This is a continuation-in-part application of copending application Ser. No. 10/455,654, filed Jun. 5, 2003, which is hereby incorporated by reference, in accordance with 35 U.S.C. 120.
The invention relates generally to golfing and, more particularly, to golf bag equipment.
This section describes the technical field in more detail, and discusses problems encountered in the technical field. This section does not describe prior art as defined for purposes of anticipation or obviousness under 35 U.S.C. section 102 or 35 U.S.C. section 103. Thus, nothing stated in the Problem Statement is to be construed as prior art.
Golf clubs are usually carried in open-topped golf bags that receive inverted golf clubs for easy identification and access. Typically, this opening has rectangular dividers or tubular orifices for dividing the golf bag top into different sections or compartments. It is typical for a golfer, who commonly has an excess of clubs, to store clubs in each compartment. This can lead to difficulty in finding a particular club, especially when dealing with clubs of a similar size and shape. Another problem with this arrangement is that it allows golf clubs to move freely in the openings of the bag, so that the golf clubs become entangled and bang into each other. In addition, such openings lack organization, and so golfers may access or even use the wrong club. Furthermore, when jostled, the clubs are free to strike one another, which can damage the golf clubs and erode of the grips of the golf clubs when individual clubs are slid into and out of the golf club bag while others remain within the bag. Some, if not all, of the above-described problems are exacerbated for those instances when the golf bag is provided on a golf cart at an angle to an upright position.
Various aspects of the invention, as well as an embodiment, are better understood by reference to the following detailed description. To better understand the invention, the detailed description should be read in conjunction with the drawings in which:
FIG. 1 illustrates a golf club holder flute for securing a golf club within golf bag;
FIG. 2 illustrates a golf club holder for securing a row of golf clubs within a golf bag;
FIG. 3 illustrates the side view of a golf club holder;
FIG. 4 illustrates one embodiment of a golf club holder secured to the top of a golf bag;
FIGS. 5A-5C illustrate a golf club holder flute for securing a golf club within a golf bag in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 6 illustrates a rail attachment device for use with the holder flute of FIGS. 5A-5C;
FIGS. 7A-7C show a golf bag in combination with the flute arrangement of FIGS. 5A-5C and the attachment rail of FIG. 6; and
FIG. 8 illustrates another embodiment of the present invention for use with circular top type golf bags.
When reading this section (An Exemplary Embodiment of a Best Mode, which describes an exemplary embodiment of the best mode of the invention, hereinafter “exemplary embodiment”), one should keep in mind several points. First, the following exemplary embodiment is what the inventor believes to be the best mode for practicing the invention at the time this patent was filed. Thus, since one of ordinary skill in the art may recognize from the following exemplary embodiment that substantially equivalent structures or substantially equivalent acts may be used to achieve the same results in exactly the same way, or to achieve the same results in a not dissimilar way, the following exemplary embodiment should not be interpreted as limiting the invention to one embodiment.
Likewise, individual aspects (sometimes called species) of the invention are provided as examples, and, accordingly, one of ordinary skill in the art may recognize from a following exemplary structure (or a following exemplary act) that a substantially equivalent structure or substantially equivalent act may be used to either achieve the same results in substantially the same way, or to achieve the same results in a not dissimilar way.
Accordingly, the discussion of a species (or a specific item) invokes the genus (the class of items) to which that species belongs as well as related species in that genus. Likewise, the recitation of a genus invokes the species known in the art. Furthermore, it is recognized that as technology develops, a number of additional alternatives to achieve an aspect of the invention may arise. Such advances are hereby incorporated within their respective genus, and should be recognized as being functionally equivalent or structurally equivalent to the aspect shown or described.
Second, the only essential aspects of the invention are identified by the claims. Thus, aspects of the invention, including elements, acts, functions, and relationships (shown or described) should not be interpreted as being essential unless they are explicitly described and identified as being essential. Third, a function or an act should be interpreted as incorporating all modes of doing that function or act, unless otherwise explicitly stated (for example, one recognizes that “tacking” may be done by nailing, stapling, gluing, hot gunning, riveting, etc., and so a use of the word tacking invokes stapling, gluing, etc., and all other modes of that word and similar words, such as “attaching”).
Fourth, unless explicitly stated otherwise, conjunctive words (such as “or”, “and”, “including”, or “comprising” for example) should be interpreted in the inclusive, not the exclusive, sense. Fifth, the words “means” and “step” are provided to facilitate the reader's understanding of the invention and do not mean “means” or “step” as defined in §112, paragraph 6 of 35 U.S.C., unless used as “means for -functioning-” or “step for -functioning-” in the Claims section. Sixth, the invention is also described in view of the Festo decisions, and, in that regard, the claims and the invention incorporate equivalents known, foreseeable, and unforeseeable. Seventh, the language and each word used in the invention should be given the ordinary interpretation of the language and the word, unless indicated otherwise. It should be noted in the following discussion that acts with like names are performed in like manners, unless otherwise stated. Of course, the foregoing discussions and definitions are provided for clarification purposes and are not limiting. Words and phrases are to be given their ordinary plain meaning unless indicated otherwise. Further, indications of orientation are not to be given absolute interpretation with respect to a fixed origin or axis, but are rather provided to give general reference orientations with respect to other provided general orientations.
Features and advantages of the invention can be better understood by reviewing FIGS. 1-8. Referring now to FIG. 1 there is illustrated a golf club holder 100, for securing a golf club to a golf bag. A golf club comprises a head, a shaft, a grip, and a shank/hossel (used interchangeably, below) that attaches a golf club head to a golf club shaft. A golf club may be secured to the golf club holder 100 via its shaft or its shank/hossel. The shaft is typically the longest portion of a golf club. It usually has a grip at one end and couples to a head at the opposite end via a hossel. Accordingly, the invention is usable with any golf club having a portion of the shaft, hossel, or other area, made of material that has magnetic attraction properties, such as Iron, Cobalt, Nickel and their alloys, for example. Alternatively, magnetically responsive clips or wraps may be placed about a non-magnetic golf club shaft to allow any golf club shaft to be secured to the golf club holder 100.
The golf club holder 100 comprises a flute 110, a horizontal arm 120, a golf club support 130, an interior surface 140, optionally at least one magnet 150, and a cavity 160. In one embodiment, the flute 110 is coupled to the golf club support 130 via the horizontal arm 120. A flute is any structure that accepts a golf club shaft or hossel, while being small enough to not accept a golf club head. It may be a single structure, or may comprise multiple parts. In one embodiment, the flute 110 is formed by two opposing generally parallel surfaces, where the area in between the surfaces defines a cavity 270 better seen in FIG. 2. One alternative flute comprises substantially flat interior surfaces, including a flat bottom surface. Of course, although the interior surface 140 is generally circular as illustrated in FIG. 1, the interior surface 140 could be concave, trihedral, synclined (V-shaped), or prolated (cigar shaped) in shape, (for example) capable of accepting a golf club shaft or hossel.
A golf club support 130 is any structure that is adapted to hold a golf club head and prevents the golf club head from swiveling or twisting. In FIG. 1, the golf club support 130 is formed by opposing surfaces with at least one surface generally shaped to form to one surface of a golf club head. Alternatively, dowels, pins, or sticks could be used for the same purpose. The golf club support 130 couples to the generally parallel surfaces 112, 114 via a horizontal arm 120. Of course, it is understood that in practice the angles need not be precisely parallel or horizontal, and may be angled in a manner that is understood in the art upon reading the present disclosure. In practice, the golf club support 130 holds and protects the golf club head from chaffing and scratching against another golf club head or other items found in the golf club bag.
The horizontal arm 120 could have an attachment to secure the golf club holder 100 to a golf bag, or, likewise, the holder 100 may have an attachment to secure the holder 100 to a golf bag. The width of the horizontal arm 120 is at least equal to the width of a flute 110. The attachment could be a fastening means such as a, clip, Velcro™, bracket, or screw, for example. In another embodiment the golf club holder 100 could be secured to a golf bag portion via an adhesive such as glue, cement, or tape, for example.
In a preferred embodiment, a plurality of magnets 150 forming a column could be secured within the interior surface 140 of a flute 110. In an alternative embodiment, the interior surface 140 has one magnet 150 for securing a golf club shaft or hossel within the flute 110.
FIG. 2 illustrates a golf club holder 200 that secures at least one golf club 280 in a golf bag portion. The golf club holder 200 comprises a plurality of flutes 210 that traverse a horizontal arm 220, a plurality of golf club supports, one golf club support 230 corresponding with each flute 210. Optionally, at least one magnet 250 is provided in each flute 210. Of course, a single large magnetic strip may traverse a plurality of flutes to achieve the same results. Also optionally, a plurality of magnets may be provided with each flute. Each flute 210 is coupled to the horizontal arm 220. In a preferred embodiment, each flute 210 is formed by two opposing surfaces to form an open cavity 270. In addition, in one embodiment, the number of golf club supports 230 will be equal to the number of golf clubs, commonly 14 clubs, in a golf club set. In an alternative embodiment, the number of golf club supports 230 will be equal to a type of golf clubs, such as irons (10 clubs) for example, including a 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9 iron, a wedge (or “pitching wedge”), a gap wedge, and/or the sand wedge.
The golf club holder 200 could be formed as a single molded material such as plastic, urethane, or polyethylene, for example. In a preferred embodiment, the row of flutes 210 is equidistant from each other. In an alternative embodiment, the flutes 210 are separated different distances to accommodate more than one size golf club shaft 280, or different sized golf club heads.
FIG. 3 illustrates a side view of a golf club holder 300. FIG. 3 further details a means 340 for securing the golf club holder 300 to the golf bag. The means for securing 340 may be a removable device such as a clip, bracket, screw, or Velcro™, for example. In a preferred embodiment, the golf club holder 300 could be secured to the golf club bag via a permanent fastening means for securing 340 such as glue, cement, tape, or other adhesive apparent to those skilled in the art
FIG. 4 illustrates a golf club holder 400 adapted to a golf bag top 410. The golf club holder 400 is secured to a golf bag via a permanent fastening. In a preferred embodiment, the golf club holder 400 could extend across the opening of a golf bag top 410. In an alternative embodiment, the golf club holder 400 could extend above portion of a golf bag top 410.
Referring now to FIGS. 5A-5C there is illustrated a golf club holder flute 500 in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention. Flute 500 provides for isolating the shaft of a golf club within a golf bag and is particularly advantageous when the golf bag is provided on a golf cart at an angle to an upright position, such as that disclosed in application Ser. No. 10/452,351, filed Jun. 2, 2003 by the same inventor, which is hereby incorporated by reference.
The flute 500 is formed by two opposing generally parallel wall surfaces 520, where the area in between the surfaces defines an open cavity 510. Further, although the cavity 510 is shown to be generally rectangular, it can be concave, trihedral, synclined (V-shaped), or prolated (cigar shaped) in shape, for example. In one embodiment a flute cavity 510 is just large enough to receive the grip/shaft, but too small to receive the grip. In one embodiment, the flute cavity 510 width (CW) is sufficiently large to receive the shaft and/or hossel of the club while being small enough to not accept a golf club head such that, in normal use, the head will rest on the top portion of the flute 500. It should be noted that the cavity is not entirely enclosed and does not constitute a closed cell such as tube type designs. The height (H) of the flute can be less than or more than the diameter of a conventional golf club and the length (L) is less than that of a conventional golf club. Preferably, the length (L) is substantially less than that of a conventional golf club. In addition, the flute is preferably no longer than the distance between the top of the head (where the head meets the hossel) and the area on the golf club where the grip begins.
In a preferred embodiment, the bottom portions of the wall surfaces 520 are beveled to form a funnel type edge portion 525. The edge portion 525 provides a smooth edge for receiving the grip of the golf club as it is removed from the golf bag. The top portions of the wall surfaces 520 can also be beveled to form a funnel type edge portion 530. This edge portion provides a smooth edge for receiving a club as it is placed in the golf bag.
The flute 500 can include a club face receiving surface portion (shown as a broken line at item 519 in FIG. 5B). The receiving surface portion 519 is the same as that shown in FIGS. 1-4. The surface portion 519 is adapted to corresponds to the loft angle of a particular golf club iron. For example, one surface portion 519 can be provided with an angle associated with the loft of a six iron. This surface 519 is oriented so that, in normal use, the face of a received six iron will be urged by gravity to a position with its face in contact with a golf club receiving surface 519 and its shaft with said cavity 510.
