Title:
Elongated golf-club grip
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention discloses a golf club manufactured with an elongated grip that extends down the length of the shaft. The elongated grip allows the golfer to assume a more comfortable choked down hand position which in turn will promote better choked down golf shots and thus better control of non-standard distances. The grip can be of uniform or varying thickness and have a length selected by the golfer to correspond to his preferred choked down hand positions. The present invention also discloses and promotes the use of a set of two or more golf clubs designed to produce distance differentials that exceed those that come with traditional sets.



Inventors:
Sosin, Howard B. (Fairfield, CT, US)
Application Number:
10/095265
Publication Date:
06/05/2003
Filing Date:
03/11/2002
Assignee:
SOSIN HOWARD B.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B53/00; A63B53/14; A63B69/36; (IPC1-7): A63B53/14
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BLAU, STEPHEN LUTHER
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CHOATE, HALL & STEWART LLP (TWO INTERNATIONAL PLACE, BOSTON, MA, 02110, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. An apparatus for use with an iron or wood type golf club, comprising, an elongated grip, wherein said elongated grip is an integral part of the iron or wood type golf club and has an extended length.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said extended length comprises at least 11 inches from a free end of a golf club shaft.

3. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein said extended length comprises a range of 11 to 24 inches from said free end of the golf club shaft.

4. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said extended length comprises extension to a range of 16 to 20 inches from a golf club head.

5. The apparatus of claim 1 further comprising markings on said elongated grip to indicate alternative hand positions.

6. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said elongated grip has a constant thickness.

7. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said elongated grip has a thickness adapted to provide a constant diameter thickness for the elongated grip together with a golf club shaft.

8. An iron or wood type golf club, comprising, an elongated grip, wherein said elongated grip is an integral part of the iron or wood type golf club and has an extended length.

9. The golf club of claim 8 wherein said extended length comprises at least 11 inches from a free end of a golf club shaft.

10. The golf club of claim 9 wherein said extended length comprises a range of 11 to 24 inches from said free end of the golf club shaft.

11. The golf club of claim 8 wherein said extended length comprises extension to a range of 16 to 20 inches from a golf club head.

12. The golf club of claim 8 further comprising markings on said elongated grip to indicate alternative hand positions.

13. The golf club of claim 8 wherein said elongated grip has a constant thickness.

14. The golf club of claim 8 wherein said elongated grip has a thickness adapted to provide a constant diameter thickness for the elongated grip together with a golf club shaft.

15. An iron or wood type golf club for improved golf play, comprising: an elongated golf club grip adapted to allow a golfer to choke down on the iron or wood type golf club so as to provide for at least one alternative golf club grip position, wherein said alternative golf club grip position comprises a hand position on the elongated golf club grip that is separate from a hand position for a traditional golf club swing but which retains a chosen grip feel and which facilitates a consistent average distance range for a full swing.

16. A set of golf clubs for improved golf play, comprising: at least two golf clubs, wherein an average distance range differential for a full swing between consecutive pairs of golf clubs is at least 12 yards; and at least two elongated grips, wherein each of said at least two elongated grips is an integral part of each of said at least two golf clubs and has an extended length.

17. The set of claim 16 wherein said extended length comprises at least 11 inches from a free end of a golf club shaft.

18. The set of claim 17 wherein said extended length comprises a range of 11 to 24 inches from said free end of the golf club shaft.

19. The set of claim 16 wherein said extended length comprises extension to a range of 16 to 20 inches from a golf club head.

20. The set of claim 16 wherein said average distance range differential is achieved by modifying at least one of the characteristics selected from the group consisting of: shaft length, club head weight, loft angle and any combination thereof.

21. The set of claim 16 wherein each of said at least two elongated grips has a constant thickness.

22. The set of claim 16 wherein each of said at least two elongated grips has a thickness adapted to provide a constant diameter thickness for the elongated grip together with a golf club shaft.

23. The set of claim 16 wherein each of said at least two elongated grips has a thickness independently selected by a user for each of said at least two golf clubs.

24. A set of golf clubs for improved golf play, comprising: at least two golf clubs, wherein an average distance range differential for a full swing between consecutive pairs of golf clubs is at least 12 yards.

