Where can I put a golf simulator?
Welcome to Part 4 of our Golf Simulator Guide, following on from our article on golf simulator size and space.
In this post we will look at where you can put a golf simulator, what you should consider when choosing a simulator location, and the different types of home and commercial golf simulators.
Golf simulators can be found in a wide variety of environments and locations. There are no specific types of environment that must be used (or avoided), but ensuring the appropriate characteristics for the golf simulator to work effectively and safely is very important.
Here we will provide examples of some of the more common golf simulator environments and the important things to consider about your chosen location.
Several factors determine whether the location is suitable, and whether there may be some limitations to the use of the simulator.
For example, using a simulator in the garden is a great way to ensure there is enough space, but an outside location will mean that certain electrical and structural components cannot be set up permanently.
Similarly to space needed for a golf simulator, the best location (and what that location needs) depends on how the simulator will be used, and the requirement of the golfer(s) who will be playing in it.
Environment characteristics – what should be considered when selecting a golf simulator environment?
We have already discussed the importance of finding a location for your golf simulator with the right amount of space, but several other factors make some locations more suitable than others. There are also elements that should be added to an existing space to create a better golf simulator environment.
It is important to consider the following environmental elements when planning your golf simulator:
The material of the walls in the room can affect the way the simulator is constructed, and how it might need to be fixed.
For example, if the walls are constructed from wood, as in a shed for example, then a carpet (or other material) could be applied directly onto the wooden wall to create the wall of the simulator itself, as the wood can resist the impact of a golf ball without significant damage.
On the other hand, if the walls are made of plaster, then either an additional material or a simulator structure with netted side walls, would need to be used in order to protect the plaster walls from being damaged by a golf ball.
Ceiling/roof type (flat, vaulted, etc.)
In addition to the walls, the ceiling or roof is an important structural element of the room that will dictate some features of the golf simulator construction.
The same is true with the ceiling as with the walls; the construction material will determine whether any additional material or structure is required to protect the ceiling from golf ball damage.
The shape of the ceiling or roof can also create challenges. Ideally, the ceiling will be both high enough and flat – but this is often not the case. Many simulators are constructed in rooms with pitched roofs and vaulted ceilings.
If there is a vaulted ceiling with beams running across the room, measurements should be taken from the floor to the beam, as well as the distance between the beams (rather than just the floor-to-pitch and floor to top of wall measurements).
A simulator screen against a wall leading to a vaulted ceiling also creates additional considerations for the size of the screen and the ceiling protection required. This is because, as explained in the image size section of our space article, the projected image is almost always rectangular. In this instance, there would be a ‘blank’ triangular space above the screen that cannot be projected onto. This would need additional protection to prevent golf balls from rebounding back toward the golfer.
If the width of the room means the simulator can be positioned perpendicular to the vaulted ceiling wall, this issue would be avoided.
Pipework or protrusions from the walls or ceiling
An additional consideration for both the walls and ceiling of a golf simulator environment should be any pipework or protrusions that could make it difficult to fix the simulator in that area.
For example, a radiator would mean that the wall of the simulator could not be fixed to that wall, or that the screen would need to sit further from the wall to avoid the ball hitting the radiator.
Similarly, while there may seemingly be enough height in the room from floor to ceiling, a pipe or ducting may result in the simulator ceiling not being high enough or needing to be constructed in a different way.
Floor material (underfloor heating)
The floor material is also an element to be aware of when planning a golf simulator. If the simulator structure requires being fixed to the floor, then the material would need to be able to be drilled into.
One thing that is often asked is whether a golf simulator can be used over an area of underfloor heating. In theory, the answer is yes, but it makes little sense to have underfloor heating in that area because it is unlikely to be efficient when the simulator flooring is placed on top and would result in wasted energy.
