February 25, 2013 by Grant Clauser
The PGA Tour is in full swing (sorry, I had to type that), but you’re probably not in it. That’s OK, you can pretend without traveling the circuit or going out in the cold. Along with enormous home theaters, indoor pools and those mechanical bullbots found at western bars, golf simulators are very popular home entertainment additions for luxury homes.
Don’t confuse a full-fledged golf simulation room with a big TV playing Wii Golf (but that’s fun too). They’re about as far apart as a Fischer-Price drill and a Dewalt hammer drill. Home golf simulators involve custom-installed inclosures, high-definition projectors, LCD touchscreen controls and advanced infra-red tracking technology. They also use real golf balls and clubs. Most systems offer multiple, realistic courses with variable weather conditions to ensure you’re constantly challenging yourself. Imagine having your choice of famous courses whenever you enter the room and turn the system on. Some options even include live online tournaments with other home players.
Most home golf simulators take up about as much space as a small home theater. The Full Swing Champion model is 20-feet by 13-feet.
Just because a golf simulator uses a projector and a screen doesn’t mean it can also double as a reference home theater, though sometimes an integrator can design a solution to make the space appropriate for multiple uses. In most cases, the projector calibration and screen materials used are designed for sport, not cinema, plus you really don’t want to drag seats out onto the green every time you want to watch a movie.
This room, installed by Digital Home Technologies, Palatine, Ill. underwent a dramatic renovation, including the installation of specialty wall paneling that’s designed to absorb hits from errant golf balls, adding a slope to the floor and installing a high-tech training and simulation system. The system, designed by Foresight Sports (and running just under $20,000 for the hardware), includes software that runs on a PC that’s dedicated to the room, a business-grade Epson video projector and a screen that was custom-sized for the room. A camera watches and records the owner’s swing for proper alignment and technique. Look for more about this home in our March/April issue.
Check out this roundup of some of our favorite golf simulation rooms.
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Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had audio training from Home Acoustics Alliance and Sencore. He's also the author of the book The Trouble with Rivers
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.
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