Title:
Golf ball with optical feedback for improving putting stroke
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A golf ball has an axis of rotation and an equator substantially perpendicular to the axis of rotation. A pattern is disposed substantially about the equator of the golf ball at the equator. The pattern has a first color and the golf ball has a second color which is different than the first color so that when the golf ball rotates so that the equator is substantially orthogonal to the axis of rotation the pattern exhibits one color, but if the ball rolls so that the equator rolls not substantially orthogonal to the axis of rotation, it exhibits a second color. In a preferred embodiment, the color of the golf ball is white and the different colors are the true color of the pattern and shades of that color. Furthermore, in a preferred embodiment, the pattern is asymmetrical but repeating and includes first regions of pattern and second regions of pattern. The first regions of pattern are disposed between successive second regions of pattern. The first regions of pattern have a width greater than the width of the second regions of pattern.



Inventors:
Klein, Bernard E. (Plantation, FL, US)
Application Number:
11/367520
Publication Date:
09/06/2007
Filing Date:
03/03/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
473/351
International Classes:
A63B69/36
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GORDEN, RAEANN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Locke Lord LLP (P.O. BOX 55874, BOSTON, MA, 02205, US)
Claims:
What is claimed as new and desired to be protected by Letters Patent of the United States is:

1. A golf ball comprising: a surface exhibiting a first color; an equator; a pattern disposed on said golf ball extending along said equator, said pattern having a second color, said pattern being made of a plurality of first regions and a plurality of second regions, each said first region having a width greater than a width of each said second region and said first region being disposed between a respective pair of second regions, the pattern optically exhibiting said second color when said golf ball rolls about said axis of rotation with said equator substantially orthogonal thereto, and said pattern optically exhibiting a third color when said golf ball rolls about a second axis of rotation with said equator not being substantially orthogonal to said second axis of rotation.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein said pattern is symmetrically disposed about said equator.

3. The method of claim 1, wherein said pattern is asymmetric along said equator.

4. The method of claim 1, wherein said color of said surface is white.

5. The golf ball of claim 1, wherein said second region is substantially 1.5 to 3 times wider than the width of the first region.

6. The golf ball of claim 1, wherein said third color is a blend of said first color and said second color.

7. The golf ball of claim 1, further comprising at least one gap along said pattern.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention is directed to a golf ball, in particular a golf ball for use in training and competition to provide optical, and therefore, instant feedback with regard to a golfer's putting stroke as the ball rolls, when the ball is properly positioned prior to impact, allowing real-time adjustment of the stroke during practice, to help develop a more precise and accurate stroke. Skilled players are able to use the golf ball to provide similar feedback to improve short chip shots and other golf shots, because the ball visually “reports” the degree of spin as the ball rolls.

One of the most challenging aspects of golf is putting. A proper putting stroke is not only a function of correctly “reading” the green, aim and alignment, but also club position and speed through the stroke. A major factor in missing putts is hitting the ball off line, i.e. the putter may not be square at and through impact with the ball. A putt hit slightly off center may go offline due to torque and other forces at impact that are not present when a putt is hit properly and contact with the ball is made at the center of the putter face. A well-regarded technique for improving a putting stroke is repetition of a correct stroke to induce muscle memory, build skill, and increase confidence.

A challenge for a golfer is to align the putter and intended stroke path properly and strike the ball squarely along the initial line intended for the ball to travel. Other products such as a curved-face putter (see Noh patent WO 0236213 Republic of Korea) correct the direction of putts made with an open or closed face. But even with a curved-face putter, such as the target50® putters, it is also important for a golfer to practice hitting putts correctly, and to make a stroke that increasingly is the same as the intended stroke.

Many techniques are known for teaching a proper putting stroke, but they have a disadvantage if they work only indoors, or with intricate video or computer equipment, or are expensive for average players to use. A useful technique for teaching a proper putting stroke would be inexpensive and provide feedback as the ball starts to roll and as it approaches the hole; would adapt to the specific variables of each different putting green, and would be USGA conforming.

