Title:
Golf swing practice platform
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A modular platform provides an octagonal inclined practice surface provided with a mat of artificial turf. The platform can be composed of multiple components each formed as a lightweight hollow blow-molded plastic molding. The slope of the practice surface can be increased to simulate virtually any lie encountered by a golfer during a round of golf by adding shim-like sections to the bottom of the platform. The lie of a golf ball experienced by a golfer can be changed by manually rotating the platform with respect to the surface upon which the platform is positioned.



Inventors:
Gianfagna, Charles (Ramsey, NJ, US)
Tyler, Timothy (East Chester, NY, US)
Gianfagna, Daniel W. (Ramsey, NJ, US)
Application Number:
10/346289
Publication Date:
07/22/2004
Filing Date:
01/17/2003
Assignee:
GIANFAGNA CHARLES
TYLER TIMOTHY
GIANFAGNA DANIEL W.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B69/36; (IPC1-7): A63B69/36
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HUNTER, ALVIN A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KATTEN MUCHIN ROSENMAN LLP (NEW YORK, NY, US)
Claims:

We claim:



1. A non-motorized, transportable golf swing practice apparatus for placement on a ground surface, comprising: a base platform having a lower support surface, an upper support surface and a plurality of quadrangular side walls extending between said lower and upper support surfaces, said upper support surface and said lower support surface being non-movable with respect to each other, said upper support surface defining a golfer placement surface and a ball placement surface, said lower support surface being adapted for resting engagement with the ground surface, and said upper support surface defining an inclined angle of about at least five degrees with respect to said lower support surface and said ground surface.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said side walls are trapezoidal.

3. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said lower support surface defines an octagonal perimeter.

4. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said platform comprises a hollow plastic blow-molded platform.

5. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said apparatus is comprised of a plurality of interlocking components.

6. The apparatus of claim 5, further comprising a mat of artificial turf provided on said upper support surface.

7. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein said mat comprises a contoured surface having hills and valleys arranged in a symmetrical alternating pattern.

8. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a first shim interconnected to said lower support surface.

9. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein said first shim comprises a wedge-shaped support having at least one projection and said platform comprises at least one recess engaged within said at least one projection.

10. The apparatus of claim 9, wherein said recess comprises a channel and said projection comprises a rib disposed in said channel.

11. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a sand insert positionable on said upper support surface.

12. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein said insert is positionable on only a portion of said upper support surface.

13. The apparatus of claim 6, further comprising fasteners extendable through said interlocking components.

14. The apparatus of claim 13, wherein at least one of said side walls further comprises a handle for transport of said apparatus.

15. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein said golfer placement surface and said ball placement surface both extend along the entire upper support surface.

16. A golf swing practice apparatus for use on a ground surface, comprising: a base platform formed by a plurality of interlocking platform components, said base platform further comprising an octagonal upper support surface and an octagonal lower support surface with trapezoidal side walls defined therebetween, said upper support surface defining an inclined angle with respect to said lower support surface that is greater than 0°, and an artificial turf provided on said upper support surface and retained on said upper support surface by said side walls, said turf adapted for the simultaneous placement of a golfer and a golf ball.

17. The apparatus of claim 16, further comprising a wedge-shaped shim interconnected with said apparatus along said lower support surface.

18. The apparatus of claim 16, wherein said turf comprising a regular repeating contour pattern of hills and valleys.

19. The apparatus of claim 18, wherein said hills and valleys are horizontally separated by a distance of approximately one inch.

20. The apparatus of claim 19, wherein said turf varies in elevation by approximately ½ inch between alternating hills and valleys.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] The present invention relates to golf training apparatus and particularly to an inclined platform that is portable, transportable and easily supportable on any surface and at any location.

[0003] 2. Description of Prior Developments

[0004] Golfers can spend more time practicing their swings on a practice range than actually playing golf on a course. Various platform constructions have been developed to provide a sloped surface for practicing the different types of lies encountered during a round of golf. These practice devices typically require assorted hardware and fasteners for adjusting the slope of the practice surface and as such involve somewhat complicated assemblies. Such devices are also usually constrained to a particular location and are not easily portable or transportable. Accordingly, a need exists for a portable, transportable platform having an adjustable slope for practicing golf swings on various lies.

