There are many reasons why golfers would be interested in a full golf simulator setup for outdoor use.
Many people dream of having a full golf simulator setup for their home so they can play whenever they want, but they might not want or be able to set up the simulator indoors.
Others want working simulators for outdoor golfing events that are open to the public or a select group of people.
Whatever your reasons are, not everyone can afford to invest in a simulator that costs many thousands of dollars. Fortunately, as golf simulator technology has advanced, more affordable solutions have appeared in the market, so there are options that can accommodate a wide range of budgets.
In the case of a golf simulator for outdoor use, there are a few things you’ll need to give yourself a great experience: a launch monitor that records your shot data, a hitting net or screen, and optionally, a projector that displays your shot and shot data on a life-size screen.
If you want a full enclosure with screen and projector, you should also have wall and ceiling supports that will protect the simulator from rain, wind, and other weather conditions.
Projectors aren’t required, but unless you’re content with seeing the simulation on your small computer or tablet screen, it’s a good idea to use one. You also need enough clearance to swing your longest club.
In this article, we’ll review and compare our picks for the best outdoor golf simulators over a wide range of different budgets.
We have tested all of these golf simulator setups. Some offer less features than others, but they all give an excellent experience for the cost.
Our Top Picks For Golf Simulators For Outdoor Use
The following are our top selections based on our own testing, research, and experience:
- SkyTrak Practice Golf Simulator Package
- SkyTrak Launch Monitor
- Cimarron Masters Golf Net Enclosure
- OptiShot Golf-In-A-Box 2 Simulator Package
- SkyTrak Compact Golf Simulator Package
- Rapsodo Mobile Launch Monitor
Want to set up your golf simulator in your backyard? At your friend’s cookout? Maybe some other outdoor location? With a total weight of only 28 pounds, it’s very easy to do it with the SkyTrak Practice package.
This package is very affordable (and portable) because it doesn’t include a screen or projector. Instead, you can view your precise SkyTrak shot simulation and data on your laptop or tablet.
It’s a very popular simulator package that is being offered by Rain Or Shine Golf. It comes with a mat and Net Return Pro Series net that can be set up within 30 minutes, wherever you have the space.
The particular net included in this package is considered one of the best on the market, mainly because it has the ability to return balls back to your feet and can withstand ball speeds of up to 225 mph (we seriously doubt you’ll reach this speed!).
What Is Included
This package consists of the SkyTrak Launch Monitor with Game Improvement Software, plus:
- The Net Return Pro Series V2 Golf Net
- The Net Return Pro Series Side Barriers
- The Net Return Pro Turf Golf Mat (6 ft x 10 ft)
Minimum space dimensions of 8 ft high x 10 ft wide x 12 ft deep are recommended. You shouldn’t have problems meeting these requirements outdoors.
What are customers saying? More than anything, they love the fact that they can benefit from the precise ball flight data and feedback that the SkyTrak provides, with real clubs and balls, without breaking the bank. Check out what everyone is saying about this golf simulator package here.
The SkyTrak Launch Monitor is one of the most popular golf simulation tools on the market, and there’s a reason for that. It records your ball flight data at a precision comparable to commercial systems that cost $10,000 or more, but yet it costs just a fraction of that price.
And not only is it a launch monitor, but it also provides simulator software options that are easy to set up, so you can get a visual of your shot on a virtual driving range or your favourite golf course.
The SkyTrak launch monitor is a game-improvement tool that is used by both regular golfers and professionals.
With the SkyTrak, all you need to do is set up a net and hitting mat in an outdoor area, and you’re good to go. You can get an excellent net at an affordable price here, and you can look at golf mats here.
Once you set up your hitting area to pair with the SkyTrak Launch Monitor, you can practice on the range, play rounds on the world’s top courses, or play difference challenges like long drive, depending on the package you get. Have fun playing with your family and friends!
How The SkyTrak Launch Monitor Works
When you hit a shot, photometric technology is used to take several high-speed photos of the first few inches of ball flight.
Through advanced algorithms, the pictures are used to calculate various parameters such as distance, ball speed, spin rate, launch angle, and much more.
Because of the way ball behaviour is measured, the SkyTrak works as well indoors as it does outdoors.
How To Set It Up
Another reason why SkyTrak is so popular is that it’s easy to set up, even for the technically-challenged.
You’re going to need a phone, tablet or laptop for this.
- Charge the SkyTrak device and turn it on.
- Download the SkyTrak app on your computer.
