Title:
Variable lie golf practice station apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A golf practice station, comprising a platform having a plurality of sockets, and a plurality of supports, each of the supports having a ball adapted to be received within the sockets, each of the supports being adapted for being replaced with another support of a different size. The invention further includes a method for adjusting the slope of a variable lie practice station. The method comprises the steps of removing a predetermined number of medium length supports from the peripheral sockets, and replacing the removed medium supports with a predetermined number of short supports and/or long supports to form a desired orientation and slope.



Inventors:
Leonard, Paul J. (Stillwater, MN, US)
Mathena, Sheldon D. (Cottage Grove, MN, US)
Application Number:
09/759793
Publication Date:
11/22/2001
Filing Date:
01/12/2001
Assignee:
LEONARD PAUL J.
MATHENA SHELDON D.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B57/00; A63B67/02; A63B69/36; (IPC1-7): A63B69/36
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HUNTER, ALVIN A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
JOEL D. SKINNER, JR. (HUDSON, WI, US)
Claims:

The invention claimed is:



1. A golf practice station, comprising: (a) a platform having a top surface, a bottom surface and a plurality of sockets disposed on said bottom surface; and (b) a plurality of supports, each of said supports being adapted to be removably received within one said socket, each of said supports having a predetermined length.

2. The golf practice station of claim 1, wherein said platform has a flat plate configuration.

3. The golf practice station of claim 1, wherein further comprising bracing connected to said bottom surface of said platform.

4. The golf practice station of claim 3, wherein said bracing is connected to said sockets.

5. The golf practice station of claim 1 further comprising a hitting mat disposed on said top surface of said platform.

6. The golf practice station of claim 1, wherein said sockets are cylindrical, have a predetermined length, and have an open bottom of a predetermined diameter.

7. The golf practice station of claim 1, wherein said plurality of sockets includes a center socket attached at a center point of said bottom of said platform, and four peripheral sockets, each peripheral socket being attached proximate one of four corners of said bottom of said platform.

8. The golf practice station of claim 1, wherein said supports each have an upper end which has a rounded, ball configuration of a predetermined diameter, which upper ends are mateable with said platform sockets.

9. The golf practice station of claim 8, wherein each of the supports further comprises a rectilinear rivet having said upper end and a lower end, and a base plate of a predetermined area attached to said lower end.

10. The golf practice station of claim 9, wherein said ball is formed by a rounded upper end of said rivet.

11. The golf practice station of claim 1, wherein said supports comprise a set of supports constructed of varying lengths, each of said supports being adapted for being replaced with another support of a different length.

12. The golf practice station of claim 11, wherein said support set includes at two short supports, five medium supports and two long supports, said medium and long supports including an extension extending between and attached to a bottom base plate and a top rivet, said rivet having a top ball configuration.

13. The golf practice station of claim 12, wherein coupling of said supports to said platform sockets is variable to provide platform orientations for a golfer standing on said platform and addressing a golf ball lying on said platform consisting of flat, uphill, downhill, sidehill ball above feet, sidehill ball below feet, uphill-sidehill ball above feet, uphill-sidehill ball below feet, downhill-sidehill ball above feet, and downhill-sidehill ball below feet lie orientations.

14. The golf practice station of claim 12, wherein coupling of said supports to said platform sockets is variable to provide a plurality of slopes for sloped platform orientations.

15. A portable, adjustable, indoor/outdoor, variable lie golf practice station, comprising: (a) a platform having a top surface, a bottom surface and a plurality of sockets disposed on said bottom surface, said platform having a flat plate-like configuration with a predetermined surface area and further having a hitting mat disposed on said top surface and bracing disposed on said bottom surface; said sockets being cylindrical with an open bottom end of a predetermined diameter and a predetermined length, said sockets being disposed at a center point of said platform and proximate each of four comers of said platform; and (b) a plurality of supports, each of said supports being adapted to be removably received within one said socket, each of said supports having a predetermined length with an upper end and a bottom end, said upper end having a rounded ball configuration with a predetermined diameter for mating with said sockets of said platform, said bottom end having a base plate for contact with ground, wherein said supports comprise a set of supports constructed of at least three varying lengths, each of said supports being adapted for being replaced with another support of a different length, whereby coupling of said supports to said sockets are variable to provide platform orientations for a golfer standing on said platform and addressing a golf ball lying on said platform consisting of flat, uphill, downhill, sidehill ball above feet, sidehill ball below feet, uphill-sidehill ball above feet, uphill-sidehill ball below feet, downhill-sidehill ball above feet, and downhill-sidehill ball below feet, and whereby variable to provide variable sloped platform orientations.