25. The set of claim 24 wherein said average distance range differential is achieved by modifying at least one of the characteristics selected from the group consisting of: shaft length, club head weight, loft angle and any combination thereof.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] The present application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/334,567 filed Nov. 30, 2001, the teachings of which are hereby incorporated by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention is directed to the field of golf clubs and their use, manufacture and modification.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] In their set of fourteen clubs, most (but not all) golfers carry ten irons, three woods, and a putter. Full swing standard distance goals for male golfers might look like the following: 1

TABLE 1
Distance
Club(yards)Distance diff.Loft (degrees)Loft diff.
Driver255N/A9N/A
3-wood23520134
5-wood21520174
2-iron195N/A19N/A
318510223
417510253
516510283
615510324
714510364
813510404
912510444
Wedge11510484
Sand Wedge85305810

[0004] Traditionally, sets of golf club irons have been designed to produce approximately 10 yards difference in the distance between consecutive clubs, especially between the numbered clubs. In the set described in Table 1, the 10 yard distance differential is maintained for clubs from the 2-iron to the wedge. While manufacturers vary somewhat in their specifications, in a modern set, the loft on a traditional wedge is approximately 48 degrees and decreases to about 19 degrees for the 2-iron (with 4 degree differentials standard for most clubs and then 3 or less for the longer, i.e. lower numbered, clubs). (Lofts on woods and irons mean different things and therefore loft differentials between woods and irons are not particularly meaningful). The 5-iron traditionally is approximately 38 inches long and the club head weighs approximately 233 grams. Longer (shorter) clubs traditionally increase (decrease) in length by ½ inch per club and decrease (increase) by 7 grams per club.

[0005] The sand wedge is the outlier. As shown, it can have a 30 yard distance gap and a 10 degree loft gap. The distance gap between the wedge and sand wedge often poses a problem for golfers. Recognizing this gap problem, club makers have introduced “gap wedges” with lofts ranging from 50 to 57 degrees; however, adding this to a traditional set requires sacrificing another club (usually the third wood or the 2-iron) in the set in order to meet the 14 club rule of the USGA.

[0006] The three woods would usually include a Driver, 3-wood and a 5-wood, although other combinations are possible (e.g. a Driver, a 4-wood and a 7-wood, etc.). Depending upon the strength and skill of the golfer, the woods would be put to work spanning distances from 200-250 or more yards and typically would have between 10 and 25 yards of differential in distance between consecutive wood clubs. Drivers typically weigh approximately 200 grams and have a length of 44 to 46 inches. Other woods are typically shorter and weigh slightly more.

[0007] The final club in the set would be a putter.

[0008] Golfers grip their clubs using three primary grips: interlocking, overlapping or baseball. In each of these grips, the hands are positioned in a contiguous unit (i.e. the hands are touching) with the interlocking and overlapping grips having 9 fingers forming the grip and the baseball grip having 10 fingers forming the grip.

[0009] Non-standard distances produced by wood and/or iron clubs (e.g. 118 yards which is between the wedge and 9-iron, or 225 yards which is between the full swing distance of the 3 and 5-wood) and those of less than 85 yards (the full swing distance of the sand wedge in this set) typically are achieved in one of three ways (or in some combination of the three): by taking a partial swing with a club, by altering the force (either decreasing or increasing relative to “normal”) of the swing, or by “choking down” on the shaft of the club thereby shortening the effective length of the shaft and, usually, decreasing distance. The first two methods require exquisite touch. Because wood and iron grips are approximately 10½ inches long, the latter choking down method often requires the golfer to grip the club partially on the grip and partially on the exposed shaft thereby altering feel and potentially accuracy.

[0010] Therefore, there is a need for the development of a golf club and a set of golf clubs that allow for a comfortable and effective choked down hand position.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0011] The present invention discloses an elongated golf club grip that extends down the length of the shaft and its use in designing golf clubs (wood and irons) that are better suited for choked down hand positions and in designing sets of two or more golf clubs having distance differentials between clubs that exceed those of traditional design. In multiple embodiments, the grip can extend more than eleven inches down the shaft, can extend to a specific point above the club head on each club, for example 16 to 20 inches above the club head and preferably 18, or can extend to a length that allows for entirely separate hand positions. When installed as part of a golf club, the inventive elongated grip allows the golfer to assume a more comfortable choked down hand position which in turn will promote better choked down golf shots and thus better control of non-standard distances and in turn better golf scores. In preferred embodiments, the grip is integral to the club in that it is not applied over a pre-existing grip and can be of uniform or varying thickness and have a length selected by the golfer to correspond to his preferred choked down hand positions.

