Advice on purchasing a Golf Simulator
"We're the best ! No need to look elsewhere !"
"The sun is always shining with us"
That's basically what you're going to hear from nearly all golf simulator manufactures.
And if you believe the marketing on their web sites, then there's no - or very little - difference between a $299 OptiShot and a $25,000 Trackman
So how's a prospective purchaser going to make a purchase decision when they all claim to be the best?
Here's my recommended check list:
1. Don't believe a word of the marketing hype you read without seeing concrete evidence of what they are claiming.
You may notice that GSA Golf publishes the "pros and cons" of a particular product we make and actually state "Warnings" about some products.
You won't see that sort of thing on any other golf sim website because it's "bad for business" and there are no "cons". Just "pros".
Not so with us. While other's main objective is to earn as much money as possible, we're in this business because it's a passion
and as long as we can make a basic living, we're just fine with that.
2. Don't be fooled by endorsements from high profile golfers that are being paid high sums of money to endorse products.
After all, they too are in the business of making money and they'll basically say anything you want if the price is right.
3. Don't always believe reviews
I know for a fact that many reviewers are being paid kick-backs from the manufaturers for a good review. They contact us too.
4. Don't be fooled by massive advertising
You'll probably know that once you enter a keyword into Google (like "Golf Simulator")
then you'll see pop-up ads everywhere you search on the internet for paticular brands of "Golf Simulators"
The only thing this proves is that they make a lot of money on the sale or their products at your cost.
5. If you're purchasing a full scale system, will the manufacturer be custom making your enclosure to fit your size requirements?
Unless you're paying upwards of $50,000 then the answer to this is probably "NO".
GSA Golf F3 full systems - on the other hand - are all custom made to fit your size requirements for just $9,995.
6. Does the manufacturer offer a wide range of golf game software options like E6, TGC, Perfect Parallel, RedChain, ProX etc...?
or are you just stuck with the single game software option they offer no matter if you like it or not ?
Note that GSA Golf offers all of the above golf game software options.
7. Are there any maintenance costs, subscriptions and system software upgrade costs?
Note that GSA Golf software upgrades are free of charge, there are no maintenance costs or subscriptions. Even small custom updates are free with us.
8. What about support? Does the manufacturer offer free remote access support?
Note that GSA Golf offers free remote access support and e-mail support free of charge for life.
9. If you're purchasing a full scale system, does the manufacturer tell you exactly what PC, Monitor and Projector you'll be supplied with?
I know from some golf simulator manufactureres and installers that have bragged to me how they sell a $299 PC as a hi-end PC for $3,000.
In contrast , GSA Golf PC's are truly hi-end Lenovo i7 PCs with ViewSonic 24 inch touch screen monitors and 400 watt sound systems
The high speed camera hype
10. Don't be fooled by claims of super high speed cameras running at 3000 plus frames per second
We know of many golf simulator manufactures that make blatantly false claims of their camera's fps rate.
Most we've seen and tested don't even manage 30 fps. The majority - if not all - of these claims are a total hype and only designed to fool the non-techical customer.
If the manufacturer is really telling the truth about their high speed camera claims then they wouldn't have a problem telling you what cameras they use
so that you can verify their claims by looking up the camera manufacturers spec sheets.
Don't be surprised that the golf simulator manufacturer doesn't supply you with this information though.
Note that no PC or computer system we know of can even process all these frames coming in at 3000 times a second,
so that fact alone defuncts their claims.
So what cameras do GSA Golf use, you may ask?
We use USB high resolution industrial machine vision cameras rated at 32 fps
which - by the way - is more than twice the frame rate that other very well known golf simulator manufactures use in their $40,000 plus golf simulators even though they claim 3000 fps or more.
The low frame is not an issue with us because our cameras are not even free running.
They are in an idle state until they are triggered to capture just one frame of the ball or club with an extended exposure time.
In order to capture images like GSA Golf does, you'd need a super high speed camera in the 10,000 fps plus range.
I guess we could also claim such a high fps rate like the others do too, but we're too honest to stoop that low.
