Title:
ALIGNMENT DEVICE FOR GOLFERS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A golf alignment device includes an emitter assembly having an emitter portion for emitting radiant energy and at least one lens portion for projecting the radiant energy onto a surface with a predetermined pattern. The predetermined pattern includes an illuminated golf ball alignment mark, an illuminated first foot alignment mark and an illuminated second foot alignment mark for indicating placement of the golfer's feet with respect to the golf ball. A fourth alignment mark intersects the golf ball and is in alignment with a distant target. Different lens portions may be provided with different projection patterns for use with different golf clubs and/or golfer's of different heights.



Inventors:
Ross Jr., Herbert G. (Argyle, TX, US)
Wirthlin, Alvin R. (Spanish Fork, UT, US)
Application Number:
11/948517
Publication Date:
06/04/2009
Filing Date:
11/30/2007
Assignee:
OPTI SENSOR SYSTEMS, LLC (Lancaster, VA, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
473/218, 473/220, 473/409
International Classes:
A63B69/36
View Patent Images:
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20070155529QUICK DISCONNECT SYSTEM FOR COUPLING A GOLF CLUB HEAD WITH A GOLF CLUB SHAFTJuly, 2007Voges
20090305816MULTILAYER GOLF BALLDecember, 2009Morgan et al.
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20040166967HoopballAugust, 2004Liberfarb
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20040259666Weighted training tapeDecember, 2004Bjugstad et al.



Primary Examiner:
LEGESSE, NINI F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Alvin R. Wirthlin (1515 Redeemer Road, Allen, TX, 75002, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A golf alignment device comprising: an emitter assembly having an emitter portion for emitting radiant energy and at least one lens portion for projecting the radiant energy onto a surface with a predetermined pattern, the predetermined pattern including an illuminated golf ball alignment mark, an illuminated first foot alignment mark and an illuminated second foot alignment mark for indicating placement of a golfer's feet with respect to the golf ball.

2. A golf alignment device according to claim 1, wherein the predetermined pattern further comprises a target alignment mark that intersects the golf ball alignment mark for aligning the golf ball with a distant target.

3. A golf alignment device according to claim 2, wherein the target alignment mark comprises a straight line.

4. A golf alignment device according to claim 3, wherein the first and second foot alignment marks are spaced first and second predetermined distances, respectively, from the target alignment mark.

5. A golf alignment device according to claim 4, wherein the first and second distances are substantially equal.

6. A golf alignment device according to claim 4, wherein the first and second distances are different.

7. A golf alignment device according to claim 4, wherein the first and second foot alignment marks are spaced third and fourth predetermined distances, respectively, from an imaginary centerline that intersects the golf ball alignment mark and is perpendicular to the target alignment mark.

8. A golf alignment device according to claim 7, wherein the third and fourth predetermined distances are substantially equal.

9. A golf alignment device according to claim 7, wherein the third and fourth predetermined distances are different.

10. A golf alignment device according to claim 7, wherein said at least one lens portion comprises a plurality of lens portions, each lens portion having a pattern with at least one of the first, second, third and fourth distances being different from at least one of the corresponding distances of the other lens portions.

11. A golf alignment device according to claim 1, wherein said at least one lens portion comprises a plurality of lens portions, each lens portion having a different distance between the first and second foot alignment marks.

12. A golf alignment device according to claim 1, and further comprising a mounting base connected to the emitter assembly for attaching the alignment device to the golfer.

13. A golf alignment device according to claim 12, and further comprising a swivel connector located between the mounting base and the emitter assembly for adjusting a position of the emitter assembly with respect to the mounting base.

14. A golf alignment device according to claim 13, wherein the mounting base comprises at least one resilient clip for attaching the alignment device to a cap of a golfer.

15. A method of aligning a golfer with a golf ball, the method comprising: projecting a first illuminated alignment mark toward a first position representative of a golf ball location; projecting second and third illuminated alignment marks at second and third positions, respectively; and aligning the golfer's feet with the second and third illuminated alignment marks.

16. A method according to claim 15, and further comprising projecting a fourth illuminated alignment mark between the first position and a distant target.

17. A method according to claim 16, wherein a distance between the second and third positions is dependent on a particular golf club to be used.

18. A method according to claim 15, wherein distances between the first, second and third positions are dependent on a particular golf club to be used.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to golfing equipment, and more particularly to a device to improve the golfer's stance and aim for driving a golf ball toward a designated target.

