Many avid golfers dream of installing a golf simulator inside the home, for the times they can’t step out on the green, for example if they’re too busy with work or family or if it’s raining.
However, while you could have a state-of-the-art golf simulator, it’s incomplete without a projector, which will project the ball flight and simulation upon the screen. Put simply, without a good projector, you won’t be able to see the details that are important to you.
Here are the top seven list of golf simulator projectors! All the products are available on Amazon, and we’ve taken the extra step of listing the Amazon product webpage for each one.
Remember, they’re at heart all-purpose projectors, so when you’re not using them for golf practice, you can use them to project slideshows or documentaries (or even entertainment movies for home use) for home, business, or places of worship. Some people use them for serious competitive computer gaming.
Three Brands Stand Out in the Golf Simulator Projector Market
Although there are many companies that manufacture electronic projectors, for example, Ricoh, Epson, and Canon, you’ll find that only BenQ, Optoma, and ViewSonic are reflected in this list.
That doesn’t mean we only considered three manufacturers! On the contrary, we found the projectors with the “sweet spot” range for a golf simulator, for example, an ultra-short-throw projector would have a range too short to project an image on a screen as large as that required by a golf simulator.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, powerful projectors for commercial use, such as Epson’s, are for enormous spaces, far bigger than those of living rooms.
|1. Optoma EH200ST HD
|2. BenQ MW632ST WXGA
|3. ViewSonic PS501X XGA
|4. Optoma EH412ST 4K
|5. BenQ TH671ST HDTV
|6. ViewSonic PX706HD
|7. Optoma GT1080HDR
What You Need to Know Before Checking the Golf Simulator Projectors
You may feel somewhat impatient to check all the incredible golf simulator projectors out there, but trust me, you’ll find it so much easier to compare them if you know all this stuff ahead of time!
Let’s get to it; here are the technical items you should know by second nature when you check out the golf simulator projectors.
- Throw ratio
- Lag time
- Contrast ratio
When you’re looking at the screen, you want to be able to enjoy seeing it in a variety of settings, during daytime, during sundown, and in the evenings. You’ll want to do your practice golf without having to draw the curtains close together every time!
We measure brightness in terms of lumens. Essentially, golf similar projectors fall within the range of 2,000 to 4,000 lumens. The brightness can also be affected by ambient lighting (the other sources of lighting in your room such as natural sunlight through the window, lamps, and ceiling lights) and also screen size.
If the ambient light is strong, meaning you already have a lot of light in your room before you turn the projector on, you’ll need the projector to have more lumens.
The bigger the screen, the more lumens are needed to ensure consistency.
By way of comparison, an 80-inch screen in a home living room can comfortably display images from a 3,000-lumen projector, but strong ambient light may lower the quality of the viewing somewhat.
Going on to larger size use, a small classroom or meeting room would be ideal for 3,000 to 4,000 lumens. In contrast, a mid-size classroom or conference room would need 4,000 to 5,000 lumens. Finally, exhibition halls and auditoriums would need more than 5,000 lumens,
Another consideration is the type of light—laser or lamps? Lasers are more expensive but don’t need to be replaced unless defective. Meanwhile, lamps do need to be replaced, especially very bright lamps.
Basically, the throw ratio shows how well a large screen-size image can be projected clearly close to the projector.
The lower the throw ratio, the more you can be sure that whatever large image you’re seeking—such as the idyllic golf course you’re putting on virtually—will be possible to see close to the projector, without needing so much distance.
For example, a throw ratio of 0.5:1 means a one-foot wide image filling a screen can be seen easily half a foot from the projector.
Instead, a throw ratio of 2:1 means a one-foot wide image needs more distance, in this case, two feet, from the projector.
In general, people prefer the flexibility of setting up screens close to the projector, which is why they seek a low throw ratio.
