Title:
GREEN READING METHOD AND APPARATUS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method and apparatus read the break in a surface and adjust aim accordingly. The method utilizes a green key ball marker comprising indicia of slope, and describes how to determine slope. The marker then allows for quantifying break and provides alignment assistance.



Inventors:
Goldsmith, Jason (Aliso Viejo, CA, US)
Application Number:
13/851507
Publication Date:
10/03/2013
Filing Date:
03/27/2013
Assignee:
GOLDSMITH JASON
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B57/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WONG, STEVEN B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP (2200 IDS CENTER 80 SOUTH 8TH ST, MINNEAPOLIS, MN, 55402, US)
Claims:
1. A golf ball marker comprising one or more lines that can be used to estimate the break of a golf ball.

2. The maker of claim 1 wherein the one or more lines correlate to surface slope.

3. The marker of claim 2 wherein the slope is between about 1° and 4°.

4. The marker of claim 1 further comprising at least two set of lines, wherein each set of lines correlates to a different surface slope.

5. The marker of claim 1 further comprising at four sets of lines, wherein each set of lines correlates to a different surface slope.

6. The marker of claim 5 wherein each set of lines is located on a different side of the marker.

7. The marker of claim 1 further comprising a set of lines comprised of at least two lines correlated to surface slope, and wherein each line represents a different amount of break on the surface.

8. The marker of claim 7 wherein each line represents the amount of break on the surface in relation to an inflection point.

9. The marker of claim 8 wherein each line is incremented from the inflection point by 30° increments.

10. The marker of claim 7 wherein at least one line is a center line representing no break.

11. The marker of claim 1 wherein the marker is calibrated for a downhill surface.

12. The marker of claim 1 wherein the marker is calibrated for an uphill surface.

13. The marker of claim 1 wherein the marker is calibrated to the speed of the surface.

14. The marker of claim 13 wherein the speed of the surface is measured by a stimp meter.

15. The marker of claim 1 wherein the lines are adapted to line up with a line on a golf ball.

16. The marker of claim 1 wherein the lines are adapted to line up with a line on a golf club.

17. The marker of claim 1 wherein the lines are adapted to line up with a line on a golf ball and a line on a golf club.

18. The marker of claim 1 wherein the marker is substantially flat.

19. The marker of claim 1 further comprising four sets of lines, wherein each set of lines correlates to a different surface slope, and at least one set of lines comprises 5 lines comprising a center 0° line, a 30° line, 330° line, 60° line, and 300° line wherein the degrees are relative to an inflection point, and the marker is calibrated to a downhill surface and to a surface speed measured by a stimp meter.

20. The marker of claim 1 further comprising four sets of lines, wherein each set of lines correlates to a different surface slope, and at least one set of lines comprises 7 lines comprising a center 0° line, a 30° line, 330° line, 60° line, 300° line, 90° line, and a 270° line wherein the degrees are relative to an inflection point, and the marker is calibrated to an uphill surface and to a surface speed measured by a stimp meter.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims priority to and incorporates by reference U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/616,637 filed on Mar. 28, 2012.

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to a method and apparatus for reading greens. In particular, the invention relates to a method and apparatus for reading greens utilizing a ball marker that includes indicia signifying a degree of slope, wherein a golfer can match the indicia on the ball marker to the actual slope conditions of a shot for the purpose of establishing the proper aim. Of course, a person of ordinary skill in the art will understand that the invention is not necessarily so limited.

2. Background of the Invention

Golf is an extremely popular sport worldwide. The popularity stems from a variety of reasons, including the difficulty of the game. Golfers of all levels enjoy the challenge of the game, which requires development of both athletic ability and mental acuity. This is no more apparent than in what is termed the short game, comprising chipping and putting.

Again, a wide variety of factors contribute to a successful short game. These include club selection, technical mechanics, gauging how hard to hit the ball (or touch), the type of surface, the geometric variability and orientation of the surface, among other factors. Each of these factors requires an understanding of the interaction between the club, the ball, and the surface which the ball contacts.

