What is a Golf Simulator?

What is a Golf Simulator?

September 08, 2020


I’ve had a fair bit of experience with golf simulators over the last 15 years, having successfully started and run Urban Fairways Indoor Golf Club in Singapore. During this time, we received inquiries from private clubs (golf and social), schools, tertiary education providers, condominium complexes and individuals, about golf simulators. Questions about what they are, what they do, how do they differ and is it worth getting one. 

In this first post I’ll focus on what may be important for General Managers of private clubs and golf resorts to consider. I’ll clarify some of the technology available, give some examples of how you might use the different products and provide three great ideas to ensure it’s a success. 

What is a golf simulator?

A golf simulator allows golf to be played on a graphically simulated driving range or golf course, usually indoors. It is a technical or computer system used by some golfers to continue their sport regardless of weather and time of day. Simulators have been available since the early 1970s, and range in cost from under $500 to $100,000.

Not all golf simulators are created equal. Neither are they for the same purpose. 

They use various technologies - cameras, video, radar, infra-red sensors - to provide various outputs - swing path, plane, angle of attack, ball spin, club head speed, ball speed, launch angle, launch direction - with various degrees of accuracy, speed of registering the ball flight (and hence player experience) and for different purposes. Hence the end result can vary significantly.

Why is the golf simulator accuracy important?

The benefit to your golfing community, and therefore the utilisation of your golf simulator will depend on what you want to achieve, and, what your audience wants. Not everyone needs/wants to know the angle of attack and swing speed on every shot. If ever!  It could be that they only want to know the distance their ball carried using a 7 iron, they may only want to know their swing path, or maybe they just want to play St Andrews before an upcoming trip and have some fun. There is one key element you MUST ensure - accuracy. Without it, the whole experience will not be fun or worthwhile.

# 3 Tips for Success

  1. Ability to Play : It’s important to be able to play a round of golf at a famous course such as St Andrews or Pebble Beach. Whether it’s 3 holes, 9 holes or a full 18. Ensure you can choose how many people can play at one time, which tee box they play from (girls/boys/juniors) and the format of play (it’s a great way to teach game formats)

Engagement Idea: run a 9 hole monthly medal with prizes and keep a leaderboard running. 

  1. Ability to Practice: without a doubt, some of your community is going to want to practice, and they will appreciate a certain level of feedback. However, not everybody wants to know every detail. Equate it to driving a car. Most people need to know their speed and how much petrol they have. They don’t need to know how many revolutions per minute the tyres are doing. If you have the ability to turn on/off feedback that’s a bonus. 

Engagement Idea: set aside some time to run a short game clinic with your pro, to demonstrate how to use a simulator to sharpen up your game from within 50 metres

  1. Ability to Entertain: at the end of the day, golf is about enjoyment and being entertained. So it’s great to be able to run competitions like leagues, as well as nearest the pin competitions where everyone can participate. Long drive comps are great for bragging rights amongst a group of friends, but generally the NTP has far more utility. 

Engagement Idea: run a monthly nearest the pin competition. Charge a nominal entry fee which goes to a charity. Give away some nice prizes to the top 3 results on the leaderboard.

If you are running a club or a golf resort, having the right golf simulator can dramatically enhance your offering. It may be the difference between choosing your club over another, it can keep your members engaged and consuming in your clubhouse, it can provide your pro with a wonderful aide, and in the case of bad weather or bad light, it can provide a place to run a fun competition during a corporate event. 

Over the years we have run hundreds of golf events indoors. If you’d like to know more about them, or the simulators we used at Urban Fairways and why we chose them please drop me a line at dilip@urbanfairways.com and I’ll be more than happy to help you out.  

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