In order to excel at the game of golf, many basic techniques must be mastered, such as proper grip, posture, stance, alignment and ball position relative to the golfer. There are many schools of thought with regard to ball position for a golfer. For example, golf students are sometimes taught to play every shot from the center of their stance, regardless of the club being used. Other instructors may teach the students to play every shot approximately 1 to 2 inches off their left heel (for right handed golfers). Other instructors may advise their students to move the ball placement from the center of the stance towards the left heel as club length increases. Unless the student is standing in front of a mirror or working directly with the instructor, it is often difficult for a student to determine whether the ball is properly positioned and aligned relative to his or her feet.

Various training devices, systems and methods have been developed for the game of golf in an effort to improve one's skill level. Some systems focus on proper ball position in relation to a player's stance. Such systems may include a mat with a first set of markings and/or lines thereon for aligning a player's feet, which correspond with a second set of markings for aligning a golf ball. Other devices provide a T-shaped or cross-shaped device with a first measuring stick for aligning a player's foot and a second perpendicular stick for aligning the ball. Yet other devices may include an elongated aiming rod that is secured to the shoe of the player. Such mats, measuring sticks and aiming rods are relatively bulky and often difficult to set up and transport. In addition, many are impractical for use on a golf course.

Other training devices provide a laser that may be attached to the player so that the laser beam is directed to a point on the ground in front of the golfer's feet. Some of these devices may be clipped to the hat of the golfer so that the laser beam can be pointed at the ball or a reference point on the ground. Such devices attempt to aid the golfer in keeping his or her head down throughout the swing by providing the golfer a reference point on which to focus during the swing, but typically fail to provide a reference line for aligning the target and fail to help a golfer achieve or maintain proper stance or foot position with respect to the ball and particular golf club being used.

It would therefore be desirable to provide an alignment for golfers that overcomes at least some of the disadvantages of the prior art.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to one aspect of the invention, a golf alignment device includes an emitter assembly having an emitter portion for emitting radiant energy and at least one lens portion for projecting the radiant energy onto a surface with a predetermined pattern. The predetermined pattern includes an illuminated golf ball alignment mark, an illuminated first foot alignment mark and an illuminated second foot alignment mark for indicating placement of the golfer's feet with respect to the golf ball.

According to a further aspect of the invention, a method of aligning a golfer with a golf ball includes projecting a first illuminated alignment mark toward a first position representative of a golf ball location; projecting second and third illuminated alignment marks at second and third positions, respectively; and aligning the golfer's feet with the second and third illuminated alignment marks.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing summary as well as the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments of the present invention will be best understood when considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein like designations denote like elements throughout the drawings, and wherein:

FIG. 1 illustrates an alignment device installed on the head of a golfer with a predefined illuminated alignment pattern projected towards the ground for aligning a user's body with respect to a golf ball and distant target;

FIG. 2 is an isometric view of the alignment device of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a side elevational view of the alignment device;

FIG. 4 is an isometric exploded view of the alignment device;

FIG. 5 is an isometric view of an alignment device in kit form;

FIG. 6 is a diagrammatic view of an illuminated alignment pattern for use with a putter;

FIG. 7 is a diagrammatic view of an illuminated alignment pattern for use with a wedge;

FIG. 8 is a diagrammatic view of an illuminated alignment pattern for use with a 5-iron; and

FIG. 9 is a diagrammatic view of an illuminated alignment pattern for use with a driver.

It is noted that the drawings are intended to depict only typical embodiments of the invention and therefore should not be considered as limiting the scope thereof. It is further noted that the drawings are not necessarily to scale. The invention will now be described in greater detail with reference to the accompanying drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring now to the drawings, and to FIGS. 1-4 in particular, an alignment device 10 for golfers in accordance with the present invention is illustrated. The alignment device 10 can be adapted for use with one or more golf clubs 12 such as woods, hybrid woods, irons, wedges, putters and the like, and is intended to improve a user's stance and subsequent swing by aligning the golfer's feet with respect to the golf ball while taking into consideration the type of club being used, the golfer's height, and the direction to the distant target. The alignment device 10, as shown in FIG. 1, is preferably attached to the bill or brim 14 of a cap 16 for projecting an illuminated alignment pattern which preferably includes an illuminated golf ball alignment mark 18 that surrounds a golf ball 20, an illuminated target alignment mark 22 that intersects with the first mark and the golf ball for aligning the golf ball with a distant target such as a hole 24, an illuminated first foot alignment mark 26 and an illuminated second foot alignment mark 28 that indicate proper placement of the feet 30 and 32, respectively, of a user 34 a predetermined first distance 36 from the golf ball 20 and predetermined second and third distances 38, 40 from an imaginary centerline 42 that extends through the golf ball and is perpendicular to the target alignment mark 22, as will be described in greater detail below. Although it is preferable to connect the alignment device 10 to the cap 16, it will be understood that the alignment device can be connected to other types of hats and/or other articles of clothing 44 or 46 for example, and/or directly to the user 34.