16. A method of adjusting the slope of a variable lie practice station including a platform having a top surface, a bottom surface and a plurality of sockets disposed on said bottom surface; and a plurality of supports, each of said supports being adapted to be removably received within one said socket, each of said supports having a predetermined length, comprising the steps of: (a) removing a predetermined number of supports from said peripheral sockets; and (b) replacing said removed supports with said predetermined number of supports of at least one different length to form a desired slope for said platform.

17. The golf practice station of claim 16, wherein said supports comprise a set of supports constructed of varying lengths, each of said supports being adapted for being replaced with another support of a different length, said supports including a bottom base plate and a top rivet, said rivet having a top ball configuration for mating with said platform sockets.

18. The golf practice station of claim 17, wherein said support set includes two short supports, four medium supports and two long supports.

19. The golf practice station of claim 18, wherein coupling of said supports to said platform sockets is variable to provide platform orientations for a golfer standing on said platform and addressing a golf ball lying on said platform consisting of flat, uphill, downhill, sidehill ball above feet, sidehill ball below feet, uphill-sidehill ball above feet, uphill-sidehill ball below feet, downhill-sidehill ball above feet, and downhill-sidehill ball below feet lie orientations.

20. The golf practice station of claim 19, wherein coupling of said supports to said platform sockets is variable to provide a plurality of slope angles for sloped platform orientations.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates, generally, to sporting equipment and more particularly to stations or surfaces for practicing golf shots. The invention has particular utility as a variable lie golf practice station for practicing golf shots from flat and sloped lies.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

[0002] Golf fairways and other parts of a golf course produce both flat and sloped lies. Sloped lies include an uphill or downhill lie, a side hill lie in which the ball is either above or below the player's feet, and a combination of the lies, i.e. uphill below-the-feet, uphill above-the-feet, downhill below-the feet and downhill above-the-feet. These various lies affect the player's balance and the golf ball trajectory, and are accommodated by adjusting the player's stance, alignment, stroke and/or club selection. Therefore, it is desirable for a player to be instructed about and practice these realistic shots, particularly full-swing fairway wood and iron shots, within a practice area without having to hit off of an actual fairway.

[0003] The state of the art includes various golf practice devices and methods adapted for producing a variable lie. Wedge boards are used to temporarily raise the edge of a mat and powered electrical-mechanical and electrical-hydraulic devices are used to automatically vary the slope of the hitting area of the practice mat.

[0004] These devices are believed to have significant limitations and shortcomings. The wedge boards are relatively labor-intensive and may damage the hitting mat during installation. The electrical-mechanical and electrical-hydraulic platform devices are complicated and expensive to design, manufacture, sell and maintain. These devices are often dug into pits and require weather protection and safety guards. Therefore, these powered devices may be too expensive or cumbersome for golf courses, practice ranges, instructional schools, or other commercial uses.

[0005] The present invention provides variable lie golf practice station which is believed to constitute an improvement over the known art.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0006] The present invention provides a variable lie golf practice station which is useable indoors or outdoors, is portable, and is adjustable. The station generally comprises a platform upon which a hitting mat is placed and a plurality of movable supports, including a center and a plurality of peripheral supports. The platform has a generally square shape and is generally balanced on the center support. There are preferably four corner supports, i.e. the peripheral supports, spaced about the periphery of the platform. These peripheral supports include a left-front support, a right-front support, a left-rear support, and a right-rear support. All of these supports are easily removable from the platform, and are received by the platform in such a manner as to form a stable base upon which a golfer may stand and maintain balance during a full swing. A level lie is provided if all of the peripheral supports and the center support are of equal or near-equal length, i.e. medium length. A downhill, an uphill, or an above-the-feet or below-the-feet side hill lie is provided if two adjacent peripheral supports are of an equal short length, the center support is of a medium length, and the remaining two peripheral supports are of an equal long length. A downhill lie is provided if the two adjacent short supports are the front supports, an uphill lie is provided if the two adjacent short supports are the rear supports, and a side hill lie is provided if the two adjacent short supports are either the left or the right supports. A combination lie is provided by using two medium length peripheral supports and a medium length center support diagonally across the platform. The other two peripheral supports include one short and one long support. Therefore, the golfer can adjustably create realistic fairway shots, including downhill below-the-feet lies, downhill above-the-feet lies, uphill below-the-feet lies and uphill above-the-feet lies.

