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Many dream of having a life-size golf simulator setup in their home, so they can play their favourite golf courses or practice on the range day or night, rain or shine, any time of the year.
But many don’t give much thought to the projector, which projects the ball flight and simulation onto the screen. Projectors that are low-quality, produce a dark image, or are a hassle to set up can ruin the experience.
Without a good projector, you won’t be able to realize the full potential of your simulator.
In this article, we’ll review and compare our picks for the best golf simulator projectors across a range of different budgets. We’ll also provide a buying guide that will help you narrow down the projector that will suit you best.
We have tested all of these projectors. Some offer less capability than others, but they all deliver excellent performance for the cost.
Our Top Picks For Golf Simulator Projectors
Based on our own testing, research, and experience, the following are our top picks for the best golf simulator projectors:
- Optoma GT1080HDR Short Throw Projector
- BenQ MW632ST WXGA Short Throw Projector
- Panasonic PT-VZ580U WUXGA Projector
- BenQ LK936ST 4K Laser Short Throw Projector
- Optoma EH200ST HD Short Throw Projector
- Panasonic PT-VMZ51U WUXGA Laser Projector
- Optoma EH412ST 1080p Short Throw Projector
Why is the Optoma GT1080HDR our top pick? Because it’s priced very well for a 1080p short throw projector, it supports 4K input, it outputs an impressive 3800 lumens, and its short throw capabilities mean you can mount it from a short distance away.
With golf simulators, a bright, high-quality image is important, and you get exactly that with the GT1080HDR. Many golf simulator owners have used it with excellent results, and in fact, it’s one of the most common projectors used for golf simulators.
The GT1080HDR projector uses Digital Light Processing (DLP) and HDR10 technologies for richer, truer colours. The 3800 lumens of the projector produce a bright, sharp image even if there is a fair amount of ambient lighting in the room.
The 0.5:1 throw ratio effectively means you can produce a 100″ image with the projector just 1.1 meters away from the screen.
One of the greatest strengths of the GT1080HDR is its fast response time (8.4ms), which translates to minimal lag between your shot and the result on the screen.
Other features include:
- a high contrast ratio of 50,000:1
- vertical keystone correction of ±40 degrees
- a 0.9-2x digital zoom
- support for 1080p HDR and 4K input
- VGA, USB, and HDMI support
- Signal Power On which prevents the projector from turning on without a computer signal
- a lamp life of 15,000 hours
It’s not just great for golf though. You can also connect it to gaming consoles or media players, with plenty of connectivity for things like Amazon Fire TV Stick HD, Google Chromecast, and Apple TV.
The projector supports HDMI connectivity, which allows you to easily hook up your laptop, computer, or other device that is running the simulation software to the projector.
Because the GT1080HDR is a short-throw projector, it can be mounted on the floor or ceiling without creating shadows. People love the quality of the image and the affordability. You can view customer reviews here.
The BenQ MW632ST is an excellent choice if you’re on a really tight budget. BenQ is one of the best projector brands out there today.
This model can only project up to 1280×1800 resolution and is just barely considered a short throw projector, but a lot of golf simulator owners have had great success with it.
Technologies & Specs
The MW632ST has a throw ratio of 0.9:1. This effectively means that you can get an 87-inch image with the projector placed 1.36m away.
It produces 3200 lumens, which is very good given its price. You can add a bit more light to your room and the image will stay bright.
Other features include:
- a contrast ratio of 13000:1 and a pixel fill factor for clear text and images
- a vertical keystone function that aligns the image when the projector is placed off-center
- a 1.5A USB Type-A output that you can use to charge various devices
- HDMI and MHL connectivity
- built-in 10W speakers
- full DLPR 3D support, which you can take advantage of with 3D glasses and a device that can produce 3D content such as a blu-ray player
Users of the MW632ST love the light weight, portability, and crisp and bright image that you can see from any vantage point.
Short throw projectors aren’t the only answer for golf simulators — standard throw works really well too if you mount it on the ceiling and have enough room depth.
The PT-VZ580U is from Panasonic, which generally makes excellent projectors. It can put out a very impressive 5000 lumens at a 1920×1200 WUXGA resolution, and it’s more affordable than a comparable short throw projector would be.
The PT-VZ580U also has a very good average rating, with many people using it successfully in their golf simulator setup.
The Panasonic PT-VZ580U has a throw ratio of 1.09-1.77:1. This will normally mean that you’ll need to mount the projector 10-20 feet from the screen.
The very high lumens rating of 5000 means that you get bright, clear images in practically any indoor or semi-indoor environment. With a 16000:1 contrast ratio and 3LCD image generation technology, you get a lot of detail even in dark areas of the image.