Note that our new USB 3 VisTrak cameras run at 600 fps though
11. Bottom line.
Try to makeup your own mind based on your own assessments without being influenced by any of the above mentioned marketing hype.
Be wary and compare features and prices.
Golf simulator components
- A golf simulator consists of the following components
- 1. Tracking system for ball and club Prices from $ 500 to $25,000
- 2. Course rendering and game software Prices from $ 299 to $5,000
- 3. Projection impact screen Prices from $ 500 to $1,500
- 4. Projector Prices from $ 500 to $30,000
- 5. An enclosure or cage Prices from $ 1000 to $5,000
- 6. PC and monitor Prices from $ 500 to $4,000
- 7. Turf carpet flooring Prices from $ 500 to $1500
- Tracking systems
- There are 3 types of tracking systems
- 1. Camera
- Camera tracking systems are now generally considered to be the most accurate and reliable systems for use in a golf simulator
- and are used in most high-end golf simulators.
- In addition to their accuracy and reliability, they offer real photographic evidence of the club and ball in flight
- after a shot so the user can verify that the data is accurate
- 2. Optical sensor
- Optical sensor systems are mostly used in lower priced golf simulators and pads in the $500 to $1500 range.
- They are not as accurate as cameras and - because they are being subject to strong shock vibrations from the club
- - can easily break down after a few years of use
- Unlike camera systems, optical sensor systems offer no way for the user to verify the data being captured with them.
- i.e. the user is forced to take the manufacturer's word for it that the system is accurate
- 3. Radar
- Radar systems are great for outdoor use but not so suitable when used in the confined space of a golf simulator.
- i.e. they need a lot of space in order to function (some requiring that the unit be placed at more than 26 feet away from the screen)
- In addition, radar systems have problems detecting low flying balls and putts. i.e. the ball is literally "under the radar".
- Note that radar tracking systems require metallic dots to be stuck to your balls
- meaning your golf balls that is
- Seriously though, all radar tracking systems require metallic dots to be applied to the balls in order for them to measure ball spin.
- And - on top of that - the ball with the metallic dot has to be placed on the hitting mat in a specific direction which means you have
- to bend down and place it there manually. i.e. you can't just roll a ball over to the hitting position with your club willy nilly.
- And - of course - those dots will have to be re-applied regularly as they will fly off the ball regularly.
- And again - unlike camera systems, radar systems offer no way for the user to verify the data being captured with them.
- i.e. the user is forced to take the manufacturers word for it that the system is accurate
- Fixed installed systems vs Launch monitors
- The vast majority of golf simulators use fixed installed tracking systems that are out of the way and out of sight.
- Using a launch monitor in a golf simulator has only one main advantage: It's easy to install.
- Other than that there are host of disadvantages which include:
- 1. The all important club data is missings
- 2. They usually can't detect a putt
- 3. Playing in a flight with mixed left and right handed players is not possible as the monitor would have to be moved and rotated
- every time a lefty plays a shot and then moved and rotated back again when the righty is up
- 4. A launch monitor sticks up close to the player so people can trip over it and even hit it with a stray ball or club.
- 5. As it is not installed it is easier to be stolen in a commercial setup
- 6. As the ball is viewed from the side, ball path direction is not so accurate
- 7. Most - if not all - launch monitors have a significant delay (up to 4 seconds or more) between striking the ball and the ball launching in the game software
- Course rendering and game software
- We recommend staying away from simple 2D photographic course software as this software won't
- allow you to move anywhere on the course (i.e. you can only move to a place on the course where there is photo)
- Flying with the ball is not possible, You can't change the weather conditions (i.e the weather will be the same as when the day the photo was taken,
- Balls won't follow the terrain over longer distances, Trees won't wave in the wind and water won't ripple. i.e. everything will look still and lifeless
- True 3D CGI model courses like E6 and TGC don't have any of these restrictions and look vastly more lively and vibrant than 2D photos
- Golf simulators from various manufacturers have quite a large range of prices and you may well be asking what the difference is between them.
