Title:
Golf putting practice apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A golf putting practice apparatus includes a frame, a plurality of elongate boards positioned in the frame, the elongate boards being connected by elastic members such as springs, and an artificial green placed over the boards. The heights of the frame and at least selected ones of the boards can be adjusted by frame-height adjusting members and individual board-height adjusting members. The apparatus further includes an acoustic resonator generating a light metallic sound when the golf ball enters the hole cup and a ball retrieval means for discharging the ball near the standing location of the golfer.



Inventors:
Lee, Hyun Ju (Seoul, KR)
Lee, Yun Ju (Pusan, KR)
Application Number:
10/949265
Publication Date:
03/03/2005
Filing Date:
09/24/2004
Assignee:
LEE HYUN JU
LEE YUN JU
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
473/160, 473/157
International Classes:
A63B69/36; (IPC1-7): A63B69/36
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
GRAHAM, MARK S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ST. ONGE STEWARD JOHNSTON & REENS LLC (STAMFORD, CT, US)
Claims:
1. A golf putting practice apparatus comprising: a frame having a generally polygonal shape with at least four side walls and four corners, the frame including an opened top surface; a plurality of elongate members each having a pair of side portions and a pair of end portions, the elongate members arranged in a row and side by side and positioned within the opened top surface of the frame; at least one elastic member for elastically connecting the plurality of elongate members side by side; a green member covering above the elongate members and having at least one golf ball receiving hole for practicing golf putting therewith; and a frame-height adjusting member disposed at each of the corners of the frame for selectively adjusting the height of at least one of the corners of the frame.

2. The golf putting practice apparatus of claim 1, wherein the at least one elastic member comprises at least one spring received within a hole formed across the side portions of the plurality of elongate members.

3. The golf putting practice apparatus of claim 1 further comprising a plurality of board-height adjusting members disposed along the side walls of the frame for selectively adjusting the height of the elongate members.

4. The golf putting practice apparatus of claim 3, wherein the end portions of at least some of the plurality of elongate members are connected to corresponding ones of the plurality of board-height adjusting members.

5. The golf putting practice apparatus of claim 4, wherein the board-height adjusting members each include an actuator, and an elevating member vertically movable by the actuator for adjusting the height of the elongate members.

6. The golf putting practice apparatus of claim 5, wherein the actuator of the board-height adjusting members is a rotatable feeder screw configured to move the elevating member vertically upon rotation.

7. The golf putting practice apparatus of claim 5, wherein the board-height adjusting members each further includes a vertical guide member for guiding vertical movement of the elevating member.

8. The golf putting practice apparatus of claim 7, wherein the elevating member of the board-height adjusting members is formed of two pieces connected together by at least one fastener.

9. The golf putting practice apparatus of claim 4, wherein the plurality of the elongate members comprise a plurality of engaging portions disposed between adjacent elongate members.

10. The golf putting practice apparatus of claim 9, wherein the plurality of engaging portions of the elongate members are formed of generally semi-spherical protrusions and grooves generally matching one another.

11. The golf putting practice apparatus of claim 1, wherein the frame-height adjusting member disposed at the corners of the frame includes an actuator, and an elevating member vertically movable by the actuator for selectively adjusting the height of the corners of the frame.

12. The golf putting practice apparatus of claim 11, wherein the actuator of the frame-height adjusting member is a rotatable feeder screw configured to move the elevating member vertically upon rotation.

13. The golf putting practice apparatus of claim 12, wherein the frame-height adjusting member disposed at the corners of the frame further includes a vertical guide member for guiding vertical movement of the elevating member of the frame-height adjusting member.

14. The golf putting practice apparatus of claim 13, wherein the vertical guide member of the frame-height adjusting member includes a guide post positioned within a guide hole of the elevating member of the frame-height adjusting member.

15. The golf putting practice apparatus of claim 13, wherein the frame-height adjusting member disposed at the corners of the frame further includes a leg member extending vertically from the elevating member of the frame-height adjusting member.

