Title:
Golf ball teeing apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A disposable golf ball-teeing device, when attached to the front half of footwear, aids a golfer to successfully position a golf ball onto a stationary tee, without the need for a one leg-balancing act; repeated bending; stooping or the application of expensive machines. The teeing process requires only very basic skill level and the ability to stand erect on both feet while lifting the toe portion of one shoe in order to position the golf ball onto a tee. A first version has members that surround the front of the shoe, and a second version adheres to the underside of the shoe. Both versions have protruding members with an opening between them for supporting a golf ball. A third version, which may be reusable, has an hand operated remote actuator for movement of protruding arms to capture and place a golf ball.



Inventors:
Carter, Vandette B. (White Plains, NY, US)
Application Number:
11/209373
Publication Date:
02/23/2006
Filing Date:
08/23/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B57/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WONG, STEVEN B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
David Aker (Hartsdale, NY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus for handling a golf ball comprising: a first portion for being received on an underside of a shoe; and a second portion configured to receive a golf ball and to permit said golf ball to be positioned on a golf tee by manipulation of a foot upon which said shoe is worn.

3. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising: attachment straps extending from said first portion for attaching said apparatus to a shoe.

4. The apparatus of claim 3, wherein said straps comprise: a dorsal strap extending from said first portion and configured to be bent around a front portion of a shoe so as to be on top of a front portion of the shoe; and side straps, said side straps extending from said first portion, said side straps being configured for surrounding said shoe in a general region of an arch of said shoe.

5. The apparatus of claim 4, wherein said dorsal strap has extensions for reaching to said side straps, when said side straps surround said shoe, the apparatus further comprising means for connecting said extension portions and said side straps to secure said apparatus to a shoe.

6. The apparatus of claim 4, wherein said dorsal strap has extensions for reaching to said side straps, when said side straps surround said shoe, the apparatus further comprising an adhesive on one of said of one of said extensions or said side straps for fastening respective ones of said side straps and said extensions to one another

7. The apparatus of claim 4, wherein said dorsal strap has extensions for reaching to said side straps, when said side straps surround said shoe, said extensions each having an opening for receiving a respective side strap.

8. The apparatus of claim 7, wherein said side straps have edges with serrations, said serrations being sized shaped and configured so as to lock said side straps in said opening when said side straps are inserted into said openings.

9. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said first portion has opening through which cleats of a shoe extend.

10. The apparatus of claim 9, wherein said first portion has a reinforcement portion between said openings, so as to strengthen said first portion.

11. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising an adhesive on one side of said first portion, said adhesive being for contacting said underside of said shoe to secure said apparatus to said shoe.

12. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein said first portion is of circular shape.

13. The apparatus of claim 12, wherein said first portion has a removable filler portion, said filler portion when removed, leaving said first portion to have a generally circular opening, a generally circular first part surrounding said opening and a generally circular second part surrounding said opening, with a gap between an end of said first part and an end of said second part.

14. The apparatus of claim 13, wherein said generally circular opening is sized so as to fit around a cleat of a golf shoe.

15. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said second portion has a generally circular opening, a generally circular first part surrounding said opening and a generally circular second part surrounding said opening, with a gap between an end of said first part and an end of said second part, said opening being for receiving a portion of a golf ball so that said second portion supports said golf ball.

16. The apparatus of claim 15, wherein said gap is sufficiently large to allow a stem of a golf tee to pass through said gap.

17. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said second portion comprises a pair of movable arms for acquiring the golf ball, further comprising an actuator portion remove from said first portion for actuating movement of said movable arms.

18. The apparatus of claim 17, wherein said actuator is connected to said first portion by a movable cable moved by said actuator, said cable being for moving said arms.

19. The apparatus of claim 17, wherein said actuator is connected to said first portion by an electromagnetic link.

20. The apparatus of claim 17, wherein said actuator is configured to be worn near a waist of a user, and to be actuated by the hand of said user.

21. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said first portion comprises part of a strap configured to extend around footwear of a user.

22. A method for placing a golf ball on a tee using a shoe mounted device having arms for receiving the golf ball, comprising: maneuvering the shoe so that the arms are in a position to acquire the golf ball; moving the shoe so that the golf ball is over the tee; and lifting the front of the shoe while keeping the rear of the shoe on a surface so that the arms are clear of the tee, and the golf ball remains on the tee.