Other features include:
- HDMI, VGA, and even RCA inputs
- a lens shift function that prevents image distortion from a given distance away
- corner, vertical and horizontal keystone correction for image adjustment at different angles
- quiet operation at just 29 dB
- Daylight View Basic proprietary technology which helps create a sharper image with finer details
- an ECO management function for power saving
- a lamp life of over 7000 hours
This projector has been included in many of The Indoor Golf Shop’s simulator packages such as the SIG10. Customers love the brightness, colours, and the fact that it’s straightforward to use.
Looking for the best of the best? Want to display your beautiful 4K input on the big screen with dazzling brightness and rich colours? You can’t do much better than the LK936ST.
This projector by BenQ is special. It’s the first laser projector designed with golf simulation in mind, and it’s also one of the only projectors with a dedicated golf mode.
BenQ dedicated themselves to developing this premium golf simulator projector, which is part of their BlueCore Laser DLP lineup, in response to the dramatically increased demand resulting from the recent pandemic.
Technologies & Specs
There are many reasons why the BenQ LK936ST is ideal for golf simulation. First off, it has a throw ratio of 0.8:1; this ratio is not as low as other projectors featured on this page, but it’s still well within the range of being short throw and thus can easily be set up so as to not cast shadows.
The LK936ST also has an exclusive Golf Mode. This mode corrects purple fringing and colour aberration while accurately reproducing the lush greens and vivid blues of a golf course.
Where the LK936ST really shines is in the image quality. At 4K UHD resolution (3840×2160), the projector can produce an image of 8.3 million pixels, and with a contrast ratio of 3,000,000:1 and 92% Rec. 709 colour coverage, it brings simulated golf courses to life with vibrant, exquisite detail.
The LK936ST has a DLP (Digital Light Processing) chip that can operate at peak performance for over 100,000 hours, producing the best true-to-life image quality possible.
The very high 5100 lumens rating of the LK936ST can maintain bright images even with a considerable amount of ambient lighting in the room.
Digital shrink, lens shift, 3D keystone correction, corner fit, and other precise adjustment tools allow for very flexible installation so you can find the setup that’s perfect for you.
Because the LK936ST is a laser projector with an IP5X laser engine, there is no need to deal with the hassles that come with LCD lamps. It has a dustproof design and is guaranteed for 20,000 hours of maintenance-free operation.
The BenQ LK936ST is state-of-the-art and is packed with an impressive amount of technologies and features. More of them include (but are not limited to):
- 1.1x zoom capability
- 360-degree installation
- 4K image upscaling technology
- HDBaseT connectivity
- S/PDIF support for 5.1 surround
- HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort support
- support for continuous 24/7 operation
Basically, if you have 4K input and can afford the high price tag, this is the projector you want to get for your golf simulator. But we know that’s a steep ask, which is why it takes the #4 spot on our list.
The Optoma EH200ST is one of the best short throw projectors on the market that costs three figures.
It has been included with a lot of popular simulator studios such as the SwingBay, and there’s a reason for that: at under $1000, it has high lumens for a bright image, it has 3D support, you can mount it from a short distance away, and it produces full 1080p resolution.
It’s not going to give you the image of a more powerful, more expensive projector, but the value you get for money is extremely good.
Technologies & Specs
The EH200ST has a 0.49:1 throw ratio. This effectively means that you can get a 100-inch image with the projector placed 3.5 feet from the simulator screen.
It produces 3000 lumens, so you don’t have to play in total darkness — you can get a sufficiently bright image even with some light in the room, although this is the minimum lumens rating we would recommend for a golf simulator.
Other features include:
- MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link), which allows you to project the display of your smartphone or tablet
- a high contrast ratio of 20,000:1
- DLP technology which creates sharp, bright and colourful images
- an eco-friendly design
- a built-in 10W speaker
- BrilliantColor multi-colour processing technology for exceptional contrast ratios
- true 3D support from sources like blu-ray players, game consoles, and broadcasts
What Is Included
The Optoma EH200ST projector comes with:
- lens cap and carrying case
- remote control with batteries
- AC power cord
- user manual
- quick start card & warranty card
As a short throw projector, it can be mounted on the ceiling or the floor without issue. We think it’s a great entry point into the world of golf simulator projection. You can read customer reviews here.
Panasonic’s PT-VMZ51U projector is similar to the PT-VZ580U reviewed above, but with a few major advantages, namely a much higher contrast ratio, more lumens, and a laser light source (instead of a lamp) that delivers consistent brightness and colour accuracy.