16. The golf putting practice apparatus of claim 15, wherein the leg member of the frame-height adjusting member includes a tiltable foot member connected at the lower end of the leg member.

17. The golf putting practice apparatus of claim 1 further comprising a golf ball retrieval means disposed within the frame for guiding a golf ball entered the golf ball receiving hole and discharging the ball from the apparatus.

18. The golf putting practice apparatus of claim 1 further comprising a resonator positioned below the golf ball receiving hole of the green member for providing a golf ball dropping sound when the ball enters the golf ball receiving hole.

19. The golf putting practice apparatus of claim 1, wherein the at least one elastic member comprises a resilient material connected between adjacent elongate members for the elastic connection of the elongate members.

20. The golf putting practice apparatus of claim 1, wherein the elongate members are boards each having a generally flat upper surface.

Description:

This application is a continuation of pending International Patent Application No. PCT/KR03/00583 filed on Mar. 25, 2003 which designates the United States and claims priority of pending Korean Patent Application No. 2002-18067 filed on Apr. 2, 2002.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a golf putting practice apparatus with a tiltable putting mat resembling a real golf course environment.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

One round in golf game consists typically of 18 holes and each green has varied slopes or lies around its hole cup. In fact there isn't any identical slope around the hole cup.

Golfers often practice golf putting on a golf putting mat having a top surface without slope, and this enables golfers to practice only straight line putting.

In an attempt to simulate a real green, certain putting practice apparatus have been introduced with a mat surface tiltable by height adjustments of four edges of the device. However, these known apparatus enable slight adjustment of the whole surface by tilting up only one side and is quite different from real green slopes having varying lies in a variety of different directions.

Such known golf putting apparatus can be used for pleasure but not for effective putting practice. Accordingly, there is a need to provide a golf putting practice apparatus having a mat with various slopes or lies resembling the real green.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one exemplary embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a cross sectional view illustrating a golf ball retrieval means of the apparatus of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a cross sectional side view of the resonator of FIG. 2 of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a cross sectional view illustrating a construction of the frame-height adjusting member of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a partial and perspective view illustrating a construction of the board-height adjusting member for adjusting the height of at least some of the elongate boards of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is an enlarged cross sectional view taken along line A-A of FIG. 5.

FIG. 7 is an enlarged cross sectional view taken along line B-B of FIG. 5.

FIG. 8 is a partial cross sectional view illustrating the details of the board-height adjusting member of FIG. 5.

FIG. 9 is an exploded perspective view illustrating the elevating member of the board-height adjusting member of FIG. 8.

FIG. 10 is a partial and perspective view illustrating the board-height adjusting member fixed on the frame.

FIG. 11 is a plane view of the mat or artificial green illustrating various putting approach lines of the golf balls using the apparatus of the present invention.

FIG. 12 is a plane view of the mat or artificial green illustrating putting approach lines of the golf balls using a conventional putting apparatus.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS

With reference to the drawings, preferred embodiments of the invention are described herein in detail.

The putting practice apparatus of the present invention has a putting mat or green which can be tilted and also capable of providing various lies on the mat. Thus, the present invention can provide a wide variety of putting practice, such as straight line putting for beginners, putting on a tilted mat for intermediate learners, and putting on varied slopes for advanced learners and professionals.

In order to accomplish such functions, the present invention provides, among others, two types of elevation or slope adjustment members. One is used for adjusting the heights of each selected side or corner of the apparatus frame on which a putting mat is placed. The other is used for adjusting the heights of particular regions in the mat selected by the practicing golfers.

Referring to FIGS. 1-4, frame (2) has a generally polygonal shape, for example, a rectangular overall shape having a suitable length (e.g., about 3 m) and width for practicing putting thereon. The upper surface of the frame (2) includes an open space, and flexible mat (4) forming artificial green (5) is positioned in the open space of the frame. The slopes of the artificial green (5) can be adjusted by the height adjustment mechanisms of the invention to be described herein below.

