November 08th, 2020

Virtual Golf vs The Real Experience



Golf simulators became increasingly cheaper in recent years, with their cost now ranging in the thousands, instead of the tens of thousands of dollars. Furthermore advancements in cybernetics allow simulators to predict the ball’s path to near-life accuracy and the graphics make you feel like you’re looking out of a window. But just because purchasing one won’t brake the bank, it doesn’t mean we should rush to the nearest store. Playing virtual golf still differs from the real thing in a few key respects.

Putting isn't the same and

This is partly to blame on current technology, as sometimes launch monitors can have difficulties in picking up slower shots. But even when the sensors work flawlessly, putting will still feel awkward and a bit more difficult than in real life.

This is because we heavily rely on depth perceptions for our short game, and a flat screen makes this impossible. With time, players can get used to judging distances in 2D and accurately adjust the strength of their shots, but unless you only have one eye, putts can never feel the same as in real life.

Speaking of feeling...

There is something that experience golf players call “the feel”. It’s a sort of an intuition on how to swing in order to accurately land a shot. It might be factored by the many minute details of the course that our brain picks on without us noticing; it might be pure muscle memory; or both, but one thing's certain: For most people, it’s just not there when playing a simulation. 

The environment

Golf simulators are quite good at determining how environmental factors will affect trajectory, but what they can’t predict is how the weather will affect you. Strong or even moderate winds ever so slightly make us swing differently, and there’s no way to replicate that in virtual golf (at least without an industrial fan, which, as far as we know, isn’t included in any simulator on the market).

And you know what else isn’t included in a golf simulator packages? – Sandpits! Some might find this a welcome change from the real deal, but there’s no doubt it takes away from the realism of the experience.

You don't lie just quite the same

A real golf course very rarely offers a perfectly flat surface from which to make your swing. Any golfer noticed his footing needs serious adjustments when swinging from a steep incline, but even barely discernible turf variations can alter the way we hit the ball and the subsequent shot. The play area of a simulator is as flat as the floor.

Playing from the rough won’t feel the same either -- although most simulators can incur a small distance penalty for a shot “taken” from long grass. In this case, however, it is easier to simulate the real-life experience with a long grass golfing mat.

The best way to play

Until the holodeck in Star Trek comes around, we probably won’t be able to perfectly replicate the golfing experience. Fortunately, we can help you get the real deal without the hassle of planning and booking. For more details, reach us at 877.634.0790, or through the “contact” page on this site.