Maybe the most important factor in choosing the right golf simulator for you is the software.
o Game Play:
There are several different options to consider here. How many courses are available? How many courses come with the base unit? How many of the courses are renditions of real courses? Are the courses computer based images (3D) or is it a picture based images (2D)? What I would suggest looking for here is: The number of courses which suits your needs, there is no reason to pay for 50 courses if you are only going to play 10. It takes a long time to get board playing a course on a good golf simulator. The major problem with a picture based system, is you can only play your shot from where there has been a picture taken. So if you hit the ball into the rough or out of bounds and there has not been a photo taken of that area, you will be atomically taken back to your previous shot with a one stroke penalty. Now for a PGA player this might not be a big deal but for the rest of us, who do hit the ball into the rough, it makes for a very slow and very frustrating round of golf.
o The Latest and Greatest Software:
There are a few companies who have released new software this year (2009). The new software adds cool new features to the game play. New features include variable weather options, time of day options. Now you can play your round of golf in the afternoon with a stiff breeze which is constantly changing as you play your round, watch the sky darken as your round nears nightfall. As you play your favorite round on the cost, see the waves move in and out on the surf, hear the waves crash along the coastline. With the new software you will also notice the true to life fairway and greens. When you hit a drive the ball should roll with the slope of the course. Beware, there are some simulators on the market, when you hit a ball it will only go straight and will not follow the slope of the course. If you are looking for the most realistic round of simulated golf this is a must feature and one to not over look.
o Number of Golfers:
One feature which is important for all applications is the number of golfer who can play at one time. All simulators will allow one golfer to shoot their shot one at a time. But there are some simulators out there which limits to the total players to just two or four golfers per round. I have found in commercial applications it is best to have up to eight players per round. This makes tournaments and leagues much easier to manage and drive revenues for your business.
o Swing Analysis
Swing analysis software is the most important tool for people who want to use their simulator as a training instrument. A good swing analyzer will enable you to do club fitting as well as dissect a customer’s swing to determine problem areas. But again some simulators have this software built in and others offer it as an add-on which is not compatible the simulator software and can cost upwards of $15,000. What really makes a swing analyzer a useful tool is the information and feedback it provides. Features to look for are club speed, launch angle, ball speed, club and ball path and spin. Many of the variables which will determine what type of swing analyzer will come with your simulator will depend on the simulator’s sensor technology. This and more will be discussed in the article dedicated to the topic of “Sensor Technology”.
The software you choose will have a major outcome on the overall performance and playability of your simulator. There are also two more articles on the topic of “Three Main Factors in Choosing a Golf Simulator” Please feel free to contact me through the website, if you have any questions on golf simulator software.