The upper surface of artificial green (5) has three hole cups for receiving golf balls therein, one in the center and others is in each corner side.

Below the hole cups has exhaust hopper (9) having an inclination for collecting and discharging balls there-through. The exhaust hopper (9) connects with ball retrieval tube (10). The ball retrieval tube (10) extends to a standing position of the golfer for easy retrieval of the balls exiting from ball retrieval hole (11) by the golfer.

Ball dropping area (9a) is formed at the ball dropping location in the exhaust hopper (9), and includes resonator (14) preferably with resonance space (12) and hole (13) for producing a light metallic sound for the golfer's entertainment when a ball hit the resonator (14). This metallic sound resembles the dropping sound of a ball within the hole cup of a real golf course.

As shown in FIG. 4, frame-height adjusting members (3) are disposed along the side of the frame (2), preferably at the four corners of the frame, for adjusting the height of each side or corner of the frame (2). Feeder screw (16) is positioned vertically at the center of casings (5) which is fixed at the four corners of the frame (2) by fastening bolt (15a).

Elevating member (18) includes nut portion (10) and is positioned on the feeder screw (16) for moving up and down upon rotation of the feeder screw (16). The elevating member (18) is preferably formed with two pieces combined together using fastening bolts (19) for easy assembly of the components of the frame-height adjusting members (3).

Vertical guide post (20) and leg member (22) are located at the lateral sides of the elevating member (18). The guide post (20) guides an up-and-down movement of the elevating member (18). The leg member (22) has an upper end affixed to the elevating member (18) and moves up and down upon the vertical movement of the elevating member (18) for adjusting its projecting height from the lower surface of the frame (2), thereby, enabling adjustment of the height of the particular corner of the frame from the ground.

The leg member (22) preferably includes a foot member or terminal support (21) attached at the lower end thereof. The lower end of the leg member (22) and adjoining end of foot member (21) are respectively shaped in a hemisphere, forming a circular contacting area (21a) thereby, and the foot member (21) is secured with pin (23) to the leg member (22) enabling tilting of the foot member (21) to a certain degree. This arrangement facilitates a secured positioning of the leg member (22) on the ground.

Cap (26) is fixed on the upper side of casing (15) by fastening bolts (27). The cap (26) includes coupling holes (24, 25) for rotatably receiving the upper ends of the feeder screw (16) and guide post (20) therein. The upper end of feeder screw (16) protrudes above the coupling hole (24) of the cap (26) and includes a hexagonal or square wrench portion (16a) in order to enable rotation of the feeder screw (16) with the wrench portion by a suitable manner known in the art.

On the upper and lower end portions of feeder screw (16), stopper (16b) of flange-like shape is provided so as to limit its operation range or prevent the equipment from damage occurred by excessive adjustment, for example, by the user's mistake in controlling the vertical movement of the elevating member (18).

Referring to FIGS. 5-7, a plurality of elongate members, such as elongate boards (28, 29) with a generally flat upper surface, are arranged in a row and side by side and positioned within the opened upper surface of the frame (2). The elongate boards (28, 29) are elastically connected to one another laterally by at least one elastic member such as springs (30) so that the user can arbitrary control the entire tilting or partial slopes of the artificial green (5). According to the embodiment shown, each of the elongate boards (29, 29) includes lateral connection holes (31) and elastic members (e.g., springs (30)) are disposed within the holes for the elastic connection of the boards. Accordingly, if one of the elongate boards (28, 29) is adjusted up or down, adjacent elongate boards follow in the same direction. Thus, the slopes around the adjusted boards become smooth without leaving noticeable steps.

