Electronic golf simulators have gotten so good that they’re almost as much fun as the real thing. What really sets simulators apart from all other virtual versions of golf is that you get to swing a club.

Many great golf simulators are available, from the huge (and hugely expensive) to new, inexpensive models that would fit in a briefcase. Here’s a sampling:

  • AboutGolf simulators: Feature excellent graphics, great courses, and heavy-duty science to produce the next generation of indoor golf. Introduced in 2003, these machines are too expensive for home use (unless you’re Bill Gates); you’ll find them in the growing chain of PGA Tour Superstores.

  • DeadSolidGolf simulators: Let you swing full-out at a screen. The company’s Ballflight Trajectory Sensor projects where your shot will go, and you putt right into the screen. The machines rent for $2,000 to $2,500 a day; you’ll see them at conventions, as well as at a few golf shops and sports bars. You can find home models available, too, though they can cost as much as a small car.

  • High Definition Golf from Interactive Sports Technologies: Another full-swing simulator, which boasts photo-realistic courses and optional swing analysis. Like the AboutGolf and DeadSolid simulators, this one may be too expensive for most golfers to own, but it’s great fun to play if you find one in your town.

  • Launchpad from Electric~Spin Coporation: A compact device that sells for a reasonable $249. This is a cut-down version of the much larger full-swing simulators. By using a short club and a ball on a tether, you can “play” Pebble Beach, St. Andrews, Bethpage Black, and other courses.

Some of these golf simulators are so good that you’ll never get any work done. But that’s okay — after all, that’s what golf is for!

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