I built my home simulator late last summer. I went with the SkyTrak w/Game Improvement Pkg for $1750 on sale, Rukket Haack Golf Net for $129, a used commercial grade 5×5 hitting mat (Grade A) for $200 off eBay. I used my old laptop and used it for displaying the shot data. I set mine up in my garage. I leave the net up full-time and move the mat in/out of position, if needed. This is a very workable and relatively affordable solution for $2079 in total.
1) You should choose the SkyTrak Budget if you want the best all around golf simulator package for under $5,000. It is possible to create a DIY golf simulator for less than this, but if you want to save yourself time and avoid potential costly mistakes, you are going to love this package. While this package doesn't have the screen size that the three in the $10,000 and under tier do, the SkyTrak Budget Package gives you the same SkyTrak Launch Monitor and projector with a more budget-friendly hitting bay and golf mat all for under $5,000.
Jon Sherman is the owner of Practical Golf, a website dedicated to being an honest resource for the everyday golfer who is looking to enjoy the game more, as well as improve. He is the author of the bestselling book 101 Mistakes All Golfers Make (and how to fix them). You can find him on Twitter here - @practicalgolf, where he is happy to chat about golf with anyone.
The first comment I will make is if you go into purchasing this product assuming you will get the same accuracy as a $10,000 simulator, you shouldn't purchase this. Expensive professional simulators use ball tracking to provide the most accurate 'simulation' to an actual hit outdoors. They also require large equipment, and in most cases a dedicated room to be used solely for the golf simulator. This simulator uses swing (club) tracking to provide calculations and assumptions on where the ball should go.
Another important factor is lighting, because the indoor brands can burn off their capability to trace your golf club in case of too much brightness. Also, have in mind the opposite; too low of light can make the system even lose track of your club. You’ll need to mess around with using the light to obtain the ideal level. It depends on the model and its sensors how much they can take of brightness or dark.
Those of you golfers who live in cold climates and can’t always go to the range will significantly appreciate this device. It includes pretty accurate infrared sensors that will measure the club-head speed and point-of-impact by shooting about 10,000 pulses per second at you both before and after impact. Then, the OptiShot software will process the information and give you a fairly accurate illustration of your shot.