Building your golf oasis: A guide to installing a home golf simulator
29 Jan 2024
by Pete Wlodkowski of

see also: Equipment Reviews

A space like this is every golfer's dream
A space like this is every golfer's dream

The post-pandemic golf boom has shown remarkable traction, with the only negative being how difficult it can be to get a tee time  -- even at many private clubs. As equipment, accessories, and apparel manufacturers have experienced record
sales, a simultaneous boom in the home and commercial golf simulator market has unfolded right before our eyes. Launch monitors' quality and capabilities keep improving, and increased competition among leaders and upstarts has led to innovation in an industry expected to double its current market size of $1.5 billion soon.

If you live in a cold climate and are serious about keeping your game sharp, it’s a good bet that you have considered installing a “SIM” in your home or finding a place to use one. Maybe your apartment complex, country club, or gym has installed one as an amenity. But it's worth considering your options if you have the room and budget at home. What follows is a guide to installing a home golf simulator. Most of what we’ll cover applies to commercial applications, too.

Like any home improvement project, you should evaluate your available space and budget before buying anything. Let’s start with the space – you should have a ceiling height of nine feet or more to swing comfortably and an average room size of 12’ W x 15’ D x 10' H to allow for the installation of a net/screen and proper distance for measurements to be taken properly, no matter which type of launch monitor you choose. Once you’ve determined you have the space (and sold your significant other or parent on using it as a golf paradise), it’s time to put some money aside. Fortunately, a full simulator system allowing you to play realistic golf at your favorite courses can be purchased for as little as $5,000. However, an investment of $15,000 to $25,000 will yield the best results while providing you with an industry-standard launch monitor like the Foresight GCQuad or Trackman4, which you can easily transport to use outdoors at a practice range.

An interesting sidebar about the launch monitor industry – like many technologies that work their way into mainstream society, their origins are from military applications. Launch monitors got their start tracking projectiles like missiles and bullets; you should consider the golf ball as a fast-moving projectile capable of serious injury before installing any indoor golf system. Design it for the worst golfer in the world because, at some point, a ball will get popped up into the ceiling, topped to the lowest point of the net/screen, or hit sideways in either direction. Damages to drywall, furniture, and ceiling lights can be repaired, but injuries to people of any age should be avoided. An ounce of prevention, as they say. Particularly dangerous are installations in a basement area with concrete walls. If you have small children, they shouldn’t use indoor golf simulators unattended. Another important aspect is ensuring you always have enough room to swing and will not be close to where people may be sitting or walking if it is a social outing. A designated walking area is helpful.

Some of the basics follow. For the bulk of this article, I will focus on requirements and installation guidelines for systems where you can watch the flight of the ball against a backdrop of real or imagined golf holes (referred to for short as a “SIM” as opposed to an entry-level system consisting of a golf net, with a launch monitor tracking ball flight and a computer/monitor off to the sie to watch ball flight against a similar backdrop. While such a system is an excellent way to enjoy indoor golf on a budget, and you'll want to use some of the safety precautions discussed above. If you are not sure if you have enough room, try swinging a golf club. If you have enough space to do that, you have enough to set up a SIM. 

Recommendation: Unless you want to spend more time on sourcing parts and "trial and error" I recommend buying a Foresight, Skytrack, Rapsodo, Uneekor, Full Swing, or TryGolf package enclosure from ACE Indoor Golf or a "SIM-in-a-Box" package from Foresight Sports. You'll get everything you need including brackets, connectors, a rugged frame, and the support of companies that have done this thousands of times. Even better? Find someone to do the heavy lifting for you. A couple of years ago, I installed a DIY putting green with my friends at the Recreational Group and had a contractor prep the area, and one of my friends with real skills do the installation. We (they) got it right on the first try. Ace Indoor Golf offers online DIY packages, custom packages, and installation throughout the United States.

Below is a short video from ACE showing the steps involved in installing their medalist golf hitting bay kit:


If you've gotten this far, I'm betting you know the names of some of the top portable golf simulators on the market: Trackman 4, Foresight Sports (QuadMAX, GCQuad, GC3), SkyTrak Plus, FlightScope Mevo+, and Uneekor. For a full breakdown of the options, check out this article. But an important consideration is whether a portable launch monitor is the right solution for your setup. An overhead-mounted unit, such as Foresight's GC Falcon (19,000) frees up space, requires less calibration, and allows for left- and right-handed golfers. Granted, moving a GC Quad or Trackman in and out of your space is nice to go the range, but you should seriously consider an overhead unit before deciding for a few of the reasons listed below.

Pairing your launch monitor with an appropriate projector is a must. The projector sends the image of the golf course and your ball flight to the white hitting screen in front of you, and its brightness, contrast, and resolution are all important factors to consider. I suggest seeking recommendations from Foresight and resellers like ACE Indoor Golf, who can tell you everything you need to know about projectors. Overheating, replacing lamps, and warranty are all issues to consider. Pro tip – visit some local indoor commercial golf facilities and learn from their research and real-world experience. Not to mention being able to compare one vs. the other. Depending on your location, you will find many installations and see what you like. Some cities have key-card access membership facilities and these might offer a trial membership. Your friends with SIMs, as well as teaching professionals, are other learning opportunities. And ACE Indoor Golf has a series of webinars and instructional videos on their website that are just a few clicks away. You’ll also need a computer to process the graphics; typically a gaming PC is used. The need to protect that machine from errant golf balls should be obvious.

The entire simulator system comes together when installed properly, using the right equipment. ACE offers enclosure kits at various price points and sizes (I like the ACE Medalist). These systems include extruded aluminum frames with mounting holes, hardware, hitting screen, net, and most importantly instructions. Installation services are available – Ohio-based ACE has installed thousands of commercial and residential systems and has a network of contractors across the country. A professional quality hitting mat is a must – I recommend Fiberbuilt’s 4’ x 8’ professional mat with solid rubber base to prevent slippage even on finished concrete floors. Surround the hitting mat with premium modular flooring (available from ACE) and make sure that you’ve prepped your space before taking delivery and starting your project.

Like any home upgrade, the sky’s the limit when you let your creativity take over. You can put your simulator in a garage, or you can go high-end and convert a room into a combination home theater and simulator. Your guests will need a place to sit, even if you aren’t planning on watching movies. So plan on getting some furniture. It doesn’t have to be new; I’ve purchased leather chairs on OfferUp for less than $100. 

If you’ve got the space, desire, and budget, you can create a golf simulator that will help you stay sharp, while having fun with family and friends. Put safety on the top of your list, and do the research to avoid common pitfalls. For example, I was watching a live webcast with ACE Indoor Golf and heard stories about people using golf balls marked with Sharpies, only to find out that their beautiful white hitting screen got permanently damaged before they realized the error of their ways! Technology keeps improving, and the knowledge of manufacturers and installers continues growing. As someone who grew up in New England and now lives in California, I can’t help but wonder. How much better could I have been if I had something like this growing up?

I hope that you have found this article helpful and that you’ll consider sharing questions, stories, and pictures with me so I can pass them on to our readers and members. Follow us at the links below to take part in the conversation:

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