Title:
Method and system for implementing a closest to the pin challenge
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method is disclosed for facilitating a golf competition. The method includes providing a camera that is utilized to capture an image of a golfer in the act of striking a ball. The camera is also utilized to capture an image of the ball after the ball has come to rest. The distance between the ball and pin is evaluated.



Inventors:
Tetens, David Christian (Coon Rapids, MN, US)
Brehmer, David Lee (Edina, MN, US)
Lensing, Perry Robert (St. Paul, MN, US)
Zarza, Jason (Farmington, MN, US)
Application Number:
11/068672
Publication Date:
09/01/2005
Filing Date:
03/01/2005
Assignee:
Ultimate Golf Challenge, Inc. (St. Paul, MN, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B57/00; A63B71/06; (IPC1-7): A63B57/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LIM, SENG HENG
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WESTMAN CHAMPLIN & KOEHLER, P.A. (SUITE 1100 121 South Eighth Street, MINNEAPOLIS, MN, 55402, US)
Claims:
1. A method of facilitating a golf competition, the method comprising: providing a camera; utilizing the camera to capture an image of a golfer in the act of striking a ball; utilizing the camera to capture an image of the ball after the ball has come to rest; and evaluating a distance between the ball and a pin.

2. The method of claim 1 further comprising supplying the image of the golfer and the image of the ball for review over a computer network.

3. The method of claim 2, wherein supplying comprises supplying over the Internet.

4. The method of claim 2 further comprising offering at least one of the image of the ball and the image of the golfer for sale.

5. The method of claim 1 further comprising: changing the placement of the pin to a second pin location; utilizing the camera to capture an image of a golfer in the act of striking a ball; utilizing the camera to capture an image of the ball after the ball has come to rest; and evaluating a distance between the ball and the second pin location.

6. The method of claim 1, wherein providing a camera comprises providing a camera that is mounted so as to be rotatable.

7. The method of claim 6, wherein providing a camera comprises providing a camera having a connection to a gimbal structure.

8. The method of claim 1 further comprising providing a laser configured to assist identifying a location for pin placement.

9. The method of claim 1, wherein evaluating a distance comprises evaluating a distance relative to a plurality of substantially circular rings at a progressively varying distance from the pin.

10. The method of claim 9, wherein evaluating a distance comprises classifying based on the plurality of substantially circular rings.

11. The method of claim 10 further comprising awarding a prize based on the distance.

12. The method of claim 1 further comprising awarding a prize based on the distance relative to a plurality of distances associated with other golfers.

13. The method of claim 12, wherein at least one of the plurality of distances associated with other golfers was measured at a location remote from said golfer.

14. The method of claim 1, wherein providing a camera comprises providing a computer controlled globe-enclosed camera.

15. A system for facilitating a golf competition, the system comprising: a camera configured to capture an image of a golfer in the act of striking a ball, the camera being further configured to capture an image of the ball after it has come to rest; and a measurement system functionally engaged to the camera and configured to measure a distance between the ball and a pin.

16. The system of claim 15 further comprising a laser pointer for identifying a different location to which the pin can be moved.

17. The system of claim 15 further comprising a kiosk for interacting with the golfer prior to the act of striking the ball.

18. The system of claim 17, wherein the kiosk is configured to receive credentials from the golfer.

19. The system of claim 19, wherein the kiosk is configured to receive information from a magnetic card associated with the golfer.

20. The system of claim 15, wherein the kiosk is configured to provide a copy of an image captured by the camera.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION(S)

The present application is based on and claims the benefit of U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/549,033, filed Mar. 1, 2004, the content of which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to methods and systems used in golf competitions. In particular, the present invention relates to methods and systems used on golf courses to implement golf competitions.

In general, a round of golf is both a competition among the players playing together and a challenge to the individual. The player who attains the lowest score is deemed the winner. During a golf tournament, however, the competition extends to other players who are playing the same round of golf in other groups. In these golf tournament situations, it is popular to make sub-contests outside of determining the player who has attained the lowest score. For example, a golf tournament can include a longest drive competition usually designated on a par five hole and a closest to the pin competition usually designated on a par three hole. In these examples, the players who attain the longest drive and closest to the pin at the designated holes are proclaimed the winner of the sub-contest and can win prizes. Players allowed to participate in these sub-contests, however, are those players who are in the golf tournament.