[0007] The golf practice station comprises a platform, a mat placed on top of the platform, tees, and a set of variably sized supports designed to produce a flat lie and a sloped lie of a predetermined pitch or slope angle. The supports preferably include five medium supports, two long supports and two short supports. One of the medium supports is the center support. The other eight supports are interchangeable as the peripheral supports to create the desired flat or sloped lie. The ratio between the length of the long and short supports determines the slope of the practice station. The short supports and the long supports may come in a variety of lengths to provide a number of available slopes. Therefore, using these nine supports, a golf practice station may have a level lie or have a predetermined slope in any of eight directions. Additional supports may be provided that have a different ratio between the length of long supports and short supports to provide other realistic slopes.

[0008] The top of the supports and the bottom of the platform preferably have a ball and socket relationship. The platform easily rotates on the center support and becomes very stable when the peripheral supports are installed. The sockets are attached to the bottom of the platform. The supports generally include a base plate and an attached rivet with a rounded head to form a ball portion that may be received by the socket. The shank of the rivet is welded directly to the base plate for the short supports. An extension, such as a support pipe, may be welded between the rivet shank and the base plate to create long and medium supports.

[0009] The golf practice station further includes a raised stand for holding a supply of golf balls off of the ground and a sand box, sized abut 60′ by 4′, for simulating bunker shots.

[0010] The variable lie golf practice station of the present invention is an economical, durable, easily operated and weather-proof station ideally suited for commercial applications in driving ranges, golf courses and instructional schools.

[0011] The features, benefits and objects of this invention will become clear to those skilled in the art by reference to the following description, claims, and drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING

[0012] FIG. 1 is a bottom view of a platform for the golf practice station of the present invention.

[0013] FIG. 2 is a side view of the platform of FIG. 1.

[0014] FIG. 3 is a side view, in cross section, of a portion of an alternative embodiment of the platform on a short support.

[0015] FIG. 4 is an illustration of the construction of medium and long supports.

[0016] FIG. 5 is a side view of the golf practice station of FIG. 3 wherein the short, medium and long supports are sized to provide the platform with a 7:1 slope, up hill or downhill.

[0017] FIG. 6 is a side view of the golf practice station wherein the short, medium and long supports are sized to provide the platform with a 8:1 slope.

[0018] FIG. 7 is a side view of the golf practice station wherein the short, medium and long supports are sized to provide the platform with a 9:1 slope.

[0019] FIG. 8 is a side view of the golf practice station wherein the short, medium and long supports are sized to provide the platform with a 10:1 slope.

[0020] FIG. 9 is a side view of the golf practice station wherein the short, medium and long supports are sized to provide the platform with a 11:1 slope.

[0021] FIG. 10 is a side view of the golf practice station wherein the short, medium and long supports are sized to provide the platform with a 12:1 slope.

[0022] FIG. 11 is a side view of the golf practice station of FIG. 3 changed to a level lie by substituting medium supports for the long and short supports.

[0023] FIG. 12 is a top view of the platform illustrating the eight available slope directions.

[0024] FIG. 13 is a view from the back of an embodiment of the golf practice station located outdoors and oriented with a golfer addressing a ball with a down hill lie.

[0025] FIG. 14 is a perspective view from the right side of the station oriented with an uphill, ball above the feet lie.

[0026] FIG. 15 is a back view of the station with a hazard box attached.

[0027] FIG. 16 is a side view of the station with the hazards box detached.

[0028] FIG. 17 is a perspective view of sand in the hazard box.

[0029] FIG. 18 is a perspective view of water in the hazard box.

[0030] FIG. 19 is a perspective view of bad lie conditions in the hazard box.

