Title:
Articulated tee
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A tee assembly for supporting a ball, such as a golf ball, is formed with a base structure and a separable, pivotable ball supporting tee. The tee uses a ball and socket joint for connection between the tee and base structure. A cord or string is attached between the tee and base structure to prevent loss of the tee upon separation. The tee can be in two parts, an upper relatively flexible part adjacent the ball and a lower relatively rigid part incorporating a ball for mating with a socket on the base structure. The ball and socket joint allows the tee to move or articulate when a ball on the tee is struck.



Inventors:
Anton, Terrence (Valrico, FL, US)
Application Number:
10/938348
Publication Date:
03/16/2006
Filing Date:
09/10/2004
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
473/387, 473/396
International Classes:
A63B57/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WONG, STEVEN B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Terry M. Sanks (Winter Park, FL, US)
Claims:
1. A tee assembly comprising: a base plate having a generally flat bottom surface and having a ball socket formed on a generally flat top surface thereof, whereby the base plate can be laid on a surface; and an elongate tee having a cup-shape ball receiving support on one end thereof and an integral ball formed on an opposite end thereof, the integral ball being adapted for snap fit connection into the ball socket on the base plate such that the tee can be oriented into a generally vertical position for supporting a ball in the ball receiving support.

2. The tee assembly of claim 1 and including a cord coupled between the tee and the base plate.

3. The tee assembly of claim 2 wherein the cord comprises an elastomeric material.

4. The tee assembly of claim 2 wherein the cord comprises a generally inelastic material.

5. The tee assembly of claim 1 wherein the tee comprises an upper segment incorporating the ball receiving support and a lower segment incorporating the integral ball, the upper segment being separable from the lower segment.

6. The tee assembly of claim 5 wherein the lower segment comprises a rigid material and the upper segment comprises a rubber-like material.

7. The tee assembly of claim 1 wherein said ball socket comprises a pair of mirrored arcuate members extending from the base plate.

8. The tee assembly of claim 1 and including at least one additional tee coupled to the base plate by another cord.

9. The tee assembly of claim 8 wherein the at least one additional tee has a height dimension when connected to the base plate different from a height dimension of the elongate tee.

10. The tee assembly of claim 5 wherein the upper segment is removably attached to the lower segment.

11. The tee assembly of claim 5 and including a cord connected between the lower segment and the base plate.

12. The tee assembly of claim 10 wherein the lower segment includes a pin portion and the upper segment includes a socket for receiving the pin portion for releasably coupling the upper segment to the lower segment.

13. The tee assembly of claim 12 wherein the pin portion includes a plurality of annular ribs and grooves.

14. A tee assembly for supporting a ball in a position to be struck by a head of a club comprising: a base plate having a flat bottom surface; a tee having one end configured to support a ball placed thereon; connecting means for pivotably coupling the tee to the base plate, the connecting means comprising a ball-and-socket joint having sufficient stiffness to maintain a desired orientation of the tee with respect to the base plate.

15. The tee assembly of claim 14 and including a tether for coupling the tee to the base plate.

16. The tee assembly of claim 15 wherein the tee is adapted to separate from the base plate when struck.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to ball games in which a stationary ball is supported for striking with a club and, more particularly, to a tee assembly including a tee releasably coupled to a base support member and a tether connecting the tee to the base support.

There are numerous patents directed to tees, particularly to tees used in playing and/or practicing the game of golf. Many of these tees use tethers to attach a ball supporting tee to an anchor. Examples of such prior tees are shown in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,336,940; 5,221,090; and 5,413,348. More recently there has been developed a golf game which uses larger balls and is described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,217,458. The tee assembly of the present invention is designed particularly for use with the game of the '458 patent but is useful in other applications where re-usable tees are desirable.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description of the invention when read with the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one form of the inventive tee assembly;

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view taken along the line 2-2 of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 3 is an elevation view of one form of tee used in the assembly of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring to the drawings in general and in particular to FIG. 1, there is shown a tee assembly 10 in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. Tee assembly 10 includes a base plate 12 having a ball socket 14, preferably centrally located on the plate. A tee 16 has an integral generally spherical shaped end 18 (sometimes referred to as a ball or ball end) that is formed on one end of an elongate shaft 20. The ball end 18 is sized and adapted for snap-fit connection into ball socket 14 so as to create a ball and socket joint or connection between tee 16 and base plate 12. Tee 16 also includes a cup-shaped ball receiving support 22 on an end opposite ball end 18.

As shown in the cross-sectional view of FIG. 2, which is taken along the line 2-2 of FIG. 1, the ball socket 14 is formed of a pair of opposed arcuate segments 24 and 26 preferably integrally formed with base plate 12. Each segment 24, 26 is a mirror image of the other of the segments and incorporates a hemispherical shaped inner surface sized and configured to fit snugly about the ball end 18 of tee 16 when the ball end is inserted into socket 14. The plate 12 and socket 14 are preferably molded from a polymer material having sufficient elasticity to maintain the snug fit with ball end 14 even after repeated insertions and removals of the ball end from the socket. The use of two segments 24,26 is believed to facilitate insertion and minimize strain on the socket 14.

Referring to FIG. 3, the tee 16 is preferably formed in two segments—an upper segment 28 comprising the ball receiving support 22 and a lower segment 30 comprising the ball end 18. The upper segment 28 is desireably molded of a resilient polymer material having rubber like characteristics so that when struck by a club, the segment will deform without damaging the club and will then return to its initial shape. The lower segment 30 can be formed of a stiff polymer material that will maintain its general shape including the spherical shape of the end ball 18 despite repeated insertions into socket 14. The lower segment 30 may be formed with an axially oriented pin or tang 32 that fits into a mating hole 34 in a base of the upper segment 28. The pin 32 may include a plurality of annular ribs 36 that define intermediate lands 38 on the pin and function to minimize separation of the upper segment 28 from the lower segment 30.

In one form, the tee assembly 10 may including a plurality of tees, such as tees 16 and 40 shown in FIG. 1. Each tee may be connected to the base plate 12 by corresponding cords or strings 42. As will be recognized, when the tee is used as a ball support, striking of the ball will likely result in striking of at least the upper segment 28 of the tee, such as tee 16. Consequently, it is likely that the tee 16 will be knocked over and may be dislocated from the ball socket 14. The cord 42 limits the distance that the tee will be thrown from the plate 12 as a result of such striking and separation. Further, in the case of multiple tees, the cords 42 serve to keep the tees in association with the base plate. As shown in FIG. 1, the cords 42 have one end attached to the base plate 12 such as by being inserted through a hole in the base plate and knotted on the lower surface of the plate. The other end of each cord is inserted through a hole in the lower segment 30 of each tee and either knotted to prevent slipping out or tied around the tee.

While the articulated tee of the present invention has been shown in what is considered to be a preferred embodiment, it is intended that the invention not be limited by the description but be interpreted within the full spirit and scope of the appended claims.