Title:
Golf ball teeing apparatus and tee
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A golf ball teeing device includes an outer tube having a handle at one end, a spring-loaded inner tube slidably mounted within the outer tube and having a ball-engaging spring biased tip. A movable trigger is coupled to the inner tube for selectively moving the inner tube from a locked extended position to a retracted position. A concave ball-receiving foot is coupled to the outer tube at an end remote from the handle and positioned in spaced relationship with respect to the tip of the inner tube. When the inner tube is extended, the trigger locks the inner tube to compressibly hold a golf ball and tee between the foot and the tip of the inner tube.



Inventors:
Marcus, Konrad H. (Park Township, MI, US)
Dumond, Harvey (Hudsonville, MI, US)
Meeuwsen, Marc J. (Zeeland, MI, US)
Kroes, Benjamin C. (Grand Rapids, MI, US)
Application Number:
11/170927
Publication Date:
01/19/2006
Filing Date:
06/30/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
294/19.2
International Classes:
A63B57/00; A63B47/02
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
WONG, STEVEN B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PRICE HENEVELD LLP (GRAND RAPIDS, MI, US)
Claims:
The invention claimed is:

1. A golf ball teeing device comprising: a tube with a movable element for selectively engaging a golf ball; and a foot coupled to said tube, said foot having a concave-shaped wall including a tee-receiving slot, said wall having a radius of curvature for nestably receiving a golf ball and a recess in said slot for holding at tee therein to cooperatively hold a tee in a ball-teeing position by said movable element.

2. The device as defined in claim 1 wherein said foot is integrally molded of a polymeric material.

3. The device as defined in claim 2 wherein said foot includes a barrel which extends over an end of said tube to position said slot of said wall in alignment with said movable element.

4. The device as defined in claim 3 wherein said foot includes a spike-receiving channel extending in parallel relationship to said tube.

5. The device as defined in claim 4 wherein said channel includes an opening at an end of said foot in spaced relationship to said tee-receiving slot.

6. The device as defined in claim 5 and including a fork-shaped spike slidably mounted in said channel between retracted and extended positions, such that it can be employed when extended to hold the device in the ground and pick up a tee.

7. The device as defined in claim 6 wherein said fork includes a locking pin engaging said foot for holding said fork in one of an extended and retracted position.

8. A golf ball teeing device comprising: a tube with a movable element having a ball-engaging spring biased tip for selectively engaging a golf ball; and a foot coupled to said tube, said foot having a concave-shaped wall having a radius of curvature for nestably receiving a golf ball which is held in a ball-teeing position by said spring-biased tip.

9. The device as defined in claim 8 wherein said device includes an outer tube and said movable element comprises: an inner tube slidably mounted within said outer tube and including a tip end with said ball-engaging spring biased tip, a spring coupled to an end of said inner tube opposite said tip end for urging said inner tube into a ball-engaging position; and a movable and selectively lockable trigger coupled to said handle and to said inner tube for holding said inner tube in an extended position and allowing said inner tube to move to a retracted position.

10. The device as defined in claim 9 wherein said foot is integrally molded of a polymeric material.

11. The device as defined in claim 10 wherein said foot includes a barrel which extends over an end of said tube to position said slot of said wall in alignment with said movable element.

12. The device as defined in claim 11 wherein said foot includes a spike-receiving channel extending in parallel relationship to said tube.

13. The device as defined in claim 12 wherein said channel includes an opening at an end of said foot in spaced relationship to said tee-receiving slot.

14. The device as defined in claim 13 and including a fork-shaped spike slidably mounted in said channel between retracted and extended positions, such that it can be employed when extended to hold the device in the ground and pick up a tee.

15. The device as defined in claim 14 wherein said fork includes a locking pin engaging said foot for holding said fork in one of an extended and retracted position.