The throw ratio is calculated as follows:
Throw ratio = Throw distance / image width
Conversely, the image width that you seek can be determined by:
Image width = Throw distance / throw ratio
For example, if you have four feet of space in your room, and the golf simulator projector has a throw ratio of 0.5, you could use a screen of 48 inches divided by 0.5 = 96 inches, or eight feet wide.
Good visual graphics and details on the throw ratio can be found on this website.
Another good website asks you to input the actual projector model and then you can adapt the height of the screen, width of the screen, or the throw distance from the project to the screen. It’s also relatively simple to use, despite the inherent complexity in doing raw calculations.
Note that there is a prompt on the right side to change the type of unit from metric to imperial, i.e. from centimeters to inches.
Here is this website.
Lag time is, simply put, the delay you would experience in actually getting the image onto the screen, and is also called input lag. Fear not, though, the lag time for a typical golf simulator projector is almost minimal—about 20 milliseconds, which is 0.02 of a second. Pretty fast, right?
People who love gaming on computers would follow this measure closely.
Unfortunately, many projector brands do not specify the lag time. Some do specify the response time, which is just the amount of time that the projector takes to convert the color of pixels on a screen from one color to another.
Black and white typically are the colors used to measure the standard response time, since they’re the easiest colors to convert.
Ultimately, the response time specified on a product may not matter that much, since it’s very tiny—sometimes just 2 milliseconds, which is 0.002 of a second. Also, response time is just one factor that makes up the ultimate target, which is lag time.
You may have heard a lot about resolution, especially when sending images over the Internet. And you know that the higher the resolution, the sharper the picture.
Here’s a handy table of resolutions for golf simulator projectors:
SXGA and XGA
1024 x 768
WXGA and WUXGA
1280 x 800
1920 x 1080
3840 x 2160
Obviously, the higher the resolution, with the top category currently being 4K, the better the visual quality.
Note that if you see something like “1080” alone, it means the lower number of the two dimensions that make up the resolution. “1080” would mean HDTV or 1920 x 1080 pixels. Some say “1080p” and the “p” would stand for pixels.
Remember, though, the screen must match the minimum (or higher) resolution of the golf simulator projector. For example, if your golf simulator projector is 4K, but the screen only has WXGA, the resolution won’t be higher than WXGA.
Simply put, the contrast ratio is the contrast between black and white images on the screen. Even if the light source is very bright, a low contrast ratio can make the image look washed out. A contrast ratio of 1,500:1 is adequate, while 2,000:1 or higher is excellent.
While some projectors claim a contrast ratio of 20,000:1 which sounds phenomenal, keep in mind that this is the most “pure” reading, namely contrasting one solid all-black image against a solid all-white image.
A more measured tool is to use a simple checkerboard layout of eight white squares and eight black squares (4 by 4 layout). This will bring the contrast ratio down to the more nuanced level of about 2,000:1. This method is called the ANSI Contrast.
The Difference Between the Throw Ratio and the Zoom Ratio
Sometimes you’ll see a throw ratio for a projector, and other times you’ll see a zoom ratio, which can make things confusing. So what’s the difference between the two?
As we discussed above, “throw” is movie industry terminology for the distance between the projector and the screen. However, zoom means the ability to calibrate the size of the projection without moving the projector. Therefore, the throw ratio (moving the projector closer or farther away) and the zoom ratio (adjusting the lens) can be used together.
The typical zoom ratio is 1.2. That means you can adjust the image size 20% smaller or 20% bigger. Beyond that range, the zoom ratio is limited, as you can only expand the image so much before it starts becoming blurry, which is at the point you might have to move the projector.
Figuring Out the Specifications of the Projector You Need
There are hundreds of electronic projectors on the market and many different manufacturers, each offering perhaps dozens of models. How could you possibly narrow down your search? There are some key things to consider.
A short-throw is best (preferably equal to or less than 0.3 to 1) because the projector can be mounted directly above or in front of the golfer, in order to avoid shadows on the screen. So we’ll look at projectors with short throws.