[0012] In one aspect, the invention provides a golf club that can be comfortably used in a choked down position. The golf club is adapted to allow a golfer to choke down on the golf club so as to provide for at least one alternative golf club swing option. For example, the inventive golf clubs allow a golfer to comfortably utilize an alternative golf club swing option comprising a hand position on the golf club that is separate from the hand position for a traditional golf club swing but which retains a chosen grip feel and which facilitates a consistent average distance range for a full swing.

[0013] In another aspect, the invention provides a set of golf clubs for improved golf play, comprising at least two golf clubs with elongated grips, wherein an average distance range differential for a full swing between consecutive clubs of the golf club set is at least 12 yards between any consecutive pair of golf clubs in the set.

[0014] The invention further provides methods of using inventive golf clubs and golf club sets as well as other items and methods specified in the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

[0015] The invention is described with reference to the several figures of the drawing, in which:

[0016] FIG. 1 illustrates an iron golf club and a wood golf club with an elongated grip;

[0017] FIG. 2 illustrates a set of wood and iron golf clubs with equal length elongated grips;

[0018] FIG. 3 illustrates a set of wood and iron golf clubs with elongated grips that extend to a constant distance from the club head;

[0019] FIG. 4 illustrates a set of wood and iron golf clubs with increased incremental loft and distance differentials;

[0020] FIG. 5 illustrates multiple hand positions on an elongated grip; and

[0021] FIGS. 6A and 6B illustrates various embodiments of grip thicknesses.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0022] As noted above, the present invention provides an elongated golf club grip that extends down the length of the shaft and its use in designing golf clubs (wood and irons) that are better suited for choked down hand positions and in designing sets of two or more golf clubs having distance differentials between clubs that exceed those of traditional design.

[0023] I have designed a new set of clubs with the following characteristics: 2

TABLE 2
Distance
Club(yards)Distance diff.Loft (degrees)Loft diff.
Driver255N/A9N/A
3-wood23520134
5-wood21520174
2-iron195N/A21N/A
18015254
516515305
15015355
813515405
12015466
Wedge110515526
Wedge29015586
Wedge37515646
Wedge46015706

[0024] It should be noted that the lofts and associated distances in this set do not coincide precisely with those of a standard set such as that described in Table 1 (see, e.g. the 2-iron). This is partly a result of my having varied other club parameters (e.g. shaft length and club head weight). The distance differences occur primarily by altering the lofts on these clubs relative to those of a traditional set and employing larger loft differentials (in the example 6, 5 and 4 degree differentials). This new set of clubs spans a wider range of distances for full swings (60 yards to 195 yards). It also maintains equal (e.g. 15 yard) full swing yardage differentials between clubs and avoids the gap that exists between the sand wedge in the traditional set and the wedge in the traditional set. All wedges in this set can be used out of the sand.

[0025] While avoiding the gap problem, this alternative set exacerbates the problem of achieving intermediate distances and is particularly suited for the choking down method. However, traditional grips are designed to be approximately 10½ inches long to accommodate two hands in a single hand position, and are traditionally the same length for each club. (See Appendix I for a description of grips by Staten Island Golf; and Appendix II for a description of golf club design considerations by Horizon Precision Custom Golf Clubs). Choking down therefore results in part or all of at least one hand (the right hand for a right handed golfer) being placed on bare shaft which affects the feel and potentially the accuracy of the shot. As will be described, the inventive grips are therefore particularly useful with this modified club set.

[0026] Certain techniques are currently available for extending golf club grips. Such techniques generally involve a covering or sleeve applied over the grip after manufacture. (See, for example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,036,607 to Finegan and 5,626,527 to Eberlein). Such grips, however, are generally used for training purposes and often do not satisfy the requirements of the United States Golf Association (USGA). Appendix II of the USGA 2000 Rules, part 3 states that the grip for clubs, other than putters, must be circular in cross-section and “may be tapered but must not have any bulge or waist.” The grips disclosed in the patents to Finnegan and Eberlein do not satisfy these requirements. The present invention provides improved golfing equipment that satisfies USGA requirements, particularly an elongated golf club grip that facilitates a comfortable and effective swing in a choked down position.

