Do Golf Simulators Actually Improve Your Game?

Man taking a swing in a golf simulator
Have you ever tried to improve your golf game by increasing the amount you play but had no luck? Improving your golf game is more than just practice volume; everyone knows the more you practice, the better you become. However, not all practice is equally beneficial to your game.
Golfers that continually improve their game work on their weaknesses and those who never seem to make much progress tend to spend too much time practising their strengths.
Spending hours working on aspects of your game that you would consider to be your strongest areas won’t help you next time you’re on the course when a dreaded shot of yours comes up – no matter how fun it may be.
In order to make the most out of your practice sessions, it’s usually a better use of your time to work on those areas that you tend to struggle with that repeatedly cause you issues during your time on the course.
The best way to approach this is to make a list of areas that repeatedly cause you trouble on the course. These could be mid-long bunker shots, hitting short iron shots fat or even four-foot putts. 
Whatever your particular issues may be, this post will discuss a few methods you could use to help address some of your struggles without wasting your time.

Practice on the Driving Range

Three golfers chatting on the golf course between shots.
The golf driving range is a great place to master the basics; whether you’re a beginner or an experienced golfer working on more technical aspects of your swing, practising on the driving range can be very useful. It gives you a great opportunity to test, re-test and refine your swing solutions in a stable environment.
The driving range might not replicate the golf course that well, but there are ways to make your practice transferable to the golf course. Although simple, the best way to do this is picking a target to aim for. If you just hit the balls randomly, this gives you very little feedback on the success of your shot, and allows bad habits to creep into your technique and mentality. 
If you haven’t already got your pre-swing routine in place, the driving range can be an ideal environment to create one that works well for you so that you can implement it when on the course.
Maintaining your focus towards the end of an 18 hole round of golf can be difficult, however creating a pre-shot routine can be perfect for this and may even help you improve your later round golf game.
Creating a swing routine is all personal preference, but once in place it can really help you create tempo and muscle memory to hit good shots consistently. 

9 Window Drill

Golfstateofmind's Pre-shot pyramid
The 9 window drill is a practice routine that Tiger Woods famously used as part of his routine years ago, and it has become a signature and example of the ultimate control a golfer can have with an iron in hand.
It is a great way to calibrate your face to path and develop your control in a functional way, and most importantly can easily be done on a driving range.
To begin with, all you have to do is choose a target on the driving range – this is better if you have a bunker or something physical to pick, but it can also be any area as long as you can identify when you successfully hit the target.
With this drill you can perform them in your chosen order, however make sure you don’t move on to the next until you successfully hit the ball into the target (e.g. low/medium/high fade followed by the same with a straight shot).
If you are a beginner to this type of exercise you might need to explore the idea of exaggeration for each type of shot. Knowing what it feels like to do it too much and also too little helps you develop an understanding of where just right is. 
To learn more about this drill, watch this video of Tiger Woods himself explaining as he demonstrates the drill.

Play a Round on the Course

Phil Mickelson wells fargo 2018 hands on head
Once you’ve exhausted the use of your local driving range to refine your swing, it’s time to move on to one of the best ways to improve your golf game – on the course.
The golf driving range gives you great practice volume, giving you a great opportunity to refine your swing, but it has a low specificity as it doesn’t always translate to the course well.
Practising on the golf course is undeniably highly specific, however what it falls short on is the volume. According to the national golf foundation, the average golfer carded 100 strokes in an 18 hole round, however out of those, you are unlikely to hit more than 45 long shots – this becomes even fewer for each club type. 
This is why a training plan that mixes driving range practice as well as on the course practice will help you.
Use the driving range as an opportunity to test, re-test and refine your swing solutions in a stable environment as this is where you can access the volume required to start to develop habits and the technique you need to help you on the course. However, move on to the course as soon as you can as this is the only way to replicate what it will be like when playing an 18 hole round.

Try Playing With Multiple Balls

Golf club hitting an apple - nutrition for gofers
Let me preface this point before I continue; this strategy many not be allowed by your golf club at busy times, or ever, however if it is, then continue reading…

Pick a quiet time (make sure you’re not likely to hold up anyone else’s play) and head out for 9 holes and aim to hit a few extra shots from key areas (again, please don’t hold up the whole world behind you). Hitting an extra 3 mid-iron shots on each hole x 9 holes leads to almost 30 shots in a really specific environment.

It would take you almost a month to accumulate that during 18-hole games played once a week.
Another great way to practice is to play match play against yourself using two balls. The benefit here is that if one ball goes up during your match then you’ll adopt a conservative approach to try and maintain your lead whereas with the other ball, the one that’s down in your match, you’ll need to be bolder and more aggressive with your play to level up the match.

Optimise Your Practice

If you’re willing to put in the time and really improve your golf game, using a combination of the driving range and the course can be a great way to fully adjust and master the new technique when you make a swing change.
The last thing you want is to be on the course playing competitively when you realise that your new swing isn’t doing what you want…
When you make a swing change, aim to work your way through these four steps so that you can be sure that you have it mastered by the time you’re playing competitively. Begin with step one, then progress towards steps four as you make progress:
  • Blocked practice on the range
  • Skill games on the range
  • Multiple balls on the course
  • Competitive play on the course

Join Us on the 2024 GBT Tour

GBT2024_Anniversary Banner
If you’re into golf and business and want to put your golfing  skills to the test, why not join a golfing league that’s specifically aimed at business owners and like-minded individuals, like GBT Events.
Once we realised the potential that a game of golf could bring to your business connections, creating the ability to establish strong relationships outside the confines of the office and in a more social atmosphere, we had to create GBT Events.
GBT Events is more than just a simple golf tour; it’s also a networking group for business owners and professionals. You get to participate in a sport you love while also meeting like-minded business professionals.
Check out this year’s tour calendar, or take a look at our 2024 tour announcement for an introduction to our events.