[0005] A further need exists for such a platform which is simple in construction and requires virtually no hardware for assembly and slope adjustment.

[0006] Yet another need exists for such a platform which is light enough to be portable yet sufficiently strong, rigid and durable to withstand the weight of a golfer repetitively hitting a golf ball from the platform surface.

[0007] Still a further need exists for such a platform which has a practice surface which securely holds a golf ball in place in all positions of adjustment and lie.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0008] The present invention has been developed to fulfill the needs noted above and therefore has as an object the provision of a golf practice platform having a simple construction which requires virtually no assembly or adjustment hardware.

[0009] Another object is the provision of a lightweight, portable, golf swing platform which is sturdy, durable and easy to conform to different lies.

[0010] Yet another object of the invention is to provide a golf swing platform which has a removable, textured and contoured surface for securely holding a golf ball in position regardless of the slope of the lie.

[0011] These and other objects are met by the present invention which is directed to a golf swing practice platform which can be formed as a plurality of modular, hollow, plastic blow-molded components. Such components are assembled together to advantageously form an octagonal perimeter and an octagonal hitting surface having a predetermined slope. Additional wedge-like shim modules may be provided for increasing the slope or incline of the hitting surface.

[0012] The base module is formed from a plurality of components that, when assembled, comprise fixed, but preferably different, individual slopes to prove a great degree of slope adjustment and variability in golf ball lies on the hitting surface thereof. Such module components are provided with interlocking structures such as tongue and groove interconnections which provide a secure assembly. Additional fasteners may be used if desired. The shim modules would also interlock with the assembled base module to increase or modify the slopes or lies.

[0013] The base module is provided with a replaceable insert of textured or contoured material to serve as a secure surface on which a golf ball can be placed without slippage at any level of platform slope adjustment.

[0014] The octagonal shape of the platform allows a golfer to turn or rotate the platform while maintaining the same hitting or swing direction. This changes the geometrical relationship of the golfer's feet with respect to the ball. Positioning the ball below the golfer's feet reproduces or simulates a downhill lie and positioning the ball above the golfer's feet reproduces or simulates an uphill lie. Sidehill lies can also be simulated by appropriate adjustment of the platform. Virtually any combination of slope and ball-to-foot positions can be created by rotating the orientation of the base platform module along with any shim module or modules, if desired.

[0015] These and other objects, features and advantages of the invention will become more apparent as the following description proceeds, especially when considered with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0016] FIG. 1 is a top view of a practice golf swing base platform constructed in accordance with the invention;

[0017] FIG. 2 is a view in section along section line 2-2 of FIG. 1;

[0018] FIG. 3 is a perspective of the base platform of FIG. 1;

[0019] FIG. 4 is a bottom view of the base platform of FIG. 1;

[0020] FIG. 5 is a schematic side view of the base platform of FIG. 1, shimmed upwardly with a first wedge-shaped support according to the invention and showing a side hill lie;

[0021] FIG. 6 is a top plan view of the wedge-shaped support of FIG. 5;

[0022] FIG. 7 is a top diagrammatic view of an alternative embodiment of a platform formed from a plurality of components;

[0023] FIG. 8 is a section line 8-8 of FIG. 7;

[0024] FIG. 9 is a top plan view, in scale, of an artificial turf mat for use on the platform of FIG. 1;

[0025] FIG. 10 is a view in section taken along section line 10-10 of FIG. 9, and

[0026] FIG. 11 is a top plan view of a sand insert for use on the platform of FIG. 1.

[0027] In the various views of the drawings, like reference characters designate like or similar parts.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0028] The present invention will now be described in conjunction with the drawings, beginning with FIGS. 1-4, which show a golf practice base platform 10 constructed in accordance with a first embodiment of the invention. Base 10 is advantageously formed as a hollow, lightweight, but rigid molding formed such as by plastic blow-molding. Base 10 may also be formed from a pair of interlocking sections 10a and 10b, which allow for manageable transport in sections.