With particular reference to FIGS. 2-4, the alignment device 10 preferably includes a mounting base 48 for attachment to a hat or other article of clothing, a swivel connector 50 pivotally connected to the mounting base 48 for pivoting with respect to the base about three mutually perpendicular axes, and an emitter assembly 52 removably connected to the swivel connector 50. The emitter assembly 52 preferably projects or emits radiant energy in the visible range of the electromagnetic spectrum to form the alignment marks 18, 22, 26 and 28.

The mounting base 48 preferably includes a platform 54 and a pair of spring clips 56 connected to a forward end 58 of the platform. A semispherical socket 60 is formed in the platform 54 for receiving the swivel connector 50, and a threaded bore 62 extends between a side 64 of the platform 54 and the opening 60 for receiving a set screw 66 to thereby adjust and set the swivel connector 50 to a desired position.

Each spring clip 56 preferably includes a straight portion 68 that is mounted in an opening 70 formed in a front surface 72 of the platform 54, a curved portion 74 extending from the straight portion 68, a first slanted portion 76 extending upwardly and rearwardly from the curved portion 74, and a second slanted portion 78 extending downwardly and rearwardly from the first slanted portion 76. With this arrangement, a gap 80 (FIG. 3) is formed between the platform 54 and the second slanted portion 78 for receiving the brim of a hat or the like or some other article in a direction as represented by arrow 82. The resilient nature of the spring clips 56 ensure that the article to which the mounting base 48 is connected is firmly held between the spring clips 56 and the platform 54. Although two separate spring clips are shown, it will be understood that a single, continuous clip may be used. In addition, it will be understood that the mounting base 48 may be connected to the hat or other article through well known attachment means such as, but not limited to, hook and loop fasteners, adhesives, sewing, clamping, threaded fasteners, and so on.

The swivel connector 50 preferably includes a ball 84 located within the socket 60, a shaft 86 extending upwardly from the ball, and a C-shaped sleeve 88 connected to an upper end of the shaft. The sleeve 88 is adapted to frictionally engage and hold the emitter assembly 52 during use. If desired, the emitter assembly 52 can be removed from the swivel connector 50 during non-use or when it is desired to use the emitter assembly for other purposes. It will be understood that the swivel connector 50 can be eliminated and the emitter assembly 52 can be directly connected to the mounting base 48 and/or the hat or other article through well-known connection means.

The emitter assembly 52 preferably includes an emitter portion 90 that is received in the sleeve 88 and at least one lens portion 92 that connects to the emitter portion 90. Preferably, the emitter portion 90 includes a laser diode with associated electronics and a replaceable or rechargeable power source (not shown) in a well-known manner to emit a highly concentrated beam of visible light that is directed toward the lens portion 92. A removable cap 93 is provided at a rear end of the emitter assembly 52 for installing and replacing the power source, which is preferably in the form of one or more batteries. Although not shown, a manually actuable switch and a tilt switch can be provided for energizing the laser beam when needed and automatically turning off the emitter when the user's head is tilted upward a predetermined amount to avoid potentially shining the laser beam towards bystanders. It will be understood that other light sources may be used, such as high intensity light emitting diodes, incandescent bulbs, and so on.

A reduced diameter annular extension 94 is provided at a forward end of the emitter portion 90 for receiving the lens portion 92. Preferably, the lens portion 92 and extension 94 have cooperating threads (only threads 96 shown on the extension) for removably mounting the lens portion to the emitter portion. However, it will be understood that the lens portion may alternatively be removably connected to the emitter portion through any well-known temporary connection means such as friction, cooperating grooves and projections, magnets, hook and loop fasteners, and so on.

With additional reference to FIGS. 1 and 5, the lens portion 92 is preferably formed so that the illuminated golf ball alignment mark 18 (shown here as a circular pattern) surrounds the golf ball 20, the illuminated target alignment mark 22 intersects the mark 18 and the golf ball 20, and the illuminated first foot alignment mark 26 and second foot alignment mark 28 project toward a user's feet as previously described. The construction of the lens portion itself to produce various patterns is well known and therefore will not be further described.