The geometric variability and orientation of the surface is one the most important factors, and one of the most difficult to understand. This factor is commonly referred to as the slope of the green, and it is critical to a short game, and especially for putting where the ball is influenced by the slope the entire time the ball is in motion. The process of evaluating the effect of slope on the ball is called reading the green.

Greens often included a wide variety contours in a single green, which can make reading the greens troublesome. This is particular a problem for long putts, making them difficult to read. While reading the green is important for long putts, given that the likelihood of making such putts is relatively small, it is actually the shorter and more makeable putts where green reading is at a premium. For example, statistics show that professional touring golfers (the best golfers in the world) make about 50% of eight-foot puts, but only make about 10% of twenty-foot putts. In addition, the vast majority of putts tend to be from distance close to the hole. By some estimates, 75% of all putts are within 15 feet of the hole or less. Thus, it makes sense to focus on improving green reading skills for shorter putts, which are more frequent and which occur in an area that tends to be more uniform in terms of slope than longer putts, and which the player has a better chance of making

Most commonly, golfers, especially amateurs, read greens without any precise way to estimate the amount that that ball is going to break. They may be able to determine which direction is going to break, but hen typically rely on a gut instinct approach based on a feel for how much the putt is going to break. In some cases, they may use this approach to estimate the amount of break in inches and then adjust their aim accordingly.

Some prior art methods have used this approach in an attempt to add precision to the process, but they suffer from a number of drawbacks. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 7,988,572 discloses a putting guide and apparatus, which creates a chart comprised of a series of concentric circles that provide the amount of break in inches based on the distance from the hole. This method requires precise knowledge of not only the distance from the hole, but also speed of the green, the slope of the green, and the angle of the putt relative to the direction of the slope. This method requires a great deal or prior knowledge about the conditions of the putt, which is difficult for the golfer to estimate thereby introducing error. Also, the method does not provide any assistance to the golfer with another very difficult problem associated with putting and chipping, namely, aim.

Knowing the amount of break is a necessary condition to making a putt, but it is not sufficient. This information can allow the golfer to establish a target, but it is of no help if the golfer does not have a reliable way to aim the putt at the target. The prior art method described above does not provide any assistance in this regard, and it has been shown that golfers, including professional tour golfers, cannot repeatable align themselves to a given target whether that is with a driver, iron, or putter.

Accordingly, a need exists for an improved apparatus and method for determining the amount of break of a golf ball rolling on a surface and for aiming the ball based thereon.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

An object of the present invention is to provide an improved apparatus and method for determining the amount of break of a golf ball rolling on a surface and for aiming the ball based thereon.

These and other objects of the present invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon reference to the following specification, drawings, and claims. To that end, the present invention comprises a method and apparatus read the break in a surface and adjust aim accordingly. The method utilizes a green key ball marker comprising indicia of slope, and describes how to determine slope. The marker then allows for quantifying break and provides alignment assistance.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is shows the 9 down green key ball marker.

FIG. 2 is shows the 9 up green key ball marker.

FIG. 3 is shows the 10 down green key ball marker.

FIG. 4 is shows the 10 up green key ball marker.

FIG. 5 is shows the 11 down green key ball marker.

FIG. 6 is shows the 11 up green key ball marker.

FIG. 7 is shows the 12 down green key ball marker.

FIG. 8 is shows the 12 up green key ball marker.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention is comprised of both a method and an apparatus for implementation of the method. The method is comprised generally of four phases, wherein each phase is comprised of several steps. The phases are: 1) preparation and prediction; 2) decision and problem solving; 3) execution; and 4) feedback.

At this point, it is advisable to discuss what is meant by slope, which may also be referred to as grade, incline, gradient, pitch, or rise. In mathematical terms slope is a calculation that represents the ratio of “rise “to” run or as a fraction of rise over run, in which run is the horizontal distance and rise is the vertical distance (negative or positive). Slope can be described as an angle of inclination to the horizontal, as a percentage (the formula 100*[rise/run]), as a per mille figure, or as a ratio of one part rise to so many parts run. Unless described differently herein, slope is referenced as a percentage between 0%-100%, where the higher number the greater the vertical inclination. A common rule of thumb for conceptualize slope is that over a 100″ run (approximately 8′), every inch of elevation change represents 1% of slope.