Another reason is that the higher the resolution, the closer you need to stand to the screen for your eyes to appreciate the distinction in the resolution.
For example, for the 4K resolution, the maximum distance to fully see the fine resolution is only ten feet from the screen or less.
Again, this goes to show why short throw projectors may be best, as you’d want to stand close to the screen to fully enjoy the detail of the golf images.
Aspect ratios usually go hand in hand with screen resolution, so seek an aspect ratio of 16:10, or a bit better (i.e., at 16:9) since the accompanying resolution will be of sufficient caliber.
The Seven Best Choices for Golf Simulator Projector
Now that we’ve learned a little as to what to look for, those short-throw projectors have been reviewed and are considered the best. You would do well with any of these options. (Note that a lot of the product names and models include “ST” in the name—ST stands for “short throw.”)
Remember, technology changes fast, so keep checking for the latest models and brands.
- Optoma EH200ST HD
- Ben Q MW632ST WXGA
- ViewSonic PS501X XGA
- Optoma EH412ST 4K
- BenQ TH671ST HDTV
- ViewSonic PX706HD
- Optoma GT1080HDR
Optoma EH200ST HD
For an affordable option, this short-throw projector will fit your needs. As specified on its product listing, this projector has:
- The throw ratio of just 0.49:1, meaning it can project an eight-foot image only four feet away from the projector. (Another yardstick is that it can project a 10-foot image from five feet away). Note: the width refers to the horizontal width of the screen, not the diagonal measurement from corner to corner.
- A bright 3,000 lumens source.
- The resolution is HDTV, 1920 x 1080 pixels, which is very sharp quality. The aspect ratio is 16:9, which is a flatter rectangular shape ideal for large projection screens.
This projector has high connectivity, which means it can connect to many computers, smartphones, tablets, and flat screens, including the HDMI option (high definition multimedia interface).
The lamp life, depending on the type of bulb used, is 5,000 to 6,500 hours, meaning you won’t have to change the bulbs often!
As well, this projector has a built-in speaker and is relatively simple to program and operate. It is budget-friendly, consistently selling for under $1,000.
BenQ MW632ST WXGA
This option is quite affordable, midway between $500 and $1,0000 usually. Let’s see its essential specifications:
- The throw ratio of 0.9:1, which isn’t as superior as the other models featured here, but in line with the budgetary advantage.
- A bright 3,200 lumens source.
- The resolution isn’t as elevated as that of other major brands but is still suitable for its purpose. It’s WXGA, which is 1280 x 800 pixels. The aspect ratio is a standard 16:10, which is the regular rectangular screen.
The lamp life is between 4,000 to 10,000 hours, with the following types listed by increasing level of superiority: Normal, Economical, and Smart Eco.
As well, the projector had HDMI connectivity and can connect to a wide variety of electronics.
ViewSonic PS501X XGA
Another very affordable option at midrange between $500 to $1,000, is another brand that’s popular for golf simulators.
One apparent drawback is that it’s level one of the usual range of resolution: it’s an XGA, or 1024 x 768. However, it should be sufficient for enjoyable practice golf at this affordability.
A quick recap:
- The throw ratio of 0.6:1, which compares favorably to other models in its price range. For a ten-foot widescreen, this projector should be placed six feet away. Note: the screen width refers to its horizontal width, not a diagonal measurement from one corner to the opposite corner.
- A comparatively bright 3,400 lumens, which is better than other similarly priced models.
- While it has the minimum required resolution to be a terrific product, its other superior features keep this projector a handy alternative. The accompanying aspect ratio is 4:3, which would still fit a wide variety of large projector screen shapes.
Despite the standard resolution specifications, this product can still connect to any HDMI- compatible device. This is one of the few products that displays its input lag time—16 milliseconds, which is excellent.
It boasts a maximum number of hours of lamp used for one light bulb at 15,000 hours, but realize this is through using the SuperEco bulb, which lowers brightness somewhat.