Like the PT-VZ580U, the PT-VMZ51U isn’t quite a short throw projector, but it can work extremely well when mounted on the ceiling some distance away from the screen.
If you have a preference for Panasonic projectors or want a non-4K laser projector that doesn’t cost as much as something like the BenQ LK936ST, this is what you should look at.
Technologies & Specs
The Panasonic PT-VMZ51U has a throw ratio of 1.09-1.77:1, which will usually necessitate mounting the projector at least 10 feet from the impact screen.
A very high 5200 lumens combined with a massive 3,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio means you get bright, vivid, rich, colourful and crisp images in practically any covered environment.
The 3LCD projector contains a SOLID SHINE laser light source that delivers up to 20,000 hours of deep imaging performance. You’d have to use the projector eight hours a day for seven years straight in order to get to that point!
Other features include:
- RCA, VGA and HDMI inputs
- remote control
- 1920×1200 WUXGA resolution (16:10 aspect ratio)
- lens shift
- vertical, horizontal and corner keystone correction
- 26-36 dB quiet operation
- an ECO management function for power saving
- a Direct Power Off function
- 4K input signal support
The PT-VMZ51U is also relatively light, portable and compact, weighing just 14.3 lbs.
You will pay a premium for the laser technology of this projector, but we think it’s worth the superior image quality, fast startup, and low maintenance. Compared to the old VMZ50U model, it’s brighter, quieter, and more power-efficient.
If we had to recommend another golf simulator projector built by Optoma, the highly-rated EH412ST would be it.
More powerful than the EH200ST (hence the higher number in the model), the EH412ST produces an impressive 4000 lumens — enough to where you don’t need to struggle to get a bright image with some light in the room.
The EH412ST has the important short throw capability for golf simulators, as well as some additional features meant to enhance your experience even more.
Technologies & Specs
The EH412ST has a throw ratio of 0.5:1, which is more than enough for almost all close-range golf simulator setups. An image of 152 inches can be produced from just 5.5 feet away.
It has a high 4000 lumens and a very impressive 50,000:1 contrast ratio for vivid, colourful images.
The projector can produce full 1080p (1920 x 1080) images, but it also supports 4K UHD input sources. Other features include:
- an sRGB and Rec. 709 colour profile, which can produce saturated colours and is the standard for international HDTV
- MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link) connectivity for smartphones or tablets
- a 10 watt built-in speaker
- automatic power-off when not in use
- a 15,000-hour lamp life that can last years without maintenance
This is another Optoma projector model that has been included in many of the best simulator studio packages.
Customers of the EH412ST love the ease of use, exceptional bright image, light weight, and added features. Note that HDMI/VGA connectivity and ceiling mounting are both possible with the unit.
Investing in a good projector for your golf simulator is an important step. Make the wrong move, and you could up dealing with constant issues and inconveniences, if you don’t decide to return the projector and get another one altogether.
Because of this, it’s important to consider all the factors that will affect your experience and match it with what your goals are.
Here are the most important factors you need to consider when figuring out which projector will best meet your needs:
1. Throw Distance & Throw Ratio
How far away from the simulator screen do you plan to put your projector?
Throw distance is the distance from the projector to the screen. What’s the maximum throw distance that is realistic for your space?
Ideal throw ratios for golf simulator setups are in the range of 0.3:1 to 1:1.
Whether you’re using the SkyTrak or another golf simulator, if you don’t use a short throw projector that can product a large image from a short distance away, you’ll normally have to deal with your shadow appearing on the screen.
To determine what throw ratios will work for you, do the following:
- Establish where you would ideally have the projector and measure the distance from that point to the screen.
- Divide this number by the width (not diagonal) of your screen.
For example, if your screen is 10 feet wide and your projector will be 4 feet away from the screen, the optimal throw ratio would be 0.4:1. Any projector with a throw ratio that is equal to or less than this will work nicely.
In this article, we mainly review short throw projectors because they tend to be the best fit for most people’s spaces. If you’re going to use a projector floor mount in front of you, for example, only a short throw projector will work.
If you plan to mount your projector on the ceiling, both short throw and standard throw projectors can work. Standard throw projectors can also be placed on a cart behind and to the left or right of the golfer, but four corner correction will be needed to make the image look right.
If you have sufficient room behind you, you should seriously consider a standard throw (greater than 1:1) projector; since you’re not paying for short throw capabilities, you will get better value for your money.
Note that having the projector above you or slightly behind the ball will minimize the chances of shadows.
Another important factor is the lumens output of a projector. This is a measure of light output and determines the brightness of the image.
In general, the brighter you plan to set the ambient lighting in your room, the more lumens you’ll need to retain a bright image.
