Title:
GOLF PRACTICE PUTTING GAME
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A golf practice green is provided. The golf practice green includes a platform for supporting a user and an elongated putting surface that is selectively raised at various positions to adjust the contour and slope of a putting surface. The putting surface is flexible and is supported by numerous adjustable support members having opposed ends that are each independently adjustable in height and are selectively positioned to provide a putting surface having a desired slope and contour. The adjustable support members include plates which are constructed of a semi-rigid material and have edges which bend under the weight of the putting surface to provide for a contoured support surface for the putting surface. The adjustable support members are independently adjustable for an unlimited number of combinations of contours and slops providing for a realistic putting surface. In addition, a magnetic latch is provided to retain the position of each end of the support platform.



Inventors:
Ostiguy, Michael (SYLVAN LAKE, CA)
Application Number:
10/906605
Publication Date:
09/08/2005
Filing Date:
02/25/2005
Assignee:
PUTT MASTERS INC. (ALBERTA, CA)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
473/278, 473/161
International Classes:
A63B67/02; A63B69/36; (IPC1-7): A63B69/36
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GRAHAM, MARK S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Maxey Law Offices, PLLC (St. Petersburg, FL, US)
Claims:
1. A golf practice putting game comprising: a user support platform; a putting platform integral with said user support platform; a flexible putting surface laid across said user support platform and along said putting platform; a plurality of support members having a pair of opposed ends, each of said plurality of support members are positioned transversely across and at a spaced distance along said putting platform above said deck and below said flexible putting surface, each of said plurality of support members are vertically positionable at a desired elevation independent from one another and each end of said support member is vertically positionable at a desired elevation independent from the opposite end to raise or lower a section of said flexible putting surface to create a desired contour and slope; a plurality of support plates one attached to each of said plurality of support members so as to be positioned between said support member and said flexible putting surface, each of said plurality of support plates is of a semi-rigid material which allows said support plate to flex slightly downwardly under the weight of said flexible putting surface to create a smooth transition between contours and slops created in said flexible putting surface; and a ball receiving cup received by said putting platform for receiving a putted ball.

2. The golf practice putting game of claim 1, wherein said putting platform includes a pair of side rails and an end rail which extend to height above said flexible putting surface, and further wherein each end of said opposed ends of each support member extends through a cooperating slot formed through a respective side rail.

3. The golf practice putting game of claim 2, further comprising: a plurality of magnetic latches one positioned approximate to each end of said opposed ends of said plurality of support members for retaining the respective end at a desired elevation.

4. The golf practice putting game of claim 1, further comprising: a plurality of actuators one attached to each end of said opposed ends of each of said plurality of support members, each actuator is operable to adjust the elevation of said end to which it is attached; and a control system connected to each of said plurality of actuators for controlling the operation of each actuator.

5. The golf practice putting game of claim 4, wherein each of said plurality of actuators are selected from the group consisting of a stepper motor, a servo motor, a linear actuator, a pneumatic cylinder and a hydraulic cylinder.

6. The golf practice putting game of claim 4, wherein said control system includes: a programmable logic controller; a ball position sensor connected to said programmable logic controller; a user interface connected to said programmable logic controller; and wherein said control system controls the operation of each of said plurality of actuators based upon a preprogrammed sequence.

7. The golf practice putting game of claim 6, wherein said programmed sequence includes a plurality of different putting configurations designed to simulate the putting on the greens of an actual golf course or of a virtual golf course.

8. A golf practice putting game comprising: a user support platform; a putting platform integral with and extending from said user support platform; said putting platform including a pair of side rails and an end rail; a flexible putting surface laid across a deck of said user support platform and said putting platform; a plurality of support members having a pair of opposed ends, each of said plurality of support members are positioned transversely across and at a spaced distance along said putting platform above said deck and below said flexible putting surface, each of said plurality of support members are vertically positionable at a desired elevation independent from one another and each end of said support member is vertically positionable at a desired elevation independent from the opposite end to raise or lower a section of said flexible putting surface to create a desired contour and slope; a plurality of support plates one attached to each of said plurality of support members so as to be positioned between said support member and said flexible putting surface, each support plate is of a semi-rigid material which allows said support plate to flex slightly downwardly under the weight of said flexible putting surface to create a smooth transition between contours created in said flexible putting surface; a ball receiving cup received by said putting platform for receiving a putted ball; and a ball return chute connected at one end to said ball receiving cup and terminating at second open end for discharging a ball from said putting platform.