The present invention is a method and system of implementing a closest to the pin contest such that any number of players can play even if a player is not part of a particular golf tournament. In addition, the present invention is a method and system of allowing players to nationally compete and win prizes in a closest to the pin contest at golf courses across the country.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments of the present invention pertain to a method of facilitating a golf competition. The method includes providing a camera that is utilized to capture an image of a golfer in the act of striking a ball. The camera is also utilized to capture an image of the ball after the ball has come to rest. The distance between the ball and pin is evaluated.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an example par three hole on a golf course in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a block diagram illustrating a method of participating in a closest to the pin contest.

FIG. 3 is a block diagram illustrating a method of evaluating a closest to the pin contest.

FIG. 4 is an enlarged view of a camera in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of an example par three hole and fairway 10 on a golf course capable of hosting a national closest to the pin contest in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. The par three hole and fairway 10 includes a green 12, a tee-box 14 and a hole 16. Par three hole and fairway 10 also includes an evaluation system 20 for evaluating a closest to the pin shot in a closest to the pin contest. System 20 includes a tee-box kiosk 22, a camera 24 and remotely located computing device (not shown in FIG. 1). The remotely located computing device controls camera 24 and kiosk 22. For example, the remotely located computing device can control camera 24 and kiosk 22 through wireless signals or wireless internet connections.

At the beginning of a round of golf, a player will pay a greens fee. At payment of the greens fees, the player will have the opportunity to participate in a national closest to the pin contest. The player will pay a participation fee along with the greens fee to enter the national contest. Entry into the national contest allows the player the opportunity to win prizes based on how close the player can place a ball next to the hole on a par three hole and fairway, such as par three hole and fairway 10.

Upon entry into the national contest, the player is given the ability to activate evaluation system 20 once the player has reached par three hole and fairway 10. For example, the player can receive an identification number from a clubhouse of the participating golf course on a receipt. The receipt can indicate that the greens fees have been paid as well as the participation fee for the national closest to the pin contest. In another example, the player can receive a card containing magnetically or otherwise a swipable identification number. This card can be a single usage card or can be a multiple usage card. In a single usage card, the player is issued a card that can be swiped once an disposed. Thus, each time a particular player would like to participate in the national contest, the player is issued a new card having a new identification number. A multiple usage card, however, is issued to a player and contains an identification number. Upon issuance, the number corresponding to the card is the player's identification number. The player can pay multiple participation fees in order to enter the national contest many times at many different participating golf courses or the player can reuse the card upon paying the entry fee at participating golf courses FIG. 2 is a block diagram 200 illustrating a method of participating and competing in a national closest to the pin contest in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. A player, having the requisite participation entry, approaches par three hole and fairway 10. Tee-box kiosk 22 includes a display 26 and an input 28. Display 26 can be a monitor for displaying instructions on how to activate the national closest to the pin. Display 26 can also display advertising and contest logos. In addition, kiosk 22 can include speakers for automated vocal instructions to the player. At block 202, the player enters their assigned identification number into input 28 of tee-box kiosk 22. For example, input 28 can be a keypad such that the player can enter the identification number issued and printed on their greens fee receipt. In another example, input 28 can be a magnetic reader or other type of reader or digital reader such that the player can swipe a card having an identification number. It should be noted that the example methods of activating the national closest to the pin contest are not an exhaustive list. Other types of methods can be used, such as thumbprint identification, bar code reading and etc.

Upon activation, the method passes to block 204. At block 204, the player is given a predetermined amount of time to prepare to tee off from tee box 14. The predetermined amount of time can be relayed to the player via the voice or can be displayed on display 26. In general, the predetermined time is between thirty and forty-five seconds. However, the predetermined time can be easily adjusted by the remotely located computing device. For example, if the golf ranger determines that play on the golf course is slow, the golf ranger or another can easily decrease the predetermined time by notifying the remotely located computing device.

