Golfstead is reader-supported. When you buy through links on the site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Our affiliations include, but are not limited to, the eBay Partner Network and Amazon Associates.
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 get a virtual golf experience 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 on 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 impact screens are out of the question.
Having said that, you can still get a decent experience and these simulators can still help improve your game as well as provide entertainment value.
Note: Golfstead has tested and/or conducted in-depth research into all of the products featured in this guide. Our editorial process for these rankings takes into account a mix of many factors which may include performance, reliability, usability, value for money, cost, and the general consensus from other users of the product. The list that follows may be reassessed or updated over time.
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
- TruGolf Mini Golf Simulator
- Rapsodo MLM2PRO Launch Monitor
- Swing Caddie SC4 Launch Monitor
- Exputt RG EX500D 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.
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.
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 the accuracy is a worse than more expensive systems like the SkyTrak Plus. Be prepared to experiment with different lighting to find what works best for you.
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 was the first launch monitor under $1000 to have golf simulation capabilities, and it was 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 go to the range or 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 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. You can even just hit balls at your local driving range, with the R10 positioned behind you, and forego the net entirely.
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 TruGolf Mini is a very affordable golf simulator system that, similar to the SLX MicroSim above, uses a shortened swing stick with attached sensor to simulate play.
It pairs with the E6 CONNECT software (iOS or PC) and offers the following play modes:
- Standard: no modifications; good for general use
- Boost: increases the distance that shots travel for those who want extra help
- Party: helps to keep the ball straight; ideal for parties and entertainment
- Training: increases the sensitivity of the ball flight, helping you to learn how to shape shots
- Tournament: no added forgiveness; for skilled players looking for a more serious experience
The E6 CONNECT software is packed with features that are sure to keep you busy for hundreds of hours. These include full course play, practice, PinSeeker, and various kid-friendly games like Carnival, Battle Stations, and Demolition Driving Range.
You can alternatively attach the gyroscopic sensor to a real golf club and either swing it without any balls or actually hit real balls into a net or impact screen. However, the included impact trainer does give off a “click” at the bottom of the swing to help mimic a golf ball impact.
How It Works
Getting started with the TruGolf Mini simulator is quite simple and involves the following steps:
- Charge the TruGolf Mini sensor, which shouldn’t take long.
- Download and install E6 CONNECT on an iOS device or PC.
- Connect the sensor to the software using the included Bluetooth dongle.
- Select the desired mode in E6 CONNECT.
- Address the ball with the swing stick angled upward.
- When the indicator turns green, make your swing.
After each shot, you get detailed visual feedback along with measurements for an array of ball and club data parameters.
We are extremely impressed with how accurate the TruGolf Mini is in terms of the data it provides; in many cases, it really isn’t that far off from a serious golf simulator or launch monitor.
Having said that, if you’re using the swing stick, it won’t feel the same as an actual club. This becomes most apparent when hitting driver because it’s difficult to generate as much speed through the swing as you normally would.
Similar to the Approach R10, the Rapsodo MLM2PRO is a launch monitor as well as a golf simulator. It was created by the same company behind the massively successful SkyTrak launch monitor.
This device is designed to improve on the best aspects of its predecessor, the Rapsodo MLM, while addressing the common pain points users had in the previous generation such as lack of Android compatibility.
In addition to the companion app which provides dispersion circles, shot shape trends, and much more, the MLM2PRO allows you to enjoy golf simulation through a variety of in-house and third-party solutions.
The MLM2PRO launch monitor combines Doppler radar with two high-speed cameras. It measures 13 club and ball parameters, although Callaway RPT balls (included) must be used to obtain spin readings.
The cameras built into the MLM2PRO pave the way for:
- Impact Vision: provides a slow-motion closeup of the club swinging through the ball
- Shot Vision: gives a down-the-line video of your shot with a ball tracer
Because the MLM2PRO has no onboard display, its features must be accessed through the companion MLM2PRO app. This well-made app provides powerful analysis features including Rapsodo Combines and Session Insights.
From dispersion circles to performance tests to club gapping details and shot shape trends, the MLM2PRO app will help you understand your game on a much deeper level.
In addition, you can enjoy golf simulation with the MLM2PRO through Rapsodo Range, Rapsodo Courses, E6 CONNECT, and Awesome Golf.
Keep in mind that while the MLM2PRO is under $1000, a Premium Membership to the app ($200/year) is required to access many of its features. This means that after a few years, it will end up costing quite a bit more.
The MLM2PRO is probably the most accurate golf simulator under $1000, so it’s best for golfers who are looking to improve their game.
The Swing Caddie SC4 is yet another excellent launch monitor also advertised as a golf simulator. It’s the latest and most powerful launch monitor by Voice Caddie, who has made some great launch monitors in the past.
What makes the SC4 so unique and valuable is that while it has an onboard display that allows you to get your numbers without any software, it also supports golf simulation. This is a combination that you really only see in the expensive high-end units.
The SC4 offers many visualization features within its companion app, and it also integrates with a couple of third-party simulation software solutions for your benefit.
The Swing Caddie SC4 is a Doppler radar device that measures eight data parameters: carry/total distance, apex height, spin rate, clubhead speed, ball speed, launch angle, smash factor, and launch direction.
- record your swing with your phone camera and play it back with data overlays
- save, review and analyze your shot data and stats
- get a top-down view of your shot dispersions
In our experience, the app is well-designed and runs smoothly.
The SC4 has two modes: outdoor and simulator. In outdoor mode, you can read all your data points on the onboard display after each shot without any smartphone or software required.
In simulator mode, the SC4 can be used with the world-renowned E6 CONNECT software as well as OptiShot Orion. A separate subscription is required for this.
In addition to the above, it also contains a barometric pressure sensor, remote control, and voice output that reads your distances out to you. The launch monitor runs on a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery.
An impressive amount of value is packed into the Swing Caddie SC4 for the cost. And although it initially had some launch hiccups like lack of simulation and messed up spin readings, Voice Caddie has addressed these issues and now it’s one of the best options for golf simulation under $1000.
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 for any kind of golf simulator.
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 (or an included swing stick) 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. Of course, if you plan to do golf simulation via a mobile device or laptop at the driving range, space shouldn’t be a concern.
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. This will allow you to practice at any time of day, regardless of what the weather is outside.
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 balls, plastic balls, no balls, or hitting balls at the driving range?
You’ll have to determine how important it is for you to be able to practice without going to the range. Plus, if you can use real balls, it will obviously more realistic and 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 just $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, TruGolf Mini, SC4 and others, is a high-quality software option that offers practice modes and various golf courses, among other things.
Awesome Golf, usable with the Approach R10 and MLM2PRO, 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 access to? 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 valuable asset. 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 if possible.
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.