Golf simulators have been a godsend for all the golfers who want to practice golf daily but don't have the means to go to a golf course very often. But while golf simulators can be great for practicing, how do they compare to the real deal? Are their results accurate, or are you just wasting your time playing on a simulator?
We'll answer these questions and tell you how to increase the accuracy of your simulator so that you can play with your mind at ease.
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Are Golf Simulators Accurate?
Fortunately, golf simulators can be highly accurate. They can correctly read your club speed, clubface angle, launch angle, ball speed, and many other things to show you results similar to those obtained in an actual golf course.
Most simulators can reach 85-95 percent accuracy if they're well set up and equipped with high-quality pieces of technology.
However, sometimes, their accuracy can be compromised. Still, there are things you can do to increase your simulator's consistency so that you can enjoy your game without fretting about the numbers.
What Makes Golf Simulators Reliable?
Golf simulators generally consist of two things; hardware and software. These two give the illusion of a golf course, allowing you to play indoors comfortably.
Of course, the higher your hardware and software quality, the more realistic your experience will be and the more precise your results will be. That's why you need to know which devices in the simulator are responsible for its accuracy so that you can know where to look when your accuracy is off.
First up, we've got cameras. The cameras of your simulator take high-speed photos of your swing from start to impact. Once the simulator's software processes those images, it can calculate your shot by looking at the clubface as it's hitting the ball. Of course, the more high-end your camera is, the better photos it'll take at fast motion.
Another thing that helps with the accuracy is the Doppler radar, which can track the ball's movements as it flies through the air by checking for interference in specific signals that the launch monitor emits.
A few optical sensors are also placed inside the hitting surface to determine certain dynamics about the ball and club, like ball speed, club path, and horizontal launch direction. When these sensors are damaged, your swing can't be accurately judged, and the accuracy will plummet.
Finally, some simulators use an infrared light system for the sake of accuracy. Ball speed, launch angle, and direction can all be determined as the ball cuts through the infrared light waves, giving you a precise result in the end.
In general, accurate simulators have at least two of the previous devices to trace the ball and the club. Therefore, the more devices there are, the more data a simulator can collect, and the more accurate your results will be.
If there aren't enough tracking devices or something is wrong with one of them, then the calculations will be way off, and your results will be more of a guess than an accurate reading.
Still, it’s worth noting that you can always upgrade part or all of the equipment if you feel that any of them is slightly substandard. Also, keep in mind that other factors can affect the accuracy, so don't immediately assume that your readings are correct if all the systems check out.
Reasons for Inaccurate Readings
First, you should understand that there's a difference between false readings and inaccurate readings. So if your results are way off, know that something is wrong with your simulator. However, if your results only slightly vary, here, you can tinker with your simulator a little to raise its accuracy.
So, what can cause the simulator to give you inaccurate results?
For one, the settings could be incorrect. They may be unsuitable for the conditions you're playing in or the equipment you're using.
If your settings don't suit your playing situation, the calculations and resultant readings will have some errors. Something as insignificant as your surrounding temperature or humidity can affect your distance quite a lot. Therefore, your settings should be the first thing you check up on in the case of inaccurate results.
Another reason for inaccuracies is that you're playing in a confined indoor space. Players can feel restricted and hit short when they don't have enough room for their full swing or are scared of accidentally hitting something. Also, a mat will differ from outdoor grass, and accordingly, your shot and results will somewhat change.
Tip: Some golfers believe that having a high-quality mat can increase the accuracy of a simulator. So, try to get a mat that's as close to real grass as you can find, and if you can afford it, get a full-sized mat.
Varying Accuracies Between Different Simulators
To put it simply, each simulator has its own tracking and measuring devices, so each will have slightly different accuracies and results.
Of course, some simulators are very precise, like the TrackMan Launch Monitor. However, that's because its systems are very high-quality and consequently are worth quite a number. Still, the TrackMan is usually used for fittings as its accurate results will determine the right thing for you to buy.
That isn't to say that only expensive or high-end simulators are accurate, though. You can find reasonably priced golf simulators that can give you accurate results when they're properly set up and tuned.
Golf simulators are generally very accurate and can be made more so with proper setup, use, and maintenance. Typically, if the simulator has more means of tracking your plays, your readings will be better and more precise. Still, certain factors can affect your accuracy, so make sure to address them all if you feel that there's something wrong with your results.