Golf Simulator Space Requirements

Golf Simulator Space Requirements

Golf Simulator Space Requirements: Introduction

As an absolute minimum, you are going to need a room that is 10 feet wide, 12 feet long and 9 feet high.

This would be in my opinion a very tight fit for the majority of golfers. Given that the driver is almost 4 feet long then that means you would need at least 8 feet for your backswing and through swing. That’s not allowing anything for where your arms are moving to either. That means the clubhead would actually come within a foot or so of the net you are hitting into. I would say that is too close and is going to cause you to modify your swing somewhat.

A more realistic golf simulator room size would be 12 feet wide, 15 feet long and about 10 feet high.

The biggest issue stopping you from having an indoor golf simulator is likely to be the space you need to set one up. 

The other significant issue is having the budget to purchase the equipment.

Unfortunately, I’ve never lived in a house with a room large enough to house a golf simulator. I have toyed with the idea of building an extension or some form of wooden structure to house it.

The cost of doing that has always seemed too high, particularly for my income level.

Depending upon where you live an indoor golf simulator might be the only chance you have to play golf for as much as six months a year. If you have the means you might therefore be tempted to extend your house or create an outbuilding for your golf simulator.

The amount of space you need will also depend to a degree on the simulator/launch monitor that you are using. In fact it is best to get an idea of the system you are going to install before deciding where you are going to site it.

Golf simulator space requirement
Skytrak website

Room Size

Ceiling Height

This is often the sticking point for many homes. Some systems and players will require as much as 10 ½ feet. In the UK a large proportion of homes wouldn’t have ceilings that high. Even in the US there are lots of houses that would struggle. Don’t forget that you must have sufficient room to make your normal swing without any modifications due to worrying about walls or ceilings.

If doubt is in your mind then you’re not going to make your normal swing and then the whole exercise becomes pointless. You are spending all this money to give yourself a chance to practice while the weather is poor. If you are modifying your swing due to insufficient space then you may as well not bother.

I’m 5 foot 11 but have a flattish swing so a 9 foot ceiling should be sufficient even with my driver although even then I would still be a little worried.

I often feel a little claustrophobic at some driving ranges due to the position of some of the beams for holding up the structure. If you are 6 feet 4 and have an upright swing you may find you need more headroom. At the end of the day you want as much space as possible to remove any doubt.

I suppose the other option to consider is avoiding using your longest clubs. You could practice with your short irons and wedges and buy a cheaper launch monitor to give you basic information on your ball flight. This could tide you over until you are able to move house.

The other thing to consider is, do you need netting above screen height? Even the best amongst us sometimes catch one that goes a bit higher than we would like. Unless you want to end up with a lot of golf ball sized marks on your ceiling you would need to add some netting above your screen as well.

Since you need a gap between the netting and the ceiling you would need to have a ceiling height of nearer 10 feet.

Someone collecting practice balls
Practice, practice, practice

Width

If you’re the only person that is going to be using the simulator then you can make certain accommodations to use a narrower room.

If more than one person is likely to be using the simulator then you might have to allow more space. If you have a mixture of right and left-handed people then a 10 foot wide room will be inadequate.

For example, you might decide to sit the projector on the floor. This will only work if you have either a room that is wide enough to put the projector in the middle and allow people to hit either side of it.

If you have enough ceiling height you could place the projector in the ceiling. If it’s placed in the middle then both left and right-handers should be unencumbered.

In general, most systems would need a room at least 10 feet wide.

Thinking about your driver, which is probably around 46 inches then 10 feet is actually not going to leave you massive amounts of room.

If you do try and squeeze a simulator into a particularly narrow room then you will end up compromising. You might not be able to swing your longest clubs at all. You may find that you have to push yourself so close to the right-hand side (for a right-hander) that you can’t actually aim at the middle of the screen. You’ll end up having to aim at the right-hand edge.

Most simulators work on the principle that you will be aiming at the center of the screen. It’s important to try and have a room that is wide enough that you can set up so your aim line is at the middle of the screen. If you try to squeeze your simulator into too narrow a room then that is going to become quite difficult. Many simulators do allow you to adjust the aiming but it is more natural to be looking at the center of the screen and considering that as your target.

golf clubs and balls
TaylorMade and Callaway clubs

Length

Ideally, you want to be at least 6 feet from the net/screen you are using to catch the balls. Don’t forget that you’ll need some space behind the net or screen to avoid the ball smashing into the wall before they come to rest. You’ll then also need a few feet behind you, 6 feet or so, to allow for you to swing your driver. Realistically you want a room that is about 15 feet in length. You could get away with around 13 feet but you would be close to the net or screen.

For better results, you want 18 feet or so to give the ball sufficient room to fly. That will also allow you plenty of space behind your screen/net so balls don’t end up damaging your walls or even worse bouncing back at you.

Another consideration with regard to the length of the room is that your projector may not be able to work effectively if the room is too short. Even a short-throw projector can only do so much. To get the best effect you’ll want to pick a room with a decent amount of space.