23. The method of claim 22, wherein the arms have a space between them through which a stem of a golf tee can pass; further comprising moving the shoe so that the stem of the tee passes through said space.

Description:

This application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. §119(e) from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. Nos. 60/603,655 filed on Aug. 23, 2004; 60/605,356 filed on Aug. 30, 2004; and 60/694,065 filed on Jun. 27, 2005, which are all incorporated herein by reference, in their entireties.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to apparatus useful in golf. More particularly, it relates to apparatus methods for assisting a golfer in placing a golf ball on a tee.

2. Background Art

A typical bucket of golf balls at a driving range contains 60-120 balls. This translates to an average of nearly 60-120 times a golfer will stoop or bend to place a ball onto a tee. It is a know medical fact that repetitive and awkward movements of the back can result in back injuries in the form of sprains or disk herniations. Back pain is among the leading causes of morbidity and distress among golfers and the general public at large. Back pain has been implicated in a major portion of sick-time lost from work and in emergency room visits, rivaled only by the common cold.

More and more people of advanced age are joining the sport of golf recreationally or professionally. This means that some 80% to 90% of them will experience some form of back problem at least once in their lifetime.

In the sport of golf, repeated bending to tee golf balls at a driving range is a necessity for practice. This action clearly increases the risk of unintentional back injuries from constant flexing and extending the back, awkward turning and twisting movements.

This potential adverse outcome that often time results from these actions have long been recognized and inadequately addressed by an approach such as that of Dickson, in U.S. Pat. No. 5,651,742 which describes an assembly that requires multiple harnessing bodies to a golfer's shoe, and an elevated platform which is intended to place a ball onto a tee. Though good in its intention, Dickson's device may be cumbersome to use and requires the repeated bending of the ankle to retrieve a golf ball, and the performance of a one-foot balancing act to tee the golf ball. This maneuver poses the danger of falling. Further, the device is not universally adaptable to all shoes. Moreover, Dickson's device requires assembly before application; it will be relatively heavy or bulky on a golfer's shoe. All of this detracts from its true practicality.

Other inventors have all made similar attempts, or have proposed complex long-handled devices to address this problem. In the end, they have provided complicated gadgets which have proven to be quite expensive, heavy to carry and difficult to use.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the invention to provide a device for assisting a golfer in placing a golf ball on a tee, that is simple, easy to use, low in weight, and preferably disposable.

It is a further object of the invention to provide a device of the type described above that does not require the golfer to bend or squat to place the ball on the tee.

It is another object of the invention to provide a device of the type described above that may simply and easily affixed to the golfer's shoe.

These objects and others are achieved in accordance with the invention by a device fabricated from a relatively flat and flexible sturdy plastic type material that features a strap on one or both sides like a sandal shoe wear. The advantage is that the device can be mounted on any footwear. Once secured, the ball retaining member will be situated relatively flat to the surface of the ground in an ideal orientation to secure a golf ball. No ankle bending is required to retrieve the golf ball; the receiving member and the golf ball are on the same level.

The invention may also be embodied in other basic forms such as a device that is also relatively flat and oriented in one plane. One half of the top surface may be prepared with an adhesive substance while the other half may take the shape of a circular projection as described prior. The adhesive section can be affixed securely onto the bottom part of a golfer's shoe, while the semicircular projection protrudes beyond the border of the shoe. The device may be oriented in one of a possible 180 degrees or more. The adhesive portion may be designed to fit over or around the spikes found on all forms of golf shoes. In this alternate embodiment, the device adheres directly to the shoe as a single unit, without the need for an additional harness member.

In accordance with another embodiment of the invention, an operative portion is located on footwear, and a control portion may include a ‘bicycle brake’ cable control or wireless remote control on the waist or pocket of the golfer. The control portion allows the golfer to operate a clamp (crab's claw) device that is part of the operative portion on the shoe. What this device does in essence, is allow the golfer to utilize his hands to operate the crab's claw mechanism to 1.) acquire a golf ball; 2.) securely keep it in place; and 3.) release the ball upon demand onto the tee, all by a control mechanism utilizing the hands. No assistance of a golf club is required, and no stooping or squatting is needed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing aspects and other features of the present invention are explained in the following description, taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a first embodiment of an apparatus in accordance with the invention, ready to be placed on a shoe.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the apparatus of FIG. 1, in a flat condition.