16. A tee for use with a teeing device having a handle at one end and a ball and tee receiving foot at an opposite end, said tee comprising: a ball-receiving head and a spike integrally extending from said head, wherein said head includes an upper surface and a plurality of ball supporting tines integrally formed on said head and extending upwardly from an outer periphery of said upper surface for supporting a golf ball on said tines in spaced relationship to said upper surface.

17. The tee as defined in claim 16 wherein said tines have ends remote from said head and wherein said ends are concavely curved to hold a golf ball therein.

18. The tee as defined in claim 17 wherein said ends are concavely curved with a radius of curvature corresponding to the radius of curvature of a golf ball.

19. The tee as defined in claim 18 wherein said tee is integrally molded of a polymeric material.

20. The tee as defined in claim 19 wherein said polymeric material is Nylon 6/6.

21. The tee as defined in claim 20 wherein said tee includes three tines spaced at about 120° intervals on said head.

22. The tee as defined in claim 20 wherein said tee includes four tines spaced at about 90° intervals on said head.

23. The tee as defined in claim 16 wherein said tee has a head with an outer diameter of about 0.75 inches, a length of about 2.7 inches, and wherein the junction of said spike and head has a radius of curvature no greater than about 0.05 inches.

24. The tee as defined in claim 23 wherein said tines have ends remote from said head and wherein said ends are concavely curved to hold a golf ball therein.

25. A golf ball teeing device comprising: an outer tube having a handle at one end; an inner tube slidably mounted within said outer tube and including a tip end with a ball-engaging spring biased tip; a main spring mounted within said outer tube and coupled to said inner tube for urging said inner tube into a ball-engaging position; a movable trigger coupled to said handle and to said inner tube for moving said inner tube to a retracted position; a foot coupled to said outer tube at an end remote from said handle and positioned in spaced relationship with respect to said tip end of said inner tube such that said inner tube, when extended, compressibly holds a golf ball between said foot and said tip end of said inner tube; and a trigger lock coupled to said trigger and said handle to selectively hold said inner tube in fixed relationship to said outer tube to provide a positive locked ball-engaging relationship between said foot and said tip end of said inner tube.

26. The device as defined in claim 25 wherein said inner tube is coupled to said main spring by a sliding bolt.

27. The device as defined in claim 26 wherein said trigger is coupled to said inner tube through said sliding bolt.

28. The device as defined in claim 27 wherein said outer tube includes a slot and a sear extends between said bolt and said trigger through said slot.

29. The device as defined in claim 28 wherein said trigger lock is pivotally coupled to said sear and includes a locking tip which selectively engages a wall in said handle to prevent the sliding motion of said bolt when in a locked position.

30. The device as defined in claim 29 and further including a bias spring extending between said sear and said trigger lock to urge said trigger lock into a locked position.

31. The device as defined in claim 30 wherein said trigger lock and trigger can be compressed by a user's hand to pivot said trigger lock against said bias spring such that said locking tip clear said wall and allows said trigger and inner tube coupled thereto to retract.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. § 119(e) on U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/589,115 entitled GOLF BALL TEEING APPARATUS, filed on Jul. 19, 2004, by Konrad H. Marcus et al., the entire disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a golf ball teeing device.

Golf has become an increasingly popular activity which individuals can enjoy throughout their life. Many golfers, as they age, incur joint problems which, although still allowing arm movement and body rotation, prevent or make it very painful to bend over. Such motion is required for teeing a golf ball as well as retrieving the ball from the cup once holed.

There have been proposed numerous devices for assisting such golfers in teeing and retrieving their golf balls. Such devices usually take the form of an extension arm which includes a ball and tee holding mechanism at one end and a ball retrieving suction cup at an opposite end. Representative of such golfing aids are those devices shown in U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,609,198; 4,529,432; 4,589,661; 4,951,947; 5,330,177; 5,330,178; 5,439,213; 5,632,696; 5,669,646; and 5,759,117.

