Learnings from simulator golf

As a write this article Finland is still blanketed in snow. There are no obvious signs of the winter ending but I still hope that we can start playing golf outside in April.

Through the bleak winter months I have kept my golf swing in reasonable shape (within the confines of my own ability) by playing Trackman golf at least once a week.

A bit of video fun

I have been playing with the same group of friends over the winter and we don’t really take advantage of the training opportunities that Trackman provides. We mostly just play rounds. It’s like normal golf but without the walking.

We have a few courses that we play more regularly, Marco Simone being one of them, along with The Old Course, but we do mix it up a bit. However the game format is usually the same and I can fall into the same bad habits as I do when playing real golf. Here are some the findings and what I intend to do about them.

Warm up

Last year I had various goals for my golf, including practice and being prepared. I failed on both counts but have aspirations to actually practice a bit this season. The preparation part is falling short this winter already.

Apart from a few stretches and 4 or 5 shots pre round there is no real effort to be properly prepared. It is very noticeable, of course with shots in general, but my driver swing speed can be almost 8mph down on my gaming speed.

Keep it in play

I hit a lot of wild shots. Nothing has changed. However during the winter sessions I have been a bit more gung-ho taking driver when I can end up in trouble with an errant shot opposed to taking the danger out of play completely. I will assess this on a hole by hole basis.


Of course you are always physically playing off a flat lie so it is difficult to equate trackman to real golf. However trackman does provide some useful evaluations of the lies that will surely be applicable on the course.

Short game

We play auto putt so under 3 meters is one putt. This, of course, is totally unrealistic given a professionals make rate is around 50% from that distance. If you want a make rate calculator, check out this post. I have actually made an Apple shortcut for this too that works with Siri or on your Apple Watch.

Nevertheless it does, perhaps, give you a larger bucket to aim at that should fall a bit more into the realms of reality for at least giving yourself a chance to get up and down in two.

Pitching is interesting with the distance label around the hole. Again this may be something that I try to visualise on the golf course – it appears to make pitching a bit easier than real life.


Because of the nuances of the game, the putting and the perfect lies, scoring is a bit unrealistic. I would love to know what the expected difference in handicaps should be. Mine is about 3,5 and can play quite close to my handicap most of the time (80+ only twice in the past 20 games).

Key takeaways

As I have seen a marked increase in swing speed from the previous year my main takeaways are:

  • Do a proper warm up
    • Get to gaming swing speed on the first hole, not the tenth
  • Keep the ball in play
    • Evaluate gung-ho versus safe on each hole
  • Visualise the game graphics on the course to emulate the simulator
    • Have larger targets to fall within credible expectations
    • Think about the lie along with the other components of WELD
    • Don’t expect to make every putt from 3 meters and in
  • Smart targets for approach
    • Try not leave approaches short (unless there’s rubbish long)
    • Aim for the middle of the green in most cases
  • Concentrate

Simulator golf is fun. Real golf is more fun. I can’t wait for the snow to go.

Do you play simulator golf? Do you play games for fun or are you actually practicing?

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