Title:
Golf clubs
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Unconventional extended length golf clubs disclosed herein, designed for idealized pendulum swinging, enable the golfer to decrease unwanted movement during the golfer's putting or putting-like strokes by increasing the number of “lock “points with the club. The top of the club is held in an anchor position. However, in sharp contrast with conventional logic and club design, the clubs of this invention are designed for movement of the remaining club shaft (and hence the club head face) forward in the intended initial direction of ball movement by pulling the club (rather than pushing the club). The club design provides the golfer with at least three points of firm contact (lock points) between the club and the golfer's power hand and arm as the golfer pulls the club forward to engage the ball.



Inventors:
Murphy, Thomas Arthur (Marco Island, FL, US)
Application Number:
11/317724
Publication Date:
06/28/2007
Filing Date:
12/24/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B53/14
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20070161438Mechanical broadhead with expandable bladesJuly, 2007Fulton
20080242458Street Soccer BallOctober, 2008Winn
20080020873Projectile deviceJanuary, 2008Miller et al.
20050282659High compression multi-layer RIM golf ballsDecember, 2005Kennedy III et al.
20060160640Two piece lacrosse stick headJuly, 2006Rettberg
20090258732ADJUSTABLE GOLF TEE ASSEMBLYOctober, 2009Lee
20090325723Golf Simulator Products and MethodsDecember, 2009Edens
20030036434Manufacturing method of a wooden stick sport deviceFebruary, 2003Wu
20060258474Golf club trainerNovember, 2006Gruenke
20080312012Pre-Stressed Hockey ShaftDecember, 2008Lussier et al.
20040162154Kinetic motion analyzerAugust, 2004Dejohn



Primary Examiner:
BLAU, STEPHEN LUTHER
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
THOMAS A. MURPHY (891 KENDALL DRIVE, MARCO ISLAND, FL, 34145, US)
Claims:
1. A golf club comprising: (A) a club head having one face thereon, said club when positioned for use, has said face facing in the direction of intended initial ball movement, for striking and thereby moving a golf ball in said direction, (B) shaft means attached to said club head; and (C) gripping means for pulling said shaft means in the direction of intended initial ball movement and thereby moving said club head face to contact and move said golf ball.

2. A golf club in accordance with claim 1 wherein said move of said golf ball is in the intended initial direction of ball movement, said one club head face when positioned for use is planar and vertical and would define a plane perpendicular to said move, and said gripping means for pulling comprises a horizontal member on said shaft means that projects in said intended initial direction of ball movement.

3. A golf club in accordance with claim 1 wherein said gripping means comprises first and second members that are spaced apart from each other.

4. A golf club in accordance with claim 3 wherein said gripping means members are substantially parallel.

5. A golf club in accordance with claim 4 wherein said gripping means members are formed from a single material that is bent so that said first and second members are substantially parallel.

6. A golf club in accordance with claim 5 wherein said single material is a tube.

7. A golf club in accordance with claim 4 wherein said gripping means is a part of said shaft means, and said shaft means is formed from a single material that is bent so that said first and second members are substantially parallel.

8. A golf club for moving a ball generally in an intended direction, comprising a shaft means and a club head having a face facing in said direction, said shaft means comprising: (a) a first shaft means section comprising a proximal end affixed to said club head and a first section distal end; (b) a second shaft section generally aligned with said first section, said second section having a proximal end that is proximal said first section distal end, and a distal end that is distal said first section distal end; and (c) shaft grip section means attached to said shaft means first and second sections, said shaft grip section means comprising at least two substantially parallel members: (i) a first member projecting from said first shaft means section distal end and (ii) a second member projecting from said second shaft means section proximal end, so that when said club is positioned for use, both said first member and said second member project from said respective shaft means in said intended direction of golf ball movement.

9. A golf club in accordance with claim 8 wherein said first and second members have ends proximal said first and second shaft means sections, which sections are separated, but substantially co-linear, said first section distal end is affixed to an end of said shaft grip section first member; said second section proximal end is affixed to an end of said shaft grip section second member.

10. A golf club in accordance with claim 9 wherein said shaft means first section, said shaft grip section and said shaft means second section are formed from a single continuous metal tube.

