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While nearly every golfer would love to have their own personal golf simulator setup, many aren’t able to afford high-end or even mid-range packages.
Many golfers want to be able to play and practice golf rain or shine, day or night, but aren’t willing to spend more than $1000 for it.
If this is you, then you’ve come to the right place. Fortunately, as golf simulator technology has advanced, very inexpensive solutions have appeared in the market that can accommodate low budgets.
In this article, we’ll review and compare our picks for the best golf simulators under $1000.
Before we go further, you should understand that with these kinds of cheap golf simulators, you’ll get a limited experience.
What we mean by this is that you may have a device that measures some shot data, simulation software, and maybe a net or mat, but not much more than this. Full enclosures, projectors and screens are out of the question.
Having said that, you can still get a decent experience and these simulators can still get the job done in terms of improving your game.
We have tested all of these simulator setups. Some offer less features than others, but they all give an exceptional golf simulator experience for the cost.
Our Top Picks For Golf Simulators Under $1000
Based on our own testing, research, and experience, here are our top selections:
- OptiShot 2 Golf-In-A-Box Simulator Package
- Garmin Approach R10 Launch Monitor
- SwingLogic SLX MicroSim Home Golf Simulator
- Rapsodo Mobile Launch Monitor
- OptiShot 2 Golf Simulator
- Exputt RG Real-Time Putting Simulator
- SMARTGOLF AI Golf Simulator
If we’re talking about a true golf simulator experience that allows you to hit real golf balls and simulate your shots in a virtual environment, the OptiShot 2 Golf-In-A-Box is about the best all-in-one package you can get for under $1000.
It uses the OptiShot 2, which is one of the cheapest simulator solutions on the market but packs a lot of value for the price. The OptiShot 2 has been a top-selling low-cost golf simulator system for some time now.
Golf-In-A-Box comes with everything you need to get a great golf simulator experience (whatever the weather is outside) without spending more than the cost of a new set of clubs.
What Is Included
This package comes with the OptiShot 2 optical swing pad and software, which we talk more about in the third section. Also included in the package are:
- an OptiShot full portable hitting net
- an OptiShot hitting mat
- a 10ft USB cable for connection to computer
- 2 foam practice balls
- 2 adjustable rubber tees
The net is 8.5 feet tall, and the hitting mat provides a realistic fairway feel.
Setup is easy: just unpack the hitting mat and hitting net, install the software on your Windows or Mac device, and start swinging.
A minimum ceiling height of 8.5 feet (9+ is even better) is recommended.
People really love how easy the Golf-In-A-Box simulator is to set up, but note that the accuracy is a worse than more expensive systems like the SkyTrak. Be prepared to experiment with different lighting to find what works best.
For more details about the package and how exactly to set it up, visit this page.
The Garmin Approach R10 is launch monitor, but it’s also a golf simulator. It has made big waves in the industry, and many people consider it to have revolutionized golf tech like the SkyTrak did back in 2014.
The Approach R10 is the first launch monitor under $1000 to have golf simulation capabilities, and it’s also the first launch monitor to measure detailed club path parameters that you could previously only get in $1800+ units.
Through the Garmin Golf app, you can practice on a virtual driving range or play courses on Home Tee Hero. Just set up a net and hitting mat with the R10 and you’re good to go.
The Approach R10 rests on a tripod mount and is placed 6-8 feet behind the ball. It’s considered a portable launch monitor and can easily be moved from the home to the driving range or wherever else you want to set up.
The R10 can do three main things. First, it directly measures four data parameters using radar technology and derives many other parameters (10+) including spin and face angle.
Second, as mentioned above, the Approach R10 supports golf simulation. You can practice and analyze your sessions on a virtual driving range for free with the Garmin Golf app. With a subscription, you can play Home Tee Hero (contains over 42,000 courses), and the R10 is also compatible with the world-renowned E6 CONNECT software, Awesome Golf, The Golf Club 2019, and the PinSeeker app.
