Title:
Golf travel cover
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The golf travel cover includes a collapsible inner cage, which is covered by an outer soft cover having an opening which can be closed with fasteners, and telescoping control tubes including a top handle. The inner cage includes cage ribs each including a rear stationary rib portion, and first and second pivot arms pivotally connected to the rear stationary rib portion. The cage ribs may also be connected and supported by support tubes, which may be telescoping support tubes or offset support tubes. Wheels are mounted to the golf travel case, either to the bottom rear portion of the outer jacket, or the bottom rear portion of the inner cage.



Inventors:
Keays, Brad (Manhattan Beach, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/331421
Publication Date:
08/24/2006
Filing Date:
01/12/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B55/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MAI, TRI M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FULWIDER PATTON LLP (Long Beach, CA, US)
Claims:
1. In combination, a golf travel case moveable between a longitudinally extended configuration and a longitudinally collapsed configuration, comprising: an inner cage having a front side and a rear side, the inner cage including a plurality of cage ribs extending about the circumference of the golf travel case inner cage, each of said plurality of cage ribs including a rear stationary rib portion, a first pivot arm and a second pivot arm, said first and second pivot arms being pivotally connected to said rear stationary rib portion and movable between an open configuration and a closed configuration, each of said first pivot arms having a free distal end and a proximal end pivotally connected to the first end portion of the rear stationary rib portion, and each of said second pivot arms having a free distal end and a proximal end pivotally connected to the second end portion of the rear stationary rib portion; at least one longitudinally extending rear telescoping control tube mounted to and connecting the plurality of cage ribs; and an outer jacket covering said inner cage, said outer jacket being moveable between a longitudinally extended configuration and a longitudinally collapsed configuration, said outer jacket having an opening, and said opening of the outer jacket having an open configuration and a closed configuration.

2. The golf travel case of claim 1, wherein said first pivot arms are connected and supported by at least one longitudinally extending first side support tube, and said second pivot arms are connected and supported by at least one longitudinally extending second side support tube.

3. The golf travel case of claim 2, wherein said first and second side support tubes are telescoping support tubes, said plurality of cage ribs including an upper cage rib and a bottom cage rib, each said longitudinally extending first side telescoping support tube having a top end fixedly mounted to the first pivot arm of the upper cage rib, and a bottom end fixedly mounted to the first pivot arm of the bottom cage rib, and each said longitudinally extending second side telescoping support tube having a top end fixedly mounted to the second pivot arm of the upper cage rib, and a bottom end fixedly mounted to the second pivot arm of the bottom cage rib.

4. The golf travel case of claim 3, wherein each of said longitudinally extending first and second side telescoping support tubes includes an upper tube section, a middle tube section slidably connected to the upper tube section and having a larger diameter than the diameter of the upper tube, and a bottom tube section slidably connected to the middle tube section and having a larger diameter than the diameter of the middle tube.

5. The golf travel case of claim 1, wherein each said rear stationary rib portion includes a straight middle portion extending between said first end portion and second end portion.

6. The golf travel case of claim 1, wherein said rear stationary rib portions of said cage ribs are connected and supported by at least one longitudinally extending rear telescoping control tube, said at least one telescoping control tube being movable between a longitudinally extended locked configuration and a longitudinally collapsed unlocked configuration.

7. The golf travel case of claim 6, said plurality of cage ribs comprising an upper cage rib and a bottom cage rib, and wherein each said rear telescoping control tube includes a top end fixedly mounted to the stationary rib portion of said upper cage rib, and a bottom end fixedly mounted to the stationary rib portion of said bottom cage rib.

8. The golf travel case of claim 6, wherein each said telescoping control tube is mounted to the cage ribs by a tube collar.

9. The golf travel case of claim 6, wherein said at least one longitudinally extending rear telescoping control tube has a top end, and further comprising a handle connected to the top end of said at least one rear telescoping control tube.

10. The golf travel case of claim 9, wherein said handle comprises a release which is connected to unlock said at least one telescoping control tube to allow the golf travel case to be moved to the longitudinally collapsed configuration.

