Are Golf Simulators Accurate? Crash Course on Simulator Tech

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If you have hit golf balls on a simulator, you’ve likely asked yourself: are golf simulators accurate? I wonder this all the time. I wonder if a good session on the golf simulator will translate to a good round on the golf course (for me, it’s a nope).

Golf has more analyzed data than most sports. Carry distance, total distance, apex height, ball spin, spin axis, clubhead speed, launch angle, swing path, angle of attack, and angle of descent. The list can go on and on.

So how does a golf simulator accurately measure all of these things? Is it accurate all the time? This article will help you understand where the data comes from.

golf simulator software accurate
E6 Connect golf simulator software

Are All Golf Simulators Accurate?

The simple answer is YES! Golf simulators are subjected to countless tests to refine their accuracy. They are so accurate that tour pros use them to dial in their carry distances before tournaments.

Tiger Woods and John Rahm have been known to use the Full Swing Kit launch monitors to dial in their game. If they trust these launch monitors with their game, then I don’t know why the average golfer wouldn’t.

Yes, golf simulators can be wrong at times. I’m sure Tiger Woods would be the first to tell you that golf simulators don’t always reflect the numbers you see on the golf course. And sometimes golf simulators just record a bad shot or two. If you understand how simulators work, then there are things you can do to make them perform more consistently.

the ideal indoor simulator setup for accuracy
Golf simulator with overhead launch monitor

What Technology do Simulators Use?

Understanding the technology used in golf simulators will help you realize the limitations. There is a launch monitor that records the golf shot, produces the data, and then sends it to the simulation software. The simulation software then tries to represent the shot based on the provided data. The hard work is all done by the launch monitor.

There are three technologies that launch monitors use to track your shot: high speed cameras, infrared light, and radar. Some launch monitors use one technology, while others use multiple technologies in tandem.

High Speed Cameras

High-speed images are the most common technology used to track ball data. Hundreds of images are taken through the impact zone and analyzed to determine club and ball data. The launch monitor processes all the images, produces data, and gives an output to the simulator software.

forsight gc3 launch simulator for accuracy
Foresight GC3 with high speed cameras

High speed cameras are an incredible piece of technology, which raises the cost of these golf launch monitors. The more cameras, the more expensive the launch monitor. It seems like more than four high speed cameras would be unnecessary, however.

High speed cameras were reserved for a privileged few only a decade ago, but now they are widely available. Golf launch monitor companies have taken full advantage of the accessibility to high speed cameras.

Infrared Light

High speed cameras are only as good as the lighting conditions. To combat this problem, launch monitors use a brief flash of infrared light to illuminate the white golf ball and create high contrast. The infrared light is precisely timed with the images captured by the high speed camera.

Uneekor Eye xo accurate launch monitor
Uneekor Eye Xo launch monitor with infrared light

Infrared light was a creative solution to a frustrating lighting problem. It is now used in all launch monitors that contain a high speed camera.


Radar is a well known technology that has been used by the military since the start of the 20th century. It has been used on missile tracking systems, targeting systems, and weather surveillance for quite some time now. Only recently has it been used to track a golf ball’s flight through the air.

garmin r10 accurate launch monitor
Garmin R10 radar launch monitor

Radar launch monitors are fundamentally different than launch monitors that use high speed cameras. The high speed cameras use the launch conditions to predict the ball’s flight. A radar uses the balls flight to predict the launch conditions. A radar doesn’t have hundreds of frames right after impact. Instead, the radar can track the entire flight of the ball.

Radar launch monitors tend to have an advantage when being used outdoors because they don’t rely on lighting. They suffer indoors because they need more space and there is more potential for interference.

Here are a few of the most popular radar launch monitors:

Radar launch monitors are less expensive because they don’t contain a pricey high speed camera. They also fit into a smaller profile and are more portable.

Infrared Light & High Speed Cameras

The magic combo: infrared light and high speed cameras. The high contrast of infrared light and the hundreds of frames from the high speed camera team up to provide an extremely accurate launch monitor.

This is the kind of launch monitor you will find at most indoor simulators because lighting conditions can be controlled. Indoor simulators also have limited space, so these types of launch monitors are ideal. They only need to see your ball for a few feet after it leaves your club.

It may seem like these would function poorly outside on a sunny day, but engineers have figured out how to make these cameras function well on sunny days, too. Most golfers will still tell you that radar based launch monitors still work better at the range, but these high speed camera launch monitors are starting to hold their own.

are golf simulators accurate
A TruGolf Apogee launch monitor in the wild

I personally use the TruGolf Apogee launch monitor and it has been incredible. Here are some of the launch monitors that use high speed cameras and infrared light:

Foresight Sports is the most popular launch monitor that uses high speed cameras and infrared light to capture ball and club data. They were one of the first to enter the golf simulation arena, and they quickly rose in popularity. Their launch monitors are extremely accurate without using any radar. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Infrared Light & High Speed Cameras & Radar

Some manufacturers have taken it a step further to include ALL the technology in one launch monitor. These launch monitors are still primarily radar based, but they incorporate some elements of the high speed camera to verify the data. It really is the best of both worlds.

flightscope x3 accurate golf simulator
Flightscope X3 with “fusion tracking”

Tour pros will typically use one of the launch monitors that has all of the available technology. Bryson DeChambeau likes the Flightscope X3. Tiger Woods and John Rahm like the the Full Swing Kit. Most other tour pros use the Trackman 4.

The best part about these launch monitors is that they can be easily used at home or at the range. Here’s a list of launch monitors that take advantage of all the technology:

Should You Trust This Tech?

Golf simulator technology has come A LONG WAYS in the last 5-10 years. With the increasing popularity of golf, these golf simulators have become a common thing to see in your shopping mall. Avid golfers have also been installing them in open garage bays and in basements.

So are these golf simulators accurate? YES. Yes they are. You just need to understand the limitations and purchase the correct simulator for your application. You can trust this technology to help improve your golf game.

If you have any questions about a particular application, please contact the SIM Squad. They are experts at providing the ideal launch simulator and simulation software for each situation.

Final Thoughts

Golf simulators and launch monitors will be more and more common as their prices come down. I rarely see a launch monitor at the range at the courses near me, but I know they are coming. Golf launch monitors and simulators are surprisingly accurate and can help any golfer understand and improve their game.

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