Windows and doors
Ideally, the simulator hitting area would not be shared with any windows or doors (although sometimes that is not the case). Windows and doors can create several possible issues. From a safety perspective, they might be hit with a golf ball or club, or someone may enter the room and be in danger of getting hit. From a performance perspective, they can cause the projected image to become ‘washed out’ due to too much external light coming in.
The size, type and location of the window or door, and where it is located relative to the hitting direction, will determine the best course of action when planning the layout of the simulator.
In most cases, the best solution would be to permanently block them with the simulator, or cover them up while the simulator is in use. There have also been examples of doors being constructed as part of the simulator walls themselves, so they appear hidden while in the golf simulator.
Insulation and room temperature
Insulation can be an important component of a golf simulator room, especially for outbuildings, sheds or garages. The amount of insulation required is likely to depend on your geographical location.
Insulation can make the simulator space more pleasant for the golfer, and also create a much better environment for the technology being used.
If the golf simulator technology is getting cold overnight and then warming up during the day while in use, this can cause condensation to develop within the hardware and potentially cause damage to internal components. If a suitable insulated environment cannot be achieved during cold temperatures, then the technical components should not be stored in that area.
A simulator room that gets too hot can also cause problems, as the technology can easily overheat. This might cause it to run much less efficiently or, in some cases, shut down altogether.
Insulation from dust and dirt within the room is as important as temperature. The launch monitor, computer, projector, monitor (and any other technology) will perform better and last longer in a clean and dust-free environment that is clean and dirt/dust free. This is also why any golf simulator space should be cleaned, hoovered and dusted regularly.
The requirement (and level of) sound-proofing will depend on the use and location of the golf simulator. In any environment however, it is worth considering that the contact between the ball and club will make noise, as will the golf balls hitting the impact screen.
Sound-proofing can be easily achieved using curtains, foam or a similar material for padding around the room.
It is possible to set up a golf simulator using a launch monitor and a tablet (that would not require any direct power source while in use). However, for most simulators, electrical power supply is an important consideration when deciding the location and environment.
The number of power sockets required (either wall-based sockets or surge-protected adaptors) will depend on the components used in the simulator. The launch monitor, projector, computer and TV or monitor will all need their own source of power. The majority of these would be best located by the computer so they can be easily connected. Ideally, the projector would have a socket in the ceiling to connect to.
While simulators don’t absolutely need internet access to function, it is beneficial to have where possible.
Access to the internet opens all elements of the simulation software, such as online competitions and course downloads. It also means that the computer and other hardware can be regularly updated, ensuring they continue to perform at their best.
Crucially, internet access also means that technical support agents can access the computer remotely to diagnose and solve any issue that may occur.
The amount of lighting needed in the room can depend upon the technology being used to measure the golf ball.
A radar-based unit, such as a Trackman launch monitor, can need a significant amount of light in order to try and calculate the impact location.
A camera-based launch monitor system will typically be able to operate in much darker environments. The Foresight Sports GCQuad for example has an in-built infrared array that provides all the light it needs to directly measure the golf ball (and golf club) with virtually zero external light.
Too much light can be an issue, as it will easily wash out the image being projected onto the screen, making it much less clear and crisp (and often very difficult to see at all in bright rooms).
The general rule for golf simulators is that the lower the light level, the better. Maintaining enough light to be able to comfortably see the golf ball and play golf is important of course, but the playing experience will be significantly enhanced with a clearly visible projected image.
Air conditioning / heating
Something often overlooked in a simulator environment is the ability to manually heat and cool the room. A well-insulated environment may reduce the need for air-conditioning or heating systems; however,being able to control the temperature of the room when in use simply creates a much more enjoyable experience for the golfers.
Golf simulator environment examples – where can a golf simulator go?
There is no one particular type of location or environment that is ‘correct’ for a golf simulator. Many simulator owners have made excellent use of unconventionally sized or shaped spaces.
A golf simulator can be as simple as a putting game where the ball is hit into a cushion, or as complex as a purpose-built room with a fully installed simulator complete with home cinema.