11. The golf travel case of claim 6, wherein each of said at least one rear telescoping control tube comprises an upper control tube section, a middle control tube section slidably connected to the upper control tube section and having a larger diameter than the diameter of the upper control tube section, and a bottom control tube section slidably connected to the middle control tube section and having a larger diameter than the diameter of the middle control tube section.

12. The golf travel case of claim 11, wherein said upper and middle control tubes of the rear telescoping control tubes each carries a spring loaded detent pin that is removably lockable in a corresponding detent pin aperture of the control tube section below.

13. The golf travel case of claim 1, wherein said rear stationary rib portions are connected and supported by at least one longitudinally extending rear support tube.

14. The golf travel case of claim 13, wherein said at least one longitudinally extending rear support tube comprises a telescoping support tube, said plurality of cage ribs including an upper cage rib and a bottom cage rib, and each said telescoping support tube including a top end fixedly mounted to the stationary rib portion of the upper cage rib, and a bottom end fixedly mounted to the bottom stationary rib portion.

15. The golf travel case of claim 14, wherein each said telescoping support tube comprises an upper tube section, a middle tube section slidably connected to the upper tube section and having a larger diameter than the diameter of the upper tube section, and a bottom tube section slidably connected to the middle tube section and having a larger diameter than the diameter of the middle tube section.

16. The golf travel case of claim 13, wherein said first pivot arms are connected and supported by at least one longitudinally extending first side telescoping control tube, and said second pivot arms are connected and supported by at least one longitudinally extending second side telescoping control tube.

17. The golf travel case of claim 16, wherein said plurality of cage ribs comprises an upper cage rib and a bottom cage rib, each said longitudinally extending first side telescoping support tube having a top end fixedly mounted to the first pivot arm of the upper cage rib, and a bottom end fixedly mounted to the first pivot arm of the bottom cage rib, and each said longitudinally extending second side telescoping support tube having a top end fixedly mounted to the second pivot arm of the upper cage rib, and a bottom end fixedly mounted to the second pivot arm of the bottom cage rib.

18. The golf travel case of claim 17, wherein each of said longitudinally extending first and second side telescoping support tubes includes an upper tube section, a middle tube section slidably connected to the upper tube section and having a larger diameter than the diameter of the upper tube, and a bottom tube section fixedly connected to the middle tube section and having a larger diameter than the diameter of the middle tube.

19. The golf travel case of claim 16, wherein said at least one longitudinally extending first side telescoping control tube has a top end, and said at least one longitudinally extending second side telescoping control tube has a top end, and further comprising a first side handle connected to the top end of said at least one first side telescoping control tube, and a second side handle connected to the top end of the second side telescoping control tube.

20. The golf travel case of claim 19, wherein each of said first and second side handles comprises a release which is connected to unlock said corresponding at least one first and second side telescoping control tubes, respectively, to allow the golf travel case to be moved to the longitudinally collapsed configuration.

21. The golf travel case of claim 20, wherein each of said at least one first and second side telescoping control tubes comprises an upper control tube section, a middle control tube section slidably connected to the upper control tube section and having a larger diameter than the diameter of the upper control tube section, and a bottom control tube section slidably connected to the middle control tube section and having a larger diameter than the diameter of the middle control tube section.

22. The golf travel case of claim 21, wherein said upper and middle control tubes of said first and second side telescoping control tubes each carries a spring loaded detent pin that is removably lockable in a corresponding detent pin aperture of the control tube section below.

23. The golf travel case of claim 2, wherein said rear stationary rib portions, and the first and second pivot arms are connected and supported by at least one corresponding longitudinally extending fixed, upper, middle and bottom offset support tube, respectively.

24. The golf travel case of claim 23, wherein said plurality of cage ribs comprises upper, second, tertiary and bottom cage ribs including corresponding upper, secondary, tertiary and bottom rear stationary rib portions; upper, secondary, tertiary and bottom first side pivot arms; and upper, secondary, tertiary and bottom second side pivot arms; and each of said upper offset support tubes includes a top end fixedly mounted to the upper rear stationary rib portion, upper first pivot arm and upper second pivot arm, respectively; and a bottom end slidably mounted to the secondary stationary rib portion, and secondary first side and second side pivot arms, respectively.

