Really? How accurate are home golf simulators? Can you rely on golf simulator ball data? Which golf simulators are the most accurate?
We’ve seen an almost unending list of questions regarding home golf simulators and their accuracy. And it should be no surprise. Golf is one of the most meticulous, and heavily analysed sports in the world, where the smallest of differences can make huge impacts on the end result. If something is fractionally off, a golfer will be the first to notice.
In this article, we examine the question of golf simulator accuracy. We’ll show you what contributes to accuracy, which launch monitors are the most accurate, and get you understanding why you may sometimes see inaccurate numbers when using your golf simulator.
Home Golf Simulator Accuracy Guide
So, are golf simulators accurate? For the most part, yes, and the best golf simulators are backed by rigorously tested and reliable technology. This testing and reputation of the best brands comes from being used by countless tour and teaching pro’s around the world.
Can they be wrong at times? Absolutely, misreads, no reads, connection errors are real. But there are plenty of things you can do to make a simulator more consistent. So it's important to understand why a golf simulator may be showing the numbers it’s showing.
Golf Simulator Technology drives accuracy
First, we’ll need a crash course in launch monitor technology. There are a variety of ways golf simulators will track your golf shot. Here are the most common:
Cameras - High-speed images are taken through impact. These images are analysed to determine all types of ball and club data. For example, Uneekor provides launch monitors that track your ball at up to 3,200 frames per second, and all the data they need is captured at the moment of impact.
Doppler Radar - Signals emitted by the launch monitor get interfered by the ball as it flies through the air. The system can calculate various data based on when and where the ball interrupts the signals. Typically, these systems need about five to six metres of ball flight to calculate an accurate reading. Trackman are the leading providers of this technology.
Optical sensors - Optical sensors, most often placed inside a hitting surface, track the ball and club as it passes the sensors. These sensors can then determine things like club path, horizontal launch direction, and ball speed.
Infrared light - As the ball passes infrared lightwaves, the system can track data such as ball speed, launch angle, and launch direction. Uneekor incorporates infrared ball trackers into their launch monitors to provide more insightful data.
Are Launch Monitors Always Accurate?
The most accurate systems will often combine two or more technologies and track both club and ball data. It is important to note that all golf simulators require calculations. The simulator uses all the data produced by your shot and calculates where the ball should go based on the amount of data processed. Generally, the more data that is captured, the more accurate the golf simulator will be.
Some particular issues we see include ensuring that the golf simulator is not set up to your playing conditions, and customised perfectly to you.
Because your golf simulator relies on making calculations, setting your golf simulator to your playing conditions is absolutely critical. Environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity, and elevation can affect the distance of your shot by up to 20-30 metres with your longer clubs.
Let’s say you’re from Queensland where the air can be quite heavy due to the humidity. If you get on a golf simulator that’s not set up with the same humidity levels, then there's a good chance the numbers will show that you are hitting everything farther than you’re used to.
Most golf simulator’s, and launch monitors, will allow you to adjust your environmental conditions.
Hitting indoors can also play a role in abnormal results. The type of mat you hit from can actually play a minor role in your shot distance. Your club can react differently through impact with the mat compared to grass, especially on slightly mishit or chunked shots. This can lead to slightly different numbers from mat to mat, hence the importance of investing in a good mat that matches the conditions you play in, as well as it’s longevity and ability to prevent injury.
Some golfers also report that they tend to hit shorter indoors. It could be the inability to swing freely for fear of hitting something, or just that you tend to give the ball a bigger swing when hitting into the grass. Whatever it is, there is a tendency for some golfers to have lower swing speeds indoors. At GolfSim Australia, we have 13 years of designing beautiful indoor golfing spaces that allow you to work on your game and play as you would outdoors.
A warning on radar interference
This is a big one. Metal roofs, steel beams, aluminium cladding, all of this can potentially interfere with the radar fields that your technology is using to pick up on the ballflight metrics. You will need to take all of this into account before making the move into a radar based system.
Home Golf Simulator Accuracy Summary
Understanding all of these factors will give you a much better understanding behind the differences in numbers you may see when comparing golf simulators. If you have your golf simulator set up correctly, are using a high-quality mat and your room is perfectly designed, there is no reason why your golf simulator shouldn’t be almost perfectly accurate!