Title:
Ball mark repair tool and method for repairing a ball mark
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention discloses an improved ball mark repair tool and method that quickly and easily repairs ball mark indentations in golf course greens One embodiment of a tool for repairing ball marks according to the present invention, comprises a body and a corkscrew housed within and extendible from the body. The corkscrew turns when extending from the body to turn into a ball mark indentation and raise the indentation. One embodiment of a method for repairing a ball mark indentation according to the present invention, comprises driving a corkscrew into the ball mark indentation area while the corkscrew is turning. The corkscrew is then turned to allow the spiral of the corkscrew to pull up the soil and turf in the indentation. The turning of the corkscrew is then reversed to withdraw the corkscrew from the indentation.



Inventors:
Champion, Michael (Santa Barbara, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/428599
Publication Date:
11/04/2004
Filing Date:
05/02/2003
Assignee:
Fore-Products LLC
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B57/00; (IPC1-7): A63B57/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WONG, STEVEN B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KOPPEL, PATRICK, HEYBL & PHILPOTT (Westlake Village, CA, US)
Claims:
1. A tool for repairing ball marks on golf course greens, comprising: a body; and a corkscrew housed within and extendible from said body, said corkscrew turning when extending from said body to turn into a ball mark indentation and raise said indentation to repair said indentation.

2. The tool of claim 1, wherein said body is cylindrical and elongated, said corkscrew extending from one end of said cylindrical body.

3. The tool of claim 2, further comprising a handle mounted on and capable of sliding on said cylindrical body, the sliding of said handle in one direction causing said corkscrew to turn in one direction and extend from an end of said cylindrical body.

4. The tool of claim 3, wherein the sliding of said handle the other direction causes the corkscrew to turn in the opposite direction and retract into said cylindrical body.

5. The tool of claim 3, wherein said handle compresses a spring when sliding to extend said corkscrew, said spring biasing said handle to slide back and retract said corkscrew in said body.

6. The tool of claim 1, wherein said corkscrew turns into the ball mark indentation as it extends from said body, said corkscrew continuing to turn after it is fully extended to raise the indentation to the level of the surrounding green.

7. A tool for repairing ball mark indentations on golf course greens, comprising: a cylindrical body; a handle mounted at one end of said cylindrical body; a base mounted to the end of said cylindrical body opposite said handle, said cylindrical body vertically arranged with said base at the bottom of said body over the ball mark indentation and said handle at the top of said body; and a corkscrew arranged in said base, said handle being operable to cause said corkscrew to rotate and extend from said base to turn into and raise the ball mark indentation.

8. The tool of claim 7, wherein said handle is capable of sliding along said cylindrical body to cause said corkscrew to extend from and retract into said base.

9. The tool of claim 7, wherein said base is capable of sliding along said cylindrical body, said corkscrew extending from said base when said base slides up said cylindrical body and retracts into said base when said base slides down said cylindrical body.

10. The tool of claim 9, wherein said base slides up said cylindrical body when said handle slides down said cylindrical body and said base sliding down said cylindrical body when said handle slides up said cylindrical body.

11. The tool of claim 8, further comprising a first spring on said cylindrical body, the sliding of said handle down said body compressing said first spring, said first spring biasing said handle up said cylindrical body.

12. The tool of claim 9, further comprising a second spring on said cylindrical body, the sliding of said base up said cylindrical body compressing said second spring, said second spring biasing said handle down said cylindrical body.

13. The tool of claim 7, further comprising a helical shaft arranged within said body and engaged by said handle, the operation of said handle causing said helical shaft to rotate and causes said corkscrew to rotate.

14. The tool of claim 7, wherein the length of said handle is extendible.

15. A method for repairing a ball mark indentation, comprising: driving a corkscrew into the ball mark indentation area while said corkscrew is turning; turning said corkscrew to allow the spiral of said corkscrew to pull up the soil and turf in said indentation to repair said indentation; and reversing the turning of said corkscrew to withdraw said corkscrew from said indentation area.

16. The method of claim 15, wherein said corkscrew is arranged at the end of a body and said body further comprises a handle operable to drive and turn said corkscrew.