One device currently known in the art is the O-Ball™ golf ball, which provides a pattern of o-rings around the equator and poles of the ball in order to provide visual feedback to golfers after putting. The roll of the O-Ball™ golf ball reveals the quality of the stroke that has just been made. After bad strokes, the O-Ball™ golf ball will display a visual wobble while perfect strokes are rewarded with zero wobble to indicate a pure roll. However, these golf balls suffer from the deficiency that because golf balls are putted along a non-uniform grass surface and the golf balls themselves have dimpled surfaces, the golf ball will always exhibit some degree of wobble. Therefore, the person putting the O-Ball™ golf ball is faced with the problem of discerning what extent of wobble is acceptable for a good putting stroke.

Therefore, it is desirable to provide a golf ball, which provides a visual feedback that is easily discernible by the golfer to determine whether or not a good putting stroke has been performed and is not affected by wobble resulting from the non-uniform putting surface or the dimple pattern of the ball.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A golf ball has an axis of rotation and an equator circumnavigating the ball substantially perpendicular to the axis of rotation. A pattern is disposed substantially about the circumference of the golf ball at the equator. The pattern has a first color, the golf ball has a second color which is different than the first color so that when the golf ball rotates so that the circumference is substantially orthogonal to the axis of rotation the pattern exhibits one color, but if the ball rolls so that the circumference rolls not substantially orthogonal to the axis of rotation, it exhibits a second color and shades of that color caused by the optical illusion of the mixing of the first color and the second color.

In a preferred embodiment, the color of the golf ball is white and the pattern colors are the true color of the pattern and shades of that color. Furthermore, in a preferred embodiment, the pattern is asymmetrical but repeating and includes first regions of pattern and second regions of pattern. The first regions of pattern are disposed between successive second regions of pattern. The first regions of pattern have a width greater than the width of the second regions of pattern.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For a fuller understanding of the invention, reference is made to the following description taken in connection with the accompanying drawing in which:

FIG. 1 is a plan view of a golf ball constructed in accordance with the invention, the reverse side of the golf ball being a mirror image of that shown.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

As seen in FIG. 1, a golf ball, generally indicated as 10, has a dimpled surface 12 with a plurality of dimples 14 thereon. Golf ball 10 has an imaginary equator 16, which substantially divides golf ball 10 into two halves, i.e. it is the centerline through one axis of golf ball 10.

When used in putting, golf ball 10 rotates about an axis of rotation 18. When golf ball 10 is used in accordance with the invention, on a flat surface, a good putting stroke results in the axis of rotation 18 being substantially orthogonal to equator 16. When a ball is mishit, equator 16 is not substantially orthogonal to the axis of rotation 18.

A pattern 20 is disposed along equator 16 and extends substantially along the entire length of equator 16 about the circumference of golf ball 10. Pattern 20 exhibits a first color while the remainder of the surface 12 of golf ball 10 exhibits a second (background) color. Furthermore, pattern 20 is made of two regions, the pattern of the regions repeating along the ball equatorial circumference. The first region 22 has a first maximum width W1 while a second region 24 has a second maximum width W2. W1 is significantly greater than W2 and is preferably twice as wide. In a preferred embodiment, W1 is substantially 1.5 to 3 times larger than W2. In a preferred embodiment, W2 may be as small as 4 mm on a golf ball that conforms to United States Golf Association (USGA) regulation.

The color patterns are formed on the ball in any way known in the art. They may be applied directly to surface 12, incorporated within the outer layer of material forming surface 12, or in a layer below surface 12 if surface 12 is transparent.

A respective second region 24 is disposed between a respective pair of first regions 22. The unseen surface of golf ball 10 is a mirror image of that shown in FIG. 1. Therefore, in the preferred embodiment, the pattern 20 exhibits what appears to be a substantially continuous undulating pattern. However, gaps 26 may be provided along the pattern, or even in place of thinner region 24 without substantially affecting the operation of golf ball 10. In other words, if properly dimensioned, an undulating pattern 20 need not be used, but a plurality of wide regions separated by sufficiently short gaps could be utilized at one extreme and a continuous form (no gaps) of the pattern 20 shown in FIG. 1 could be used as the other extreme. However, in the preferred embodiment the pattern would be continuous or provide for only one or two gaps 26 for providing indicia 28 as is common for identifying a player's golf ball.

