Golf Simulator Buying Tips
Buying a golf simulator is a big step, and should be made only after checking out all of the most important factors. Realism, type of tracking, what it comes with, what courses it has and what courses are available, price (you do not always get what you pay for), and who to buy from.
Buying a Golf Simulator
What to look for.
Realism. It comes down to one word, realism. If a customer reliably hits his driver 200 yards on the course, that customer will want to see that same distance on the golf simulator. When evaluating a golf simulator, I look for my distances to be within 10% of what I hit that club on the outdoor course. A little tip, make sure that the elevation is set to the elevation that you usually play on. You can find out your course elevation from the Course Pro, or check with the clubhouse. When testing out a golf simulator, ask the person conducting the demo to change the course elevation to your home course elevation.
Type of Tracking. Some golf simulators track the club, some track the ball, and some track both. Ideally, you want a golf simulator that is capable of tracking both the club and the ball. Usually, if a golf simulator tracks both ball and club, a golfer can shape shots (draw & fade the ball). In environments where golfers are likely to want to improve their game, the swing analyzer type of club tracking is a good choice. If you have an environment where your golfers just want to grab a club and swing away, then camera club tracking is more than sufficient. It all boils down to what you want it to do. Remember, to see all of the ball movement you really need to know what that club head is doing.
Components. What does it come with? Most golf simulator dealers/resellers and manufacturers supply all that you need to have a fully operational golf simulator. Some supply both fully operational golf simulators for customers that do not want to do it themselves, and modular systems for those customers that want to build their own. Building your own can be a very expensive learning experience, but you will definitely learn a lot about golf simulation. If you are going with a system that requires you to supply your own components, be very careful, and ask what specifications are required for those components that you will be locating on your own, because all golf simulator hardware and software require different specs from the components that to work with that hardware and software. This is really important, because this is where the lesson gets expensive. Cables, carpet, wiring, computer upgrades, screens, and lighting are just a few items on a long list that should be clarified, and that list is made even more involved from one type of tracking system and manufacturer to the next. So, if you are going it on your own, do your homework, or work with someone who has done it already. My advice is, unless you are willing to part with approximately 10-20% more than what the components cost, you should buy a golf simulator that is ready to go.
Courses. What type of courses, and how many? The answer to that question will cost you or save you, it all depends on the value of the course names. Believe it or not, the difference in cost for name brand courses and courses without the name brand is 500%. It all depends on your audience, if your customers want to play Pebble Beach, pay the cost difference and move on. If you are the only indoor golf center in town, you can more than likely save yourself some money, and put that money into another golf simulator or other aspects of your indoor golf business. As far as how many courses, most golf simulators come standard with a decent number of courses. Until you are familiar with how much you will make from your indoor golf business, hold off and purchase different or more courses later. If you need a good rule of thumb for how many courses, we suggest that you have 12 or more.
Price. The cost of your golf simulator equipment will directly impact the health of your indoor golf venture. Just because a golf simulator costs more does not mean that it is better. Most of the time it just means that the high price of the golf simulator includes the cost to market that brand name. You want to buy a good, functional, and reliable golf simulator. You do not want to pay for brochures, internet ads, and licensing deals. The cost difference here is somewhere in the ballpark of 200% - 300%, if you are willing to pay for the name, buy it, otherwise count those savings into your net profit. My advice, do the math, take into account the difference in experience between the products. Is there a 200% -300% difference in the experience? If there is a valuable difference, pay the cost difference. If the experience is not that much better, do not pay the difference. Remember, you have to pay for the equipment AND the finance charge on that equipment, and sometimes this can be up to 10% over the life of the lease or loan. Take a look at how the numbers work when leasing a $48,000 golf simulator versus leasing a $36,000 golf simulator, a $20,000 golf simulator, and a $15,000 golf simulator, with all golf simulators equal in courses, components, and performance. It all comes down to profit, which will put more money in your pocket at the end of each month.
Who to buy from? Most of the time you think that cutting out the middle man will save you a lot of money. With golf simulators this is not the case. Dealers/Resellers sell golf simulators for the exact same price as the golf simulator manufacturer. So, why go directly to the manufacturer, when you can buy from someone local, and someone who will be accountable to you along with the manufacturer. Plus, dealers/resellers are a great resource for beginning indoor golf owners. A good dealer/reseller understands the local market, and has inside knowledge of the direction of the whole indoor golf industry. Use dealers/resellers that represent more than one brand of golf simulator. If you go to a dealer/reseller that is exclusive to one brand of golf simulator you will only learn about that brand. Dealers/Resellers that represent more than one brand have the ability to show you the brand that best fits your needs, budget, and individual market.
If you have any questions beyond what we have covered here, or any questions about what we have covered, please feel free to contact us.