9. The golf practice putting game of claim 8, further comprising: a foam layer positioned above said deck along said putting platform and said user support platform, said foam layer includes one cooperating slot for each one of said plurality of support members, said foam layer is of a thickness so that each support member is received by its respective cooperating slot flush therewithin, and an intermediate layer positioned above said foam layer and below said flexible putting surface, said intermediate layer includes one cooperating opening for each one of said plurality of support plates, said intermediate layer is of a thickness so that each support plate is received by its respective cooperating opening flush therewith.

10. The golf practice putting game of claim 8, further comprising: a plurality of magnetic latches one positioned approximate to each end of said opposed ends of said plurality of support members for retaining the respective end at a desired elevation.

11. The golf practice putting game of claim 10, wherein each end of said opposed ends of each support member extends through a cooperating slot formed through a respective side rail of a distance so that a user can grasp said end to adjust the elevation thereof.

12. The golf practice putting game of claim 8, further comprising: a plurality of actuators one attached to each end of said opposed ends of each of said plurality of support members, each actuator is operable to adjust the elevation of said end to which it is attached; and a control system connected to each of said plurality of actuators for controlling the operation of each actuator.

13. The golf practice putting game of claim 12, wherein each of said plurality of actuators are selected from the group consisting of a stepper motor, a servo motor, a linear actuator, a pneumatic cylinder and a hydraulic cylinder.

14. The golf practice putting game of claim 12, wherein said control system includes: a programmable logic controller; a user interface connected to said programmable logic controller; and wherein said control system controls the operation of each of said plurality of actuators based upon a preprogrammed sequence.

15. The golf practice putting game of claim 14, wherein said programmed sequence includes a plurality of different putting configurations designed to simulate the putting on the greens of an actual golf course or of a virtual golf course.

16. A method of practicing putting comprising the steps of: (a) providing a golf putting practice green comprising a user support platform, a putting platform integral with said user support platform, a flexible putting surface laid across said user support platform and along said putting platform, a plurality of support members positioned below said flexible putting surface which are operable to raise a section of said flexible putting surface independently of each other, each support member having opposed ends which are each independently vertically adjustable to a desired height, a plurality of support plates one attached to each of said plurality of support members so as to be positioned between said support member and said flexible putting surface, each support plate is of a semi-rigid material which allows said support plate to flex slightly downwardly under the weight of said flexible putting surface to create a smooth transition between contours created in said flexible putting surface, and a ball receiving cup received by said putting platform for receiving a putted ball; (b) adjusting the elevation of at least one end of at least one support member to create a desired putting surface within said flexible putting surface; (c) putting a golf ball across said flexible putting surface into said ball receiving cup; and repeating steps (b) and (c) until the act of practicing putting is complete.

17. The method of claim 16, wherein said golf putting practice green further comprises: a plurality of actuators one attached to each end of said opposed ends of each of said plurality of support members, each actuator is operable to adjust the elevation of said end to which it is attached; and a control system connected to each of said plurality of actuators for controlling the operation of each actuator.

18. The method of claim 17, wherein said control system includes: a programmable logic controller; a user interface connected to said programmable logic controller; and wherein said control system controls the operation of each of said plurality of actuators based upon a preprogrammed sequence.

19. The method of claim 18, wherein said programmed sequence includes a plurality of different putting configurations designed to simulate the putting on the greens of an actual golf course or of a virtual golf course.