25. The golf travel case of claim 23, wherein each of said middle offset support tubes includes a top end fixedly mounted to the secondary stationary rib portion, and first and second pivot arms, respectively, and a bottom end slidably mounted to the tertiary stationary rib portion, and the tertiary first and second pivot arms, respectively, and each of the bottom offset support tubes includes a top end fixedly mounted to the tertiary stationary rib portion, tertiary first and second pivot arms, respectively, and a bottom end fixedly mounted to the bottom stationary rib portion, and the bottom first and second pivot arms, respectively.

26. The golf travel case of claim 1, wherein said outer jacket is formed of a fabric.

27. The golf travel case of claim 26, wherein said outer jacket further comprises at least one fastener for closing said opening.

28. The golf travel case of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of wheels mounted to the golf travel case.

29. The golf travel case of claim 28, wherein said plurality of wheels are mounted to support plates mounted to a bottom rear portion of the outer jacket.

30. The golf travel case of claim 28, wherein said plurality of cage ribs comprises a bottom cage rib including a corresponding bottom rear stationary rib portion, and wherein said plurality of wheels are mounted to the bottom rear stationary rib portion.

31. The golf travel case of claim 28, wherein said plurality of cage ribs comprises a bottom cage rib including a corresponding bottom rear stationary rib portion, and further comprising a rear lower backing plate mounted to the bottom rear stationary rib portion.

32. The golf travel case of claim 28, further comprising at least one foot pedestal mounted to a bottom front portion of the outer jacket.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This patent application is based on Provisional Application No. 60/654,215, filed Feb. 18, 2005.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention generally relates to transport bags, cases and covers for sports equipment such as golf clubs, and more particularly relates to a collapsible travel case or cover with a lightweight protective cage and a lightweight soft outer covering for transporting or shipping a set of golf clubs.

2. General Background and State of the Art

Modern transport bags or cases for transporting golf clubs, such as can be used for shipping golf clubs and golf club bags as baggage or freight on commercial aircraft, are typically hard-sided cases which are rigid, offering the best protection. One such conventional hard-sided golf bag carrying case for shipping a golf bag is collapsible, including multiple telescoping sections. The multiple telescoping sections can be locked into an expanded configuration by locking tube assemblies disposed within and secured to the container parallel to the walls of the container. A hinged lid in an upper container section permits a golf bag to be inserted or removed.

Another hard-sided golf club transport case includes first and second tubular bodies assembled to provide an elongated rigid hollow case. A keyway extends through the overlapped ends through which a locking mechanism may be extended to secure the two tubular bodies together.

Another hard-shell golf club bag that can also be used as a cart and shipping container is configured for travel by commercial transport or in a car trunk without requiring an additional protective case. The exterior shell is formed of a tough material with a high impact strength, and golf club heads have a defined location to prevent movement relative to the carrier and to protect the golf club heads against contact with hard surfaces or each other, preventing damage from vibratory or impact movements.

Another type of golf club shipping container that is convertible between an erected form and a collapsed form includes a dolly, with a lid and a base formed of a rigid double-thickness corrugated board to protect sporting goods such as golf clubs from damage during rough shipping and handling. Another type of hard shell golf equipment carrier or golf bag includes an outer section having a spiraling rib, and a plurality of annular ribs or honeycombs to provide added protection for golf clubs in the carrier by increasing the crush resistance of the carrier. The wall of the carrier is made of a lightweight, high strength material having a high strength-to-weight ratio sufficient to withstand crushing forces and impact shocks that may occur during transit or shipment.

Such hard-sided or hard shell cases are also commonly so heavy as to be disadvantageous for air transport where weight is a consideration, and can be heavy and awkward to use on a golf course. Lighter weight soft-sided golf travel cases are also available that are primarily made of padded, reinforced ballistic nylon or the like, which are lighter and more convenient to use than hard cases, but which consequently provide less protection from damage due to transport and handling as baggage.