[0029] The base 10 is formed with an octagonal perimeter wall defined by eight sidewalls 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24 and 26 that extend slightly above a flat, substantially planar upper support surface 28. As shown in FIGS. 2 and 4, the lower support surface 30 might be provided with grooves 32 and 34 that extend completely (not shown) or partially (FIG. 4) across the base 10 and serve to strengthen and add rigidity to the base 10, as well as serving as keying and interconnecting members with shim modules as discussed below. The grooves 32 and 34 may also take the form of other engagement-type members capable of interconnection with shim modules. A hollow chamber 38 is defined between the sidewalls 12-26 and the upper and lower support surfaces 28, 30.

[0030] As seen in FIG. 2, when the base platform 10 is placed on a flat surface 40, the upper support surface 28 slopes upwardly at a fixed angle of inclination A from sidewall 24 to sidewall 16. Angle A may vary from about five degrees up to about thirty degrees, although an angle of about five to twenty degrees is preferred and an angle of about ten to sixteen degrees is considered optimal.

[0031] Although base platform 10 may be sized from a minimum “diameter” D of three feet across the center of upper support surface 28 (between the middle of opposing parallel sidewalls), a diameter D of about five feet has been found to provide sufficient area on top surface 28 to comfortably allow a golfer to practice swinging in all directions, with the top surface area easily accommodating both the golfer and ball. This five foot side-to-side sizing also provides a light, easily carried and easily movable platform structure.

[0032] As further seen in FIGS. 1-3, a textured mat 42 may be provided on top surface 28 to provide both a simulated grass surface as well as a textured surface which securely holds a golf ball 43 in position at any location on surface 28. Mat 42, which is preferably octagonal, may be loosely placed on surface 28 in the manner of a door mat, or removably secured in place on surface 28 with non-sticking adhesives, pins, snaps, buttons or any other suitable removable fastener or retainer. Additional details on mat 42 will be provided below.

[0033] As shown in FIG. 3, eight potential lies may be realized by rotating the base 10 with respect to surface 40 accordingly. For example, a golfer will experience an uphill lie by facing sidewall 16 and a downhill lie by facing sidewall 24. Similarly, left and right side hill lies may be realized by facing side walls 20 and 12 respectively. In addition, intermediate angled lies may be realized by facing 20, 16, 22 and 26. In each case, the base 10 would be rotated so that the golf launches the ball past the sidewall being faced. In most practice environments, the golfer would have to rotate the base 10 in order to launch the ball in a consistent direction.

[0034] A second embodiment of the invention is shown in FIGS. 5 and 6, wherein a wedge support or shim 44 is provided for increasing the inclination of the base platform 10 so as to increase angle A in FIG. 2. The support 44 is advantageously formed in the same manner at the base platform 10, i.e., by plastic blow-molding. Support 44 is formed in a shape that matches and complements the bordering contours of the base platform 10, and in particular the lower support surface 30 of the base platform 10.

[0035] As seen in FIGS. 5 and 6, the wedge support 44 has sidewalls 46, 48, 50, 52, 54, 56, 58 and 60, an upper surface 62 and a lower surface 66 and a hollow chamber 68 formed between the sidewalls and upper and lower surfaces. Each of the wedge support sidewalls 46-60 which are exposed to sight when in use are inclined at the same inclination as their respective bordering sidewalls 12-26 on the base platform 10. This provides a substantially continuous outer sidewall surface when the base platform 10 and support wedge 44 are interengaged as described below.

[0036] The support wedge or shim 44 is formed with projections 72 and 74 which mate with complementary grooves or channels 32, 34 or other engagement sections formed on the base platform 10. The projections 72 and 74 may extend partially across the upper surface 62 as shown, or completely across as an alternative. The projections 72, 74 add rigidity and strength to the support wedge 44 and are dimensioned to respectively engage grooves or channels 32, 34 with a snug, sliding, interlocking friction fit.

[0037] The support wedge 44 may be fixed to the base platform with a simple manual push. No additional hardware is required to assemble the support wedge 44 to the base platform 10. Once assembled as shown in FIG. 5, the support wedge may be disassembled from the base platform with a simple manual pull. In this manner, the inclination of support surface 28 and the corresponding lie of golf ball 43 may be quickly and easily adjusted. Angle B shown in FIG. 5 may be selected within the ranges stated above for angle A in FIG. 2, and preferably greater than angle A. In the event even further adjustment of the slope or inclination of support surface 28 is desired, additional support wedges or shims, each providing an increase in inclination, may be provided as desired. The use of common dimensioning and interchangeability of the base platform with additional wedge supports provides a multi-component modular platform slope adjustment system. This system is preferably completely without interconnection hardware and is made of light, easily handled and easily shipped plastic material.