Although these patents represent devices which suggest some solutions to the problems encountered by many golfers, they have not met with widespread success due either to their cost, reliability over long-term use, or their difficulty or complexity to use. Thus, there remains a need for a cost effective, reliable, and easy to use golf ball teeing device and ball retriever.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A golf ball teeing device includes an outer tube having an easily gripped handle at one end, a spring-loaded concentric inner tube slidably mounted within the outer tube and including an end with a ball-engaging spring biased tip. A movable trigger is coupled to the inner tube for moving the inner tube to a retracted position. The teeing device further includes a concave ball-receiving foot coupled to the outer tube at an end remote from the handle and positioned in spaced relationship with respect to the tip end of the inner tube. The foot is configured to hold a tee. When the inner tube is extended for holding a ball between the tee-holding foot and the tip end of the inner tube, a trigger lock holds the inner tube in place, such that the tee can be inserted into the ground. The moveable tip at the end of the inner tube is coupled to a spring for urging the tip into a ball-engaging position to provide a positive locked ball and tee engaging relationship between said foot and tip end of said inner tube. Subsequent to teeing a ball, the trigger is unlocked allowing the inner tube to be retracted to release the teed golf ball. A tee is provided which cooperates with the device and is more easily handled than standard tees.

These and other features, objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent upon reading the following description thereof together with reference to the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a left side elevational view of the golf ball teeing device of the present invention;

FIGS. 2A and 2B are enlarged, fragmentary, vertical cross-sectional views of the ball-holding device shown in FIG. 1, shown in a golf ball and tee holding position;

FIG. 2C is a fragmentary diagrammatic view of the area IIC of FIG. 2B;

FIGS. 3A and 3B are views of FIGS. 2A and 2B, shown with the device in a golf ball releasing position and with a tee retrieving fork extended;

FIG. 4 is an enlarged, exploded perspective view of the foot end of the golf ball teeing device;

FIG. 5 is an enlarged, exploded perspective view of the handle of the golf ball teeing device;

FIG. 6 is a fragmentary enlarged bottom view of the outer tube showing the slot for receiving the sliding trigger mechanism;

FIG. 7 is an enlarged, fragmentary, vertical cross-sectional view of the foot of the teeing device, shown during the teeing of a golf ball in the ground;

FIG. 8 is an enlarged, fragmentary, vertical cross-sectional view of the foot of the teeing device, shown being removed from the now teed golf ball;

FIG. 9 is an enlarged, fragmentary, vertical cross-sectional view, showing the tee and the tee pick-up fork extended to retrieve the tee;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the foot of the teeing device;

FIG. 11 is a side elevational view of one preferred embodiment of a tee for use with the teeing device of the present invention;

FIG. 12 is a top plan view of the tee shown in FIG. 11;

FIG. 13 is a front elevational view of the tee of FIG. 11, shown with a golf ball thereon;

FIG. 14 is a side elevational view of an alternative embodiment of a tee for use with the teeing device of the present invention;

FIG. 15 is a top plan view of the tee shown in FIG. 14; and

FIG. 16 is a front elevational view of the tee of FIG. 14, shown with a golf ball thereon.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The golf ball teeing device 10 is shown in FIG. 1 and includes an outer cylindrical anodized aluminum tube 20 to which a polymeric pistol grip handle 30 is attached. The outer tube 20 has an end insert cap 22 (FIGS. 2B and 3B) at the handle end with a ball pick-up resilient socket 28 attached thereto. The teeing device 10 includes a hook 12 mounted near the pistol grip handle 30 for attaching the device to a golf bag or cart for transportation during a golf game. The pistol grip handle includes a sliding trigger assembly 40 which is coupled to a sliding spring-loaded bolt 42 within outer tube 20. Bolt 42 has one end 35 (FIGS. 2B and 3B) coupled to an end of an inner tube 50 slidably and concentrically mounted, as is bolt 42, within outer tube 20. The trigger assembly 40 is coupled to this bolt through a sear 44A and 44B (FIG. 5), which extends through a slot 24 (FIG. 6) in outer tube 20 and into a recess 46 (FIGS. 2B and 3B) in bolt 42. Fasteners, such as screws 45 (FIG. 6) secure the sear 44A, 44B to bolt 42. A further description of the trigger assembly 40 follows the description of the bolt and inner and outer tube assemblies.