- According to the Golf WRX golf simulator buyers guide as of August 2016 - Click here to see -
Prices of our competitors are between a crazy
- $35,000 and $95,000
- Note that all these companies produce excellent state-of-the-art systems and all are highly recommended
- but just in case you're not in the top 1 percent earning bracket of the country that can afford these prices,
- we highly recommend checking out our systems that offer as good - if not better - systems for well less than half the price.
- As it is possible that the GolfWRX buyers guide is not totally up to date with prices it's best to check with the manufactures for latest pricing
- Also note that the world famous Trackman golf simulator is not mentioned in the WRX Golf simulator buyers guide
- We're not sure why this is but in case you are interested, their web site - as of May 2017 - is quoting "starting at $49,000"
- Note that for the price of a single GCquad or Trackman without enclosure, you can get 2 of our F3 simulators complete with enclosures and beamers!
- Why GSA Golf products are so inexpensive compared to others?
- Actually you should be asking "why are the others so expensive" ?
- There's no sound reason in our minds why golf simulators should be costing upwards of $30,000 to $95,000 !
- These prices are - in our and many others opinions at least - grossly and outlandishly overpriced and the potential buyer should be aware of this.
- The GSA Golf Simulator advantage
- When comparing systems from other manufacturers to ours the following points should be considered:
- 1. Does the hitting mat feature true feel grass fibers ?
- If the hitting mat has only a short hair grass surface or no grass surface at all then the playing experience will be hard and uncomfortable
- The GSA hitting surface
- 2. Does the system feature both club tracking and ball tracking including vertical launch angle detection ?
- GSA systems feature both these with 3D camera ball tracking technology
- 3. How is putting implemented ?
- You will not want to putt from or over the club tracking mat as this will deflect the ball roll.
- GSA systems allow you place the ball on a large green type surface for a smooth roll.
- 4. Does the software feature a full range of top quality high resolution golf courses ?
- The E6 and TGC golf course rendering software is widely acclaimed to be the best on the market.
- It's used by many other manufacturers systems that cost $50,000 or more.
- 5. Does the system require that you hit the ball always from the same spot ?
- GSA 3D camera systems allow the player to hit from other surfaces and greens
- 6. Does the software permit large flight groups ?
- GSA Software allows up to 8 players in a flight
- 7. Does the software allow you to design and integrate your own courses ?
- Using the TGC course architect you can create your own course in the TGC Software
- 8. Does the ball tracking system capture all shots from drives to chipping and putting ?
- GSA Golf systems do all that with ease but many other systems require that the ball hit the screen with all shots
- 9. Is the system affordable ?
- Shop around and compare prices before making a purchase decision.
- GSA Golf full camera systems with E6 and TGC start at just $2,399
- so if you are looking at other manufacturers products and see prices much higher than this,
- then question what extra features they have to justify the price increase.
- Don't get ripped off!
- 10. Is the system modular and upgradeable ?
- All GSA systems are fully modular allowing a player to start as little as $699 and upgrade
- piece by piece to a full feature and professional 3D camera and club tracking system
- 11. Is the sensor mat/pad in a sturdy strong case ?
- GSA Golf Sensor Mats feature a massive solid acrylic glass 1/2 inch thick plate to protect the internal electronics.
- The construction is so sturdy you can drive a 10 ton truck over it!
- When you consider that the force of a club on the mat can be as high as 4000 pounds per square inch,
- you'll appreciate the need for a very strongly constructed product that can withstand these forces if it is to last.
- 12. Does the manufacturer claim to measure ball spin ?
- If so, inquire exactly how they are doing this.
- There's a lot of marketing hype about this feature being touted around by companies that is very misleading.
- Especially if the company is claiming to do this without using marked balls and the cameras are not very close to the ball.
- A launch monitor may have this capability if it (or rather the strobe light) is only inches away from the ball so that it is seeing the dimples on the ball
- with very good clarity but if the cameras and strobe light are many feet away then it is not possible using standard affordable machine vision cameras.
- Cameras with this capability start at around $ 10,000 a piece and you need at least two of them.