- Register your account and connect the software to your SkyTrak device.
- Once your hitting area is set up, position the SkyTrak device about a foot away from the ball, on the opposite side that you’ll be standing to make your swing.
- Once you hit your shot, you’ll see the data on your computer.
You can get access to different challenges, golf courses, and other additional features depending on the package you purchase.
We love the SkyTrak Launch Monitor because it’s affordable, well-made, and trusted by pros and top golf swing coaches.
This is a simple but very effective (and large) net enclosure from Cimarron Sports meant for the outdoors. The two size options are 10′ x 10′ x 10′ and 20′ x 10′ x 10′ (a little more expensive).
You can hit balls into it straight away, but if you want more of a simulator experience, all you need is a good hitting mat and a simulator system like SkyTrak or OptiShot 2, and you’re good to go. These can be purchased here.
The Cimarron Masters Golf Net has 1″ steel frame corners and poles for constructing a stable frame.
The black #252 netting is UV-treated and dense, and the baffle is made of heavy-duty archery netting. All balls are easily stopped by the backdrop.
Cimarron has assembly instructions with diagrams. It shouldn’t take you more than an hour to set up, but make sure you read the instructions carefully.
Customers love the spacious hitting area, the impressive durability (withstands freezing rain, high winds, snow, etc.), and the convenience of being able to hit balls in your backyard.
Note: The OptiShot system doesn’t work properly in direct sunlight. It should be used at night or in sheltered outdoor areas, preferably with fluorescent or LED lighting.
If you want a quality net and hitting mat that can be taken outdoors, but you don’t want to pay the cost of the SkyTrak Launch Monitor, this is a really great option.
Golf-In-A-Box 2 comes with everything you need to get a great outdoor golf simulator experience — a durable hitting mat, a Net Return golf net, and the affordable OptiShot 2 simulator system.
What Is Included
This package comes with the OptiShot 2 optical swing pad and software reviewed here, plus:
- the Net Return Pro Series Hitting Net
- the OptiShot 2 hitting mat
- a 10ft USB cable for connection to computer
- 2 foam practice balls (you can use real balls)
- 2 adjustable rubber tees
The difference between this package and the original Golf-In-A-Box is the higher-quality Net Return Pro Series net, as opposed to the OptiShot net. The net consists of a 1.5″ tubular aluminum frame, and the hitting mat consists of high-density foam and turf.
Setup is easy: just unpack the hitting mat and hitting net, install and connect the software on your Windows or Mac device, and start practicing your game.
You probably won’t have many issues with space outdoors, but nonetheless, minimum dimensions are 8.5 ft high x 9 ft wide x 10 ft long.
People really love how easy the Golf-In-A-Box simulator is to set up. Note that you may have to adjust your lighting to optimize the accuracy.
For more details about the package and how exactly to set it up, visit this page.
This probably isn’t the ideal simulator to set up out in the open. However, if you have a covered area outdoors with walls and a ceiling, or you can construct a frame, it can be a great thing.
For more information on how you can set up a complete simulator like this outdoors, I recommend contacting the experts here.
The SkyTrak Compact is perfect for people who have a medium-high budget. It’s a popular simulator package that was put together by Rain Or Shine Golf, one of the best sources for golf simulator equipment out there today.
Whether you’re a skilled golfer or a high-handicapper that wants to get better, you can use this package to improve your game.
What Is Included
It consists of the SkyTrak Launch Monitor (also featured in this article), a compact and easy-to-assemble Net Return Simulator Series projection screen, and:
- your choice of the Country Club Elite or Fiberbuilt Center-Hitting Studio hitting mat
- landing pad turf
- Optoma EH200ST projector
- ceiling projector mount
It’s worth mentioning that this simulator package includes the SkyTrak Game Improvement Plan, which is a step up from the cheapest SkyTrak plan.
The Game Improvement Package supports driving range practice and software add-ons like The Golf Club, which gives you access to world-class courses that you can play with family and friends.
Minimum space dimensions of 9 ft high x 10 ft wide x 12 ft deep are recommended.
People really love the convenience and accuracy of this unit. For more details about it, check this out.
The Rapsodo Mobile Launch Monitor (MLM) is a powerful yet affordable system that you run through your mobile device. It can serve as a great golf simulator outdoors at the range or the course, and it recently received an update that allows it to be used with a net.
Note: MLM is currently only available for iOS, but the Android version is in the works.