17. The method of claim 16, wherein said corkscrew is driven and turned into the indentation by sliding said handle along said body in one direction and said corkscrew is withdrawn from said indentation by sliding said handle the opposite direction.

18. A hand tool, comprising: a body arranged over an area of turf and soil; and a corkscrew housed within and extendible from said body, said corkscrew turning when extending from said body to turn into the turf and soil beneath said body, said corkscrew turning further to raise the turf and soil beneath said body.

19. The tool of claim 18, further comprising a handle mounted on and capable of sliding on said cylindrical body, the sliding of said handle in one direction causing said corkscrew to turn in one direction and extend from an end of said cylindrical body.

20. The tool of claim 19, wherein the sliding of said handle the other direction causes the corkscrew to turn in the opposite direction and retract into said cylindrical body.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates to hand tools and more particularly to a hand tool used to repair ball marks on golf course greens.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] One of the primary concerns in golf course maintenance is keeping the greens in good repair, which generally means keeping the surface smooth and keeping the grass green. This not only makes the golf course more aesthetically pleasing but also allows puts to roll truer on greens; both of which add to the enjoyment experienced by the golfers on the course.

[0003] One of the objects of golf is to hit the ball on a green from far away as possible. Golf balls can land on a green after being hit from a distance of more than 200 yards. When the ball hits the green, the surface of the green suffers an indentation from the compression of the turf and soil on impact, referred to as a ball mark. If the indentation is not repaired, the surface of the green is less level and the compressed grass in the indentation can die. This can result in a small brown patch of dead grass in an otherwise green surface.

[0004] One of the most popular ball mark repair tools is a small hand held device comprising a body with two parallel prongs extending from the body. The body is held in the golfer's hand between the thumb and forefinger with the two parallel prongs extending away from the hand. To repair a ball mark using this tool, the golfer must hold the tool in his hand with the prongs directed down and bend over until the prong and hand are at the level of the green's surface. The golfer then forces the prongs into the surface of the green in and around the ball mark and lifts the indented turf and soil. It can take several motions to fully lift the indentation and after it is lifted, the golfer usually steps on the lifted indentation to align the lifted area with the surrounding surface of the green.

[0005] This process can be burdensome and awkward because the golfer must bend dramatically and because of the numerous motions required to properly repair the ball mark. The bending motion can also result in back injury or fatigue. As a result, many golfers do not properly repair their ball marks as can be evidenced by ball mark damage to many greens.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0006] The present invention discloses an improved ball mark repair tool and method that quickly and easily repairs a ball mark in typically one or two motions. One embodiment of a tool for repairing ball marks on golf course greens according to the present invention, comprises a body and a corkscrew housed within and extendible from the body. The corkscrew turns when extending from the body to turn into a ball mark indentation and raise the indentation.

[0007] Another embodiment of a tool for repairing ball mark indentations on golf course greens according to the present invention comprises a cylindrical body with a handle mounted at one end of the cylindrical body. A base is mounted to the end of the cylindrical body opposite the handle, the cylindrical body vertically arranged with the base at the bottom of the body over the ball mark indentation and the handle at the top of the body. A corkscrew is arranged in the base, with the handle being operable to cause the corkscrew to rotate and extend from the base to turn into and raise the ball mark indentation.

[0008] One embodiment of a method for repairing a ball mark indentation according to the present invention, comprises driving a corkscrew into the ball mark indentation area while the corkscrew is turning. The corkscrew is then turned to allow the spiral of the corkscrew to pull up the soil and turf in the indentation. The turning of the corkscrew is then reversed to withdraw the corkscrew from the indentation.

[0009] In operation, the tool's base is placed over the ball mark with the base's central hole over the center of the ball mark indentation. The handle slides down the cylindrical body, causing the corkscrew to extend from the body while it is turning. The corkscrew turns into the turf and soil of the indentation. Once the corkscrew is fully extended the handle slides further down the cylindrical body and continues to turn the corkscrew, which results in the grass and soil below being pulled up by the corkscrew. When the handle is released and slides back up the body, the corkscrew turns out of the raised grass and soil, and is retracted back into the delrin base.

