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 This application is a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 09/768,566, filed Jan. 24, 2001 and now abandoned.
 In order to most effectively strike a golf ball, it is important that the club be so controlled as to follow proper paths on both the backswing and also the downswing. Such paths lie along an imaginary reference plane, referred to as a “swing plane,” which is disposed angularly with respect to the ground adjacent the ball, generally parallel to the intended line of flight. Specifically, during the backswing the club head should follow a path outwardly adjacent (i.e., above) the swing plane, relative to the golfer's position, and on the downswing it should follow a path lying generally inwardly of (i.e., beneath) the swing plane. Since keeping the club in a proper relationship to the swing plane is usually more difficult on the downswing (especially under full power) than on the backswing, correction in the downswing phase is generally the more needed and more beneficial aspect.
 The hand motion of inadequately trained or amateur golfers typically describes a “loop” at the top of their backswings, which proceeds from behind the golfer's head and outwardly toward the ball on the downswing. By reversing the loop, the golfer's hands are caused to move in such a way as to produce a correct, more effective swing. In the past, teaching professionals have heretofore used the so-called “shaft-in-the-ground” method for curing such defects; that technique employs a headless club shaft inserted into the ground at an attitude suitable for defining a proper swing plane.
 It is a broad object of the present invention to provide a novel training device for achieving an improved golf swing.
 It is a more specific object of the invention to provide such a device which is readily adjustable, to enable use by any golfer and for virtually any club, and which is so constructed as to minimize the risk of club damage and injury to the person.
 It is also a broad object of the present invention to provide a novel golf-swing training method.
 Certain of the foregoing and related objects of the invention are attained by the provision of a golf-swing training device comprising: surface-engaging supporting means, a variable effective length reference bar, and means for operatively attaching the lower end portion of the reference bar to the supporting means for angular displacement about at least one axis adjacent the supporting means. The means for attaching is constructed to enable secure positioning of the reference bar in each of a range of angular attitudes, taken respect to a surface on which the supporting means is disposed; i.e., it can be adjusted to dispose the bar in each of a multiplicity of reference planes lying adjacent desirable swing paths for a variety of golf clubs. The effective length of the reference bar can be adjusted to position its upper end portion in the path of the head of a golf club moving in the reference plane.
 The upper end portion of the reference bar comprises a resiliently deflectable “breakaway” contact component made, for example, of a resilient cellular material or a coil spring, and most desirably it will comprise a coil spring covered by such a resilient material in the form of a sleeve or the like. The supporting means will usually take the form of a base constructed to rest stably on the ground, and the reference bar will usually be pivotably mounted thereon. The effective length of the reference bar will typically be variable in the range of about 33 to 46 inches, and it will advantageously comprise a plurality of telescopically interengaged sections.
 Other objects of the invention are attained by the provision of a golf-swing training method utilizing the device described herein. In carrying out the method, the attitude and length of the reference bar are initially adjusted to match substantially the lie angle and length of a selected golf club disposed in proper ball-hitting position. The trainee assumes a position such that the training device is spaced away from the front but then offset laterally to his backswing side (i.e, alongside and rearwardly, relative to his body, along the intended flight path of the ball), and such that: (1) in the address position the shaft of the selected golf club lies substantially in the reference plane defined, (2) the upper end portion of the reference bar is disposed for contact by the club head moving in the reference plane, and (3) the ball location lies substantially in the reference plane. The trainee then undertakes to strike a ball by causing the golf club to follow a backswing path lying outwardly adjacent (above) the reference plane, relative to his own position, and a downswing path having an intermediate portion lying inwardly adjacent (beneath) the reference plane.
 Turning in detail to
 A reference bar, or rod, generally designated by the numeral
 The lower end of the bar
 Using a selected club “C”, the golfer assumes a preliminary, simulated address position facing the device, and adjusts the extension and attitude of the bar
 As depicted in
 As can be also seen in
 As indicated above, the golfer's objective in utilizing the training device is to control his swing so that the club head follows a path lying just outside (i.e., above) the plane “P” (shown in FIGS.
 Forcing the golfer to take the club on a more outside or straight-back path on the take-away, and to return it on an inside path partially beneath the plane of the reference bar, promotes the desired inside-out swing. This reverses the direction of a faulty hand loop, and causes the club to stay on the target line longer, both before and after ball impact. Although the golfer would of course ultimately endeavor to hit the ball using a full-speed swing, in the course of training he would normally begin slowly (e.g., at 20 percent of his natural swing speed) and progressively increase velocity as a properly grooved swing is developed.
 The deflectable “break-away” component
 It is self-evident that the device can be used irrespective of whether a golfer is right-handed or left-handed, and in any indoor or outdoor environment in which the game is played or practiced (the base will desirably be about one inch high so as to approximate the thickness of a typical driving range mat). While being intended primarily for use in correcting the over-the-top loop defect described, the device can be employed for remedying other flaws as well. For example, a tendency toward an excessively outside backswing can be corrected by so orienting the reference bar as to define a plane that lies slightly above the shaft angle at address, thereby promoting a stroke that is comprised of path components lying beneath the bar on both the take-away and also on the downswing. Additional purposes for which the device can be used include the teaching of basic hand control, and the correction of a tendency to lift the club outside on the take-away motion; the device can also be employed by offsetting from the golfer forwardly along the flight path, so as to demonstrate factors that contribute to a proper follow-through.
 Many variations can of course be made in the device described without departing from the concepts of the present invention. For example, rather than employing a simple, rectilinear pole attached directly to a base, a more complex reference bar, articulated other than by direct pivotal mounting, might be provided. Furthermore, a driven stake, rather than a base designed for resting on the ground, might serve as the means for supporting the reference bar.
 Thus, it can be seen that the present invention provides a novel training device for achieving an improved golf swing. The device is readily adjustable to enable use by any golfer for virtually any club, and it is constructed to minimize the risk of club damage and injury to the person. The invention also provides a novel golf-swing training method.