During operation, the alignment device 10 is preferably installed on the bill 14 of a hat 16 as previously described. When used for the first time, the golfer's head is lowered to the proper aiming position and the swivel connector 50 is adjusted so that the golf ball alignment mark 18 is coincident with the golf ball 20 and the proper distances between the golf ball and the golfer's feet are obtained. The set screw 66 can then be tightened to lock the emitter assembly 52 with respect to the mounting base 48. During subsequent use, the golfer's head is tilted toward the aiming position until the first illuminated mark 18 is aligned with the golf ball 20. The user may then rotate his or her head toward the target 24 (depending on the distance to the target) to ensure that the second illuminated mark 22 aligns with both the golf ball and the target. If the mark 22 does not intersect or at least appear to intersect with the target 24, the user repositions his or her body so that the mark 22 is in alignment with both the target 24 and the golf ball 20. This ensures that the user will always face a direction that is substantially perpendicular to the mark 22. The user then positions his or her feet 30 and 32 in alignment with the illuminated marks 26 and 28, respectively, so that a proper stance is achieved. Depending on the height of the user as well as the length of the user's arms, legs and the particular golf club being used, the alignment marks 26 and 28 may greatly vary in distance from the imaginary centerline 42 as well as the second illuminated mark 22. To that end, and as shown in FIG. 5, a kit 98 comprising the mounting base 48, swivel connector 50, emitter module 90 and a number of different lens portions 92, 92A, 92B, 92C, 92D, 92E and so on, is preferably provided. Each lens portion 92-92E is preferably constructed to project a different pattern based on the type of golf club used so that the golfer can achieve the proper stance for each individual golf club. Although six lens portions are shown, it will be understood that more or less lens portions may be provided. If desired, the kit 98 may also include a box or container 100 with a foam insert 102 for storing and transporting the alignment device 10 when not in use. A lid (not shown) may also be included for installing over the container 100 in order to cover the various components.

Referring now to FIGS. 6-9, when a golf club such as a putter is used as shown in FIG. 6, the first and second distances 38, 40 between the illuminated marks 28 and the imaginary centerline 42 are preferably equal. Likewise, the third and fourth distances 36, 37 between the illuminated mark 22 and the illuminated marks 26, 28 are preferably equal. By way of example, for a golfer having a height in the range of about 5.5 to 6 feet, the distances 36, 37 may be approximately 5 inches while the distances 38, 40 may be approximately 5.5 inches when using a putter of appropriate length. Accordingly, the golfer is directed to place the feet apart by approximately 11 inches. Likewise, as shown in FIG. 7, when a wedge of appropriate length is used for the same person, each distance 38, 40 may be approximately 9 inches so that the feet are spaced from each other about 18 inches. For a 5-iron as shown in FIG. 8, the distance 38 may be different from the distance 40. Using the previous example, the distance 38 may be approximately 14 inches while the distance 40 may be approximately 8 inches. For a driver as shown in FIG. 9, the distance 38 may be approximately 22 inches while the distance 40 may be approximately 4 inches. In each of the above examples, it will be understood that any of the distances may be equal or unequal and that they may greatly vary depending on several factors including the height of the golfer, the golfer's reach, particular stance, the length and type of golf club being used, and so on. It will be further understood that the illuminated marks may have any shape including, but not limited to, lines, circles, arcs, squares, rectangles or other multi-sided shapes, as well as any combinations thereof.

In accordance with a further embodiment of the invention, each lens portion of the kit 98 may include more than one set of foot alignment marks 26, 28 for accommodating more than one type of golf club on a single lens portion. Other lens portions may then be used for golfers of different heights. By way of example, one lens portion may accommodate a plurality of different golf clubs for a golfer having a height in the range of about 4.5-5.0 ft, a second lens portion may accommodate a plurality of different golf clubs for a golfer having a height in the range of about 5.0-5.5 ft., and so on.

With the above-described arrangement, it is self-evident that the golfer is able to consistently and accurately position himself or herself in a proper stance with respect to the golf ball and the distant target for different types of golf clubs and body sizes without the aid of prior art clumsy or bulky devices that would be difficult or impractical to implement on a golf course or other area.

It will be understood that the term “preferably” as used throughout the specification refers to one or more exemplary embodiments of the invention and therefore is not to be interpreted in any limiting sense. In addition, terms of orientation and/or position as may be used throughout the specification denote relative, rather than absolute orientations and/or positions.

It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that changes could be made to the embodiments described above without departing from the broad inventive concept thereof. It will be understood, therefore, that the present invention is not limited to the particular embodiments disclosed, but also covers modifications within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.