Below are examples of some of the more common locations used for home golf simulators and commercial golf simulators.
Home golf simulators
Garden / outdoor golf simulators
Outdoor / garden golf simulators are a great way to start experiencing the benefits of a simulator solution. They normally consist of a simple set-up, with a net, hitting mat, launch monitor and tablet or laptop to display the golf simulation software. The Foresight Sports Net-Series is a great example of a simple outdoor golf simulator that can easily be set up in a garden, a garage or on a driveway.
A garden-based simulator removes most of the space-related challenges that an indoor set-up involves. It also has the added benefit of a very quick and simple set-up time and simple storage when not in use.
Garden golf simulators also often provide one the most cost-effective solutions possible. Many customers will start with a garden simulator, (using the best launch monitor technology possible), as an interim solution before moving on to a projected simulator inside.
Garage golf simulators
A garage golf simulator is one of the most common home simulator solutions.
Assuming the garage has enough ceiling height, they usually provide the perfect shape and size for a golf simulator. Garage golf simulators can vary massively in their complexity, based upon the components used.
Many customers simply use a netted solution, such as the Foresight Sports Net Series, in their garages just to take their playing experience inside. Others may opt for a projected solution such as the Foresight Sports Performance Simulator which is a great starting point for experiencing projected golf simulation.
Finally, some customers will fully transform their garage into a complete, fully installed simulator solution complete with artificial turf, a recessed hitting mat and a fixed, tensioned hitting screen. You can see a perfect example of this here in our Garage to Golf Simulator Customer Story.
Garage golf simulators work well because they are located close enough to the house for convenience while providing a separate and unique golf space. Another advantage is that running both power and internet to a garage is usually quite a simple task.
Many customers who use their garage won’t necessarily want to completely give up their garage just for the use of a golf simulator (and, fortunately, they don’t have to!) Many set-ups use removable turf and hitting mats; this allows the garage to be used for storage or car parking as well as for the simulator. Our Garage Conversion Simulator Customer Story shows a great example of this type of set-up.
Shed or outbuilding golf simulators
Building a golf simulator in a shed or outbuilding – such as a barn – has become much more common over recent years. Much like garages, they are typically a very practical size for a golf simulator. If they are not already a suitable size, they are relatively cheap to extend or have their ceilings raised to provide enough space.
A shed or outbuilding simulator solution can be as simple as a traditional shed with wooden walls, as demonstrated by our Shed to Simulator Customer Story, or a converted space that is insulated and decorated, such as our Outbuilding Golf Simulator Customer Story. Outbuildings such as these can accommodate the full variety of golf simulator solutions, from net-based to fully installed.
Many customers create purpose-built sheds or rooms to house their golf simulators, with many shed providers working closely with simulator companies to ensure correct measurements. Our Shed Conversion Performance Simulator Customer Story is a great example of a simulator company working with a builder, resulting in a golf sim the customer could not be happier with.
One of the challenges that can come with building a new room is the planning permission required due to the height. Our Underground Garden Golf Simulator Customer Story shows an inspired solution to this problem! This customer worked with a swimming pool company to dig out a 1-metre deep pool. The dimensions were the correct size for the desired golf simulator, the ‘pool’ was made watertight, and then a shed was built over the top. The result is an incredible custom simulator solution – from the outside, a relatively standard garden shed. Inside, however, you step down into a dream golf simulator.
Spare room golf simulators
Some customers are fortunate enough to have a spare room within their home with enough space for a golf simulator. Such simulators are typically towards the more complex end of the spectrum.
Spare rooms usually provide the perfect environment for golf simulators; typically they are fully insulated and already have access to power and internet. The only additional consideration might be whether to include any soundproofing.
Using a spare room in the home for a golf simulator can sometimes mean a compromise between homeowners, with a multi-use space being agreed upon. Golf simulators provide a great space for families and children to watch films, play video games, or develop their own golf skills. Family-friendly games and software such as Foresight Sports’ Foresight Fairgrounds are ideal for younger players venturing into the world of golf (or for non-golfers to enjoy, regardless of skill levels!)