Hybrid lighter weight transport cases are also available that are part hard shell and part soft case, typically having a hard shell only at the top of the case to protect the heads of golf clubs, and having a lighter soft case portion for the rest of the case. One such conventional hybrid case includes wheels, and can be collapsed and packed for storage in a bag. However, it has been found that such lighter weight hybrid cases also do not provide adequate protection for golf clubs, since the soft case portions offer little protection, chiefly protecting the golf club heads, which are actually the most durable part of the golf club. With such hybrid cases, it has been found that transportation damage most often occurs at or near the connection between the shaft and grip of the golf club, which is left unprotected by the hybrid travel case. It would therefore be desirable to provide a lighter weight golf travel case that offers the full protection of a hard case and the convenience of a soft case. The present invention satisfies these and other needs.

INVENTION SUMMARY

Briefly, and in general terms, the invention provides for a golf travel case or cover having an internal cage or skeleton including collapsible support tubes. The skeleton is covered in a soft cover which provides an overall coverage of the travel case or cover, but only slightly increases weight. The skeleton is provided with latches, hinges and telescoping features which make it very easy to load a golf bag into the travel cover, and allow the travel case or cover to collapse to shrink to half the expanded size or less for easy storage.

The present invention accordingly provides for a golf travel case moveable between a longitudinally extended configuration and a longitudinally collapsed configuration, and including an inner cage or skeleton including a plurality of cage ribs extending about the circumference of the golf travel case inner cage, one or more longitudinally extending rear telescoping control tubes mounted to and connecting the plurality of cage ribs, and an outer jacket covering the inner cage. In a presently preferred aspect, each of the cage ribs includes a rear stationary rib portion, and first and second pivot arms connected to the rear stationary rib portion. Each of the first and second pivot arms have a free distal end, and are movable between open and closed configurations.

In another presently preferred aspect, the first pivot arms are connected and supported by one or more longitudinally extending first side support tubes, and the second pivot arms are connected and supported by one or more longitudinally extending second side support tubes. In one presently preferred aspect, the first and second side support tubes are telescoping support tubes each having a top end fixedly mounted to the first and second pivot arms of the upper cage rib, respectively, and a bottom end fixedly mounted to the first and second pivot arms of the bottom cage rib. In another presently preferred aspect, each rear stationary rib portion includes a straight middle portion extending between the first end portion and second end portion, to facilitate laying the golf travel case flat on the rear side.

In one presently preferred aspect, the telescoping control tubes are one or more longitudinally extending rear telescoping control tubes connecting and supporting the rear stationary rib portions of the cage ribs, and are movable between a longitudinally extended locked configuration and a longitudinally collapsed unlocked configuration. In another presently preferred aspect, the telescoping control tubes are mounted to the cage ribs by a tube collars. The one or more longitudinally extending rear telescoping control tubes also preferably include a handle connected to the top end of the one or more rear telescoping control tubes, which may include a release mechanism connected to unlock the one or more telescoping control tubes to allow the golf travel case to be moved to the longitudinally collapsed configuration.

In another currently preferred aspect, the rear stationary rib portions may be connected and supported by one or more longitudinally extending rear support tubes. In one aspect, the one or more longitudinally extending rear support tube are telescoping support tubes, each including a top end fixedly mounted to the stationary rib portion of the upper cage rib, and a bottom end fixedly mounted to the bottom stationary rib portion. Similarly, the first pivot arms may be connected and supported by one or more longitudinally extending first side support tubes, and the second pivot arms may be connected and supported by one or more longitudinally extending second side support tubes. Each longitudinally extending first side telescoping support tube preferably includes a top end fixedly mounted to the first pivot arm of the upper cage rib, and a bottom end fixedly mounted to the first pivot arm of the bottom cage rib, and each longitudinally extending second side telescoping support tube includes a top end fixedly mounted to the second pivot arm of the upper cage rib, and a bottom end fixedly mounted to the second pivot arm of the bottom cage rib.

In another aspect, the first pivot arms may be connected and supported by one or more longitudinally extending first side telescoping control tubes, and the second pivot arms may be connected and supported by one or more longitudinally extending second side telescoping control tubes. Preferably, a first side handle is connected to the top end of the one or more first side telescoping control tubes, and a second side handle is connected to the top end of the second side telescoping control tubes. Each of the first and second side handles also preferably includes a release mechanism connected to unlock the corresponding at least one first and second side telescoping control tubes, respectively, to allow the golf travel case to be moved to the longitudinally collapsed configuration.