[0010] The holes left in the turf and soil by the corkscrew provide the additional advantage of aeration. The holes leave an opening for air and water to pass into the turf and soil, which allows for faster re-growth of the turf and repair of the ball mark.

[0011] The present invention allows ball mark indentations to be more easily and conveniently repaired. The user does not need to bend over as far compared to the more popular ball mark repair tool, and the ball mark can be repaired in fewer motions. This make the entire process less burdensome and awkward, which can lead to more golfers repairing their ball mark indentation. This in turn can lead to golf course greens being kept in better condition for the enjoyment of all golfers.

[0012] The tool and method according to the present invention have been described for use in the context of ball mark indentation repair, but they can also be used for other purposes. They can be used in any application where turf and soil can be raised. For example, the tool can be used to pull weeds by placing the tool over the weed and allowing the tool's corkscrew action to pull up the weed.

[0013] These and other further features and advantages of the invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art from the following detailed description, taken together with the accompanying drawings, in which:

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0014] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an embodiment of a ball mark repair tool in accordance with the present invention;

[0015] FIG. 2 is an end elevation view of the tool shown in FIG. 1;

[0016] FIG. 3 is a sectional view of the tool in FIG. 2, taken along section lines 3-3;

[0017] FIG. 4 is a bottom elevation view of the bottom delrin base used in the tool of FIG. 1;

[0018] FIG. 5 is a side elevation view of the bottom delrin base shown in FIG. 4;

[0019] FIG. 6 is a side elevation view of the top delrin base used in the tool of FIG. 1;

[0020] FIG. 7 is a side elevation view of the delrin handle used in the tool of FIG. 1.

[0021] FIG. 8 is a side elevation view of the main body used in the tool of FIG. 1;

[0022] FIG. 9 is a side elevation view of a helical shaft used in the tool of FIG. 1;

[0023] FIG. 10 is a side elevation view of a top bearing stop used in the tool of FIG. 1; and

[0024] FIG. 11 is a side elevation view of a bottom-bearing stop used in the tool of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0025] FIGS. 1-3 show one embodiment of a ball mark repair tool 10 in accordance with the present invention. It generally includes a cylindrical body 12, with a handle 14 at one end and a base 15 at the opposite end. The body 12, handle 14 and base 15 can be made of different metal or plastic materials with a suitable material for the body 12 being aluminum and the handle 12 and base 14 being black delrin.

[0026] The base 15 is shown in more detail in FIGS. 4 and 5, and FIG. 6 shows the base's mounting component 16. The base 15 and mounting component 16 are discussed with reference to FIGS. 1 and 3-6. The base 15 has an axial disk section 18, and a cylindrical section 20, with the disk section 18 having a central hole 22 that is aligned with the tool's longitudinal axis and opens to the cylindrical section 20. The section 20 houses a corkscrew 24 that is also aligned along the tool's longitudinal axis, with the pointed end of the corkscrew aligned with and directed out the central hole 22.

[0027] The base mounting component 16 is arranged to mount the base 15 to one end of the cylindrical body 12 such that the base 15 becomes an integral part of the body 12. The component 16 can be made of many different materials, with a suitable material being aluminum. The component 16 has a cylindrical shape with an inner diameter slightly larger diameter than the cylindrical body 12 so that the component 16 can slide up and down the body 12 with a close fit between the two. The component 16 also has an outer threaded surface 24 that mates with an inner threaded surface 26 (best shown in FIG. 3) on the inside surface of the base's cylindrical section 20. After the mounting component 16 is positioned on the body 12, the base 15 is threaded onto the component 16 to fix the two together as on the body 12.