Golf simulators are often built with cushioned flooring, and can easily be doubled up as a gym or exercise space. Our Custom Gym Simulator Customer Story shows a great example of a multi-use golf simulator space.
Commercial golf simulators
Pro shop/golf club simulators
Pro shop or golf club golf simulators were some of the first places that simulators were ever seen. Most golf professionals now see simulators with trusted launch monitor technology as an absolute necessity. Not only do they provide an unbelievable return on investment, they are vital for golf pros to maintain a successful business, providing coaching and fitting customers with the level of service and technology they now expect.
Whether as a direct part of the pro shop or within the golf club, simulators provide the perfect space to coach and fit all year round. They mean that the PGA Professional should almost never have to cancel a session again. The launch monitor technology means they can provide instantaneous and detailed data to improve their clients’ games, to a higher standard and more quickly.
Golf clubs, businesses and professionals across the world have been reaping the benefits of golf simulators in recent years. You can see some examples in our Customer Stories from Golf Principles, Joel Saunders, and Rob Leonard of Harpenden Common Golf Club.
In addition to greatly improving the income of the golf club in question, a simulator is also a huge asset to the members. They can play and practice in a controlled environment, all year round, and receive unmatched feedback on how they are improving. This is why many clubs, such as The Springs Resort and Golf Club, have chosen to invest in more than one simulator, maximising the use for the club professional and the members.
Driving range golf simulators
Driving ranges are one of the most convenient places to install a golf simulator or golf studio because they are purpose-built with enough space to swing golf clubs.
Typically, driving range golf simulators are constructed by combining two or three bays at the end of the range, creating one large room. A wall can be added to separate that area from the rest of the range, with a roller shutter door installed in the front to provide additional security. The simulator is then constructed within that space; a great example of a driving range golf simulator is that owned by Peter Field Golf based at Norwich Family Golf Centre.
Customers can use the simulator by hitting balls out onto the driving range and displaying the software on a TV monitor fixed to the wall.
In other cases, simulator owners will choose to have a hitting screen installed on a curtain rail. This allows the shutter to be closed and the screen used when the weather is bad. This provides a complete indoor simulator solution, with the added benefit of being able to use premium golf balls (and not losing them on the range!)
Commercial / multi-bay entertainment venue golf simulators
Commercial indoor golf centres with multiple golf simulators are becoming more and more popular throughout the golf industry. They represent a shift to a modern golf club environment, where customers can experience the best golf coaching, any-time play, and focussed practice – all from the comfort of an indoor environment.
They often host groups of golfers who want to play simulated golf with friends, or as the perfect setting for a party or corporate event.
Commercial indoor golf centres are normally found in converted industrial units or office spaces because they need so much space. An additional consideration for an indoor golf centre is both the access to footfall, how easily a customer can travel to the location, and whether there is enough parking to accommodate the required number of customers.
Commercial golf simulators are an example of where the simulator technology chosen can have a huge impact on the success of the business. The industrial units or office spaces are normally rented, and the cost of the rent is related to how big the space is. A radar-based launch monitor system, which needs significantly more space to track the golf ball (compared to a camera-based launch monitor system) would greatly increase the space required and therefore the running costs of the business.
From private homes to golf clubs or commercial indoor centres, golf simulators can be installed and used in almost any environment where there is enough space. They can range from simple with a net solution to fully installed purpose-built rooms, (complete with motion pressure plates, video analysis systems and the most sophisticated simulation software in the world).
There are always factors to be aware of when considering whether an environment is suitable for the golf simulator. Ultimately however, it will always come down to what you want to achieve and what your priorities for the simulator are.
You are welcome to explore our PEAK online education platform. The training will help you understand how to read and interpret launch monitor data and let you hone in on target areas to improve your golf.