20. The method of claim 19, wherein each of said plurality of actuators are selected from the group consisting of a stepper motor, a servo motor, a linear actuator, a pneumatic cylinder and a hydraulic cylinder.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/549,672, filed Mar. 3, 2004, the entirety of which is incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to practice putting surfaces. More particularly, relating to an adjustable putting surface where the surface can be adjusted to provide varying slopes and contours to simulate true putting conditions found on a golf course green.

There are numerous golf putting practice devices that seek to provide a user with an artificial putting surface to recreate a realistic golf course green, which may be encountered during a round of golf. However, these devices tend to be expensive to the consumer, are limited in their ability to provide realistic putting green conditions and tend to be difficult or time consuming to adjust.

Therefore, a need exists for a new and improved golf practice green that can be used for putting practice, which provides a realistic simulated golf course green, is easy to adjust and is inexpensive to the buying public. In this regard, the present invention substantially fulfills this need. In this respect, the golf practice green according to the present invention substantially departs from the conventional concepts and designs of the prior art, and in doing so provides an apparatus primarily developed for the purpose of providing for an inexpensive, fully adjustable artificial golf practice green for simulating realistic golf course putting green conditions to sharpen putting skills.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In general, in one aspect, a golf practice putting game is provided including a platform for supporting a user and an elongated putting surface that is selectively raised at various positions to adjust the contour and slope of the putting surface. The putting surface is flexible and is supported by numerous adjustable support members having opposed ends that are each independently adjustable in height and are selectively positioned to provide a putting surface having a desired slope and contour.

In general, in another aspect, a golf putting practice green is provided having each adjustable support member includes a handle at each opposed end that is easily grasped by a user to facilitate the adjustment of each end of the support member. In a most preferred arrangement, the ends of the support member are held in an independent position by a magnetic latch.

In general, in another aspect, the golf practice green includes a user support platform, a putting platform integral with the user support platform a flexible putting surface laid across the user support platform and along the putting platform a plurality of support members having a pair of opposed ends, each of the plurality of support members are positioned transversely across and at a spaced distance along the putting platform above said deck and below the flexible putting surface, each of the plurality of support members are vertically positionable at a desired elevation independent from one another and each end of the support member is vertically positionable at a desired elevation independent from the opposite end to raise or lower a section of the flexible putting surface to create a desired contour and slope, a plurality of support plates one attached to each of the plurality of support members so as to be positioned between the support member and the flexible putting surface, each of the plurality of support plates is of a semi-rigid material which allows the support plate to flex slightly downwardly under the weight of the flexible putting surface to create a smooth transition between contours and slops in the flexible putting surface; and a ball receiving cup received by the putting platform for receiving a putted ball.

In general, in yet another aspect, the golf practice green includes a plurality of actuators one attached to each end of the opposed ends of each of the plurality of support members, each actuator is operable to adjust the elevation of the end to which it is attached, and a control system connected to each of the plurality of actuators for controlling the operation of each actuator.

Further objects, features, and advantages of the present invention over the prior art will become apparent from the detailed description of the drawings which follows, when considered with the attached figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the preferred embodiment of the golf practice green constructed in accordance with the principles of the present invention;

FIG. 2a is a partial side elevation view with one end of a support member in a raised position;

FIG. 2b is a partial side elevation view with one end of a support member in a lowered position;

FIG. 3 is a partial cross sectional view of the golf practice green taken along line 3-3 in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a cross sectional view taken along line 4-4 in FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is the cross sectional view of FIG. 4 illustrating an alternate positioning of a support member;

FIG. 6 is a detail view of a end of a support member and an actuator attached to the support member for positioning the end to which it is attached; and

FIG. 7 is a schematic diagram of a control system that can be used to automatically control the positioning of the ends of each support member.

The same reference numerals refer to the same parts throughout the various figures.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a golf practice green. Referring to FIG. 1, a golf practice green 10 in accordance with the present invention is illustrated and will be describe. The golf practice green 10 includes a user support platform 12 which is integral with an elongated putting platform 14. The user support platform 12 is defined by two ends 16 and two sides 18 and includes a central area 20 for the placement of a golf ball 22. Side areas 24 provide space for either a right handed golfer or a left handed golf to stand and address the golf ball 22.