In another presently preferred aspect, the support tubes connecting and supporting the rear stationary rib portions, and the first and second pivot arms may be one or more longitudinally extending fixed, upper, middle and bottom offset support tubes. In one aspect, the plurality of cage ribs includes upper, secondary, tertiary and bottom cage ribs with corresponding upper, secondary, tertiary and bottom rear stationary rib portions; upper, secondary, tertiary and bottom first side pivot arms; and upper, secondary, tertiary and bottom second side pivot arms. Each of the upper offset support tubes includes a top end fixedly mounted to the upper rear stationary rib portion, upper first pivot arm and upper second pivot arm, respectively; and a bottom end slidably mounted to the secondary stationary rib portion, and secondary first side and second side pivot arms, respectively. Each of the middle offset support tubes includes a top end fixedly mounted to the secondary stationary rib portion, and first and second pivot arms, respectively, and a bottom end slidably mounted to the tertiary stationary rib portion, and the tertiary first and second pivot arms, respectively. Each of the bottom offset support tubes includes a top end slidably mounted to the tertiary stationary rib portion, tertiary first and second pivot arms, respectively, and a bottom end fixedly mounted to the bottom stationary rib portion, and the bottom first and second pivot arms, respectively.

In another presently preferred aspect, the outer jacket is formed of a fabric, such as polyethylene material, for example, and includes an opening that may be closed by one or more fasteners. The golf travel case further preferably includes a plurality of wheels mounted to the golf travel case, such as by support plates mounted to a bottom rear portion of the outer jacket. Alternatively, the wheels may be mounted to the bottom rear stationary rib portion. In another currently preferred alternative, the wheels are mounted to a rear lower backing plate mounted to the bottom rear stationary rib portion. In another preferred aspect, the golf travel case may further include one or more foot pedestals mounted to a bottom front portion of the outer jacket, to facilitate balancing the golf travel case in an upright position.

Other features and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, which illustrate, by way of example, the operation of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A is a cross sectional view of the structure of the skeleton of a first embodiment of the golf travel case, shown in a closed configuration.

FIG. 1B is a cross sectional view of the structure of the skeleton of FIG. 1A, shown in an open configuration.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the skeleton of FIG. 1A, shown in its expanded state.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the skeleton of FIG. 1A, shown in a collapsed configuration.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the first embodiment of the golf travel case shown laying prone and in its expanded form opened to receive a golf bag.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the first embodiment of the golf travel case shown laying prone and closed up for transit.

FIG. 6A is a perspective view of the first embodiment of the golf travel case shown standing upright in its extended configuration.

FIGS. 6B, C and D are illustrations of a portion of FIG. 6A showing various fasteners for fastening the cover of the golf travel case.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the golf travel case of the first embodiment shown standing upright in a collapsed form for storage.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a second embodiment of the golf travel case shown standing upright in its extended configuration.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the golf travel case of FIG. 8 shown standing upright in a collapsed form for storage.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the skeleton of the golf travel case of FIG. 8 in its expanded state.

FIG. 11 is a top perspective view of the skeleton of the golf travel case of FIG. 8 in its expanded state.

FIG. 12 is an enlarged view of a portion of FIG. 10 showing the skeleton of the golf travel case of FIG. 8 in its expanded state.

FIG. 13A is a bottom perspective view of a tube collar of the golf travel case of FIG. 8.

FIG. 13B is an exploded perspective view illustrating mounting of the tube collar of FIG. 13A on a cage arm.

FIG. 13C is a schematic diagram illustrating a modified cage arm with a modified tube collar molded in the cage arm for mounting a telescoping control tube set to the cage arm.

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of a collapsed skeleton of the golf travel case of FIG. 8.

FIG. 15 is a top perspective view of the collapsed skeleton of the golf travel case of FIG. 8.

FIG. 16 is a side elevational view of a pin lock of a control tube set.

FIG. 17 is a front perspective view of the pin lock of a control tube set.

FIG. 18 is a perspective view of the skeleton of a third embodiment of the golf travel case in its expanded state.

FIG. 19 is a top perspective view of the skeleton of the golf travel case of FIG. 18 in its expanded state.