- 13. Does the manufacturer claim to measure club data but is only using ball tracking cameras ?
- Once again, if so inquire exactly how they are doing this.
- More than likely they are just back engineering the ball data to get the club data (ie club speed, path and face angle).
- This method is at best just an estimation and not at all accurate
- You can test the ability of a golf simulator to measure club data by making shots with pronounced and definite in-to-out or out-to-in swing paths.
- Try it on the golf simulator you are considering buying.
- You'll probably find - even on $50,000 systems - that it either won't detect the swing path or if it does, it's way too forgiving.
- 14. Does the manufacturer make claims that seem too good to be true ?
- If so then they are most likely not true.
- An example of this is one company claiming that their ball tracking cameras are running at 1000 frames per second but the connection to the host is USB2.
- USB2 is simply not capable of transmitting camera image frames with usable image resolution at anywhere near this rate.
- And most (even very good) machine vision cameras are not capable of a CCD frame time of anywhere near this rate
- no matter how small the camera's AOI (Area of Interest) is.
- They also claim that they are the only golf simulator company in the world who develop and write their software themselves and in-house.
- As this particular company is very aware of our product line and that we have written every line of code ourselves, they are simply not telling the truth.
- We are also aware of numerous other renowned golf simulator companies that do write and develop all their own software.
- 15. The world's most advanced golf simulator !
- You'll often see such statements from companies with inferior products. ie those still using optical sensors and can't measure ball spin.
- These companies have convinced themselves of their own marketing hype and prey on unsuspecting customers with limited knowledge of the technology.
- There's even one out there stating that they have $50,000 golf simulator technology for $399.
- The sad thing is, all this appalling marketing hype often works too.
- We're not saying that companies that offer lower-end products - such as optical sensor systems -
- are bad (we offer them too) but they shouldn't go around stating that they offer the World's Most Advanced Golf Simulators.
- Our only advice, please be aware that this industry contains quite a number of bad apples and the prospective buyer should shop with awareness.
- 16. The high speed camera hype
- Today the term "High Speed Cameras" is being used by just about all golf simulator manufacturers that have any kind of camera.
- They use the term even though their cameras are slow and in some cases not capable of more than 12 frames per second
- so be especially aware of this..
- True high speed cameras capable of many thousands of frames per second are very expensive so are rarely used in golf simulators.
- Note that our line scan cameras are running at over 3000 fps but as a line scan camera is not a full frame camera, the term "High Speed" is not really relevant here.
- Also note that our full frame cameras are being triggered at high velocity (< 6 micro-seconds) shutter speeds.
- Bottom line: Don't equate frame rate numbers with accuracy.
- Accuracy depends on the accuracy of the image processing.
- And accurate image processing takes time which is not possible at anywhere near 3000 fps using today's moderate cost computer systems
- 17. Can the manufacturer offer proof that their data is correct ?
- In contrast to GSA Golf, we have not seen any other manufacturer that offers anyway for the customer to verify that the data their systems capture is any way correct.
- One reason for this is that they could be hiding the truth. i.e that their systems are not anywhere as accurate as they claim.
- GSA Golf systems - on the other hand - allow the user to verify all data captured in all cameras with :
- 18. Is there a lag time between striking the ball and it launching in the game software?
- Many systems available on the market are not real time so the user should take this into account when deciding on a particular system.
- The above three videos show how severe the lag time can be - even on $50,000 plus golf simulators.
Why GSA Golf ?
Why spend $ 40,000 plus for a golf simulator ?
when you can get the same for a quarter of price
GSA Golf simulators start at just $ 5,995
GSA Golf simulators are the most advanced and best priced simulators on the market by far
Comparable systems from other manufacturers start at $ 35,000
GSA Golf enclosures are custom made to fit your size requirements
including padded grass turf carpeting throughout with nice wood trim,
multiple hitting surfaces (fairway, rough, sand and greens)
premium 3 layered impact screens up to 16ft wide,
3500 lumen's projectors and high end PC's with 24 inch touch screen monitors
GSA Golf simulators use the latest camera tecnology top capture bot ball and club data
The number 1 best value high speed camera system on the market today offering both ball and club tracking.