[0031] FIG. 20 is a front view of the ball basket stand.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0032] Referring to FIGS. 1-20, an exemplary embodiment of the present invention are illustrated and is generally indicated by the reference number 10.

[0033] The variable lie golf practice station 10 generally comprises a platform 12 upon which a hitting mat 13 is placed and a plurality of movable supports 14, including a center support 14a and a plurality of peripheral supports 14b. The platform 12 preferably has a generally square shape and is generally balanced on the center support 14a. There are preferably four corner supports, i.e. the peripheral supports 14b, spaced about the periphery of the platform 12. These peripheral supports 14b include a left-front support, a right-front support, a left-rear support, and a right-rear support. All of these supports 14 are easily received by and removed from the platform 12. Referring particularly to FIGS. 5-11, 13 and 14, the platform 12 and supports 14 together form a stable station upon which a golfer may stand and maintain balance during a full swing. A level lie is provided if all of the peripheral supports 14b and the center support 14a are of equal or near-equal length, preferably “medium” length. A downhill, an uphill, or an above-the-feet or below-the-feet side hill lie is provided if two adjacent peripheral supports 14b are of an equal short length, the center support 14a is of a medium length, and the remaining two peripheral supports 14b are of an equal long length. A downhill lie is provided if the two adjacent short supports 14b are the front supports, an uphill lie is provided if the two adjacent short supports 14b are the rear supports, and a side hill lie is provided if the two adjacent short supports 14b are either the left or the right supports. A combination lie is provided by using two medium length peripheral supports 14b and a medium length center support 14a diagonally across the platform 12. The other two peripheral supports 14b include one short and one long support. Therefore, a golfer 19 can create realistic fairway shots, including downhill below-the-feet lies, downhill above-the-feet lies, uphill below-the-feet lies and uphill above-the-feet lies.

[0034] The golf practice station 10 typically comprises a platform 12, a mat 13 placed on top of the platform 12, tees 15, and supports 14 (preferably nine (9)) designed to produce a flat lie and a sloped lie of a predetermined pitch or slope angle. The nine supports include five medium supports 16, two long supports 18 and two short supports 20. One of the medium supports 16 is the center support 14a. Preferably, the center medium support is dedicated, and is approximately ⅛ inch less in length than the remaining medium posts to permit slight flexing of the middle of the platform due to the weight of the user. The other eight supports are interchangeable as the peripheral supports 14b to create the desired flat or sloped lie. The ratio between the length of the long 18 and short supports 20 determines the slope of the practice station 10. The short supports 20 and the long supports 18 may come in a variety of lengths to provide a number of available slopes. Alternatively, a single sized adjustable length support, not shown, may be used. Using the preferred nine supports, a golf practice station 10 may have a level lie or have a predetermined slope in any of eight directions, as illustrated in FIG. 12. As illustrated in Table 1, additional supports 14 (of the type with the rivet embedded completely within the pipe) with a different ratio between short and long lengths may be provided to provide other realistic slopes. 1

TABLE 1
TRU LINKS ™ VARIABLE LIE PRACTICE STATION
Support Base Construction Specifications
Short BaseMedium BaseLong Base
UnitSlopeRivet Only1½″ Pipe1½″ Pipe
DesignationAngleLengthRequired #LengthRequired #LengthRequired #
 7:111°1{fraction (3/16)}″24¼″5 8⅞″2
 8:113°1⅜″25¼″510⅝″2
 9:115°1{fraction (9/16)}″26¼″511{fraction (7/16)}″2
10:117°1⅝″27¼″514¼′2
11:119°2″28¼″516{fraction (1/16)}″2
12:121°2{fraction (3/16)}″21¼″517¾″2
Note:
All supports centered on 6″ Base Plates.
Medium and long bases have a rivet welded to the top of the base pipe.

[0035] The top of the supports 14 and the bottom of the platform 12 preferably have a ball and socket relationship to provide an easily rotatable platform 12 on the center support 14a that becomes very stable when the peripheral supports 14b are installed.