[0028] The handle 14 is shown in more detail in FIG. 7 and the body 12 is shown in more detail in FIG. 8, both of which are discussed with reference to FIGS. 1, 2, 7 and 8. The handle 14 is sized so that it can be gripped by the user's hand to operate the tool 10, with the handle 14 being positioned at the end of the body 12 opposite the base 15. It has a cylindrical gripping section 28 and a disk shaped pushing disk 30, although other embodiments of a handle according to the present invention do not have a disk. The disk 30 has a central axial hole 32 having a diameter that is slightly larger than the diameter of the outside surface of the cylindrical body 12, so that the component 32 can slide up and down the body 12 with a close fit between the two. The inner surface of the gripping section 28 has first and second regions 28, 28b with different inner diameters. The inner surface of the first region 28a has an inner diameter that is slightly larger than the diameter of the outer surface of the body 12, while the second region 28b has a slightly larger inside diameter than the first region 28a. The handle is positioned on the body 12 with its pushing disk 30 closest to the base 15. The handle 14 slides up and down the body 12 with a close fit between the two. In operation the user grasps the gripping section 28 and applies a pushing force to the disk 30, causing the handle to slide down the body 12.

[0029] The body 12 has a longitudinal slot 33 running down much of its length. The handle has an internal pin 34 that extends from its inner surface toward its longitudinal axis. The pin 34 is sized to fit within the slot 33 and ride within the slot 33 as the handle 14 slides up and down the body 12.

[0030] FIG. 9 shows a helical shaft 36 that is disposed within the cylindrical body 12 and is discussed with reference to FIGS. 1 and 2. The shaft 36 can be made of many materials, with a suitable material being stainless steel. The shaft 36 has a corkscrew track 38 running along its length. When the shaft 36 is disposed within the body 12, a portion of the track 38 is accessible through the body's slot 33 such that the handle's pin 34 fits can pass through the slot 33 and into the track 38. When the handle 14 slides up and down the body 12, the pin 34, slot 33 and track 38 combination causes the shaft 36 to rotate within the body 12. The shaft 36 rotates one direction as the handle 14 slides down the body 12 and rotates the opposite direction as the handle 14 slides back up the body 12. The corkscrew 24 is mounted to the end of the helical shaft 36, opposite the handle 14 so that the corkscrew is housed within the cylindrical section 20 of the base 15.

[0031] The helical shaft 36 is held within the body 12 between a top bearing stop 40 at the handle end of the body 12, and a bottom bearing stop 42 and the delrin base end of the body 12. The top and bottom bearing stops 40, 42 can also be made of many different materials, with a suitable material being aluminum. FIGS. 10 and 11 show the top bearing stop and bottom bearing stop in more detail, respectively and are discussed in combination with FIGS. 1 and 3. The top bearing stop 40 has a cylindrical shape and generally comprises a threaded section 44 and a larger diameter top stop section 46. The threaded section 44 has threads designed to mate with first threads 50 on the top inner surface of the body 12 (best shown in FIG. 3), to mount the top-bearing stop 40 to the end of the body 12.

[0032] The top stop section 46 has a slightly larger diameter than the outer surface of the body 12 and the inner surface of the handle's cylindrical gripping section 28. When the handle is at the top of the body 12, the handle's inner edge 50 butts against the wider diameter stop section 46, which prevents the handle 14 from sliding off the body 12. The handle's second region 28b has a wider diameter than its first region 28b, to allow the top stop section to slide within the region 28b when the handle 14 slides down the body 12.

[0033] The top bearing stop 40 also has top bearings 52 housed within the threaded section 44. The smaller diameter section 54 of the helical shaft is positioned with the bearings 52. This arrangement allows the top bearing stop 40 to hold the helical shaft 36 within the body while at the same time allowing the shaft to rotate about its longitudinal axis.

[0034] The bottom bearing stop 42 also has a cylindrical shape, with different sections having different diameters at their outer surfaces. It has a threaded surface 56 designed to mate with the second threads 58 in the body 12. To mount the bottom-bearing stop 42 to the body 12, the bottom-bearding stop 42 is turned onto the body 12 causing threads 56 to mate with the second threads 58.

[0035] The bottom bearing stop 42 also has a bottom stop section 60, which has a slightly larger diameter than the outer surface of the body 12 and the inner surface of the base mounting component 16. When the stop 42 is mounted to the body 12 and the base 15 is at the bottom of the body 12, the inner edge 62 of the mounting component butts against the wider diameter stop section 60, which prevents the base 15 from sliding off the body 12.