11. A golf club in accordance with claim 1 wherein said club is a putter which in position for use has a club head face having a top face to bottom face that is substantially vertical.

12. A golf club in accordance with claim 1 wherein said club head has at least one face wherein said face has a top and bottom and in position for use said face is angled back from bottom to top at least 5 degrees from vertical to provide loft to a golf ball when the ball is stroked.

13. A golf club, comprising: (a) a club head having a ball-striking face thereon, (b) shaft means for moving said club head ball-striking face to strike a golf ball to move the ball generally in the intended direction, said shaft means as positioned for use having a lower portion with an end affixed to said club head, said shaft means extending upwardly from said club head and having an upper portion terminating in an upper end which is to be held in a fulcrum-anchor position against the front of a golfer's body by one of the golfer's hands and, (c) said shaft means having a shaft grip section means positioned intermediate said upper and lower ends of said shaft means, said shaft grip section means comprising an elongated upper member and an elongated lower member which are substantially parallel and connected to each other and, respectively, to said upper and lower shaft means portions, said elongated members extending forwardly in said intended direction of said ball movement.

14. A golf putter as defined in claim 13 wherein said elongated members are spaced apart so that when the lower of said elongated members is gripped by the golfer, the back of the gripping hand is able to be positioned against the upper of said elongated members.

15. A golf club as defined in claim 13 wherein said shaft grip means is positioned along the length of said shaft means a predetermined distance from said upper end of said shaft means so that with said upper end of said shaft means held against the upper portion of a golfer's body the golfer's distal arm is able to be fully extended for the power hand to grip said shaft grip section means.

16. A golf club in accordance with claim 15 wherein said shaft means first section, said shaft grip means and said shaft means second section are formed from a continuous shaft material.

17. A golf club in accordance with claim 13 wherein said club head has at least one face wherein said face has a top and bottom and in position for use said face is angled back from bottom to top at least 5 degrees from vertical to provide loft to a golf ball when the ball is stroked.

18. (canceled)

19. (canceled)

20. A golf club in accordance with claim 16 wherein said club head has at least one face wherein said face has a top and bottom and in position for use said face is angled back from bottom to top at least 5 degrees from vertical to provide loft to a golf ball when the ball is stroked.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to golf clubs and, in particular, to golf clubs used for stroking golf balls which are on or near the greens. This invention also relates to processes for stroking golf balls on or near the greens.

2. Background Art

A major part of the game of golf is putting, which requires a great deal of precision. There are a wide number of different types of putting strokes, some differing only slightly from each other. Practitioners of the vast majority of such strokes have a recognized common theme, that is, that the stroke is to be precisely repeated each time. Achieving that precision is an ongoing challenge for even the best of golfers. For example, as explained in some depth in U.S. Pat. No. 5,328,185 (hereinafter “185”), in the most common putting stroke with available commercial, standard length putters, the golfer addresses the ball in a stance that is parallel to the target line, bends over the target line, and strikes the ball by moving the putter back and forward with his arms in a motion attempting to simulate a pendulum. While golfers like to think only the arms are moving, in fact there are at least minute weight and body balance changes that all take place during the putting stroke. These body motion changes affect the wrists, elbows, upper arms, hips, knees and ankles during the putting stroke. These minute changes begin the instant we initiate the stroke, creating initial moderate upper body motion and changing the weight and body balance. Although the putter described 185 offered improvement in minimizing undesirable body motion, it still left room for further improvement in putting accuracy, and quite surprisingly, even room for further minimizing unwanted body movement.