Teeing device 10 further includes a foot assembly 60 mounted to the opposite end of outer tube 20 from handle 30 for selectively holding and releasing a golf ball 70 and tee 75 for the teeing of the ball in the ground, as illustrated in FIG. 7; subsequently removal of the device from the teed ball, as shown in FIG. 8; and the retrieval of the tee from the ground, as shown in FIG. 9. An inner tube 50 extends concentrically within outer tube 20 and is coupled to the left end 35 of bolt 42, as seen in FIGS. 2B and 3B, while a compression spring 52 is coupled to the right end of bolt 42 and engages the cap 22. Spring 52, therefore, urges the bolt 42 and inner tube 50 to an extended position, as seen in FIGS. 1, 2A, 2B, and 7. As described below, in this position, the inner tube 50 is locked against movement to the right, as viewed in FIGS. 2A and 2B.

The end of inner tube 50 remote from bolt 42 includes a tip assembly 54 (FIG. 4) which includes a polymeric golf ball engaging tip member 53 having an end 55 with a concave indentation 56 (FIGS. 7-9). The tip member 53 is surrounded by a compression spring 57 and includes a pair of outwardly extending resilient tabs 58 which extend through spring 57, as seen in FIGS. 7-9, and snap-fits into a mounting collar 59 which extends into and is secured to the open end 51 of inner tube 50. Thus, tip member 53 provides a small incremental adjustment of about 0.25 inches, such that, when the inner tube is in an extended position, such as shown in FIG. 7, the golf ball 70 is held against the upper concave surface 77 of tee 75, with an amount of compression (about 4.5 pounds) sufficient to hold the ball in place while the ball is being teed by pushing the handle 30 in a downward direction, as indicated by arrow A in FIG. 7. The foot assembly 60 cradles the ball in position with respect to the tee 75 and includes molded polymeric halves 61A and 61B having mating ends which define concave, spaced-apart ball-receiving concave walls 62A and 62B which, when assembled as shown in FIG. 10, define a tee-receiving slot 64. The concave curved walls 62A and 62B surround and encompass about one-third of a golf ball, as illustrated in FIGS. 7-9, and have a radius of curvature corresponding to a radius of curvature of a golf ball as does the concave recess 56 of tip 55.

The foot assembly 60 further includes a rectangular slot 66 (FIG. 10), which extends longitudinally along the length of the foot assembly and includes an opening 67 (FIGS. 2A and 3A) through the end thereof, such that a tee-retrieving fork 80 can be slidably received therein and can be retracted into the storage position, as shown in FIGS. 2A, 7 and 8, and extended and locked into a use position, as shown in FIGS. 3A and 9. For such purpose, the fork 80 (FIG. 4) includes a spring-loaded locking pin 82 which extends within one of two locking apertures 84 or 86 in foot assembly 60 for locking the tee-retrieving fork in an extended position or a retracted position. Further, the fork 80 can be removed from the foot assembly 60 for cleaning by retracting pin 82 and sliding the fork 80 from slot 66 upwardly toward the pistol grip 30 of the teeing device, if desired. The foot assembly 60 is integrally molded of a suitable material, such as polyvinyl chloride, ABS, polycarbonate, or the like, and includes a collar 63 with a circular opening 65 (FIG. 10) for extending over the outer tube 20, as seen in FIGS. 1, 2A, 2B, and 7-9. Suitable fasteners, such as screws 67 (FIG. 4), secure the foot assembly 60 to the end of outer tube 20. The trigger assembly 40 and handle 30 cooperate to selectively hold the inner tube 50 in an extended locked position or, when the trigger is squeezed, to a retracted position utilizing the structure now described.