Optoma EH412ST 4K
Now we’re getting into more pricey projectors, but what extra you pay for results in more technology advancement! This one is the top resolution level for a projector, namely 4K. This model sells for about $1,000.
Let’s go over the specifications.
- The throw ratio is 0.5 to 1, meaning you can project onto a 10 foot wide screen from a distance of only five feet.
- With the added cost comes a higher level of brightness—4,000 lumens.
- The resolution is an even more picture-sharp 4K, and the aspect ratio is 16:9, which is a more flat rectangular shape ideal for many large projector screens.
The lamp life is very long, at 15,000 hours if using the Dynamic option light bulb. Otherwise, bright category light will get you 4,000 hours, and Eco gets you 10,000 hours. All ranges are very generous, meaning you will only have to change the bulb once (or perhaps never) over the projector’s lifetime.
The input lag time is a very speedy 16 milliseconds.
Needless to say, the high resolution of this model means very high connectivity; it can connect to a wide variety of electronics, including older ones. Keep in mind that any projector is only as good as its screen, which has to match in terms of level of resolution.
BenQ TH671ST HDTV
It sells in the mid-range between $500 to $1,000, making this an affordable prospect. The emphasis on this particular product is on gaming, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t hook it up to a golf simulator, as well.
- The throw ratio is 0.69:1 to 0.83:1 which reflects the range afforded by the zoom lens, adjusting either way (the middle would be 0.76). In this range of throw ratio, an 8 1/3 foot wide screen can be accommodated only 5 feet from the projector. For your information, the zoom ratio is 1.2.
- The brightness is an admirable 3,000 lumens.
- The resolution is HDTV, meaning the aspect ratio is very handy 16:9.
The emphasis on gaming is noticed in the promotion of its low input lag time—less than 17 milliseconds.
This is also in the mid-range between $500 and $1,000. This product emphasizes heavily its cinema-like presentation and an immersive experience in HDTV.
- The throw ratio is not clearly specified, but the manufacturer claims you can project upon an 8 1/3 foot wide screen only 5 feet from the projector, which implies an acceptable throw ratio of 0.6:1.
- The brightness is a standard 3,000 lumens, which means ambient light inside the room is just fine.
- The resolution is HDTV, with this product promising “stunning detail, vivid color, and beautifully immersive images.” The aspect ratio is 16:9 which suits all projection screens well.
This product promises a very low input lag time of 16 milliseconds, which is very fast. Its vertical keystone correction software avoids distortion of images and straightens out the way it’s meant to be, which can be very handy when looking at the simulated golf course.
Optoma is a brand you’ll see often in this article, and that’s not surprising, considering its focus on manufacturing high-quality short throw projectors. The latest one here is more pricey and has the most ultra-fast lag time of 8 milliseconds, half that of the better brands mentioned here.
- The throw ratio isn’t specified as an exact ratio here, but the manufacturer states it is excellent, allowing a ten-foot screen to be accommodated at only four feet away. This works out to a 0.4:1 throw ratio, certainly a high-end result.
- Brightness is excellent here, at 3,800 lumens.
- The resolution is HDTV but says 4K input is possible. The aspect ratio is a very acceptable 16:9.
Widespread connectivity to gaming consoles makes this an attractive option for gaming as well.
Other Considerations for Your Golf Simulator Projector
Since the cables needed for the projector can tangle easily, it’s important to find a good amount for it. It could be mounted on the wall or the ceiling; whatever is best for you. It could also be mounted to a stand that you can bring into the room whenever you’re ready to practice virtual golf.
As for selecting the matching golf simulator, generally, that’s not a problem. You can mix and match brands since they’re all designed to connect with one another.
Popular golf simulator brands include FlightScope, SkyTrak, TruGolf, GCQuad, and OptiShot.