[0027] Referring now to the figures of the drawing, the figures constitute a part of this specification and illustrate exemplary embodiments to the invention. It is to be understood that in some instances various aspects of the invention may be shown exaggerated or enlarged to facilitate an understanding of the invention.

[0028] FIG. 1 illustrates an example wood 20 and an iron 30 golf club each with an integral elongated grip 10 that extends down the length of the golf club shaft. The term integral is used to refer to the fact that the elongated grip is not a covering or sleeve applied over a pre-existing golf club grip. In multiple embodiments, the elongated grip 10 could be installed at the manufacturing stage of the golf club or could be a replacement grip installed at the direction of the user after the manufacture of the golf club. The elongated grip 10 is long enough to accommodate two hands when the hand closest to the golfer during a golf swing is not positioned directly at or very near to (i.e. within one inch of) the edge of the free end of the shaft. In one embodiment, the grip extends anywhere from 11 to 24 inches from the free end of the shaft and preferably 12 to 18 inches, and most preferably 15 to 16 inches from the free end of the shaft.

[0029] Elongated grips do not currently exist for irons and woods (there are specialized grips for putters that can extend beyond normal length, but these are not used by irons and woods as they frequently only meet USGA requirements for putters). Club makers are very concerned by the effect of the grip on the overall weight of the club, the balance of the club (i.e. swing weight, etc.), and the flex of the shaft. Elongating the grip would add to the overall weight, decrease the swing weight, and potentially stiffen the shaft. Additionally, golfers using traditional sets of clubs infrequently engage in a choked down hand position, and if they do, it is only by choking down a short distance.

[0030] A set of clubs involving wider distance differentials, for example 12-20 yards between consecutive clubs (see Table 2), would call for more frequent use of choke down shots. Elongated grips could be designed to minimize effects on weight, balance and shaft stiffness, among others. Such techniques are generally known to those of ordinary skill in the art and could include: the use of lighter materials, the use of flexible materials, and air impregnation to reduce weight, among others. Thus, while elongated grips could be made from any materials now used in traditional grips and could come in any size that meet USGA requirements (where the industry uses the word “size” to mean diameter), available materials could be used which could decrease the side effects. FIG. 2 illustrates a set of wood and iron golf clubs 40 with elongated grips 10 where the elongated grips 10 are all the same length 12. The extended length could potentially be at least 11 inches, preferably in the range of 11 to 24 inches, and more preferably in the range of 15 to 16 inches. FIG. 3 illustrates a set of wood and iron golf clubs 40 with elongated grips 10 where the elongated grips 10 are all designed to extend to a constant distance 14 from the club head, for example 16 to 20 inches above the club head and preferably 18 inches.

[0031] The inventive elongated grips may be applied to standard clubs and club sets or, alternatively, may be applied to non-standard clubs or club sets like the set described in Table 2. FIG. 4 illustrates a set of non-standard golf clubs 50 that have been modified to produce increased incremental ranges through the use of modified loft angles 52 such as those shown in Table 2. The grips on these golf clubs could potentially be standard grips or elongated grips 10 as shown in the embodiments of FIGS. 2 and 3.

[0032] FIG. 5 illustrates an elongated golf club grip 10 and various examples of choked down hand positions. Position 1 is a standard hand position on a grip while Positions 2 and 3 are choked down hand positions. Positions 2 and 3 exemplify a range of possible hand positions down the length of the shaft. This range of hand positions allows a golfer to hit various average intermediate distances between sequential clubs. For example, using a 5 iron, a golfer may hit an average of 165 yards when the golfer's hands are in Position 1 but may hit an average of 160 yards when his hands are in Position 2 and 155 yards when in Position 3. Alternatively, a golfer may find, as I have, that instead of trying to achieve such fine tuning, it is usually sufficient to use a choked down hand position approximately midway between Positions 2 and 3 thereby approximating a middle distance.

[0033] One area where the present invention will be particularly effective is in chipping where choking down on the shaft, often by a substantial amount, is more common. Improved chipping would lead to improved golf scores. Another area where the present invention would be of particular benefit is putting with wood clubs using a choked down hand position (usually undertaken from off the fringe of the green). Improved putting would lead to improved golf scores.