FIG. 2A is a perspective view of an alternative version of the apparatus of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a bottom view of a first apparatus in accordance with a second embodiment of the invention in place on a golf shoe.

FIG. 4 is a is a bottom view of a second apparatus in accordance with a second embodiment of the invention in place on shoe that is not a golf shoe.

FIG. 5 is a top view of the apparatus of FIG. 3 or FIG. 4 illustrating adhesive location, and having a removable member, so that may be modified to fit universally on shoes with or without cleats.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a third embodiment of an apparatus in accordance with the invention.

FIG. 7 is a cross sectional view of an actuator for the apparatus of FIG. 6.

FIG. 8 shows the relative relationship and position of the second embodiment when affixed to a shoe from a front perspective.

FIG. 9 illustrate the manner in which a device in accordance with the second embodiment of the invention is used to place a golf ball on a tee.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring to FIG. 1 and FIG. 2, there is shown a perspective view of an apparatus incorporating features of the present invention. Although the present invention will be described with reference to the embodiments shown in the drawings, it should be understood that the present invention can be embodied in many alternate forms of embodiments. In addition, any suitable size, shape or type of elements or materials could be used.

FIG. 1 and FIG. 2, a sole portion 1 of the apparatus, for resting against the sole of a shoe, has two voids 2 and 3 in an offset fashion, intended to accommodate various shoe soles configurations (found among the popular brands). A rear portion 4, and side members 18 and 19, make up the border for the device, which is sized and shaped to extend only to the vicinity just forward of the arch under a shoe.

A dividing member 5 separates and adds central structural support for the device. Two semicircular protruding members 7 and 9 extend forwardly to form the main support to retain a golf ball 11 in the void 10 between members 7 and 9. A golf ball 11 may be positioned over the void 10 and supported by the projections 12 and 13 of protruding members 7 and 9, respectively.

A dorsal strap 14 with flexible, perpendicular, left and right extensions 15, form the top support for the device. Dorsal strap 14 is folded back over the top of the front portion of the shoe (not shown) and extension members 15 are folder into contact with the shoe. Right and left fastening members 17, extending from rear portion 4, have contact adhesive portions 17A thereon. When not in use, a cover (not shown), such as a removable and disposable paper member is placed over adhesive portions 17A. When the device is to be fastened in place on a shoe, the paper is removed, and the tacky adhesive of adhesive portions 17A is forced into contact with extension members 15, as illustrated in FIG. 1, so that the device is firmly captured around the shoe.

FIG. 2A illustrates an alternative version where instead of adhesive, right and left fastening members 17 are each formed with a serrated edge 20 having cut out portions. An opening 21 is provided in each of extension members 15 to receive the corresponding fastening member 17. The serrated edges are shaped, and the openings are sized and shaped so that when fastening members 17 are inserted into the opening and pulled tight, as shown in FIG. 2A, fastening members 17 are effective locked in place within the openings. This is effectively a one-way locking system, in that once locked in place, it is difficult, but not necessarily impossible, to remove the device from a shoe.

Both versions of the device may be formed of a fairly thin, and light polymer material, that is strong, disposable and can be cut or torn off after use. The material may be clear or colored, and may have decorative features thereon. Both devices may be stored in a flat configuration prior to use, a feature that permits stacking of a number of devices in a relatively flat see through package, which is easily displayed in a store display having a horizontal member extending through a small hole in the package.

FIG. 3 illustrates a golf shoe 100 having a sole portion 110, with a disposable device 140 in accordance with the invention attached. A surface of a portion 142 of device 140 is coated with a protected glue substance which forms a bond to sole portion 110 so as to secure device 140 around a golf cleat 150 of shoe 100. Semi-circular portions or arms 120A and 120B of device 140 are shown with an open channel 130 to accommodate relative motion of the device around the golf tee 160, and motion of the stem of the golf tee 160 through channel 130.