Typically, greens are in the range of 1-4% of slope, in fact regulations require the hole not be placed in an area of excessive slope, defined as such a slope that would prevent a ball from coming to a rest on the slope. If the slope is too large the ball will not stop, or will stop and then roll backwards, depending on the direction of movement of the ball relative to the slope. Generally, this means that the golf balls rolling on a green will encounter a slope of between 1-4%, usually between 1-3%. Larger slopes do exist, and while the ball may have to roll on such slopes, the hole should not be located on these slopes.

The preparation and prediction phase begins with a general assessment of the surface, normally a golf green. It is important to note that all greens have some slope or gradient to them, as they essentially cannot be flat. This would prevent adequate drainage, and would promote standing water that is harmful to the green as well as an obstacle to play. It is possible that some small areas of a green may be flat, usually not be design by more likely because of soil compaction or settling, this is not common and is typically to be avoided.

Thus, all greens are sloped in general. The assessment of slope is visual, and should be made in reference to certain anchor points. The anchor points are the highest and lowest elevation points in the area around the ball. Generally, the area to assess is a circle centered at the hole with a radius equal to the distance from the hole to the ball. The larger the area the easier it is to see the amount of rise, however, if the area is too large the slope may vary making the assessment more difficult. The anchor points should not only help in establishing the amount of rise, but also in establishing the direction of the slope. The direction of slope (or fall line) should run from the high point to the low point.

The next step in preparation and prediction phase is a further assessment of green shape to look for concave or convex areas in the general area between the hole and the ball. It may be necessary to locate multiple anchor points if the slope is not consistent in the relevant area. The slope may vary between a positive or negative value, or there might be areas of zero slope, for example. In this case, anchor points should be selected for each area of distinct slope, working from the hole outward.

The next step in the process is to visually locate an inflection point that is closest to the ball. The inflection points can be visualized based a circle with a radius equal to the distance from the ball to the hole, with the 12 o'clock position being the highest anchor point and the 6 o'clock position the lowest anchor point. These are the inflection points. The points where the putt would be either straight downhill (12 o'clock) or straight uphill (6 o'clock), virtually no break would be expected in either case. Break would increase as you move away from the infliction point. Estimating the location of the ball, as a point on a clock or in degrees (0-360), relative to the infliction point is necessary to understand the amount of break.

The next step is to estimate the slope. Assuming the ball is located on a relatively uniform slope, which is normally the case given that hole locations are suppose to placed in relatively uniform sections of the green. The best reference point for determining slope are the infliction points, and the best distance for estimating slope is an 8′ (100″) section because every inch of elevation change over 8′ equals 1 degree of slope.

The preparation and prediction phase is now complete and the decision and problem-solving phase begins. The first step in this phase is to confirm the information from the prior phase. This involves walking around the circle described above to confirm the location of the inflection points. Walking around a round the circle from one infliction point to the next provides visual confirmation from differing perspectives that the infliction points were correctly identified. Additionally, it allows the golfer to confirm what they are seeing with what they feel in terms of elevation change as they walk. If the inflection points were not correctly identified the prior phase should be repeated until all sources of input agree.

During this process, the position of the ball relative to the infliction points should also be confirmed. The position can be determined based on a clock position relative to the infliction point, or an angle with the highest elevation inflection point as 0°/360° and the lowest elevation inflection point as 180° (this is discussed in greater detail herein below).

Next, the ball location is marked with the green key ball marker and properly aligned, which is described herein below. After marking the ball, the line on the ball can be aligned to the green key ball marker. Most if not all golf balls include circumferential writing on a portion of the ball that can be used as alignment aid. The golfer can simply line up the line on the ball with the angle line on the maker. Also, the golfers can draw lines, or other markings, on the golf balls for the same purpose.

Furthermore, the golfer can line up any markings on the golf club with the lines on the ball, and/or on the green key ball marker. Such markings are common on putters, for example. This completes the decision and problem-solving phase.