[0034] In another embodiment, the hand position of Position 2 may not overlap at all with the hand position in Position 1 indicating that the elongated grip is of such a length as to allow for at least two entirely separate and distinct hand positions for a person of average hand size. The elongated grip can be made with standardized identifying marks 16 for average hand positions so a golfer may consistently hold the club in the same place when choking down various amounts. Alternatively, the elongated grip can be made of such a material so as to allow the golfer to easily mark his or her various individualized hand positions on the grip.

[0035] An elongated grip provides a means for maintaining the proper “feel” of a golf club even when the golfer chooses to choke down on the golf club. With an elongated grip, a golfer may decide to choke down on a golf club without experiencing the negative effects, such as gripping exposed shaft, that such a hand position might have when using an ordinary golf club. In addition, golfers are often very particular about the diameter size of their grip. An elongated grip allows for a golfer to continue to use a grip of desired size even when engaging in a choked down hand position. On a traditional golf club, the golf club shaft underlying the grip often tapers. FIG. 6A illustrates one embodiment in which the elongated grip 10 is selected to be of uniform thickness 4 so as maintain the natural taper of the shaft. FIG. 6B illustrates another embodiment in which the elongated grip 10 has a non-uniform thickness, as illustrated by thicknesses 6 and 8, such that overall the grip and shaft maintain a constant thickness. The golfer may also select a thickness of the elongated grip to modify the taper of the shaft according to his or her preference as long as the result coincides with USGA rules.

[0036] The golfer may independently select the length of an elongated grip for individual clubs. For example, a golfer may prefer one grip length for a 5-iron and another for a 9-iron so as to correspond with his preference for choked down hand positions. The grips may also be chosen in standardized packages in which the grips are all of the same length 12 (see FIG. 2). Alternatively, a set of elongated grips may be of such lengths as to extend to the same fixed position 14 on any club (see FIG. 3).

[0037] Although it is possible to extend the grip all the way down the shaft, the lie characteristic of a golf club means that after a point there is a quickly diminishing return to added grip length. That is, all golf clubs heads are attached to a shaft at an angle towards the golfer called the lie angle. Shorter clubs have greater lie angles - that is, they are held on a steeper angle than are longer clubs. As a golfer chokes down on the shaft he will usually increase the effective lie angle. When the effective lie angle deviates enough from the manufacturers intended lie angle, the flight pattern of the ball will be affected. Steepening the effective lie tends to cause the ball to fly to the right of target. Thus, as one chokes down on the club it may be necessary to slightly alter one's aim. The alteration required becomes increasingly significant the more the club is shortened by choking down. (See Appendix III for a description of design characteristics for golf clubs and grip installation by Clark Systems Custom Golf).

[0038] One thing that might be done to reduce the effect of the lie angle that results with a choked down hand position is to intentionally have the clubs be slightly “flat” (e.g. slightly too little lie) at their full length position. This would imply that the effective lie of the choked down club would not be as great.

[0039] The present invention could be combined with other methods and devices developed by the inventor for improving golf play. For example, U.S. Ser. No. 09/248,515 entitled “Golf Club and Method of Design” discloses a golf club utilizing the design of a lean angle to allow the golfer to customize the relationship between design and effective loft. U.S. Ser. No. 09/295,913 entitled “System for Optimization of GolfClubs” discloses a method of designing a matched set of golf clubs which takes into account both objective parameters which control the motion of the golf ball in response to an impact from a club head, and subjective parameters related to individual preferences in “feel” and idiosyncrasies of a particular golfer's swing. U.S. Ser. No. 60/276,663 entitled “Tempo Maintaining Golf Clubs” discloses a method for designing a set of golf clubs, which provide a golfer with consistent tempo and ball striking quality based on the optimization of the club lengths and club head weights of the set. The teachings of all of which are hereby incorporated by reference. embedded image embedded image embedded image embedded image embedded image embedded image embedded image embedded image embedded image embedded image embedded image embedded image

[0040] Other embodiments of the invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art from a consideration of the specification or practice of the invention disclosed herein. It is intended that the specification and examples be considered as exemplary only, with the true scope and spirit of the invention being indicated by the following claims.