If you are into golf technology, chances are you have heard about the advances in both portable launch monitor technology and golf simulator technology. Whether you want to create a driving range in your own home or simply just measure your ball speed, launch angle, and ball flight, you must choose between a launch monitor and a golf simulator.

These two devices are a bit different, and many golfers get them confused. Let’s take a deeper look into the launch monitor vs. golf simulator.

What Are Golf Simulators?

A golf simulator is a complete setup using a launch monitor, hitting mat, net, projector, software, and screen to have a real-life playing or practice experience in your own home.

Golf launch monitor vs Golf simulator - AEC Info

A golf simulator setup will typically cost more than $5000 and will require putting together several different pieces of equipment. With the right software, you could play Pebble Beach with a few friends from the comfort of your home.

You can see our review of the Best golf simulators here.

What are Golf Launch Monitors?

Golf launch monitors are devices that measure ball and or club data to help give golfers a more profound understanding of their golf game. The launch monitor typically uses some type of radar technology to measure things like club speed, golf ball speed, angle of attack, spin rate, carry distance, spin axis, and more.

A launch monitor can also use photometric technology and is typically portable. The launch monitor is a key element of a golf simulator, but on its own, it is not a golf simulator.

You can see our review of the Best golf launch monitors here.

Difference Between a Launch Monitor and Golf Simulator

The main difference between a launch monitor and a golf simulator is the software. A launch monitor can collect data and display it for amateur golfers to see. However, when it comes to rounds of virtual golf, you will need to pair your launch monitor with high quality golf simulator software.

The software combined with things like a projector and screen are what transform your indoor space into a golf club. Without these things, you will not be playing golf courses. However, all golf simulator packages must come with a launch monitor as it is the most important part of the package.

Portability

The best premium launch monitors are also portable. This means that the average golfer can take these systems to the driving range and get instant feedback on their game. Whether using systems that have high speed cameras or photometric systems, the ability to move your launch monitor indoors or outdoors and still get an accurate reading is a great feature.

Accurate golf simulators typically require a setup in a room in your home. Setting up the simulator software, the software package, the screen, the net, the mat, and all of the accessories will take a bit of time. Bringing this outside to your patio or over to a friend’s house may be appealing, but it is not always realistic.

One of the main differences between golf simulators and launch monitors is that the launch monitor is very portable.

Pricing

The pricing of a launch monitor can range anywhere from $350 to more than $30,000. Full golf simulator setups are typically going to be around $10,000 for a really good setup. The best simulation package will require a really great launch monitor. These launch monitors will have both ball data metrics and club head metrics.

If you are ready for something with simulator capabilities, be prepared to spend quite a bit more. However, for a golfer that is simply looking to understand how far they need to hit their approach shots, a basic doppler radar launch monitor will do the trick.

One of the things that increase the pricing of the simulator is that the clubhead metrics require an advanced launch monitor. This launch monitor can record things like shot shape and swing path.

Between this additional technology, trying to make sure you have a compatible device, and setting up the space, the simulator is considerably more expensive.

Capabilities

The golf simulator is capable of much more than the launch monitor. Simulation capabilities require advanced software that will cost thousands of dollars. If you want to play a course like Bethpage Black from your own home, you must ensure you have a gaming package, clear graphics, and high internet speed.

With a launch monitor, the basic idea is to learn things like how many miles per hour you swing your driver. Or whether or not the new swing chance you just made is helping with overall accuracy. Chances are that your launch monitor capabilities will be limited compared to what the simulator can do.

Of course, this also explains the difference in price between an affordable launch monitor and a full package golf simulator. Launch monitors can give accurate feedback, but they don’t (on their own) allow you to play golf away from the course.

Spacing/Setup

Most launch monitors will have the ability for both indoor and outdoor use. Indoor golf launch monitor and simulator setups need to ensure they have the perfect ceiling height. This should be no less than about 8.5 feet. Most of the time, simulators will also need a 10×10 space for set up.

However, advances in technology are coming to the market that makes it easier to get a simulator to work in a smaller space. One of the golf launch monitor benefits is that you can simply walk it out to the driving range and enjoy some time collecting and analyzing your stats.

Additional AEC Info reviews on Golf launch monitors and Golf simulators:

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Is Better?

It’s hard to say that the launch monitor is better than the golf simulator or vice versa. These are two different golf technologies, and to use a simulator, you will need a golf launch monitor. Getting the chance to play famous courses on a rainy day is a tremendous benefit of the golf simulator.

Many golfers would agree that their dream golf setup comes with a fully functioning golf simulator.

However, if you are new to golf technology and ready to start with something that gives you more insight into your game, then the launch monitor is the perfect solution. You can use this launch monitor at the driving range or even with a golf practice mat in your yard.

The more awareness you can develop about your game and your swing, the better the player you will become.

Most golfers start with a basic golf launch monitor like the Flightscope Mevo or  and see how often they use it and whether or not they enjoy it. When moving to the next level and ready to analyze club paths and play additional courses all over the world, it may be time to upgrade to a golf simulator.

A launch monitor gives golfers a better idea as to the strengths and weaknesses of their golf game. Launch monitors all you to hit real golf balls and collect data about the ball at impact. This information can then be used to help identify the weaknesses in your game.

Golfers need to do some studying to find out the stats that are most important and what these ranges are. However, even golfers like Tiger Woods will use a launch monitor to study their game and take it to the next level.

With the pricing of the best launch monitors in the game of golf continuing to come down, many golfers feel that now is the perfect time to purchase a golf launch monitor. It’s become incredibly easy to set up a launch monitor at the range, increase your overall effectiveness and get some great information about yardages that you can take to the course.

If you are ready to become a more accurate player, the launch monitor is an excellent investment.

Most launch monitors at golf stores are accurate. However, you can ask about the launch monitor and simulator software to make sure it is one of the more highly recommended options.

Golf simulator vs Golf launch monitor - AEC Info

For example, the Foresight Sports launch monitors (seen above) or Trackman are known for having the best overall results. If you see this is what the store has, chances are you will get some valuable information about your game.

Conclusion

We hope you can now understand the difference between a golf launch monitor and a golf simulator. Again, if you simply want a measurement of your clubhead speed or the total distance you hit a shot, the launch monitor is the right solution.

Golfers that want to play TPC Sawgrass while standing in their living room will need a complete package with simulator software. Golf simulators are considerably more expensive, but they have technology that can be impossible to find.

The good news for all golfers is that golf technology is becoming more accurate and more accessible for the average golfer.