Furthermore, in the preferred embodiment, pattern 20 is symmetrical about the equator 16 of golf ball 10, but is asymmetrical along equator 16 in the manner in which it repeats the pattern. In other words, for the example of the shown undulating pattern, the lengths of regions 24 are shorter than the lengths of regions 22 so that a non-uniform pattern, as opposed to a sine wave pattern, is provided. However, a sine wave pattern may be used.

In a preferred embodiment, surface 12 is white while pattern 20 is green or some other color. It should be noted that in one embodiment of the invention, an outline 30 may frame pattern 20 utilizing a third color without substantially affecting the operation of the invention. This outline 30 may be a manufacturer's code for the physical ball's characteristics such as its construction or spin rating.

The relative sizes of the regions of the patterns must be set to provide good visual feedback for a well struck putt so that twenty parts pattern color and zero parts surface 12 color exhibit a correct putting stroke, while up to eighteen parts of surface 12 color to two parts of pattern 20 color, or 17 parts of surface 12 background color to three parts of pattern 20 color, optically blend to indicate a badly mishit stroke. In a preferred embodiment, the maximum width W2 of pattern 20 would be 5% to 10% of the ball circumference or 6.7 mm to 13.4 mm.

During operation the ball is placed on the ground so that axis 18 is substantially parallel to the ground and perpendicular to the initial line intended for the ball to travel. The ball is then struck with a putter. Depending upon the correctness of the stroke, pattern 20 exhibits different intensity of color as the background color of surface 12 mixes with the pattern color in different ratios, as a function of the amount the ball is mishit. If the ball is hit off the center of the putter or at an angle that is not square, with a putter that does not automatically correct the direction for an off-center or pushed or pulled putt, then the ball no longer rotates along equator 16. Therefore, the color of pattern 20 optically mixes with the color of the remainder of surface 12 (background color) as the ball rotates off axis. If, for example, the color of pattern 20 is green and the remainder of the surface is white and the ball is hit correctly, when viewed from behind the ball (the golfer's inherent position), or from behind the hole (the caddie's or teacher's inherent position), the pattern exhibits a thin green stripe because to the eye the center line of pattern 20 is not mixing with any white of surface background color 12. However, if the ball is hit off center, in other words pushed or pulled, then the ball may roll off-axis so that the optical mix of the color is less than 100% of the color of the pattern 20 and either the color will be lighter (for instance, a light green) or the pattern will not be evident. The particular pattern and intensity of color give visual clues to the golfer about how the ball may have been misshit on an individual putt. Therefore, the visual feedback is a reminder to practice until the color indicates correctly hit putts.

The undulating pattern, i.e. at least partially alternating regions 22, 24 of relatively wider and narrower patterns, compensates for the inherent wobble of the golf ball. For example, if the putt were correctly struck on a flat surface, the golfer would see a pattern having a solid dark line around the diameter of the minimum width with a lighter tinted or lower intensity colored or shaded pattern in the region between the minimum width and the maximum width of pattern 20 because the color of the pattern would optically blend with the background color of the remaining surface 12 at the narrow width regions 24. However, on a non-uniform surface such as the grass of a putting green, which induces wobble, the undulating pattern smoothes itself out to a single color design when struck properly. In other words, the present invention still gives visual feedback of a good roll when there is a little wobble. However, the greater the degree of a mishit of a putt, the more white (or the color of surface 12 if another color) optically mixes with the color of pattern 20 to the point where after a badly hit putt, the pattern may not appear because it is almost entirely white.

The instant golf ball has been described with respect to improving a putting stroke. However, it is applicable for improving other golf shots making use of spin or where the objective is no spin. Some golf shots that skilled players can sink, less-skilled players tend to hit with a cut or spin. For some players this spin is predictable to a degree, such as on greenside bunker shots for a right-handed player that tend to spin and cause a left to right bounce and roll. The instant golf ball is also useful off the green, for chipping and putting, to help a player reduce the spin by indicating the amount of spin on chip shots and bunker (sand) shots. A ball that is all one color, such as all white, would not give this optical feedback.

Although a specific embodiment of the present invention has been described in detail herein with reference to the accompanying drawings, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited to the precise embodiment and that various changes and modifications may be effected therein by one skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims.