Title:
Golf green reader
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A Golf Green Reader is disclosed. The device is available in two versions—one that is elongated, is sized similar to the length of a golf umbrella and allows the user to site the putt line while standing, and a second version that is handheld. The device includes optics to provide the user with the ability to site along a laser-pointer line and focus, zoom and obtain a wide-angle view of the cup from the ball location. The device further overlays an image that aids the user in holding the device in a level position while siting along the putt line. The image overlay includes symbology that indicates current spacial orientation of the device, the desired spacial device orientation and the direction to correct the device orientation.



Inventors:
Landry, Ken (Menifee Lakes, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/827875
Publication Date:
01/15/2009
Filing Date:
07/13/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
33/286, 356/255, 473/220
International Classes:
A63B69/36
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20070275799Hockey stick having a single, hollow primary tubeNovember, 2007Davis et al.
20080070713Golf ApparatusMarch, 2008Scarbrow et al.
20020022537Low spin golf ball comprising a metal, ceramic, or composite mantle or inner layerFebruary, 2002Nesbitt et al.
20100041492GOLF CLUB SHAFT WITH HIGH BALANCE POINT AND GOLF CLUB INCLUDING SAMEFebruary, 2010Rice et al.
20040192464Cylindrical golf clubSeptember, 2004Lee
20070066416Ball retrieving deviceMarch, 2007Trudeau
20080248902HOCKEY STICK-HANDLING DEVICEOctober, 2008Pittorf
20060116224Hockey puck collection apparatusJune, 2006Andersen
20080242414Game devices with integrated gyrators and methods for use therewithOctober, 2008Rofougaran
20070149308Grip beltJune, 2007Wang
20070249426Electronic golf scoring and match competition systemOctober, 2007Gialo



Primary Examiner:
BALDORI, JOSEPH B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Karl M. Steins (Steins & Associates Suite 120 2333 Camino del Rio South, San Diego, CA, 92108, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A device for aiding golfers, comprising: a tubular member defining an upper end and a lower end and a central bore; a viewing assembly extending from said upper end, said viewing assembly defined by a view window through which said central bore is visible; an inlet assembly extending from said lower end, said inlet assembly having an inlet aperture; and whereby said inlet assembly, said viewing assembly and said tubular member are cooperatively designed whereby a user can see through said inlet aperture via said view window.

2. The device of claim 1, wherein said inlet assembly comprises: a housing defined by an upper mouth attached to said lower end of said tubular member and a bottom face, said inlet aperture formed through said housing; and a stabilizing pin extending downwardly from said bottom face.

3. The device of claim 2, wherein said inlet assembly further comprises a reflecting member for reflecting light entering through said inlet aperture from a first axis to direct it along a second axis, said second axis being in excess of thirty degrees from said first axis.

4. The device of claim 3, wherein said inlet assembly further comprises an inlet filter, said inlet filter comprising a transparent member bonded to said housing to seal said inlet aperture.

5. The device of claim 4, wherein said inlet assembly further comprises a laser light emitter disposed on said housing.

6. The device of claim 5, wherein said viewing assembly further comprises: a housing defined by a lower mouth attached to said upper end of said tubular member; and an eye cup extending from said housing, said eye cup positioned over said view window.

7. The device of claim 6, wherein said viewing assembly further comprises a focusing ring disposed between said housing and said eye cup, whereby rotating said focusing ring adjusts the position of lenses located along a light path defined within said device.

8. The device of claim 7, wherein said viewing assembly further comprises a laser actuation pressure sensitive switch disposed on said housing for energizing said laser light emitter.

9. The device of claim 8, wherein said tubular member further comprises a level image generator located therewithin, said level image generator generating an image responsive to the spacial position of said device.

10. The device of claim 9, wherein said tubular member further comprises a beam splitter located within said central bore, said beam splitter configured to overlay an image from said level image generator with an image from said inlet assembly aperture.

11. A viewing device, comprising: a housing defined by a first end, a second end and a hand grip formed on a top surface; a viewing assembly extending from said first end, said viewing assembly defined by a view window through which a central bore is visible; an inlet assembly disposed on said second end, said inlet assembly having an inlet aperture in optical alignment with said central bore; and whereby said inlet assembly, said viewing assembly and said central bore are cooperatively designed whereby a user can see through said inlet aperture via said view window.

12. The viewing device of claim 11, wherein said inlet assembly further comprises an inlet filter, said inlet filter comprising a transparent member bonded to said housing to seal said inlet aperture.

13. The viewing device of claim 12, further comprising a laser light emitter disposed on said housing.

14. The viewing device of claim 13, wherein said viewing assembly further comprises an eye cup extending from said housing, said eye cup positioned over said view window.

15. The viewing device of claim 14, wherein said viewing assembly further comprises a focusing ring disposed between said housing and said eye cup, whereby rotating said focusing ring adjusts the position of lenses located along a light path defined within said device.

16. The device of claim 15, further comprising a laser actuation pressure sensitive switch disposed on said housing for energizing said laser light emitter.

17. The device of claim 16, wherein said housing further comprises a level image generator located therewithin, said level image generator generating an image responsive to the spacial position of said device.

18. The device of claim 17, wherein said tubular member further comprises a beam splitter located within said central bore, said beam splitter configured to overlay an image from said level image generator with an image from said inlet assembly aperture.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates generally to games and sporting equipment and, more specifically, to a Golf Green Reader.

2. Description of Related Art

Golf is one of the most popular sport in the world today. Of the different shots or skills used in golf, the “short game,” or putting is probably the hardest to master. In addition to the need to develop the skills necessary to strike the ball straight and with the correct force, there are many additional variables related to the putting green itself that add substantially difficulty to the putting game.

Putting greens, being natural surfaces, have one or more slope, each of which can change over the extent of the ball's desired path to the cup. Also, the grass on the green will have a “grain” to it (the direction of its growth) that also adds complexity. Finally, changing lighting conditions and glare from the sun can also make a successful putting experience more difficult.

Other devices have been developed that seek to address or ease these difficulties with the putting game. Logsden, U.S. Pat. No. 4,839,968 seeks to aid the golfer with his or her putting game, but it does not provide a plumb line, laser level, magnification, zoom lens, glare reduction, wide angle lens, or enable the user to sight the cup while standing up. Winslow, U.S. Pat. No. 6,146,285 also provides a putter alignment device, but also does not allow the golfer to sight the cup from a standing position, nor does it give a good indication of horizontal and vertical. Similarly, Nelson, U.S. Pat. No. 3,953,034; Dar, U.S. Pat. No. 5,672,117; Jones, U.S. Pat. No. 5,275,403; Cates, U.S. Pat. No. 4,884,813; Burch, U.S. Pat. No. 6,129,641 and Smith, U.S. Pat. No. 5,662,535 all fail to provide vertical and horizontal plumb lines, fail to allow the golfer to sight the cup from a standing position, do not provide filtration or accentuation of the incident light to improve visibility, nor give the ability to zoom in on the cup.

What is needed is a device that provides the golfer with each of these benefits, as will be discussed more fully below in connection with the Detailed Description of the Invention.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In light of the aforementioned problems associated with the prior devices and equipment, it is an object of the present invention to provide a Golf Green Reader. The device should be available in two versions—one that is elongated, is sized similar to the length of a golf umbrella and allows the user to site the putt line while standing, and a second version that is handheld. The device should have optics to provide the user with the ability to site along a laser-pointer line and focus, zoom and obtain a wide-angle view of the cup from the ball location. The device should further overlay an image that aids the user in holding the device in a level position while siting along the putt line. The image overlay should include symbology that indicates current spacial orientation of the device, the desired spacial device orientation and the direction to correct the device orientation.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The objects and features of the present invention, which are believed to be novel, are set forth with particularity in the appended claims. The present invention, both as to its organization and manner of operation, together with further objects and advantages, may best be understood by reference to the following description, taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, of which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the device of the present invention as it might be used on a conventional golf green;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the viewing assembly of the device of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the tubular member of the device of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the inlet assembly of the device of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a cutaway side view of the device of FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the overall structure of the device of FIG. 1;

FIG. 7 depicts the sighting image provided to the user by the device of FIGS. 1 and 5; and

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a handheld version of the device of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The following description is provided to enable any person skilled in the art to make and use the invention and sets forth the best modes contemplated by the inventor of carrying out his invention. Various modifications, however, will remain readily apparent to those skilled in the art, since the generic principles of the present invention have been defined herein specifically to provide a Golf Green Reader.

The purpose of the Green Reader is to save strokes by being able to better read the characteristics of a putting green. The device provides a number of characteristics that aide the golfer in arriving at the line that the putt will take from its lie to the cup.

The present invention can best be understood by initial consideration of FIG. 1. FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the device 10 of the present invention as it might be used on a conventional golf green 18. The green reader device 10 has three main parts; the viewing assembly 12 where the golfer looks to sight on the cup 20, the tubular member 14 for transmitting and conditioning the image, and the inlet assembly 16 that gives the golfer a low-level view of the cup, nearly at the surface of the grass.

In addition to other features that will be discussed below, the device 10 provides the user with a laser line 22. When activated by the golfer, the laser light creates an image that can be seen through the green reader's lenses. This gives the golfer assistance in aiming the device to the specific point on the green towards which the ball will be hit (i.e. if there is a break to the green, the ball will not be hit on a line directly towards the cup, but rather will be hit in the direction of where the ball is expected to break or begin its curve towards the cup). If we now turn to FIG. 2, we can begin to examine the device 10 in more detail.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the viewing assembly 12 of the device of FIG. 1. The viewing assembly 12 has a housing 24 defined by a lower mouth 26 at its bottom end, and an eye cup 28 at its opposing end. The lower mouth 26 is designed to interface with the tubular member that is more fully discussed below in connection with FIG. 3, and pass the light traveling along the light path 38 to the view window 30. The eye cup 28 is a soft rubberized cone that blocks out incident light while the user is peering into the view window 30. It is through the view window 30 that the golfer sights the putt being aligned.

A focus ring 32 is provided to enable the user to focus the image being viewed through the view window 30. The focus ring 30 may provide mechanical focusing of the lenses located within the viewing assembly 12, or it may alternatively adjust lenses located in the tubular member (as is more fully discussed below).

On either side of the housing (in this embodiment), buttons are provided. The zoom button 34 activates a power-actuated wide angle/zoom lens. Wide angle and zoom lenses are provided by the device in order to permit the golfer to read the grain of the grass from the ball's lie to the cup. By zooming in to the cup itself, the golfer can determine the location of the wear edge on the cup. The wear edge being one side or another of the cup that has tended to be the location that most of the balls have dropped into the cup; this gives the golfer a hint as to the direction of the break adjacent to the cup.

The other side of the housing 24 has a laser button 36. The user can activate and deactivate the previously-described laser pointer/aiming line by depressing or releasing the laser button 36. FIG. 3 provides additional detail regarding the next major component of the green reader.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the tubular member 14 of the device of FIG. 1. The tubular member 14 transmits the incident light coming from the inlet assembly (see FIG. 4) along the light path 38 and to the viewing assembly 12. The tubular member has an elongate, tubular housing 40 defined by an upper end 42 and a lower end 44. The central view bore 46 transmits the image along the light path and may contain lenses and other components important to create the imaging features discussed herein.

A level image generator 48 is contained within a protrusion located on one side of the housing 40. As will be discussed more fully below, the level image generator 48 generates an image that is superimposed on the view of the cup seen obtained by the inlet assembly (see FIG. 4). The superimposed image indicates to the user whether or not the device is being held in an upright position. An access cap 50 is provided to give the user access to the components within the level image generator 48, such as to clean or replace any of the items. FIG. 4 presents the portion of the device that obtains the image of the cup.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the inlet assembly 16 of the device of FIG. 1. The inlet assembly 16 is associated with a housing 52 that has an upper mouth 54 for interfacing with the tubular member of FIG. 3. A stabilizing pin 58 extends downwardly from a closed bottom face 56 of the housing 52. The stabilizing pin 58 is preferably shaped similar to a conventional golf tee, and terminates in a pointed tip 60. The pin 58 is pushed into the grass of the green when the device is being used; the pin 58 will then prevent the bottom end of the device from accidentally moving during the sighting process. It is preferred that the pin 58 is constructed from durable, corrosion-resistant material, such as stainless or other type of steel.

The housing 52 has an inlet aperture 62 formed in its side. The aperture 62 has an inlet filter 64, which is a plastic lens for improving the quality of the incident light. An amber lens may be provided as the filter 64 to bring out the detail of the green grass of the green and also to block the glare from the sun.

The laser sighting line discussed above is provided by a laser light 66 located such that it projects outwardly in front of the inlet aperture 62, so that it creates a laser line or dot that the user can see through the device. Now turning to FIG. 5, we can examine the internal components of the green reader.

FIG. 5 is a cutaway side view of the device 10 of FIG. 1. The device 10 provides the image transformation of a periscope, meaning that it changes the direction of the incoming light so that the user can see in a direction parallel to the ground while his or her eye is directed perpendicular (i.e. down) to that direction. This change in direction is performed by reflection at mirror 68 contained within the inlet assembly 16. The light path then passes through a beam splitter 76, which is located adjacent to the level image generator 48, within the tubular member 14. The beam splitter takes the image (of the level condition of the device 10) and superimposes it atop the image coming from the inlet assembly 16.

The level image generator 48 has a light source such as the LED light 70 shown. The light generated from this light source passes through a bubble level 72 to create an image of the status of the device's level condition. In another embodiment, a digital level indicator could be provided that will give the use an image as displayed in FIG. 7. The level image is reflected by mirror 74 to the beam splitter 76. The beam splitter 76 allows the inlet assembly image 16 to pass through it, but will redirect the image coming from the level generator so that it exits the beam splitter 76 parallel to the image from the inlet assembly 16. These two images (superimposed) are viewable by the golfer through the view window 30, which is a clear lens located within the viewing assembly 12.

In certain versions of the present invention, additional image adjustment will be desired. In such cases, other focusing lenses would be located in the focus lens region 78. The operation of these lenses could be mechanically connected to the focusing ring (see FIG. 2), or by electrical operation. This functionality includes the zoom functionality described above. The entire structure of this device is depicted in FIG. 6.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the overall structure of the device 10 of FIG. 1. The outer surface of the tubular member 14 may have an upper clip 79A extending therefrom near the top of the device 10, and a lower clip 79B extending from the bottom of the tubular member 14. These clips 79A, 79B are located to cooperate with the buckles/loops on a traditional golf bag. In this way, the device 10 can be clipped to the golf bag so that it is readily accessible. Alternatively, the device 10 can be fit into the bag along with the user's clubs, essentially in any location that the umbrella can be carried.

In its most desirable form, the length (height) of the device 77 is approximately thirty-six and one-half (36.5) inches tall. It has been determined that this provides a very suitable viewing posture for the golfer when the golfer is sighting through the device to the cup and pin (see FIG. 1). FIG. 7 depicts the image that the device presents to the user.

FIG. 7 depicts the sighting image 80 provided to the user by the device of FIGS. 1 and 5. A vertical plumb line 84 is provided to give the golfer assistance in determining the slope of the green's surface. Also, when aligned with the pin, the golfer will be able to tell whether the pin and cup are sloped, and if so, how much. The horizontal line 82, and its intersection with the vertical sight line gives the golfer additional assistance with estimating the slope and break towards the cup.

An LCD or DLP see-through imaging device may be provided to give the user real-time leveling advice. In the example depicted here, the device is out of level to the left. Because the device is not level, first and second level indicators 87A and 87B appear as shown to show which way the device is out of level. Also, first and second leveling arrows 86A and 86B prompt the user as to what direction the device must be tilted in order to achieve a level condition. Other symbology may be used to aid the user in achieving a level condition; those depicted here are only exemplary.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a handheld version 10A of the device of the present invention. Because of its small profile, and its intent to be held horizontally against the user's eye, this embodiment 10A does not bend the incident light image as does the original version 10. As can be seen, however, virtually every other feature of the aforementioned version (including the level indication) is provided here. Rather than providing lens adjustment via a focusing ring, focusing and zooming is provided via an automated lens adjustment mechanism 89. The mechanism 89 here is provided by a series of gears and motors; other versions could be included. The mechanism 89 is controlled disposed on a switch block 91; in this view, the control buttons protrude from the back-side of the housing 88. An ergonomic hand grip may also be provided on the top of the device 10A.

Those skilled in the art will appreciate that various adaptations and modifications of the just-described preferred embodiment can be configured without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention. Therefore, it is to be understood that, within the scope of the appended claims, the invention may be practiced other than as specifically described herein.