Third, you can capture video of your shots by setting up your phone’s camera behind the hitting area. Your stats including ball speed, carry distance and total distance, as well as the club you hit with, are overlaid on top of each clip.
The Garmin Golf app has very high ratings. Through the app, you can also view club performance data, participate in weekly tournaments, share your results, and more.
With a cheap hitting mat and net purchased separately, this is arguably the best golf simulator experience you can get for less than $1000. Read our full review of the Approach R10 here.
The SLX MicroSim, formerly the Tittle X, is an excellent alternative to the OptiShot that most people feel has better accuracy and is more geared towards game improvement.
The SLX MicroSim takes features of simulator equipment worth thousands of dollars and miniaturizes them into a 7.9g device. The latest version uses the E6 CONNECT simulator software by TruGolf, which is one of the best available.
The SLX MicroSim isn’t designed to use any balls and it comes with a toy stick for swinging, although you can swing your own clubs with foam or real balls if you want.
This golf simulator is child and beginner friendly. We recommend it for recreational golfers.
How It Works
To use this simulator, you need to mount the SLX MicroSim sensor (included) onto your own club or the included stick.
Setup involves quite a few steps, but fortunately, SLX MicroSim provides a detailed guide to walk you through the process. You need to:
- Register the device.
- Install E6 CONNECT on PC or iOS.
- Prepare the device.
- Establish some connections.
- Start playing by waiting for vibrations from the device.
With the E6 CONNECT software integration, you can play 3D-rendered real-world golf courses in 4K resolution and practice on the range. There are various play modes and you can sign up for a $9.99/month subscription to get 40 courses and mini-games.
For a complete picture of how to set up the SLX MicroSim and what you can do with the E6 CONNECT software, refer to the user manual.
Not only is the SLX MicroSim impressively accurate given its cost, but it also delivers great entertainment thanks to the ultra-realistic (4K) graphics. See what people are saying about it here.
The Rapsodo Mobile Launch Monitor (MLM) is not a true golf simulator in the sense that it doesn’t simulate your golf shots in a virtual software environment. But because of the excellent quality of the product, the reputation of the company behind it, and the array of features that it has, we had to include it on this list.
The MLM is a unique launch monitor (the first on the market to take advantage of your phone’s camera) that is run through your mobile device. It records your shot for playback, provides an active tracer so you can see your ball flight, and measures important speed and launch parameters.
Rapsodo is continually improving the MLM and coming out with new features for it. Some of the most noteworthy updates since launch are the ability to use the MLM with a net (not just outdoors on the range) and integration with a virtual coaching platform.
The MLM is currently only available for iOS.
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.
The data parameters measured are clubhead speed, distance, ball speed, launch angle, launch direction, and smash factor. Not only can you view your shot data and shot trace, but using GPS, you can see exactly where your shots land.
While you can use the MLM indoors with a net, hitting outdoors where the ball can take its full flight will allow you to realize the full potential of the device.
You can also view trends and shot averages by club, which will help you understand what club to hit in different situations. You can store your video clips in a library, and easily post them to social media.
Get more insight into the Rapsodo MLM here:
With a Premium Subscription to the Rapsodo MLM, you can store up to 10,000 shots in the library and access Insights (personalized performance graphs), Combines (performance test), and Coach Connect.
Coach Connect allows MLM users to receive virtual (paid) lessons from coaches that have signed up to the platform. Coaches can take advantage of the playback and tracer features and view shot data to inform their critiques of your swing.
This simulator has very high ratings; people love its mobility and nifty features.
You can save quite a bit of money by foregoing the net and mat in the Golf-In-A-Box simulator package (reviewed in the first section) and just getting the standalone OptiShot 2 system. This does, however, mean that you’ll need to use foam balls, plastic balls, or no balls at all.
The main appeal of the OptiShot 2 is gaming and entertainment, with various game modes and potential for online and tournament play. It can be used for game improvement, but to be honest, we don’t recommend relying on the OptiShot for that.
You can play with up to 4 players, use your own clubs, and access a library of top golf courses. There are two game modes:
In this mode, you can play any of 15 OptiShot courses including Torrey Pines, Crooked Stick, and The Golf Club Scottsdale.
There are 8 different game types which include stroke play, match play, best ball, and skins.
You also have many customization options at your fingertips. For example, you can change the camera view, view a putting grid, change the measurements, and alter the weather.
In this mode, you can turn any golf course into a practice range.
In the PinPoint Driving Range, there are six different target greens with precision rings and accuracy grids. You can hit to any one of them to improve your shot accuracy.
You can also place your ball anywhere you want on any course, and either follow the ball after the shot or keep playing from the same spot over and over.
How OptiShot 2 Works
OptiShot consists of an optical swing pad with 16 high-speed 48MHz infrared sensors that measure clubhead speed, distance, face angle, swing plane, face contact point, and tempo.
Also included is the OptiShot 3D software which contains the golf courses and simulation display.
For setup, all you need to do is unpack the OptiShot 2, install the software on your PC or Mac, and follow the instructions to connect it to the swing pad.
The Exputt is unique in that it’s designed solely as a putting simulator. The RG, which is the latest version with a bunch of new features, has a near perfect average customer rating (at least 4.9/5 stars), so golfers are loving it.
In fact, we’ve found that it can be a game-changer for many golfers, taking them from being a poor putter to a great putter in relatively short order.
How It Works
The Exputt RG consists of a long, narrow putting mat (48″x13″) with a backstop at the end.
It uses an ultra high-speed camera to precisely measure your putter and ball movements, perform a comparative analysis, and simulate the results in a virtual course environment. The RG can simulate weather conditions, green speeds, and of course, slopes & breaks.
Some of the parameters you have access to include ball speed, launch direction, distance, impact angle, and putter path.
The RG is designed to simulate the putting experience you get on a real golf course, in real time. The innovative tracking technology allows you to practice your putting with precise accuracy from the comfort of your own home.
The setup process is fairly straightforward, but in order to ensure correct operation, it needs to be done properly and with care. You’ll need a TV to use the simulator.
Detailed setup instructions are provided upon purchase. But here’s a concise summary of what you need to do:
- Attach the high-speed camera to your TV or mount it on the included camera stand.
- Roll out the putting mat.
- Establish some connections between the mat, camera and TV.
- Check the height of the camera and its distance from the putting mat.
- Follow the syncing instructions on your TV.
You can also use the RG on your mobile device through the new Exputt RG app.
With the Exputt RG simulator, you use your putter like a mouse. There are various keys on the putting mat that you select by resting your putter head on them.
Compared to the previous version Exputt EX300, the RG adds:
- an Explorer Mode in the software which lets you choose the locations of the holes and balls on the green of a selected course.
- the ability to connect to Wi-Fi for updates and online play.
- the ability to use the Exputt on a mobile device.
If you’re interested in understanding every aspect of your putting at home, there’s really no better choice than the Exputt RG with a budget of under $1000.
The SMARTGOLF is an interesting and unique golf simulator that doesn’t cost more than a few hundred bucks.
In addition to analyzing your swing, rendering it in a 3D environment, and providing various numerical data metrics, it also offers one-point swing coaching through machine-learned AI algorithms.
By swinging a special AI golf club stick containing IMU motion sensors, your posture and various aspects of your swing are measured, and the system diagnoses issues with your swing and offers tips to fix them.
The SMARTGOLF simulator is highly portable and just requires an app on your mobile device to run.
How It Works
To use the SMARTGOLF simulator, you’ll need to:
- Install the SMARTGOLF AI Analyzer app for Android or iOS. Through Bluetooth, it can be connected to various devices including tablets and TVs.
- Turn on the AI club using the switch on the end, and connect it to the app through the Bluetooth settings window. The bulb at the other end of the club will flash green.
- Get into your address position with the club, push the start button on the side, and swing.