[0036] The corkscrew end of the helical shaft 36 has a smaller diameter section 64 that passes through the bottom bearing stop 42 and into the bottom delrin base 17. The bottom-bearing stop 42 includes bearing 66 having an inner surface with a diameter slightly larger than the outer surface diameter of the shaft section 64. The bearings allow the shaft 36 to rotate about its longitudinal axis.

[0037] A first spring 68 is mounted on the body 12 and is disposed between the handle 14 and an axial ridge 70 on the body 12, with the spring urging the handle 14 to the end of the body 12 opposite the delrin base 17. When not in operation the spring holds the handle 14 at the end of the body 12, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 3, with the handle's inner edge 50 against the wider diameter stop section 46 of the top bearing stop 40. A second spring 72 is also mounted on the body 12 between the ridge 70 and the base 15, urging the base 15 to the end of the body 12 opposite the handle 14, also as shown in FIGS. 1 and 3. When not in operation, the second spring 72 holds the inner edge 62 of the mounting component 16 against the wider diameter stop section 60 of the bottom bearing stop 16, which holds the base 15 on the body 12. Many different springs can be used for the first and second springs, with suitable springs being commercially available from Century Spring, Inc.

[0038] In operation, the tool 10 can be used in a new method according to the present invention for repairing ball mark indentations, although the tool 10 can be similarly used for other purposes such as weed pulling. The user holds the tool 10 by the handle's gripping section 28. The tool 10 is then placed on the green over a ball mark with the disk 18 of the base 15 over the ball mark such that base hole 22 is over the center of the ball mark indentation. The user then pushes the handle 14 down the body 12, against the pressure of the first spring 68 and toward the ball mark indentation. This causes the first and second springs 68, 72 to compress simultaneously. The compression of the second spring 72 causes the base 15 to slide up the body 12, which allows the corkscrew 24 to extend from the base 15 through the central hole 22. The compression of the first spring 68 allows the handle 14 to slide down the body 12. The pin 34 of the handle 14 riding in the body slot 33 and shaft track 38 causes the shaft 36 to rotate as the handle slides down the body. Accordingly, the corkscrew 24 rotates as it extends from the central hole 22, causing the corkscrew 24 to be driven into the turf and soil of the indentation as it rotates.

[0039] The base 15 continues to slide up the body 12 until the second spring 72 is fully compressed between the ridge 73 and base 15. At this point the corkscrew 24 is fully extended from the central hole 22 and has reached its maximum depth in the turf and soil.

[0040] After the base 15 stops sliding up the body 12, the handle 14 continues to slide down the body 12. This causes the corkscrew 24 to continue turning without reaching any deeper into the turf and soil. This turning action causes the turf and soil to ride up the spirals of the corkscrew 24, effectively pulling up the turf and soil of the ball mark indentation. As the handle 14 continues sliding down the body, the first spring 68 eventually becomes fully compressed between the handle 14 and the ridge 70. At this point the turf and soil of the ball mark indentation will have been pulled up to the level of the surrounding green. When the first and second springs 68, 72 are compressed they urge the handle and base, respectively, to the positions shown in FIGS. 1 and 3.

[0041] When the user releases the downward pressure on the handle 14, the first and second springs 68, 72 expand. This expansion causes the handle 14 to slide to one end (top) of the body 12 and the delrin base 15 to slide to the other end (bottom) of the body 12. This causes the helical shaft 36 to turn in the opposite direction from when the handle 14 is sliding down the body 12. This results in the corkscrew 24 also turning in the opposite direction so that it turns out of the now raised turf and soil. At the same time, the base 15 slides down the body 12, causing the corkscrew 24 to retract into the delrin base 15. This action allows the corkscrew 24 to turn out of the raised turf and soil while keeping the base at the raised height of the turf and soil.

[0042] Although the present invention has been described in considerable detail with reference to certain preferred configurations thereof, other versions are possible. The tool 10 can use different components with in different ways. The components can have different sizes and lengths. The handle 14 can be extendible by using a telescoping type arrangement. Therefore, the spirit and scope of the invention should not be limited to the preferred versions of the invention described above.