This launch monitor analyzes your shot and provides data on ball speed, clubhead speed, distance, launch angle, smash factor, and launch direction. It also records your shot for playback and provides an active tracer so you can see your exact ball flight.
How It Works
Setting up the MLM is fairly simple. Just charge the device, install the Rapsodo Golf app on your phone, calibrate it to the device, choose a mode, and start hitting.
Not only can you view your shot data and shot trace, but using GPS, you can see exactly where your shots land. You can also view trends and shot averages by club, which will help you understand what club to hit in different situations.
Finally, you can store your video clips in a library, and easily post them to social media.
See the device in action here:
This launch monitor has very high ratings. People love the mobility and usefulness of it, they love how you can easily change clubs in the middle of a session, and they love how you can look at video of your swing without backing out of a session.
Investing in a golf simulator is a big deal. 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 determining which golf simulator will best meet your outdoor needs:
1. Portability & Resilience
If you plan to use your golf simulator outdoors, we recommend you look at simpler, more mobile setups — namely, a hitting net and hitting mat.
Full enclosure setups with projectors are less portable and more difficult to pull off outdoors. On top of that, they may not be able to withstand weather conditions like low temperatures, wind, rain, snow, and even hail.
With a straightforward hitting net, hitting mat, and simulator system like the SkyTrak, you can quickly and easily set up outdoors when weather permits, and pull it down when the weather is less than ideal. These portable setups can also be used indoors as desired.
On the other hand, full net enclosures like the Cimarron Masters (above) are very sturdy, can withstand most weather, and can be left where they are year-round.
Consider how well your simulator can endure weather, and think about what you’ll need structurally to achieve the setup.
Size is an essential factor in golf simulators, but perhaps less so if you’re using it outdoors.
Do you plan to have your simulator in a garage? In a shed? On your back patio? On your lawn? Depending on where you intend to put it, you may have plenty of room and not really have to worry about size.
Wherever the outdoor locations are, make sure that they can accommodate the minimum space requirements of every golf simulator you look at. Also make sure you can make a full swing with your driver unimpeded.
Typical golf simulator setups tend to require about 11 feet of space in all three dimensions.
3. Projector Vs. No Projector
In addition to what we mentioned above, projectors aren’t ideal outdoors because the picture is washed out during the day due to lighting. The picture is clearer when it’s dark, but you may not be able to get outside during this time.
In addition to this, you need to figure out where you will mount the projector (is there a ceiling?), and how far away from the screen it should be to get the best picture.
All things considered, it can be a big hassle to set up a screen and projector outdoors. If you want to do it, you’ll have to be prepared to take on the challenges.
With just a net, there’s much less to worry about. You can just start hitting balls right away, and you’ll be able to view your shot data on your laptop or tablet.
An interesting fact is that more than 50% of all golf simulator owners use a net instead of a screen.
You should also consider what kinds of things you want to do, games you want to play, and activities you want to take part in on your golf simulator.
There are many software options available. For example, SkyTrak has software in three membership levels:
- Basic Plan: offers a practice driving range.
- Game-Improvement Plan: offers minigames, numeric display, and many other advanced features.
- Play & Improve Plan: offers all features of other plans plus full integration with WGT (World Golf Tour).
OptiShot, which is considered a “tight-budget” solution, has software that allows you to practice and play multiple different game types including stroke play, better ball, alternate shot, and match play.
What software features do you see yourself using most often? Do you want to practice on a virtual range, play world-class courses, or just see your shot data and nothing more? Your answers to these questions will help narrow down your choices.
Of course, your budget is very important when shopping for a golf simulator. Not everyone can afford simulator packages that cost $10,000+, and fortunately, the best options for an outdoor experience cost much less than this amount.
With that said, it’s important to realize that the less you spend, the more the equipment and the software will suffer.
In this guide, we’ve tried to include quality golf simulators over a wide range of budgets. But the great thing is that you don’t have to drop the full cost of a simulator at once.
Our recommended golf simulator source here provides easy financing options that allow you to pay for your golf simulator 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 than ever before have been able to have their own setup in their home or backyard.
A quality, reliable golf simulator can be a huge boon to your golf toolkit. Finding a simulator package that can meet your needs is certainly possible with some research.
Each of the simulator 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.
While it’s likely that no golf simulator setup will tick every one of your boxes, some will come pretty close to doing so.
We highly recommend reading consumer and professional reviews of golf simulators to acquire 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 golf simulator are you considering? Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.