The other major problem with having to use a smaller room will be some of the simulators will not be able to function at all. For example, if you want to use Trackman you will need at least 16 feet from the Trackman to the screen/net. Even more, if you want to use the Trackman 3e. This is because the Trackman uses radar technology and therefore needs more time to get enough data to give an accurate set of figures. Other systems use photometric technology and are therefore able to work in a smaller space.

I know one of the golf simulators I used only worked if the balls you were hitting had a pattern of dots on them. They allowed it to determine the trajectory and spin of the ball after impact.

If you are looking to do video analysis on your swing then you need to have sufficient room behind you in order to set up the video equipment.

Temporary or Permanent

Some systems are designed in such a way that they can be easily moved. For example the SkyTrak system. If you don’t have the space to leave the simulator in place permanently then this could be a useful option since you can pack it away easily.

There are other systems however that need to be set up on a permanent basis so you need to have a dedicated space in order to purchase them.

Full swing systems
example Full Swing Golf systems

Projection or TV Screen?

I think most people would prefer to have some form of projection screen for their golf simulator as it gives them a more realistic feel. Again it all comes down to space and the budget that you have. Something like the SkyTrak system could display its output to a computer screen. Some of the more expensive models would be better utilized using a projector of some sort.

Golf Simulator Components

The minimum you would need is a net, a computer, a launch monitor, a hitting mat and the simulator software. Most simulators will run on a PC or laptop. You can then view the output on a normal monitor/TV screen. If you have space then you would use a projector to give yourself a more immersive experience.

Planning

If you happen to have a room that you think is large enough to house a simulator then I would suggest performing a few practice swings with your driver. Get a feel for what it’s like.

Presumably, you won’t have swung a club indoors before so it’s best to be very careful with your initial swings to make sure you aren’t going to hit anything. Make some very slow motion movements to check how much room you have before gradually building up to a more normal golf swing. If you feel comfortable in that space then it’s probably worth moving on to the next stage.

Make a shortlist of the systems you find most interesting based on your budget. Check the specifications to see if there is anything particular about that model that would stop you from placing it in your chosen room.

Ideally, you would want to test out the system before use but that isn’t always possible.

Donald Trump had a golf simulator installed in the White House. Don’t let that put you off though!

What Else Should I Consider?

Don’t forget you will need space for a computer to run the simulation software.

You may find that mirrors would be useful for checking positions in your backswing.

Could your golf simulator double up as a home theatre? Having spent all that money on an expensive projector and screen it would be nice if you could maximize the use time. Having enough space to put a few comfortable chairs in the simulator room would allow you to use it as a home theatre.

Heating?

You may find the only place with sufficient room to build the simulator is your garage. Is it going to be warm enough that you will actually use it during the winter when you need to? British winters aren’t usually that harsh but I can’t think of many garages I’d like to spend a couple of hours in at that time of year.

Conclusion

The only thing stopping you from setting up a golf simulator are space requirements and system cost. If you have space then you can get a basic system up and running relatively cheaply. If you don’t have space and have to build something specific then the cost could quickly become prohibitive.

As a minimum, you will need a room 10 feet wide, 12 feet long and 9 feet high. To feel comfortable you would need 13 to 15 feet wide, 18 feet long and 10 feet high. 13 feet would be sufficient if only right or left-handers are going to use the simulator. 15 feet would be better if you are looking for both left and right-handers to be able to use it.

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ]

What is the minimum ceiling height for a golf simulator?

If you want to swing a driver and to give yourself some margin of error then I would look at 9 feet as the bare minimum.

How does a golf simulator work?

Some form of sensors detect the flight of the ball as it leaves your clubface. Using this data to extrapolate the flight of the ball to give you information on carry, height, side spin and roll.

Most can then give you a visual representation of the shot either on a computer screen or using a projector onto a larger screen.

How much does a golf simulator cost?

At the budget end of the spectrum, you could probably put together a simple system for around $1000. It would be based around an OptiShot 2 simulator which sells for around $300. Be aware though that this system does not measure the ball after impact. It looks at the speed, path and face angle of your club. This means the results may not necessarily be particularly accurate.

One advantage of using a system like this is that you could use a foam or plastic ball. It is going to greatly reduce the overall cost since you are not going to need the same levels of protection as you would if you used a real golf ball. That’s the trade-off with this budget system.

If you’re looking for something a bit more accurate and are willing to spend some more money than something like SkyTrak would be the way to go. SkyTrak itself costs around $2000. While SkyTrack provides information on the ball it will not help you with information about your swing.

You can hook it up to a number of different software packages which feature a wide range of different golf courses. With SkyTrak you would need to use real golf balls and therefore would need a proper screen or net to catch your shots.

“I have been looking into the best way to practice all aspects of my game at home, after testing their technology and meeting with their team to design my new practice space, it was a no-brainer to go with Full Swing.”

Jon Rahm

For those with deep pockets, you could look at something like full swing golf. They offer systems starting at around $40,000. If you really want to push the boat out then you could try the HD golf ultimate package for the princely sum of $70,000. This has multiple cameras recording both swing and ball flight and even a pressure mat that can track your weight transfer. It also includes a number of other sports simulations to keep you entertained when the weather is not nice.

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