[0038] A third embodiment of the invention is shown in FIGS. 7 and 8, wherein the base platform 10 is formed from three components 10c-e joined in an interlocking, interengaging fashion. The shape of the components 10c-e is illustrated for purposes of example and is not meant to be limiting in any fashion (the same holds true for the shape of the components 10a-b of FIGS. 1-6), although the combined components should preferably take the form of an sloped octagonal as shown in FIG. 3. While it is preferable to have the components of the platform engage and interlock without additional hardware, it might be more preferable with multi-component systems to have additional fastening means for reinforcement. For example, tie rods 80, 83 or the like might extend through passages 81, 84 in each component 10c-e for fastening with wing nuts 82, 85 or the like. Such fasteners might maintain the platform 10 in an assembled condition if the platform 10 is going to be aggressively transported, repositioned and used by multiple golfers. Also, convenience features, such as handles 90 and 92 might be provided to assist with transport and repositioning of the platform 10 in an assembled or disassembled state.

[0039] As mentioned above, and as shown in FIG. 1, a mat 42 of artificial turf is provided for holding golf ball 43 in place at all selected slope angles A. Mat 42, as seen in FIGS. 9 and 10, in actual scale size, is formed of a rubber base 100 to which a mesh substrate 102 is connected, such as by adhesive bonding. Synthetic grass fibers 104 are woven to the mesh substrate and cut to a predetermined symmetrical pattern. The pattern is formed of hill portions 106 separated by recess or valley portions 108. This alternative hill and valley arrangement forms a somewhat square matrix-shaped or checkerboard-shaped pattern as viewed in top plan as in FIG. 9.

[0040] The top 110 of the hill portions 108 can extend upwardly from the mat base 100 about 1⅛ inch. The height between the lowest valley portion 112 and the highest point or crest of top portion 110 is about ½ to ⅝ inch leaving a minimum base height of grass of ½ inch above rubber base 100. The horizontal distance between adjacent hill crests 110 and valley bottoms 112 is about one inch and the spacing between adjacent hill crests 110 is about two inches, as is the spacing between adjacent valley bottoms 112.

[0041] Contour lines and corresponding elevation levels are represented in FIGS. 9 and 10 with 0 (zero) representing the elevation of a valley bottom 112 and 7 (seven) representing the elevation of a crest 110. Each contour line represents about {fraction (1/10)} inch of elevation above the valley bottom. Each valley bottom 112 rises to a shoulder or plateau portion 114 and then rises up to a crest 110.

[0042] As seen in FIG. 10, golf ball 44 is supported primarily by contact with four adjacent shoulder portions 114, leaving a clearance 116 between valley bottom 112 and the bottom of the golf ball. It has been found that this alternating contoured and stepped pattern provides ample support to hold golf ball 43 in place and is not textured so deep or thick as to impede a golf club head as it swings through the fibers 104.

[0043] It should be understood that while this invention has been discussed in connection with one particular example, those skilled in the art will appreciate that other modifications can be made without departing from the spirit of this invention after studying the specification, drawings, and the following claims.

[0044] For example, the base platform and the shim supports can be formed of closed cell plastic material such as molded or machined styrofoam. A thin tough overmolding of a plastic film material can be applied over the styrofoam to increase durability. Alternatively, the foamed or celled material can be dipped in a tank of liquid rubber to provide a tough outer skin.

[0045] In addition, as shown in FIG. 11, the mat 42 can be substituted with a tray-based sand insert 120 across the entire platform, or only along a discrete section 122, for practicing sand lies and the like. Clearly, a tray based sand insert 120 across the entire platform might be prohibitively heavy, particularly if the platform is going to transported frequently, in which case it might only be used where the platform is only going to be rotated in place and not actually transported from a particular practice location. However, a smaller transportable sand section insert 122 might be more practical when it is desired to move the practice platform with greater frequency.