need to remember that golf simulation bundles are not simply virtual reality headsets combined with haptic technology. If you perform a bit of online research, you will soon realise that these units require a great deal of space. The average dimensions of a simulator are 10 feet in length, 10 feet in length and 8.5 feet in height. This equates to roughly 850 cubic feet. If you happen to be living within a small flat or a diminutive home, the package is hardly appropriate. So, be sure to measure the amount of available space that you can access before making any type of purchase.
While high-end simulators offer everything within a single package, the came cannot be said for the majority of models on the market today. The chances are high that you will need to invest money in order to obtain additional accessories. These can often include:
- Putting mats
- The proper lighting equipment
- A large projection screen
This can be an additional drawback if you are dealing with a limited budget.
Are Simulators Worth It? Our Verdict
We have now taken an in-depth look at the pros and cons of modern golf simulation packages. So, what is the final judgement? Before answering, it is a good idea to once again list the pros and cons of such an option. Here are the primary benefits:
- You will normally be able to customise the unit
- Quick feedback
- Smartphone connectivity
- The ability to analyse chips and putts
- A great way to diagnose the finer points of your swing
To be absolutely fair, here are some possible disadvantages to take into account:
- Quality simulation machines can be extremely expensive.
- Even high-end models will not provide you with complete real-life accuracy.
- Any simulator will require a significant amount of space.
- Not ideal for novices.
- You might need to purchase additional accessories.
We can now see that simulators can represent great additions to your current golfing arsenal on occasion. On the other hand, these units might not be the best for some players. This is why it is important to make a final decision based around your specific needs as well as what you can afford to spend on such a unit. As technology continues to advance, it is likely that even more amenities will be offered in the coming years. Either way, the undeniable fact is that golf simulation software has come a long way in recent times.