Home golf simulators like Optishot, SkyTrak SIG8 Studio, or SkyTrak SIG10 Studio, are getting ever more popular. Many end up in large sheds or the garage and even big living rooms. It is an easy way to get in more regular practice and really train to hone your skills and reduce the frustration on the fairway. The projectors will produce the image and can plug into your equipment with a HDMI video connection. The projectors can operate from high end gaming computers or even something basic such as a laptop or tablet depending on your software.
The below guide answers a few frequently asked questions about home Golf Simulators and provides some projectors our experts recommend you consider.
Installation positioning is arguably one of the most important aspects you will need to consider when planning for your new Golf Sim Projector
There are two major reasons; firstly you do not want to have the golfer casting a great big shadow in the middle of the projection. If the projector is too far back you will get a great big silhouette on the projection ruining the experience. The second major reason is safety, you wouldn’t want the projector to be hit by the club or ball so it is usually best to have it at a safe range.
Depending on your room you may opt for a short throw projector, where the projector will sit right up near the screen. This will allow for the projector to be positioned well away from the golfer so the club cannot hit it and golfer won't be blocking the projection and casting a shadow. The projector would still need to be well protected from wayward balls though, the last thing you would want is a ball smashing into your amazing new projector.
Standard or Long throw projectors would sit further back... usually at least a few metres depending on the model and image size. You may install a projector like this on the ceiling above the golfer. If ceiling mounting the unit ideally should be positioned high up enough so it cannot be hit by a golf club, it should also be positioned so the golfer does not block the projection and cast a shadow on screen.
To determine the installation distance of a projector look at for the projectors advertised 'Throw Ratio'. Simply multiply the throw ratio figure by the required image width to get the distance. Just Projectors also has a Throw Distance Chart online for every projector giving you the required installation distance for some popular screen sizes.
Aspect Ratio is basically the shape of the image being projected. It is a ratio of the width vs the height. Most modern projectors will project a widescreen shaped image in a ratio of 16:9 or 16:10. The widescreen ratios are now the standard with computers as well as all entertainment devices. Some home golf simulator software, however, will display only in a 4:3 ratio (an image more square), and golf impact screens are also designed in a shape that is closer to square rather than widescreen. If you prefer an image that has more height you can still use a modern projector, you just need to 'overspill' the image width.
Overspilling the screen width simply means positioning the projector further back so the image becomes larger and therefore making the width of the image appear over the edges of the screen. Once you do this you can then set your computer or software to a 4:3 ratio output, doing this will black out the sides of the image. This is like when you watch an old film on a modern TV where you get the black bars on the left and right sides of the TV.
The below image is a projector (displaying a test pattern) that has been pulled back so the height fills up the whole wall and the extra width is overspilled onto the side walls. When finally set up correctly the projector would only be projecting black onto the side walls leaving you with an image filling up your whole screen.
To make things a little easier we have a couple diagrams below of a 16:9 and a 16:10 widescreen projector being adjusted down to a 4:3 projection ratio. In this example the end image works out to 4m wide and 3m high. In these examples the 16:9 projector will need to shoot out to 5.33m wide to achieve a 3 metre height. The 16:10 projector will go out to 4.8 metres wide for the same height.
For an Optoma GT1080HDR you would multiply the Throw ratio of 0.5 by 5.33 to get an installation distance of 2.66metres.
For a Panasonic PT-VZ580 you would multiply the minimum Throw ratio of 1.09 by 4.8 to get a minimum distance of 5.23metres.
The brightness you will need from the projector will depend on the image size you are projecting and the ambient lighting conditions.
A projector with at least 3500 ANSI Lumens tends to suit most typical home golf simulators. If you plan on using a larger than normal screen (eg beyond 3m wide) or if there will a decent level of ambient light it would be best to consider something 5000 ANSI Lumens or more. When comparing projectors we recommend sticking to the major brands, they all use the ANSI method of measuring brightness... some smaller brands advertise lumens in their own method of measuring which can result in a vastly higher (but often misleading) rating.
A Native Resolution is essentially a measurement for the number of pixels being projected. Usually this is represented in a number of pixels width vs height e.g. 1920 pixels width and 1080 pixels high. Projectors may accept signals higher and lower of the native resolution but they will only be able to project an image in the actual native resolution... the higher or lower resolution that has be input will simply be converted by the projector to the native resolution.
The most common resolutions for golf simulators are
We recommend to select a resolution of at least 1920x1080. The throw distance may decide the resolution for you though. In many cases a 16:10 1920x1200 offers an advantage as you get a little more height, especially handy if overspilling the screen. Of course UHD 4K resolution will offer much more detail but will also be more expensive.
Ceiling mounting is the best way to install a golf sim projector. Typically you would have the projector installed just behind the golfer to keep it safe from a stray ball or club impacting it. With a tall ceiling you can play with the angles to find a suitable location where the golfer can't hit the projector or get in the way of the projection.
In some installations a shorter throw projector can be installed in front of the golfer and this will be fine in terms of shadows but we recommend a protective cage or shield to make sure a bad drive doesn’t damage the unit.
Setting up your golf simulator to also be your home theatre can be done with a little more planning. You can easily turn your golf simulator into a home theatre or man cave with a bit of an adjustment of the projectors zoom. If you wish to do this we recommend selecting a projector with a wide optical zoom. When you install the projector aim to place the unit at the short end (or Wide) of the zoom. From here you can simply twist the lens to zoom the image down to a more reasonable size when watching movies and zoom it out when using the projector as a golf sim.
Laser projectors use a relatively new technology featuring lasers to create the light rather than a typical mercury based lamp. For the vast majority of home simulator installations a lamp based projector will be a great choice. Most modern lamp projectors feature a very long lamp life so you likely would get thousands of hours of golfing in before needing to replace the lamp. A projector using a laser lightsource is worth considering should you be using the projector heavily. They are particularly popular in commercial golf simulators and in hospitality venues where the projector will be on all day. Laser projectors essentially offer a longer life to the light source and eliminate your down time when a lamp does fail and you don't have a spare one handy for immediate replacement. Laser projectors tend to cost a bit more than a lamp based projector so may not be worth while in every set up.