Referring to FIGS. 2B, 2C, 3B, and 5, it is seen that the pistol grip handle 30 comprises two polymeric molded halves 31A and 31B, which are secured to the outer tube 20 in fixed relationship thereto by means of fastening screws 33. Thus, the pistol-shaped grip handle 30 remains stationary with respect to the outer tube 20. The trigger assembly 40 includes a pair of trigger halves 41A and 41B which are secured to the sear sections 44A and 44B and which are captively held between sections 41A and 41B of the trigger in fixed relationship thereto by a fastening screw 43, while a pivot pin 45 pivotally mounts a trigger lock 47 to the trigger members 41A and 41B. The trigger lock 47 is pivotally mounted by the pivot pin between a locking position, as seen in FIG. 2B. In this position, a compression spring 48, which is captively held by a mounting boss 49 on the generally L-shaped trigger lock 47 at one end and fits within a slot 39 in sear 44, biases lock 47 clockwise to a locking position, as seen in FIG. 2B. In this position, an end 38 of trigger lock 47 engages a wall 37 of handle 30, which prevents the inner tube 50 attached to bolt 42 from moving rearwardly due to the connection between sear 44, trigger lock 47, and the locking connection between end 38 and wall 37 of handle assembly 30. Thus, when the ball is positioned within the device as shown in FIG. 7, the inner tube cannot retract and the tip assembly 54 holds the ball cradled against the tee within the concave curved walls 62 of foot assembly 60.

The operation of the device in loading the golf ball and tee is now presented in connection with FIGS. 2A, 2B, 2C, 7, and 8. Initially, the trigger lock 47 is squeezed rearwardly, rotating the end 38 of trigger lock counterclockwise above wall 37 in pistol handle 30, such that the end 38 can now slide in an open slot 32 (above wall 37) formed in handle 30, as seen in FIG. 3B. This allows the trigger 40 to be simultaneously squeezed to slide rearwardly compressing spring 52 while bringing bolt 42 and inner tube 50 to a ball and tee receiving position, as illustrated in FIG. 3A. In this position, a tee 75 is inserted into the tee-receiving slot 64 and a ball 70 is positioned in the concave recess 76 of tee 75, and the hand grip pressure on trigger lock 47 and trigger 40 is released. This allows the compression spring 52 to expand into the position shown in FIG. 2B, while the compression spring 48 pivots the end 38 of trigger lock 47 into a position to engage wall 37, as seen in FIG. 2B. With the compression spring 52, bolt 42, and inner tube 50 moved to the left as shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B, the golf ball 70 and tee 75 are securely held in a teeing position.

The user then orients device 10 in a vertical position, as shown in FIG. 7, at a location on the tee box where it is desired to tee the ball. Handle 30 is then pushed downwardly to compress spring 57 of the tip assembly 54 slightly until its travel limit has been reached. After which, a further downward force against the locked inner tube 50 inserts the tee into the ground, as shown in FIGS. 7 and 8. Once the ball has been teed to a desired height, which can be controlled by the dimension D of the foot assembly 60 as seen in FIG. 7, if desired for the minimum ball height, the trigger lock 47 is again squeezed simultaneously with squeezing the trigger 40 to allow the trigger assembly to be slid rearwardly to the position shown in FIGS. 3A, 3B, and FIG. 8. In this position, tip 55 of the teeing device is spaced from ball 70 sufficiently to allow the device 10 to be retracted, as shown by arrow B in FIG. 8, from the teed ball.

Once the golfer strikes the ball, the tee can be picked up without bending over by extending the tee retrieval fork 80, as seen in FIG. 9, utilizing the fork slot 85 to engage the outer diameter of the spike 72 of tee 75 in a force fitting coupling to allow the tee to be picked up by the golfer without bending over. Similarly, when the golfer has holed the putt on a green, the device can be inverted with the ball pickup resilient socket 28 mounted on the pistol grip end of the outer tube 20 to be extended into the cup and grip the ball for removal of the ball from the cup.

