I have a theory about golf simulators. They are solely designed to sell golf clubs. They make the average Joe Golfer think he’s pounding the ball about 20 yards farther. Clubs sold.

For this golf pet peeve, I’ll take you back to the early days of my blog when I wrote about my experience with a golf simulator at a local golf store. Wanna hear it? Hear it go.

So I’m in the market for a driver.

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned that I was going to demo the Nike Sumo. I pretty much don’t buy anything Nike, so this was quite a compromise—one of which I feel quite convicted about now. But that’s neither here nor there.

These machines lie. (Image: seikatsu/Flickr)

Anyway, so I’m on my lunch break at this Pro Golf store, and I decide to hit a few balls in their indoor golf simulator/video screen/driving range/ thing.

You’ve got understand my frame of reference here: when I quit playing golf ( and I know this is beginning to become a theme on the blog…”back when I was a young man…”) the Pro Golfs of the world had the little side room with the green net. You hit the ball and basically judged by feel how well you hit it.

So now, they’ve got these massive simulators. You swing, the ball flies into a screen, the projector then displays your ball flying through the “air”.

The device tells you how far the ball went, your trajectory, swing speed, ball speed, whether the ball had a hook, slice, fade, or draw. It stores each shot so you can see how your shot patterns develop throughout the session.

Well, here’s my opinion of these fancy little contraptions: crap. Crap, crap, crap. Let me explain. My second shot with said Nike driver was a nice heel job. With my ancient Great Big Bertha, it’s the type of shot that would probably be a low fade, 230 yards out in the fairway. I really mishit the ball.

But with this Pro Golf “simulator” I’m like Ernie Els hitting some kind of power draw 325 yards down the middle of the fairway. The pattern continued. When I hit the ball solid, it estimated my drives anywhere from 280-290; my misses were in the 270 range.

So I take the club out to an actual driving range. I hit the Nike, then my Bertha (which averages 255ish). Zero difference. The Nike actually ballooned on me a good bit, causing me to actually hit the Bertha further in many instances.

It was a stiff shaft, so that wasn’t the issue. Needless to say, I was thoroughly unimpressed. Thankfully, I made the wise decision of taking the club out on the range and not trusting those God-awful simulators.

I’m sure if you bought one for yourself, you could calibrate it to be accurate. But no doubt the issue is this: the golf stores are going to fix the devices so they estimate a good 20-30 yards farther.

Joe Hacker comes in, swings the hot new club, and he’s amazed by how much farther he hits the ball. He’s got “golf club fever” now, and he makes the buy. It’s a screw job on the store’s part.

When I asked the salesman if the simulators were accurate, he responded, “Dead on.” Right. I should have known something was up when I was hitting 190-yard six irons. But it took the experience with the driver for me to figure this out.

Don’t trust these machines. The grass and the air at your local driving range is much more honest.

Previous Golf Pet Peeves:

#10: Pre-Shot Routine Guy

#9: Cell Phone Guy

#8: The Intrusive Golf Course Maintenance Worker

#7: The Drunken Wedding Party

#6: The Distance Exaggerator

#5: The Golf Channel Guy

#4: Stewart Cink’s Green Shirt

#3: The Mulligan Golfer

#2: The Shot Jinxer

#1: The Shot-By-Shot Recap Golfer