How to Adapt Your Home to the Golf Simulator Projector
What is the optimum size room for a golf simulator and related projector? The room where you take swings should be at least ten feet high up to the ceiling, to make sure you have plenty of room to swing your club.
As for length and width, a measurement of eighteen to twenty feet long is recommended as a minimum. If the practice room will be used by someone who’s a left-handed golfer, and another who’s a right-handed golfer, the room should be at least fifteen feet wide.
If you know that you’ll be the only one using the practice room, or everyone who will use it has the same left or right-handed swing, then twelve feet wide minimum should suffice.
If you’re married or share the practice room with a housemate, one selling point to getting him or her to agree to install a projector is to suggest the other use it for home entertainment. As we’ve seen, a lot of the projectors double up as gaming or cinema experiences.
However, if the use of the projector switches over back and forth between virtual golf and watching shows, you’ll need to keep cleaning up and putting away your golf stuff when you’re done.
Also, the screen can’t be used for both the golf swings and for watching movies—the impact screens aren’t nearly as polished and also show wear and tear from all the golf balls blasting into them. So you’d need to find a way to swap screens when the use of the projector shifts from one person to another.
If you’re one of those homeowners who never park a car inside the garage, a slightly retrofitted garage could be a good space for a golf simulator projector, provided it’s adequately winterized and dehumidified.
Where to Put the Projector Inside the Room?
In general, putting the projector on the floor is best avoided, because it tends to be in the way when you’re swinging away at the golf balls.
Another option is to put the projector on the side of the golfer, either on his or her right or left. That’s what short-throw does well. However, there is some distortion with the angle of the projection, which is why keystone adjustment to “straighten out” the image works well.
In general, the most advised position for the projector is to mount it on the ceiling, just behind the golfer. That way, it’s not blocking any golf swings, and is also off the floor, freeing the golfer to move around. The projection is safely over the head of the golfer, straight at the screen, avoiding shadows.
Discussion Websites for Golf Simulator Projectors
Golf Simulator Forum
There are some helpful websites for golf enthusiasts who want to check out the latest technological advancements or even just to check in with fellow golfers about their experiences with those projectors.
This golf simulator forum allows members (anyone can open an account) to discuss and propose new topics in a supportive and collaborative atmosphere.
This website also posts blogs of interest to those wanting to read more about golf simulator projectors and even has a dedicated review page for members who want to post their own reviews. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, the option to review the projectors themselves wasn’t yet available, although members could review golf simulators and launch monitors.
Launch monitors are recording devices that track the path of the ball as you hit it before a virtual setting.
This website doesn’t focus on the narrow category of golf simulator projectors, but as mentioned, projectors are manufactured for a wide variety of purposes, and people can choose which category of projectors are best for adaptation to golf simulators. Therefore, this website about projectors, in general, is very helpful.
This website has so many excellent features. It allows you to do many things, such as browse through the technical specifications of a product. It also posts featured reviews by knowledgeable technicians, so you can pick the ones that are relevant to you.
However, the “Find a Projector” tab (and related webpage) allows you to sort through many projectors using a filter, such as price range, manufacturer, and type of projector.
We’ve discussed the helpful “Throw Calculator” tab (and related webpage). The handy thing about this webpage is that you can start typing in the brand model of a projector, and it’ll pick from a pre-populated list. With this very specific information, you can see how big a screen you can buy.
This webpage even allows a graphic and for you to use a “slider” to change the dimensions of the distance of the projector from the screen and the width of the screen. There’s an option to toggle in between metric or Imperial units, on the right hand side of the screen.
Finally, there is one dedicated webpage on this website, which gives expert advice on how to seek a golf simulator projector from the practical point of view in how to set it up inside your home. It is as follows:
Rain or Shine Golf
This is a very diversified website about virtual golf, but they do have a list of discussions and forums that relate only to golf simulators, including Facebook discussion groups. From there, perhaps you can find specific posts about the relevant projectors.
Here is the website:
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