FIG. 20 is an enlarged view of a portion of FIG. 18 showing the skeleton of the third embodiment of the golf travel case in its expanded state.

FIG. 21A is a bottom perspective view of a tube collar of the third embodiment of the golf travel case of FIG. 18.

FIG. 21B is an exploded perspective view illustrating mounting of the tube collar of FIG. 21A on a cage arm.

FIG. 22 is a perspective view of a collapsed skeleton of the golf travel case of FIG. 18.

FIG. 23 is a top perspective view of the collapsed skeleton of the golf travel case of FIG. 18.

FIG. 24 is a front perspective view of the skeleton of a fourth embodiment of the golf travel case in its expanded state.

FIG. 25 is a rear perspective view of the skeleton of the golf travel case of FIG. 24 in its expanded state.

FIG. 26 is an enlarged view of a portion of FIG. 24 showing the skeleton of the fourth embodiment of the golf travel case in its expanded state.

FIG. 27 is a front perspective view of a collapsed skeleton of the golf travel case of FIG. 24.

FIG. 28 is a top rear perspective view of a collapsed skeleton of the golf travel case of FIG. 24.

FIG. 29 is a rear perspective view of a collapsed skeleton of the golf travel case of FIG. 24.

FIG. 30 is a bottom rear perspective view of a collapsed skeleton of the golf travel case of FIG. 24.

FIG. 31 is a front perspective view of the skeleton of a variation of the third embodiment of the golf travel case in its expanded state.

FIG. 32 is a top perspective view of the skeleton of the golf travel case of FIG. 31.

FIG. 33 is a bottom perspective view of the skeleton of the golf travel case of FIG. 31.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

At the present time there is no golf club travel case on the market that offers the full protection of a hard case and the convenience of a soft case. The hybrid bags currently on the market protect the club heads, which are actually the most durable part of the golf club. Most transportation damage occurs at or near the connection of the shaft to the grip of the golf club, which is left unprotected by the hybrid travel cover. The present invention is the first travel case that offers virtually the full protection of a hard case combined with the convenience and the lighter weight of a soft case.

Accordingly, referring to FIGS. 1-7, in a first embodiment, the golf travel cover, case or bag 40 includes an internal skeleton or cage 42, as is illustrated in FIGS. 1-4, which is covered by a soft cover or outer jacket 44, typically formed of a fabric, such as a polyethylene material, having a opening 45 including a front portion 46, a top portion 48, and a bottom portion 50, illustrated in FIGS. 4-7. The outer jacket has an open configuration, as is illustrated in FIG. 4, and a closed configuration, as is illustrated in FIG. 5.

Referring to FIGS. 1A, 1B and 2, the internal skeleton or cage includes a plurality of cage ribs, such as the upper cage rib 52a, secondary cage rib 52b, tertiary cage rib 52c, and bottom cage rib 52d, each extending about the circumference of the golf travel case. The cage ribs may be formed of cast aluminum, or extruded or reinforced plastic, for example, and include stationary rib portions 53a,b,c,d at a rear side 54 of the golf travel case, with a straight middle portion 55a,b,c,d extending between a first side portion 56 and a second side portion 57 of the stationary rib portions to allow the golf travel case to be laid flat and conveniently rest on the rear side.

The cage also includes first pivot arms 58a,b,c,d pivotally connected to the rear stationary rib portions. Each of the first pivot arms includes a free distal end 60 and a proximal end 62 pivotally connected to the first side portion of the stationary rib portions at first hinges 64a,b,c,d. Second pivot arms 66a,b,c,d are similarly pivotally connected to the rear stationary rib portions, with each second pivot arm having a free distal end 68 and a proximal end 70 pivotally connected to the second side portion of the stationary rib portions at second hinges 72a,b,c,d. The golf travel case pivot arms are movable between an open configuration, illustrated in FIGS. 1A and 4, and a closed configuration, illustrated in FIGS. 1B and 5.