Functions for both left and right handed players in the same flight!
No one else even comes close to our VisTrak system priced from just $995
Closest competitors are in the $18,000 to $25,000
Our cameras track all the important club and ball data including ball launch angle, azimuth, spin and speed.
Club tracking data includes club speed, face angle at impact to ball, club path.
All data can be verified with real photographic evidence after each shot !
Note that this feature is unique to only GSA Golf systems. No other golf simulators on the market can provide this.
With all other golf simulator systems on the market, the player is forced to take the manufacturer's word that the data captured is correct.
There is no way for the player to verify that their measurements are in anyway correct.
All GSA Golf systems are completely modular - start with just 1 camera or sensor mat and add more cameras and features as and when requirement or budget allows.
Choose from 6 different software systems
E6, E6 Connect, TGC, RedChain, Perfect Parallel and ProX
While others offer just one or maybe two, GSA Golf offers 6 different super high end software packages
including the world's ultimate and by far the best golf simulation software on market with E6, E6 Connect, TGC, Perfect Parallel and RedChain.
Over 100,000 golf courses with all the big names like St. Andrews and Pebble Beach
GSA Golf Simulator Alternatives
If you're shopping around for an affordable full camera based golf simulator
then you might want to know what alternatives there are to our systems.
We searched the web hi and low but couldn't find any affordable full camera simulators that track both club and ball with cameras.
The reason being: Because they simply don't exist !
GSA Golf is really the only golf sim manufacturer offering both club and ball camera tracking systems at an affordable price
Full camera club and ball tracking golf simulators
There are, however, 3 systems available on the market that do provide both club and ball camera tracking but they come at quite a price
SwingTrack from Visual Sports
In contrast to the GSA Golf camera club tracking system - that uses a trigger and Xenon flash -
SwingTrack uses constant "ON" lighting and video streaming method.
Advantage of the SwingTrack system is that you get multiple images of the club.
Disadvantage is that there is a constant bright light on in the enclosure and there's no ability to precisely grab images at certain distance from the ball before impact.
Click the above image to read more about the "Swing Track" from Visual Sports
Foresight Sports systems
Image from "GolfWrx.com"
The Foresight Sports golf simulator uses a GCQuad launch monitor - which alone is in the $15,000 to $18,000 range - that captures both ball and club data.
It's disadvantage is that it cannot be used for both left and right handed players in the same flight and that tracking dots have to be applied to the clubs.
According to the "GolfWrx.com" web site Foresight Sports golf simulators cost between $35,000 and $75,000
FullSwing is another great all camera golf simulator
According to the "GolfWrx.com" web site Foresight Sports golf simulators cost between $45,000 and $65,000
Note that all these systems are excellent systems and we are not criticizing them in anyway.
It's just that they both come at a very high price compared to GSA Golf systems.
Hybrid tracking golf simulators
i.e. systems that combine both camera or microphone and optical sensor tracking
There are a number of hybrid tracking golf simulators on the market.
The most notable is
Priced from around $12,995
There are a number of camera and radar based launch monitors on the market that can also be used a golf simulator tracking system
A Radar system that can be used for both left and right handed players in the same flight
Priced from around $18,995
A Radar system that can be used for both left and right handed players in the same flight
Priced from around $15,995
A camera based system that cannot !
be used for both left and right handed players in the same flight
Priced from around $2,900 plus $400 per annum subscription fee for TGC software
Foresight Sports systems - GCquad
A camera based system that cannot
be used for both left and right handed players in the same flight
Priced from around $12,000 plus software costs
GSA Golf - World class golf simulators you can afford
BTW Note that for the price of a single GCquad or Trackman without enclosure, you can get 3 of our F2 simulators complete
with enclosures, padded flooring, premium impact screen, high end PC with touch screen monitor, 400 watt sound system and beamers!
featuring the world's best software including E6, Perfect Parallel and TGC