Each of the elongate boards (28, 29) preferably includes a plurality of engaging portions disposed between adjacent boards for preventing unwanted falling or derails of boards from the aligned surface of the boards. According to the embodiment shown in FIG. 7, the elongate boards include at their suitable lateral sides a plurality of protrusions (32) of generally hemisphere shape and a plurality of corresponding grooves (33) of similar shape. This construction may provide a further security in the elastic connection between the boards.

According to one preferred embodiment, the putting apparatus of the invention comprises a plurality of board-height adjusting members (6) disposed along the sides of the frame (2), as illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 5. The board-height adjusting members (6) are for adjusting the heights or tilting of at least some of the elongate boards (28, 29) connected thereto. As shown, the elongate boards include connecting rod (34) extending longitudinally from both ends of the boards and are connected to the upper end of support arm (35) which is in turn connected to elevating member (39) movable up and down.

Referring to FIGS. 1, 5 and 8-10, the board-height adjusting members (6) are disposed along the side of the frame (2) for selectively adjusting the height of each of the elongate boards (28, 29). Feeder screw (37) is positioned vertically at the center of casings (36) which is fixed at the side of the frame (2) by fastening bolt (36a).

Elevating member (39) includes nut portion (38) and is positioned on the feeder screw (37) for moving up and down upon rotation of the feeder screw (37). The elevating member (39) is preferably formed with two pieces combined together using fastening bolts (40).

Vertical guide post (41) and support arm (35) are located at the lateral sides of the elevating member (39). The guide post (41) guides an up-and-down movement of the elevating member (39). The support arm (35) has a lower end affixed to the elevating member (39), and moves up and down upon the vertical movement of the elevating member (39) for adjusting the elevation of the elongate board (28 or 29) which is connected to the upper end of the support arm (35).

Cap (44) is fixed on the upper side of casing (36) by fastening bolts (45). The cap (44) includes coupling holes (42, 43) for rotatably receiving the upper ends of the feeder screw (37) and guide post (41) therein. The upper end of feeder screw (37) protrudes above the coupling hole (42) of the cap (44) and includes a hexagonal or square wrench portion (37a) in order to enable rotation of the feeder screw (37) with the wrench portion by a suitable manner known in the art.

On the upper and lower end portions of feeder screw (37), stopper (37b) of flange-like shape is provided so as to limit its operation range or prevent the equipment from damage occurred by excessive adjustment, for example, by the user's mistake in controlling the vertical movement of the elevating member (39).

According to one preferred embodiment, the board-height adjusting members (6) are connected to the elongate boards (28, 29) in alternating manner, such as one after another (as shown in FIG. 5), or one after two others.

Suitable mat or artificial green (5) is placed on the elongate boards (28, 29). The elongate boards (28, 29) include side blocks (46) for preventing movement of the artificial green (5) and also for preventing the balls from falling out of the matted boards.

Methods of adjusting the slopes or lies of the artificial green (5) and process of putting practice is described herein in detail.

Utilizing the apparatus of the invention, golfers can practice realistic putting simulating a real golf course, such as straight-line putting and putting on varying lies.

Referring to FIG. 11, when practicing straight-line putting, golf ball (8) is set at a putting position (P) of artificial green (5), and the golfer can aim on selected one among the three hole cups on the opposite side of the frame (2) and hit the ball using a putter.

When the golf ball enters hole cup (7), the ball falls onto resonator (14) positioned on exhaust hopper (9) and the resonator (14) produces a resonant sound. Thus, the golfer can be more excited listening to the light metallic sound like one in the real field.

The ball fallen on exhaust hopper (9) is discharged through ball retrieval tube (10) and ball retrieval hole (11), and reaches the standing position of the golfer.