FIG. 4 depicts a device 140A similar to that in FIG. 3, with the exception that device 140A has a filler 155 that is attached to the general assembly of device 140A, but is removable. Device 140A may be secured on to the sole 110A of a shoe 100A that is not a golf shoe. The borders of filler 155 are perforated to allow the easy separation of filler 155 from the general assembly of device 140A. When it remains attached, filler 155 adds to the total shoe attachment area of device 140A, thus providing a larger bonding surface for the attachment of device 140A on to the planar surface of sole 110A of shoe 100A. When filler 155 is removed, the device can fit around a cleat so as able to be adhered to the sole of golf type shoe, as shown at 150 in FIG. 3.

FIG. 5 illustrates the device of FIG. 4 alone and in greater detail. A first portion of the apparatus shown generally as 112, which is not secured to a shoe, and does not have any adhesive thereon, includes first circular arm 120A, and second circular arm 120B shaped so as define a circular opening 116, and a channel 130, between respective ends of first circular arm 120A and second circular arm 120B. Channel 130 is sufficiently wide so that the stem of a golf tee 160, shown positioned outside the perimeter of the device, can fit through channel 130. A contact adhesive, shown as 165, is applied to a surface of portion 142 of device 140 that adheres to the sole of the shoe, including the surface of removable filler 155 and the surface of the region surrounding filler 155. As described above, the adhesive, which may be pressure activated, may be covered with a removable protective cover that is peeled off prior to use of the device 140A. When the device 140A is placed on a shoe, the user may stand and apply weight to the foot, thus firmly securing the device 140A to the sole of the shoe.

Referring to FIG. 6 a device 300 in accordance with a third embodiment of the invention, has a first member 311, for contact with the sole of a shoe of any variety. Member 311 has void spaces 316 and 317, which permit the device to universally fit virtually all shoe configurations with various cleat patterns.

Device 300 may be designed in any one of various ways to fit around, under, over or on a shoe of various size, shape and design. A strap 312, 326 and 314 crossing over the front part of a foot or shoe, may be configured of durable material and design in and effort to allow repeated use of the device and quick assembly onto a footwear. It may be formed of an elastic material, or it may have a buckle (not shown) to accommodate various sizes of footwear. It is also possible to eliminate most of member 311, so that only a thin strap is in contact with the sole of the shoe.

Protruding body members are movable semicircular mechanical arms 301 and 304. Arms 301 and 304 are held in a closed position when not in use, as shown in FIG. 6, by a spring 305 or other similar tension material. Respective inner borders 302 and 303 of arms 301 and 304 define an opening 324 between them.

A connecting member or cable housing 310 houses a mobile filament or cable 313 which together make up the link between an actuator 322 of FIG. 7, and the arms 301 and 304. Arms 301 and 304 may be pivotally mounted to a portion 318 of device 300, so that movement of cable 313, which may loop around two pulleys 306 and 307, causes arms 301 and 302 to move with respect to one another so as to open and close. Mechanisms of this type (not shown) are well-know.

Referring to FIG. 7, the actuator 322, having a shape similar to that of a golf ball, allows for the fluid movement of the cable 313 within its housing 310. The outer surface of actuator 322 may be textured and designed of compressible material within two flexible, generally hemispherical portions; upper portion 320 and lower portion 323. The cable housing 310 is anchored to a part 319 of lower portion 323 while the cable 313 is secured within the upper portion 320, to a bolt 321.

Device 300 functions to acquire a golf ball from a resting position, using the hands and foot. To acquire a golf ball, a golfer positions the arms 301 and 304 within close proximity of the golf ball. Pressing the portions 322 and 323 of the actuator together, results in the withdrawal of a portion of cable 313 from housing 310. This overcomes the force of the spring 305, causing the protruding arms 301 and 304 to move further away from one another. The arms may be positioned below the lower half of a golf ball, or the equator region of the golf ball may be positioned between the arms 301 and 304, simply by advancing the foot forward onto, over, or under the ball. Actuator 322 then may be released, allowing cable 313 to return to its normal position, and causing arms 301 and 304 to close so as to grip the golf ball.

Under the influence of the force of the spring 305, the golf ball is locked or secured by the curvatures of inner borders 302 and 303 of arms 301 and 304 in opening 324, until a further action is carried out.

To place the acquired golf ball onto a tee, the user simple squeeze the two halves of the golf ball actuator 323 and 322 in order to once again cause movement of cable 313. This second activation releases the golf ball from the arms 301 and 304. Once the golf ball is positioned over a fixed tee, (which maybe accomplished by lifting the front part of the device over the tee, while maintaining contact with the ground with the heel, as described below), the ball is then released as described above. The front part of the foot is then lowered below the level of the golf ball and retracted from the stem of the tee, through the opening 324.

FIG. 8 depicts one of many possible orientation of the device, or the golf ball engaging portion of the device, which may be positioned in any orientation throughout a span of approximately 180 degrees, with respect to shoe 100 (i.e. extending to either side of the shoe, rather than toward the front), when attached to a golf shoe 100 or any types of foot wear. The golf shoe is at an angle positioned over a tee 160, with a golf ball 11 secured within the opening defined between the circular arms 120A and 120B.

FIG. 9 further emphasizes that the golf ball 11 is firmly secured onto the device in accordance with the invention by utilizing the force of gravity, which acts upon the golf ball. FIG. 9 further shows the lower portion of the ball 12 below a ring of the device 140 formed by circular arms 120A and 120B and the top portion of the golf ball 11, above the ring, with a larger portion of the golf ball 11 above the ring and a smaller portion of the golf ball 11 below the ring. The presence in FIG. 9 of the surface 170 of a mat or other surface on which the golfer stands illustrates the relative elevation of the front portion of the shoe 100, while the heel portion maintains contact with the surface 170.

With reference to FIG. 8 and FIG. 9, once any of the devices has been secured to a golfer's shoe, the golfer will plant both feet on the ground and only elevate the front part of his shoe in order to successfully tee the golf ball, while maintaining contact with the ground at all times with both feet.

With or without the aid of a golf club, a user acquires a golf ball simply by rolling the object towards the device once affixed onto a shoe. This ideal position of the projecting semicircular arms allows the golfer to retrieve a golf ball without ever having to bend his foot or ankle.

The device is then further secured into the center ring of the circular projection either by a push or pull interaction between the golf ball and the device. A golfer will then pivot onto his heel, which will result in the elevation of the toe portion of his foot. This action permits a firm balance and stance as this maneuver is carried out. The risk of a fall is virtually eliminated.

As the front part of one foot is raised the golf ball will lower itself (acting under the influence of gravity) into the void of the inner circumference, stopping at a predetermined point when the golf ball's circumference has exceeded the inner circumference of the device. This physiological stopper mechanism will create a natural harness to secure the golf ball onto the device.

The user will then proceed to lower the toe portion of his foot once the golf ball is precisely over the tee. This action will result in the opposite mechanics of that described before. The inner circumference of the device will now exceed the outer circumference of the ball's inferior portion, allowing the object to be released from the device. The device is then retracted from the tee by moving the foot in the opposite direction that resulted in placing the golf ball onto the tee.

The golf ball may also be acquired without the use of a club by a scooping mechanism by the more skillful user, using the device in the manner of a fork or a spatula. As described in the third embodiment, a hand operated cable or wireless control may also actuate the semicircular arms to achieve the same results.

The devices according to the invention may be formed of low cost, light-weight and disposable or semi-disposable material. By disposable it is generally meant that the device will only be used for a single practice session or a single day. By semi-disposable, it is meant that if the device can be removed without it being torn, it may be available for one or more additional uses. However, because of the low cost, this is not at all critical. The third embodiment is preferably reusable.

While the third embodiment has been illustrated as using a cable operated mechanism, it will be recognized that it can be designed to operate with a hand operated radio frequency or infrared link, with a hand operated transmitter and a miniature battery operated receiver and actuator placed in the operating portion of the device worn on footwear of the user.

While being described as preferably attached to footwear, apparatus in accordance to the third embodiment of the invention may be built into a shoe and be used for the life of the shoe. As such it will generally still have a portion which contacts an underside of a shoe, that is, it is received on an underside of the shoe, such as the sole, although such contact may be internal to the shoe.

With reference to the third embodiment, the mechanical semicircular arms maybe engineered in such a way to promote safe walling while the device remains attached to foot wear. The arms may be designed to be retractable, folded inwards, folded upwards or folded back.

It should be understood that the foregoing description is only illustrative of the invention. Various alternatives and modifications can be devised by those skilled in the art without departing from the invention. Accordingly, the present invention is intended to embrace all such alternatives, modifications and variances that fall within the scope of the appended claims.