The elongated putting platform 14 extends from one end 16 of the user support platform 12 and is defined by two raised side rails 26 and a raised end rail 28 and includes a golf ball receiving cup 29 positioned towards the end rail. A continuous flexible putting surface 30 is laid across the user support platform 12 and along the elongated putting platform 14. Preferably, the flexible putting surface 30 is artificial turf. However, other surfaces are contemplated, such as low shag carpet, outdoor carpet or the like. The putting surface 30 is supported by the user support platform 12 by a rigid deck 32 and is supported by the putting platform 14 by the deck and spaced transverse support members 34.

Each transverse support member 34 includes two opposed ends 36, as best illustrated in FIG. 4, which pass through a vertical slot 38 formed through respective raised side rails 26. By raising the ends 36 of the support member 34, the support member can be selectively raised to form a contour or slope 40 within the putting surface 30. Preferably, each end 36 extends through its respective slot 38 a distance to provide a handle 42 for a user to easily grasp and raise the end of the support member 34. The two opposed ends 36 of each support member 34 can be raised together to the same level or can be raised independently to different levels depending upon the user's preference.

Referring to FIGS. 2a and 2b, the end 36 of one support member 34 is illustrated in a lowered positioned in FIG. 2a and a raised position in FIG. 2b. The end 36 is secured at a desired level by a magnetic latch 44. The magnetic latch 44, includes a magnetic source 46, such as a permanent magnet, attached to a side surface of the end 36 and a metallic member 48 attached to the raised side rail 26 and along the length of the vertical slot 38 formed therethrough. In additional examples, not illustrated, the magnetic source could be secured to the raised side rail 26 while the metallic member 48 is secured to the end 36, or the magnetic source could be attached the raised side rail and the end 36 can be formed of a metallic material, thereby eliminating the need for the metallic member. It is also contemplated to use an electro-magnetic source as the magnetic source 46.

In a preferred embodiment, the magnetic source 46 is a rare earth magnet and the metallic member 48 is a section of angle material constructed from a magnetic attracting material, such as steel or iron. In additional embodiments, the metallic member 48 could be constructed from a polymer material of plastic or the like, admixed with particles of magnetic attracting material. One edge of the metallic member 48 is attached to the raised side rail 26 with the second edge lying in a plane parallel to the adjacent surface of the magnet source 46. To raise the end 36 a user simply lifts the end to a desired height and the end is retained at that height by a magnetic attraction between the magnetic source 46 and the metallic member 48. The magnetic attraction between the metallic member 48 and the magnetic source 46 is of a magnitude sufficient enough to retain the selected height of the end 36 of the support member 34 by overcoming the weight the of the support member, the magnetic source 46, the supported putting surface 30 and at least one golf ball 20. Preferably, the magnetic attraction is of a magnitude that is sufficient enough to over come the aforementioned forces and in addition would require a relatively small force applied by the user to raise or lower the end 36.

Turning to FIG. 3, which is a cross sectional view of the golf practice green taken through the putting platform along line 3-3 in FIG. 1. In this figure, a support member 34 is illustrated in a raised position. The support member 34 includes a longitudinal bar 50 and a plate 52 attached thereto for supporting the putting surface 30. The plate 52 is a width so that the longitudinal edges 64 of the plate extend beyond the sides of the bar 50 to provide for a greater surface area of support to the putting surface 30. Preferably, the plate 52 is constructed of a material that affords for a semi-rigid property to the plate allowing the edges 64 to bow slightly due to the weight of the putting surface 30. The ability for the edges 64 of the plate 52 to bow under the weight of the putting surface 30 provides for a smooth transition of slope or contour of the putting surface thereby providing a realistic putting surface that is free of bumps or creases, which are typically found with the prior art putting practice devices.