One form of a tee 75 used with a teeing device having a handle at one end and a ball-receiving foot at an opposite end includes a spike 72 and an integrally formed ball-receiving head 77. The head includes a concave ball-receiving recess 73 and has an outer diameter of about 0.75 inches. The junction of the spike 72 and head 77 is substantially orthogonal with a radius of curvature no greater than about 0.05 inches. The tee 75 is about 0.27 inches in length. This tee is somewhat oversized for ease of handing with teeing device 10 and is integrally molded of a polymeric material, such as Nylon 6/6, polycarbonate or other material, which can withstand the repeated impact forces of a driver.

One embodiment of a preferred tee of the present invention is shown in FIGS. 11-13. In FIG. 11, a tee 90 is shown which is preferably integrally molded of a polymeric material, such as Nylon 6/6, polycarbonate or other polymeric material, although it can be manufactured of traditional materials, such as wood. Tee 90 includes a head section 92 and an integral spike section 94 with the head 92 having an upper surface 93 which is concavely curved and which integrally includes three upwardly extending tines 95-97 with ends 98, which are concavely curved, as best seen in FIG. 11. The tines extend at approximately 120° intervals on the outer periphery 91 of head 92 and extend upwardly from the surface 93 a distance of at least approximately 0.1 inches or more. Spike 94 is tapered inwardly from a diameter near the head of about 0.25 inches to the tip 99, which is formed to a point for ease of insertion of the spike into the ground. The head 92 has a diameter of about 0.75 inches and the spike has a length of about 2.7 inches to cooperatively engage the ball-receiving foot of the teeing device 10 of the present invention. The junction of the spike and head 92 is substantially orthogonal (radius of curvature of about 0.05 inches), as best seen in the side views of FIGS. 11 and 13. With the tee 90, as best seen in FIG. 13, a ball 70 is positioned on the concavely curved ends 98 of the tines 95-97 and spaced above surface 93 a distance corresponding to the height of the tines, which supports the ball with a minimum amount of contact with the tee, thereby easing the release of the ball from the tee when struck by a club.

A second alternative embodiment of the tee which can be used with the teeing device 10 is shown in FIGS. 14-16 and has overall dimensions which are substantially the same as tee 90. Tee 100 includes a head 102, and integral spike 104 with the head 102 including four upwardly extending tines 105, 106, 107, and 108, as best seen in FIGS. 14 and 15. Each of the tines 105-108 have upwardly curved, concavely curved surfaces 109 and are spaced at approximately 90° intervals. Like the tines of the FIGS. 11-13 embodiment, the tines extend upwardly from the concave upper surface 103 of head 102 a distance of about 0.1 inches or more. The spike or tee 100 is tapered inwardly from the head to the tip 110, which is pointed to ease insertion of the spike 100 in the ground. The tee is preferably integrally molded of a polymeric material, such as Nylon 6/6, polycarbonate or other suitable material, although it could be machined from wood. Ball 70 is held on the four equally spaced tines of tee 100, as seen in FIG. 16, to support the ball above the concave surface 103 of the head 102 of tee, such that a minimum contact is made with the ball, which is stably supported on the concavely curved ends of the tines. As in the earlier embodiment, the concave radius of curvature is approximately that of the ball 70, such that the ball is cooperatively held by the tines, as seen in FIG. 16.

The teeing device of the present invention, which employs polymeric molded foot assembly, a trigger assembly, a handle assembly, and a pair of concentric tubes and compression springs represents a relatively inexpensive but highly reliable construction for a device which is easy to use, intuitive in its operation, and which allows a golfer with limited flexibility to enjoy the game of golf. Both the inner and outer tubes are manufactured of anodized aluminum while the tee-retrieving fork 80 was made of chromium-plated steel for durability. The springs employed are similarly treated to be weather resistant to assure long life of the device.

It will become apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications to the preferred embodiment of the invention as described herein can be made without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.





 
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