If the golfer wants to do a putting practice on a slope inclined in a specific direction, the golfer can then tilt the entire mat by adjusting the heights of one or two corners of the frame (2). In order to adjust tilting, the golfer can turn the feeder screw (16) of the frame-height adjusting member (3) by a suitable method. For example, the golfer can turn the wrench portion (16a) of the feeder screw (16) using a wrench. This makes the feeder screw (16) to rotate in a direction and the elevating member (18) moves up or down while guided by the guide post (20). Then, the leg member (22) affixed on a side of the elevating member (18) rises or falls from the frame (2). The foot or terminal member (21) coupled with the leg member (22) with the pinned bolt (23) can adjust its orientation and secure the apparatus on the ground. In addition, since the lower part of the leg member (22) and the corresponding area of the foot member (21), respectively, have hemispherical contact surfaces (22a) and (21a) with the same radius, the adjusted leg member and the foot member can further support the apparatus stably even if angles between the foot member (21) and the leg member (22) is changed by inclination of the frame (2). As such, the users can adjust the heights of desired sides of the frame (2) and inclination of the artificial green (5).

Moreover, golfers can arbitrarily adjust the slopes of particular portions of the green by manipulating any selected ones of the board-height adjusting members (6) of the invention. For that the golfer can turn the wrench portion (37a) of the feeder screw (37), for example, using a wrench. This makes the feeder screw (37) to rotate in a direction and the elevating member (39) moves up or down while guided by the guide post (41). Then, the support arm (35) affixed on a side of the elevating member (39) rises or falls relative to the frame (2). Then, the particular elongate board connected to the support arm (35) via connecting rod (34), moves up or down. This enables adjustment of the slopes of the artificial green (5) where the particular elongate board is located.

In addition, as described above in connection with FIGS. 5-7, because the plurality of elongate boards (28, 29) are elastically supported and connected by elastic members (e.g., springs (30)) and further include engaging portions between them (e.g., protrusions (32) and grooves (33)), the upper surface of the elongate boards 28, 29) can maintain a relatively smooth surface even if some of the elongate boards are adjusted as discussed above. Moreover, since the artificial green (5) of suitable thickness and flexibility covers on the plurality of elongate boards (28, 29), the green surface resembles one having varying slopes like the real course. As such, golfers can practice golf putting on the adjustable artificial green in various ways and aiming one of the hole cups (7) as a target as illustrated in FIG. 11.

According to one aspect of the present invention, golfers can practice putting more effectively on the artificial green with adjustable slopes like one in a real course. According to other aspects of the present invention, a plurality of elongate boards are connected by elastic members such as springs, and all or at least selected ones of them can adjust their height by frame-height adjusting members and individual board-height adjusting members. Thus, golfers can practice putting on chosen slopes in the artificial green.

The apparatus of the present invention provides a putting practice environment similar to the real golf game. Also, golfers can choose a practice environment depending on their ability or desires, such as putting by straight line and on slight inclination. In addition, golfers can enjoy the light metallic sound like one in a real field when the golf ball goes in the hole cup, and the golf ball can be transported to the standing location of the golfer for his convenience.

References used in the drawings of the invention are as follows:

 1:Golf putting practice apparatus 2:Frame
 3:Frame-height controller 4:Mat
 5:Artificial green 6:Board-height
controller
 7:Ball receiving hole or Hole cup 8:Golf ball
 9:Exhaust hopper10:Ball retrieval tube
11:Ball retrieval hole12:Resonance space
13:Ball discharge hole14:Resonator
15:Casing15a:Fastening bolt
16:Feeder screw16a:Wrench portion
16b:Stopper17:Nut
18:Elevating member19:Fastening bolt
20:Guide post21:Foot or terminal
member
21a:Hemispherical contact surface22:Leg member
22a:Hemispherical contact surface23:Pinned bolt
24, 25:Coupling holes26:Cap
27:Fastening bolt28, 29:Elongate boards
30:Elastic member (spring)31:Connecting hole
32:Protrusions33:Grooves
34:Connection rod35:Support arm
36:Casing37:Feeder screw
37a:Wrench combination37b:Stopper
38:Nut39:Elevating member
40Fastening bolt41:Guide post
42, 43:Coupling space44:Cap
45:Fastening bolt46:Side blocks