After the player has prepared to tee off, the method passes to block 206 where the player tees off. At block 208, the player can check the results of their shot. These results can be shown on display 26.

FIG. 3 is a block diagram 300 illustrating a method of evaluating a national closest to the pin contest. In block 302, the remotely located computing device activates camera 24 upon activation of the contest by a player. Camera 24 is a globe-enclosed camera mounted on a pole that is place to the side of the green. Generally, the pole is approximately fifteen to twenty feet tall. At block 304, the remotely located computing device instructs camera 24 to scan the tee box and focus on the participant as he or she tees off. After tee off, the computing device passes to block 306 and instructs camera 24 to scan green 12 for the ball as it breaks the plane of green 12. Camera 24 detects the ball. After the ball comes to a rest, the camera records the image of the resting ball at block 308. At block 310, the computing device measures the distance the ball is from hole 16. At block 312, the computing device determines whether the ball measurement is a winning ball. If the ball is a winning ball, the computing device passes to block 314 and stores the image and the measurement. If, however, the ball is not a winning ball, the computing device passes to block 316 and deletes the recorded image and the measurement. It should be noted that a player can access the video recording of their shot. For example, video clips can be accessed via the internet.

A ball is considered a winner if it comes to rest within any of three distance radii from hole 16. For example, first distance 30 can generally be two feet from hole 16, second distance 32 can generally be five feet from hole 16 and third distance 34 can generally be ten feet from hole 16. It should be noted that any set of distance can be used for determining a winning ball.

Those balls that rest within ten feet 34 from hole 16, but greater than five feet 32 from hole 16 can receive a prize upon completion of the round of golf. Generally, the prize can be a gift certificate for a nominal amount issued by the clubhouse to redeem merchandise or greens fees. The computing device notifies the clubhouse of winning balls and prize categories automatically. Those balls that rest within five feet 32 from hole 16 can be automatically entered into a local or regional contest for that particular day. All those players who have a ball resting within the five feet radius will win an equal share of a pot that is established per day for those golf courses. Those balls that rest within two feet 30 of hole 16 can be entered into a national contest that competes with other golf courses around the country. Those balls that rest within the two feet radius will win a share of a national daily pot. For those balls that rest in the cup of hole 16 can win a predetermined amount of money upon verification. Although the present invention describes the closest to the pin contest as a national contest, one of ordinary skill in the art should recognize that the closest to the pin contest can expand into an international closest to the pin contest as well.

The computing device can also be programmed to change pin placement on a daily, weekly basis or as often as the course desires. Each green can be pre-gridded to allow for various pin placements (i.e. the location of hole 16). Generally, the computing device can allow up to 64 different pin placements.

FIG. 4 is an enlarged view of camera 24 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. In FIG. 4, camera 24 is a computer controlled globe-enclosed camera. Camera 24 includes a laser that will automatically mark the next location of a pin placement. Thus, the computing device can automatically jump to the next pin placement that is in the ordered program. Camera 24 can measure the correct distance from a resting ball to the new hole placement and determine winning balls based on the different radii. In addition, if the laser location on a given day is marking a poor area of the green, the clubhouse of that particular golf course can notify the computing device such that the computing device will jump to the next cup setting for that green.

It is to be understood that various modifications could be made to the described system without departing from the scope of the present invention. For example, in accordance with one embodiment, the pin can be placed (e.g., by a human) at any location on the green and the camera system is configured to find it automatically. For example, in one embodiment, the pin is moved to a new location and the camera system finds it visually and ascertains needed distance information (e.g., by using the laser pin-point system described herein or by implementation of known means for determining distances under such circumstances). In one embodiment, the pin is moved manually and software in support of the camera is configured to visually search until the pin location is located, the pin location being used subsequently for distant measurements relative to a ball. In another embodiment, images are not automatically deleted if they are not a winner but instead images are only deleted at the end of a predetermined period of time (e.g., all images are retained until the end of the day). In one embodiment, images are never deleted. In another embodiment, images are only deleted after players are given a predetermined amount of time to register a dispute with regard measurements or identified winners.

Although the present invention has been described with reference to preferred embodiments, workers skilled in the art will recognize that changes may be made in form and detail without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.