Further, multiple flutes can be used in which each has a different receiving surface portion angle corresponding the respective irons. More specifically, each is provided with an angle associated with one of a two iron, a three iron, a four iron, etc. and are respectively adapted to receive the striking face of the club. The multiple flutes are arranged adjacent to one another on a downwardly tilted surface of a golf bag, such as the surface indicated at item 719 of FIG. 7A.
The flute 500 is attachable to a golf bag by a fastening means such as a, clip, Velcro, bracket, screw, or an adhesive (such as glue, cement, or tape), for example. In a preferred embodiment, the flute 500 is attachable with a golf bag via a bracket 600 (shown in FIG. 6) and groove 515 combination. In another embodiment, the flutes comprise molded plastic, and are attachable, either temporarily or permanently, to a golf bag. More specifically, a rectangular groove 515 is integrated with the flute as shown in FIGS. 5A-5C. Other shaped groove and bracket arrangements are contemplated. The bracket 600 has a size and shape associated with that of the groove providing a close fit such that the flute 500 can be clipped onto the bracket securely. In this embodiment, the bracket 600 is secured to the golf bag and the flute 500 is snapped onto the bracket 600 when needed. The bracket 600 can be of a length to accept multiple flutes (the bracket shown in FIG. 6 is of a length to accept up to four flutes though more or less are contemplated) and the flute 500 can include multiple grooves along its length for providing position adjustment (further discussed below).
Further, the bracket 600 can include magnetic portions 610 for providing an attractive force with any golf club hossel, shank, or shaft having a material that has magnetic attraction properties, such as Iron, Cobalt, Nickel and their alloys, for example. The bracket 600 in FIG. 6 is shown with separate magnetic portions, however, the magnetic portion 610 could be one continuous portion which extends the length of the bracket or the entire bracket could be formed from a magnetic material. In another embodiment, the magnetic portions 610 are integrated into the flute instead of the bracket.
Referring now to FIGS. 7A-7C show a golf bag in combination with the flute arrangement of FIGS. 5A-5C and the attachment rail of FIG. 6. More specifically, FIG. 7A is a top view of a conventional golf bag top opening illustrating the different type apertures (710, 715) for receiving golf clubs and FIGS. 7B and 7C are views taken from the perspective of the dash line A-A in FIG. 7A illustrating the coupling arrangement of the bracket 600 and flute 500. Surface 719 indicates that side of the golf bag which would be tilted toward the ground for angular presentation. In another embodiment, flutes 500 are integrated to form part of a golf bag and, therefore, no brackets would be needed.
With an angularly tilted golf bag, gravity assists with containing the club shaft within the flute cavity 510 (additional magnetic portions 610 can also assist in such functionality). Note that magnets that are sufficiently strong enough to hold the weight of a golf club, can be used to provide additional functionality to the invention, as is apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art. The flute 500 prevents the golf club shaft from entangling with other golf club shafts when the golf club is being removed from the golf bag and/or replaced in the golf bag. For example, when trying to take a golf club out of an angularly presented golf bag, one shaft may be resting on top of another shaft causing both to be pulled from the bag. This phenomenon is due in large part to the rubber type grips on each of the golf clubs which momentarily bind together.
Further, the flute 500 can be adjusted up and down relative the top of the golf bag for providing the golf club heads at varying heights above the top of the golf bag, as shown in FIG. 7B. In this embodiment, the adjustment is enabled by simply providing multiple brackets secured to the golf bag at varying positions. To accommodate multiple brackets, it is desired in one embodiment to provide a flute 500 that employs multiple grooves 515 which correspond to the distance between attached brackets.
Referring now to FIG. 8 there is shown a top view of a circular type golf bag illustrating another embodiment for use with a curved sidewall. As shown, the bracket 600 can be coupled along a curved surface. Again, one of more flutes may be used and can be coupled to the bag via the bracket 600.
Though the invention has been described with respect to a specific preferred embodiment, many variations and modifications will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon reading the present application. It is therefore the intention that the appended claims and their equivalents be interpreted as broadly as possible in view of the prior art to include all such variations and modifications.