Preferably, stroking the ball on or near the green requires one fluid motion. It is very difficult with conventional putters, and even elongated putters to obtain and maintain a correct, repetitive putting stroke—even for professional golfers. It is even more difficult to maintain a correct stroke for chipping from near the green, where a simulated or modified putting stroke (a stroke like in putting but usually with a more forceful swing) is often attempted near the green with a club having a face, for example, angled for slight lift to arc the ball (slightly) over the grass near and the lip of the green. The concept of putting with pendulum-like motion is well accepted and has improved putting accuracy. The difficulty is that the human anatomy has a vast number of ways to mess up a golf shot, even when trying to mimic the pendulum. As indicated in 185 a number of products have been developed to improve putting strokes. U.S. Pat. No. 4,605,228, U.S. Pat. No. 3,679,207, U.S. Pat. No. 3,874,668, and other patents listed as references in 185 describe putters and golf clubs that are, in many respects, of unconventional design. The search is still on, however for a putter that better meets the goal of reducing or eliminating as many of the physical geometric body control variables as possible.

There are, however, design characteristics and accompanying practices in addition to those identified in the art mentioned above that are common to such prior art unconventional putters and conventional putters. One of the less conspicuous (that is, until it is mentioned herein) of such common design/practices, is the design of the clubs so that during the putting stroke the golfers' hands trail the ball. That is, consider an invisible plane projecting vertically from the first surface of the target golf ball to be touched by the club as the ball is stroked, the plane projecting in a direction toward the golfer and perpendicular to the direction of the cup from the ball. Such a plane is referred to herein as the golf ball's “static positional plane,” (sometimes referred to herein as the “spp”) During the putting stroke with the above described prior art putters, the putter's hands are substantially behind the ball. That is, the golfer's hand(s) providing the power for the stroke would not completely or even substantially (more than 50%) pass through (or be on the cup side of) the ball's static positional plane (spp) until after the putter club face has struck the ball. That “trailing hands” characteristic, common to the design of putters is referred to herein as “pushing the ball” since the power to move the ball results from human force that occurs “behind” the ball, in effect, by pushing the club to hit the ball. Even in the putter of U.S. Pat. No. 3,874,668 ('668) designed for putting with one arm, it is apparent from the design of the club (and FIG. 2 illustrating the club) that the golfer's hand substantially or totally trails the ball. Moreover, when the club is in a position for use as pictured in FIG. 1 (of '668) the club face is forward relative to the power hand gripping surface. The concept of pushing the club to hit the ball (or “trailing hand”) is especially pronounced when considering most elongated putters. Even the putter of more recent U.S. Pat. No. 6,190,266 clearly illustrates the trailing hand/pushing concept. Although 185 has made improvements for pendulum putting, its design is an example of an exaggerated pushing design.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

One object of this invention is to provide improved golf clubs for use on and near the greens. It is a further object of this invention to provide improved golf clubs that decrease undesirable body movement and decrease body control variables during putting or during near-green, putting-like strokes.

In accordance with one aspect of applicants invention golf clubs are provided that strike the ball as a result of the golfer's “pulling” action, wherein the golfer's power-providing hand passes through (usually completely through) the ball's static positional plane (spp) prior to the club face contacting the ball. In accordance with another aspect of applicant's invention, a club is provided having gripping means for stroking the ball with a pulling action. In accordance with another aspect of the invention, there is provided an elongated putter designed for pulling the club, and hence causing the club head face to strike the ball thereby moving the ball in the intended direction (and desirably with just sufficient force so that it falls into the hole). In accordance with still another aspect of applicant's invention, there is provided a golf club for stroking the ball from near the green (chipping) by the pulling action as described herein. In still one more aspect of the invention there is provided a golf club which when held in a generally vertical position for use by a golfer with the club's face immediately (within ½ inch) behind the ball and the club is in a near perpendicular position relative to the ground, the golfer's power hand is forward (in the direction of the intended target) of the club's vertical shaft with at least a significant portion of that power hand forward of the club's face. Other objects, advantages, aspects and features of this invention will become apparent when the following description is taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

The invention described herein is in a class that is unique. Rarely does one find (indeed it is difficult to imagine) an invention that could be so diametrically opposed to the teachings of the prior art! (See especially U.S. Pat. No. 5,328,185, FIG. 1 and FIG. 6.) In physical structure clubs according to this invention are literally 180 degrees opposed to prior art teachings. In use, the club design in accordance with this invention benefits from advances of prior art, notably 185, but also offers additional opportunity for minimizing (largely unrecognized) unwanted body movements during putting, and close to the green shots similar to putting. That is, the invention described in detail below captures, for example, the advantages of the 185 patent and provides additional advantages even though its design differs dramatically from that patent and the prevailing teaching in the art (180 degrees different) in a very significant feature. The entire concept of pulling the club rather than pushing the club is also counter intuitive. This is especially true in view of the fact that the power hand, the hand pulling the shaft (and hence the club head face) toward the ball, passes through the spp before the club head face strikes the ball! Prior to the disclosure herein, this would have been thought to be a significantly disruptive factor. Instead, the club provides the opportunity for locking the body configuration as described herein so that such disruption appears even less likely. Described below are extended length shaft golf clubs, for example, golf clubs having a ball-striking face, and a shaft means for moving the putter head wherein the shaft means desirably includes an upper section and a lower section which advantageously are substantially co-linear, and desirably include therebetween, a generally lazy-U-shaped (a “U” on its side) gripping means that, in use, preferably has at least one of the legs of the U advantageously projecting generally perpendicularly in the intended direction of the ball movement from at least one section of the shaft means.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a side view of a golf putter embodying the teachings of this invention;

FIGS. 2, viewed from the golfer's face side, illustrates the golfer addressing the ball using a golf club in accordance with this invention.

FIG. 3 viewed from behind the ball, looking in the direction of the target hole, illustrates a golfer addressing the ball using a golf club in accordance with this invention.

FIG. 4 is a front view of the putter illustrated in FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a partial side view of a putter of this invention showing a center-mounted putter head having two faces;

FIG. 6 is a side view of a club head having a face angled for chipping from short distance from the green. The club shaft attached to such a head is identical to the putter shaft of FIG. 1 and FIG. 4.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIGS. 1, 2 and 3 illustrate a golf putter 10 in accordance with this invention. In FIG. 1, putter 10 is illustrated alone in side view (as if a viewer is facing a golfer about to use the putter, i.e. perpendicular to the line to the target hole). Club head 14 has at least one ball-striking face 16, the face preferably being planar across its entire face surface. Shaft means 12, desirably tubular, comprises upper section 121 having upper end 122 and lower end 123, and lower section 124 having upper end 125 and lower end 126, with lower end 126 being affixed to club head 14. Lower section 124 and upper section 121 of shaft 12 are in substantial straight-linear alignment. That is, for reasons explained below, preferably shaft sections 121 and 124 are substantially co-linear. It is important that shaft sections 121 and 124 have less than about one inch (2.4 cm.) offset from linearity and less than about 5 degrees from angular alignment. As illustrated in FIG. 2, upper end 122 (covered by golfers proximate hand and therefore not visible in FIG. 2; see FIG. 1 for reference.) is adapted to be held (by the golfer's hand proximate the target hole) in a fulcrum-anchor position against the golfer's upper torso (preferably in the distal-to-the-target chest/shoulder cavity, the indent normally present between the shoulder muscles and chest muscles nearest those shoulder muscles, and held desirably above and just to the chest side of the armpit). “Lazy U-shaped” (a U laying down) gripping means 120 is positioned intermediate ends 122 and 126 of shaft means 12, gripping means 120 desirably being an integral part of shaft means 12. When club 10 is in use, as illustrated in FIG. 2, gripping means 120 extends outward from the lower and upper shaft means (for pulling shaft 12, and hence club-head face 16 in the intended initial direction of ball 13 movement) from lower end 123 of shaft means upper section 121 and upper end 125 of shaft means lower portion 124.

Thus, as shown in FIG. 1, shaft means 12 can be, for example, two or three separate units that are fixed together, but is desirably a unitary shaft, a continuous unit formed from a single material, which is desirably a tube, from its connection to putter head 14 to the upper end 122 of its upper section 121. Gripper means 120 comprises a generally lazy U-shaped section with lower leg (member) 127 of the U (i.e., lower when in position for use) desirably in smooth (rounded) transition from upper end 125 of the lower section 124 of shaft means 12 into shaft gripper means extension (lower leg or member 127, also referred to as the “grip bar”) which is desirably generally perpendicular to the direction of both the upper and lower shaft portions. Advantageously, generally perpendicular extension, lower leg (grip bar) 127, near its distal extremity desirably transitions into the smooth curve end 128 of gripping means 120. Similarly, upper leg (member) 129 of gripping means 120 desirably meets in smooth, rounded transition (a) at its distal extremity with smooth curve end 128 and (b) at its proximate end with lower end 123 of shaft means upper portion 121. Gripping means 120 members 127 and 129 are desirably of approximately equal length and, preferably, are between about three and one half inches to about six and one half inches long (depending on the hand size of the golfer) from the nearest point of shaft means portions 124 and 121, respectively, to the beginning of the curve at end 128. At least one of gripper means 120 members 127 and 129 is preferably at a ninety degree angle, but desirably at no less than an eighty eight degree angle and no more than 92 degree angle to the linear direction of shaft sections (or portions) 121 and 124 respectively. (As stated above, angles as measured ignore rounded corners.) Advantageously, members 127 and 129 are desirably parallel but may have modest deviation from parallel. Ideally the deviation would be plus or minus 5 degrees. However, the deviation from parallel between legs 127 and 129 should not exceed 20 degrees in distal end to proximal end widening or 30 degrees in proximal end to distal end widening.

Shaft means 12 lower end 126 may be affixed to the club head 14 by any of the various methods well known to those skilled in the art. For example, in the side view of FIG. 1 it can be seen that the lower end 126 of shaft portion 124 is affixed to club head 14 at a point near the center of club head 14, or it may be offset, as may be preferred by some golfers. Other prior art modifications to head structure, composition and placement of connection to the shaft may also be employed. Of course, any such connecting materials, head configurations, or other modifications preferably should not “cushion” the contact to detract from the potential for the resonance factor mentioned below. Hence a hard connection is preferred.

The view in FIG. 2 is from the front (facing a golfer), as the golfer addresses the ball holding golf club 10 according to the instant invention. In FIG. 2 the golfer is illustrated as clasping his power hand (distal hand or gripping hand) on gripping means 120 at lower leg 127 (preferred, although it would be possible to grip either upper leg 129 or lower leg 127, more commonly called the grip bar). In addressing the ball (getting ready to stroke the ball) with a club according to this invention, the golfer desirably stands generally facing in a direction perpendicular to the target. The proximate hand (from the side closest to the target) desirably holds club shaft means 12 upper end 122 (in both FIG. 2 and FIG. 3 covered by golfer's hand) in fulcrum position in his or her distal chest/shoulder cavity. In an especially effective stroking form, not available to other club designs: (a) the meaty part of the golfer's distal hand, and at least part of the fingers of that hand are in intimate contact with grasping means leg 127; (b) the back of that same hand is in firm contact with gripping means upper leg 129; and (c) the forward side (the side toward the viewer) of the golfer's distal forearm is in intimate contact with shaft upper portion 121. The clubs of this invention (by providing on the power hand/arm three separate lines of contact through the stroke) thereby offer the opportunity physically to lock in a method of avoiding at least three sources of unwanted body movement: variability in gripping the club, variability in wrist placement and movement, and variability of wrist/forearm relationship. This provides the potential to get even closer to true pendulum putting. The co-linear (or very near linear) alignment of lower portion 124 and upper portion 121 of shaft 12 assists in guiding the golfer's addressing the ball as he or she prepares for the shot. It also assists in holding club 10 so shaft 12 is perpendicular or very near perpendicular during that address of the ball. In addition, it evidently increases the golfers ability: (a) to have the club head at just the right level for hitting cleanly the ball; (b) to maintain the plane of perpendicularity (thereby promoting directional accuracy); (c) to see the ball clearly even as the face of the club head meets the ball, and for at least some golfers to experience the resonance factor described in more detail below.

In a preferred embodiment of this invention gripping means 120 has little or no padded surface. This feature provides the golfer with another advantage not recognized by golfers using conventional putters (with or without padding on the conventional putter gripping surface). With the clubs of the present invention a golfer with sensitive hands senses an intimate feel, a sort of resonance in the shaft, as the club head face properly strikes the ball. This is one of the features recognized in 185 that are captured in the instant invention in spite of the dramatic 180 degree difference between the clubs. Such a feature can help the golfer recognize the feel he or she needs to have an especially good shot. Even modestly thin leather surfaces, can interfere with that sensation. The unitary shaft also contributes to this “feel recognition” of the especially good shot, whereas a pieced together shaft through its welds tends to interfere with what the golfer could feel is the “resonance” of a good shot. This advantage may be felt more by some golfers than others, and to some extent would depend on the sensitivities of the golfer's hands, especially the golfer's power hand. Whether or not a particular golfer feels the resonance, using the club with the especially preferred three areas (lines, or surfaces) of contact method (inside power hand surface, the top of the power hand and the power forearm) with the club as described above can improve the golfer's accuracy and consistency. It would seem likely that over time, regular use of the clubs of this invention will result in more golfers developing that “feel” and promoting additional accuracy.

In another interesting observation, it seems that putting accuracy is also enhanced by the forward, generally horizontal direction of the gripping means and the resulting requirement to pull the club toward the target. Apparently, the pulling motion toward the target also overpowers extraneous movement that otherwise would promote directional variability.

Desirably, as illustrated in FIG. 3a, the golfer leans forward until his/her power arm and hand hang straight down from the shoulder. (The power arm and hand are also referred to herein as the distal arm and hand, i.e. the arm and hand extending form the golfer's shoulder that would be distal or farthest from the target as the golfer addresses the ball.) The golfer grasps the upper end of the club (which may have, for example, a leather or rubber grasping surface) with the proximal hand, that is, the hand extending from his/her shoulder nearest the target. The golfer thus achieves a fulcrum-anchor position for the upper end of the putter by holding his/her proximal hand and the upper end of the putter in position for pivoting the putter shaft, against the front of his/her body—preferably against the chest/shoulder cavity. It is preferred that the putter shaft will be vertical and directly above the target line. As shown in FIG. 2, FIG. 3a, and FIG. 3b the power hand is gripping and thus covering much or all of lower elongated member 127 (the grip bar) of lazy U-shaped grip means 120. With the present invention the hand/wrist/forearm linkage can actually be in a lock position with the putter when the golfer's power hand grasps lower member 127 and simultaneously has the back of the power hand against upper member 129 and the power forearm in firm contact with upper shaft section 121. The three level connection between the putter and the golfer's power hand and arm provides additional opportunity for the “feel/resonance” of a proper stroke.

FIG. 4 illustrates club 10 in front view illustrating shaft means 12, having shaft means upper section 121, protruding end 128 of gripper means 120 with legs 127 and 129, and shaft means lower section 124 attached at its lower end 126 to club head 14 having striking face 16 partially obscured by golf ball 13. FIG. 5 illustrates (in partial) lower portion 524 of club 50 similar to club 10, but having proximal end 526 of lower portion 524 attached vertically in the center (front to back and side to side) of club head 54. Club head 54 has two faces 55 and 56 on the front and back sides. Club 50 can, therefore, be used by right-handed and left-handed golfers. This provides manufacturing and inventory cost advantages that ultimately benefit the customer. Club 60 is illustrated in FIG. 6 in partial with lower shaft means portion 624 attached at distal end 626 to club head 64. Club head 64 striking face 66 is angled back (front bottom to front top face) to provide loft to the ball when using a putting like stroke (chipping) from near the green. The extent of such an angle of course depends on the extent of loft needed in any given shot. Because of the advantages derived by using such a club close to the green the golfer may choose to include in his/her golf bag such a club in lieu of a wedge. The angle of striking face 66 is illustrated as being fixed, but in view of the varying loft issues arising on various holes and even various lies on the course, the club head could include an attaching means for attaching a face of greater or less slope as the situation required. Thus the putter could become a club used for chipping.

While the choice of the specific components, and their arrangement in the preferred embodiments described hereinbefore, provide and advantages over the prior art, the invention is not limited to those specific components and their arrangement. Therefore, the forms of the invention shown and described is to be taken as illustrative only, and changes may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.





 
Previous Patent: Iron set

Next Patent: PANEL GRIP WITH MODIFIED SEAM