[0036] As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the platform or standing plate 12 is preferably constructed as 60″×60″×¼″ aluminum plate 5052 alloy which is strong and lightweight, but which is also particularly resistant to corrosion from water and salt. Alternatively, as shown in FIGS. 3-11, it may be constructed of steel or another rigid material. Apertures 45 may be added to permit screw securement of a turf mat. Drain holes may also be added to permit easy drainage of water. The sockets 22 are attached to the bottom of the platform 12 and are preferably 2 inch inside diameter aluminum pipe 5042 schedule 80. Alternatively, referring again to FIGS. 3-11, a 1½″ length of 2½″ OD×2″ID×¼″ wall pipe may be used. the material is welded to the platform 12. Referring back to FIGS. 1 and 2, braces 40 are preferably used. The braces are preferably ¼×1½ inch aluminum flat bar, 5052 alloy, which is stitch welded to the plate 12 between the sockets.

[0037] The supports 14 generally include a base plate 24, illustrated as a 6″×6″¼″ plate, and a rivet 26, preferably steel, with a rounded head 28 to form a ball portion that may be received by the socket 22. The shank 30 of the rivet 26 is preferably centered and welded directly to the base plate 24 for the short supports 20. An extension 32, such as a 1½″ OD steel or 1″ aluminum support pipe, may be welded to the rivet shank 30 and the base plate 24 to create medium 16 and long 18 supports. The rivet may be raised slightly out of the support pipe to permit a lower diameter (relative to the pipe OD) shank “neck” (See FIG. 3, for example) to provide extra tolerance with respect to the sockets, or the rivet shank may be completely embedded into the pipe. The base plate is preferably 6×6×¼ inches in dimension.

[0038] Referring to FIGS. 5-14, a method of changing the slope of the golf practice station is hereinafter described. As indicated in Table 1, a 7:1 unit includes two short bases or supports 20, five medium bases or supports 16, and two long bases or supports 18. As illustrated in FIG. 5, a level lie is provided when all five medium supports are used. However, as illustrated in FIG. 11, by replacing the two left supports with short supports, and then replacing the two right supports with long supports, an 11 degree slope is formed. The platform 12 balances and is easily rotated on the center support 14a when the periphery supports 14b are removed. The platform 12 becomes very stable when the periphery supports 14b are installed even if the supports are not on a level ground or fully installed into a socket 22 of the platform 12, as illustrated by the tilted periphery support 14b in FIGS. 13 and 14. For fairway iron and woods shots, the golf ball 17 may either be held in place on a sloped platform by the aperture adapted for receiving the tee in the mat, or preferably, by a short tee 15 cut to be flush with the surface of the mat 13.

[0039] Referring to FIGS. 15-19, the golf practice station 10 further comprises an optional hazard box 50, preferably sized about 60″ by 4″, for simulating bunker, water hazard and various poor lie conditions. The hazard box 50 is open at the top and has a bottom 54, shallow side walls 54, and a peripheral lip 58. The box 50 may be constructed of {fraction (3/16)} inch general purpose ABS plastic sheet formed by vacuum thermo forming, or alternatively aluminum. The box 50 is connected to the remaining elements of the station 10 by a side frame or bracket 52 (preferably 1″ OD square aluminum tubing), which is connected to the platform 12, preferably by bolts or screws. Referring particularly to FIGS. 19-21, the box 50 is fillable with a variety of substrates such as sand 60, water 62, soil and debris 64, or a mixture thereof to simulate a variety of lie conditions.

[0040] Referring to FIG. 20, a accessory golf ball bucket stand 76 is shown. The stand may be used with the practice station by inserting it in ground near the station. The stand comprises a post 70 with a top hook portion 72 and a bottom insertable base portion 74. The stand is preferably constructed of ⅜ inch stainless steel rod, welded at predetermined points. A common ball bucket (not shown) is held in an easily accessible location off the ground and near the golfer by hanging the common bucket handle on the hook portion. A golf bag may be leaned against the stand to support it in an upright position.

[0041] The descriptions above and the accompanying drawings should be interpreted in the illustrative and not the limited sense. While the invention has been disclosed in connection with the preferred embodiment or embodiments thereof, it should be understood that there may be other embodiments which fall within the scope of the invention as defined by the following claims. Where a claim, if any, is expressed as a means or step for performing a specified function it is intended that such claim be construed to cover the corresponding structure, material, or acts described in the specification and equivalents thereof, including both structural equivalents and equivalent structures, material-based equivalents and equivalent materials, and act-based equivalents and equivalent acts.





 
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