If you plan to keep your room dark, we recommend a projector with no less than 2000 lumens. It would be wise to invest in a projector that produces 3000+ lumens, so you can be sure that you’ll have a bright and clear image at all times.
But even with a 3000 lumens projector, you may find that the image on the screen just isn’t bright and vibrant enough to look good. In this case, it’s probably worth going up to 4000 or even 5000+ lumens.
It’s up to you to find an acceptable balance between having enough ambient lighting to see things around you and having a bright image.
3. Resolution & Aspect Ratio
You need to consider the resolution and aspect ratios of both your computer and projector. Here are some of the most common projector resolutions:
|Resolution||Aspect Ratio||Image Shape||Cost|
|XGA||1024 x 768||4:3||Nearly square||Lowest|
|WXGA||1280 x 800||16:10||Wider||Higher|
|SXGA||1280 x 1024||5:4||Nearly square||Higher|
|HDTV||1920 x 1080||16:9||Widest||Higher|
|WUXGA||1920 x 1200||16:10||Wider||Higher|
|4K UHD||3840 x 2160||16:9||Widest||Highest|
The 16:9 4K UHD and 1080p projectors obviously produce the best picture, and they can be used for other purposes like a home theater.
However, it’s important to note that a projector can’t project a higher resolution than what your computer can produce. This means that if your computer isn’t operating at at least 1920 x 1080 resolution, you’ll never see 1080p on the projector screen.
It’s also worth considering the aspect ratio of your computer. If there is a mismatch between the aspect ratios of your computer and projector, you may experience issues like squished or distorted pictures.
1080p resolution isn’t necessary for golf simulators, let alone 4K, but it really makes a big difference. What resolution is acceptable for you?
4. Mount Type & Connectivity
Firstly, will you mount your projector on the ceiling or on the floor? Mounting it on the ceiling comes with benefits, but it can be a pain to set up and it requires more room depth.
There are special floor mounts available for people who want to keep their projector on the floor. These have space limits, so if you plan to use one, make sure that your projector can fit inside.
In addition, when mounting on the floor, take note of the location of the I/O ports — if they’re on the side, you won’t be able to hide the cables.
Secondly, make sure that your projector has HDMI connectivity. Almost all of them do, but old models may not. This is required for getting the simulation onto the big screen.
5. Laser Vs. Lamp
Setting aside LED projectors which we don’t recommend for golf simulators, there are two main types of projectors: lamp and laser.
Lamp projectors are the tried-and-true projector type that has been around for decades. They use a bulb to light the image on the screen, but because this bulb can get very hot, fans need to run to cool it down.
Laser projectors use a laser light source to project an image onto the screen. They are generally superior to lamp projectors in that they produce a brighter image with better contrast and colours, start up quicker, are low-maintenance, produce less noise, and have a much longer useful life.
Of course, the clear advantage of a laser projector comes at a higher cost. However, most people believe that in the long run, a laser projector is actually cheaper than a lamp projector because it doesn’t require bulb replacements or have other maintenance-related costs.
Of course, your budget is very important when shopping for a golf simulator projector. Not everyone can or wants to put down $1500+, and fortunately, there are options that cost well below this amount.
With that said, you should realize that the less you spend, the less you’ll usually get — this could be in the form of less lumens, less resolution, a worse picture, or a higher throw ratio.
One of the biggest influencers of cost when it comes to projectors is the throw ratio: the lower the throw ratio, the higher the cost. But technologies and features that contribute to the image quality can also have a major effect on cost, as you see with the BenQ LK936ST.
In this guide, we’ve tried to include quality projectors over a range of budgets that golfers might have. But the great thing is that you don’t have to drop the full cost of it at once.
Our recommended golf simulator source here provides easy financing options that allow you to pay for projectors over the course of a year or longer. Don’t forget about this option.
Golf simulators have become a lot more accessible and affordable over the past decade, and this means more golfers and businesses than ever before have been able to have their own setup.
A quality golf simulator projector that produces a bright, clear image on your screen can make for a greatly enhanced experience. Finding a projector that can meet your needs is certainly possible with some research.
Each of the projector options reviewed above offer excellent value for the cost. We’ve given you the information you need to make a decision; now it’s up to you to go the rest of the way.
If you also need help choosing a golf simulator, you can start by checking out this article. Full golf simulator packages often come with projectors that support 1080p resolution.
We highly recommend reading customer reviews of projectors to obtain useful insights as to how they actually perform. This will help you a lot in the decision-making process.
Thanks for reading this guide. What kind of projector are you considering for your golf simulator? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.