After your swing, you will be able to view a 3D rendering of your swing, various club metrics, and get coaching advice (with vibrations) in real time. Metrics include speed, tempo, smash factor, path angle, face angle, distance, and angle gap.
In addition, the system offers various games such as approach games, putting games, tunnel games and target games. You can play by yourself, or you can play with other players around the world and observe their swing patterns.
The SMARTGOLF simulator is an excellent tool for technical-minded golfers or swing coaches, but if you’re looking for easy, user-friendly entertainment, there are probably better options out there. It can be a bit difficult and confusing to figure out how to use the system to its full potential.
Investing in a golf simulator under $1000 isn’t as big a step as if you were spending $5000 or more, but it’s still important to consider factors that affect the experience and match it with what your goals are.
Here are the most important factors you need to consider when figuring out which golf simulator will best meet your needs:
Size is obviously an essential factor in golf simulators.
For most inexpensive simulators under $1000, the best you’ll be able to do is have a hitting mat and net along with your tracking device, so you’ll need enough room for these items and you’ll need enough room to swing your longest club unimpeded.
Have a clear understanding of the size of the simulator you’re looking at, and where you intend to place it. Measure the width, length and height of your space and compare it to the minimum space requirements.
In general, net setups tend to require about 9 feet of height. Your space should be able to easily accommodate this.
Another thing to consider is ease of transport. If you don’t have a net or mat, mobility is not an issue at all.
Net setups are usually easy to set up, take down and transport. Many nets come with a duffle bag that can store the net and other components.
Do you plan to have a dedicated space where your golf simulator will always be located, or will there be times when you need to move it?
Maybe you travel periodically and want to be able to easily take it with you. Maybe you just want to pack it away during certain times of the year (like summer, when you can get out to the golf course).
If portability would be particularly useful for you and you’re planning to invest in a net and mat, then make sure that transporting these items is straightforward. The good news is that cheap simulators also tend to be portable.
3. Net Vs. No Net
Projectors and screens will undoubtedly bump the cost of a simulator well over $1000, so we won’t even consider them in this guide.
However, as you’ll see, you can invest in a net, side barriers, and a hitting mat without passing this cost threshold.
The question is: do you want to spend a bit more for these items, or are you content with just having simulator software and using foam, plastic, or no balls at all?
You’ll have to determine how important it is for you to be able to take real golf shots with real balls. This is obviously more realistic and will be better for your game improvement.
An exception to the issue of net vs. no net is a putting simulator like the Exputt RG, where all you need is a mat and your putter.
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.
Golf simulators may be compatible with one or more software solutions. For example, OptiShot, which sells a golf simulator for less than $500, has in-house software that allows you to practice and play multiple different game types including stroke play, match play, better ball, and alternate shot.
The Golf Club 2019, compatible with the Approach R10, has 4K resolution support and offers a ton of golf courses, live tours and tournaments, as well as a tool that allows you to build your own golf courses.
E6 CONNECT, offered with the SLX MicroSim and Approach R10, is a high-quality software option that offers practice modes and various golf courses, among other things.
Awesome Golf, usable with the Approach R10, places more of a focus on fun, kid-friendly entertainment with quirky minigames in addition to standard course play.
What software features do you want at your fingertips? If you want more courses and features, you’ll likely have to throw down some extra cash. Consider compatible software when looking at simulators, and make your decision accordingly.
We know you don’t want to spend more than $1000, but would you be willing to spend $100-$300 on what are considered “bottom-of-the-barrel” simulators?
It’s important to realize that the less you spend, the less you’ll usually get, both in terms of equipment and software.
In this guide, we’ve tried to include golf simulators over a range of prices under the $1000 mark. But the great thing is that, in many cases, 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 personal setup.
Even an inexpensive golf simulator can be a huge boon to your golf toolkit. Finding a simulator setup 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. If you want an even better experience, consider increasing your budget.
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. Have you tried any of the simulators reviewed in this article? Let us know in the comments below.