Above the deck 32 is a layer of foam 66 positioned between the deck and the putting surface 30. An intermediate layer 80 of support material can also be used, which is positioned above the foam layer 66 and the putting surface 30. Preferably, the intermediate layer is constructed of the same material used in the construction of the plate 52 and has a thickness that is equal to the thickness of the plate. The foam layer 66 includes a slot 82 for receiving the bar 50 therewithin when the support member 34 is in a lowered position. Preferably, the foam layer 66 is of a thickness equal to the thickness of the bar 50 so that the bar is flush with the surface of the foam layer when in a fully lowered position. The plate 52 is received within a space 84 cut into the intermediate layer 80 when the support member 34 is in the lowered position to provide for a flush support surface for the putting surface 30.

Turning to FIG. 4, which is a longitudinal cross sectional view of a support member 34 taken along line 4-4 in FIG. 3. In this view, both ends 36 of the support member 34 are in a generally equal raised position. In this position, a smooth arcuate contour is formed into the support surface 30, such as the contour of the putting surface illustrated in FIG. 3. The slope or rise of the contour can be adjusted by lowering the support member 34 by adjusting the height of each end 36.

It can be seen in this view that the ball receiving cup 29 is flush with the putting surface 30 and includes a return chute 86 for directing a received ball through the raised side rail 26 for retrieval by a user.

Referring to FIG. 5, which is a cross sectional view taken longitudinally through a support member 34 and which illustrates an additional exemplary position of a support member 34. In this example, the ends 36 of the support member are positioned at different heights, one in a raised position and the opposite in a lowered position. With this positioning, the putting surface 30 is created to have an arcuate contour similar to that of FIG. 3, but with the addition of a downward directional slope in a direction toward the raised side rail 26 juxtaposed the lower positioned end 36. FIGS. 3, 4 and 5 illustrate only a small number of many ways the support members 34 can be positioned to create a putting surface having numerous combinations of contours and slopes. There are an endless number of combinations in which the support members 34 can be positioned to create realistic putting surfaces for the user to practice putting on.

Now with reference to FIG. 6, in an additional aspect of the golf practice green an actuator 90 is attached to each end 36 of each support member 34. Each actuator (for clarity only one is illustrated) is independently operated, either manually through a controller (not shown) to adjust the elevation of the end to which it is attached to create a desired contour in the flexible putting surface 30. The actuator 90 shown here is of the servo motor type which is operable to control the elevation of the end 36 of the support arm 34. While the actuator 90 is shown as a servo motor, numerous other types of actuators are contemplated, such as but not limited to a pneumatic cylinder, a hydraulic cylinder, a stepper motor, or a linear actuator. In one aspect, the actuator 90 is selected from the group consisting of a pneumatic cylinder, a hydraulic cylinder, a stepper motor, and a linear actuator.

As mentioned earlier, each actuator 90 can be controlled manually through a controller or can be controlled automatically through a control system 92, such as the one shown diagrammatically in FIG. 7. The control system 92 includes a programmable logic controller (PLC) 94 and a user interface 96, such as a personal computer or hand held computer, connected to the PLC for facilitating the programming and operation of the PLC. The PLC 94 is connected to each actuator 90 and is programmed to control the operation of each actuator to adjust the elevation of each end 36 of each support member 34 to create a putting surface having the desired contour. The PLC 94 can be programmed with a sequence of different putting surfaces to simulate the consecutive putting on an actual existing golf course or on a virtual golf course, which can be designed by the user through the user interface 96.

Furthermore, while the actuator 90 is illustrated as being attached to the end 36 of a support member 34 exterior of the side rail 26, the placement of the actuator is not limited to this configuration and should not be limited to this configuration. The placement of the actuator 90 depends upon the type of actuator used and the over all dimensions of the golf practice green 10. The actuator 90 can be placed virtually in any location so long as the act of putting of a golf ball across the putting surface 30 is not hindered by the location of the actuators.

The control system as shown in FIG. 7, is illustrated for exemplary purposes only, as many different types of control systems can reasonably be implemented to achieve the same results.

Of course, the foregoing description is that of preferred embodiments of the invention, and various changes and modifications may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.