The next phase is the execution phase, where the golfer executes the shot. Now that the golfer has established a target line, the next step is to commit to the line. In other words, the golfer needs to be convinced that they have selected the proper line, and have properly aligned themselves and the club to the line. Uncertainty can translate into unwanted and harmful adjustments during actual stroke execution. The final step in the execution phase is to complete the golfer's particular pre-shot routine, which may consist of practice strokes a final look at the hole to verify alignment and other routines that might assist the golfer in getting comfortable with the shot. Lastly, the shot is executed.

The last phase is the feedback phase. In this phase, the golfer can evaluate the results to determine what went right and wrong to enhance future performance. A first feedback step is assess whether the gofer say an afterglow or shadow image of the ball after the stroke. If the golfer is properly focused on the ball, a ghost image of the ball should remain and be visible for a brief period of time after the ball has been struck. If not, this is a sign that the player was not properly focused on the ball prior to impact.

Another feedback step is to assess whether the golfer's intention with regard to the stroke was clear. This involves assessing whether the golfer had visualized a clear path to the hole that the ball would follow, and did the ball follow the correct path. Other feedback steps include assessing the length of the putt, was it too short or too long. This will help the player determine if the ball was struck with the proper force. Generally, a golfer should strike every putt so that the ball travels about the same distance past the hole, preferably 6 to 12 inches past the hole. Putts hit slower than this will be excessively influenced by the slope at the hole where the ball is traveling at its slowest speed. Putts that travel further than this past the hole will have less chance of going in as they can roll over the edge of the hole without going in, or simply go right over the hole altogether. The golfer should analyze the path of the ball in relation to the expected path to determine if slope was properly estimated.

In the Figures is shown the green key ball marker. FIG. 1 shows a green key marker, or marker, which comprises a four-sided ball marker with varying angle indicator lines on each side of the mark. Each side of the mark includes a centerline that should be lined up directly with the hole, without regard to the where the ball is in relation to the slope. Then the player will align the shot to the angle line on the marker that best matches the estimated slope and other variables determined in accord with the process set forth herein.

As stated above, the line on the ball is then aligned to the appropriate angle line. The player takes a stance generally parallel to the appropriate angle line, and any markings on the club can as also be aligned with the appropriate angle line. The marker can be removed after the ball is aligned.

In particular, FIG. 1 shows the green key ball marker having four sets of angle lines. One set of lines on each of the four sides of the marker. Starting from the bottom of the marker and moving clockwise, each set of angle lines represents an amount of break for a slope of 1%, 2%, 3%, and 4%.

In other words, if a golfer determines they are on a 1% slope they would use the angle lines at the bottom of the marker. They would line the center line up directly at the hole and then line the ball up on the marking to the right or left or left of the center line depending on whether the putt is expected to break to the left or right respectively (if the putt breaks left you have to aim to the right and vice versa). This correlates to direction of the slope, the golfer should always use the uphill angle lines.

In all cases (except for the 1% angle lines), there are multiple angle lines on each side of the centerline on any given side of the marker. The exact angle line selected will depend on the where the putt is in relation to the fall line of the slope. Again the fall line is a line that runs directly from the high point of a slope to the low point, or the line which a ball or water would follow down the slope. Assuming a uniform slope, for purposes of illustration if the high point is the top (12 o'clock position or 0°), then the low point would be the bottom (6 o'clock or 180°). The particular angle line is selected based on where the ball is in relation to the 0° and 180° positions.

If the ball is exactly at the 0° or 180° position the putt is directly downhill or uphill respectively, and no break would be expected in either case. In this case, the golfer would set the marker so that the centerline is directly lined up with the hole, and use the centerline as the alignment line for the putt. As the ball moves away from 0° or 180° positions the ball will break more and more until the maximum break at or near the 90° or 270° positions (as discussed below this is not exactly accurate). Thus, as the position of the ball moves away from the 0° or 180° positions, the golfer uses the angle lines further away from the centerline.

In FIG. 1, if the slope is determined to be 2% the angle lines on the left side of the marker in FIG. 1 would be used. This marker is used for downhill putts (hence the “Down” on the marker). If the ball is located at 30° or 330° relative to the high point (or 0°) the angle lines closest to the centerline would be used. If the ball is located at 60° or 300° the outermost angle lines should be used. If the putt is located at 90° or 270° the marker in FIG. 2 (the “Up” marker) should be used and outermost angle lines should be used for alignment. Since a putt from 90° or 270° is neither uphill or downhill, (the putt is directly perpendicular to the slope and therefore has no elevation change), but will still break as it crosses the slope, either marker could be used; however, the present invention uses the up marker and for this reason all up markers have up to three sets of lines and all down markers only have up to two sets of angle lines. It should be noted that 1% slope is marked with one set of angle lines on either side of the center line because there is generally not enough room on the marker to place intermediate lines between the 1% line and the center line. If additional angle lines were used they would be so close to each other it becomes difficult for the golfer to select between them.

The various angle lines on the up markers are used in the same manner as described in reference to the down markers, and are aligned generally in 30° increments between until the ball is positioned directly 180° below the hole in which case the center line would be used.

The markers in the remaining Figures differ only in that they are designed for different speed of greens, based on the “stimp meter” readings. It is well known that the faster the green, the higher the stimp number, and the more the ball will break. The Figures show up/down markers for stimp values 9, 10, 11, and 12. The higher the stimp number the greater the spacing between the angle lines to represent more break. Generally, the stimp number for a golf course is known in advance and is available upon request.

As stated above, the maximum break is not necessarily expected to occur at the 90° or 270° points. This is because downhill putts tend to break more than uphill putts, for the same reason that putts break more on fast greens than on slow green. The slower the ball rolls the more time it takes to get to the hole and the more time there is for the slope to influence the ball. On a faster the surface (whether because it is downhill or a high stimp number) the more gently the ball must be struck to travel the same distance on a slower surface. Thus, the more time it takes the ball to arrive at the hole and the more it will break. For this reason, the spacing of the angle lines on the down markers is wider than on the down markers. This means the greatest break would occur slightly uphill from the 90° or 270° positions.

The exact spacing can be determined empirically, and/or through interpellation/extrapolation.

In this manner the system of the present invention substantially overcomes the limitations of the prior art. In particular, in prior systems the golfer determined the amount of break based on nothing but gut instinct, or in inches, however, this latter approach required precise knowledge of the distance from the hole since the amount of break in inches varies proportionally to the distance from the hole. The present invention eliminates these problems by only relying on slope, it does not matter how far the ball is from the hole once the slope is determined. The same angle line is used without regard to distance. Further, the prior art did not account for aim. Thus, even if the golfer could account for the amount of break in inches there was no assurance they would be able to line up properly. The present invention not only quantifies break, but provides for alignment as well.

Unless otherwise defined, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which this invention belongs. Although methods and materials similar to or equivalent to those described herein can be used in the practice or testing of the present invention, suitable methods, and materials are described below. All publications, patent applications, patents, and other references mentioned herein are incorporated by reference in their entirety to the extent allowed by applicable law and regulations. In case of conflict, the present specification, including definitions, will control.

The present invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from the spirit or essential attributes thereof, and it is therefore desired that the present embodiment be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive, reference being made to the appended claims rather than to the foregoing description to indicate the scope of the invention. Those of ordinary skill in the art that have the disclosure before them will be able to make modifications and variations therein without departing from the scope of the invention. For example, it should be clear that the method of the present invention can be used putts, chips, and other golf shots where the ball is rolling on a sloped surface for a substantial period of time, and for the same reason the invention is not necessarily limited to shots using a putter but other clubs can be included. Additionally, the angle line marking of the present invention can be adapted for use on the golf ball itself instead of, or in combination with the green key marker. In particular, golf balls are manufactured with dimples that are regularly spaced and therefore can be correlated to slope angles. The writing line on the ball can be used as the center line, and dimples immediately to the right and left of the line can be marked. Each dimple can then be correlated to the degree of slope and used as an aiming device in the manner of the green key marker.