In this first embodiment of the golf travel case, the rear stationary rib portions are connected and supported by one or more longitudinally extending rear telescoping control tubes 74a,b, each having a top end 76 fixedly mounted to the upper stationary rib portion 54a, such as by welding, for example, and a bottom end 78 fixedly mounted to the bottom stationary rib portion 54d, such as by welding, for example. A handle 80 is preferably connected to the top end of the one or more rear telescoping control tubes, which may be formed of metal tubing, such as aluminum tubing, or extruded or reinforced plastic tubing, for example. Each of the telescoping control tubes includes an upper control tube section 82, a middle control tube section 84 slidably connected to the upper control tube section and having a larger diameter than the diameter of the upper control tube section, and a bottom control tube section 86 fixedly mounted between the tertiary and bottom cage ribs, and slidably connected to the middle control tube section and having a larger diameter than the diameter of the middle control tube section. As is illustrated in FIGS. 16 and 17, the upper and middle control tubes of the rear telescoping control tubes each preferably carry a spring loaded detent pin 208 that is removably lockable in a corresponding detent pin aperture 210 of the control tube section below. The golf travel case is thereby moveable between a longitudinally extended configuration, as is illustrated in FIG. 2, in which the detent pins are in a locked configuration, and a longitudinally collapsed configuration, illustrated in FIG. 3, in which the detent pins are in their unlocked configuration. In a presently preferred aspect, the handle includes a release button 92 which is connected via a release mechanism (not shown) to cooperate with the detent pins. The release button may be pressed manually to simultaneously unlock the detent pins to allow the golf travel case to be moved to the longitudinally collapsed configuration. The outer jacket of the golf travel case is likewise moveable between a longitudinally extended configuration, as is illustrated in FIG. 6, and a longitudinally collapsed configuration, illustrated in FIG. 7.

The first pivot arms are also preferably connected and supported by one or more longitudinally extending side telescoping support tubes 94a,b,c, each having a top end 96 fixedly mounted to the upper first pivot arm 58a, such as by welding, for example, and a bottom end 98 fixedly mounted to the bottom first pivot arm 58d, such as by welding, for example. Each of the side telescoping support tubes, which may be formed of metal tubing, such as aluminum tubing, or extruded or reinforced plastic tubing, for example, typically includes an upper tube section 100, a middle tube section 102 slidably connected to the upper tube section and having a larger diameter than the diameter of the upper tube, and a bottom tube section 104 slidably connected to the middle tube section and having a larger diameter than the diameter of the middle tube. Similarly, the second pivot arms are connected and supported by one or more longitudinally extending side telescoping support tubes 106a,b,c, each having a top end 108 fixedly mounted to the upper second pivot arm 66a, such as by welding, and a bottom end 110 fixedly mounted to the bottom upper second pivot arm 66d, such as by welding, and each of which includes an upper tube section 112, a middle tube section 114 slidably connected to the upper tube section and having a larger diameter than the diameter of the upper tube, and a bottom tube section 116 slidably connected to the middle tube section and having a larger diameter than the diameter of the middle tube.

The golf travel case may also include wheels 118a,b which may be mounted to support plates 120a,b which are in turn mounted to the bottom rear portion 122 of the outer jacket. Alternatively, as is further described below, the wheels may be mounted to the bottom rear stationary rib, and extend through suitable apertures in the bottom rear portion of the outer jacket. In addition, as is illustrated in FIGS. 6 and 7, one or more foot pedestals 124 may also be mounted to the bottom front portion of the outer jacket, to allow the golf travel case to be balanced in an upright position on the wheels and foot pedestals.

As is illustrated in FIGS. 6B, C and D, the outer jacket may be fastened in a closed configuration with one or more fasteners, such as a zipper 126, clips 128 or buckles 130 on straps 132 either fully or partially encircling the closed golf travel case, or any combination thereof, or the like.

Referring to FIGS. 8-17, in a second embodiment, the golf travel cover, case or bag 140 includes an internal skeleton or cage 142, as is illustrated in FIGS. 10-17, which is covered by a soft cover or outer jacket 144, typically formed of a fabric, such as a polyethylene material, having a opening 145 including a front portion 146, a top portion 148, and a bottom portion 150, illustrated in FIGS. 8-9. The outer jacket also has an open configuration, and a closed configuration, as is described above, and the outer jacket of the golf travel case is likewise moveable between a longitudinally extended configuration, as is illustrated in FIG. 8, and a longitudinally collapsed configuration, illustrated in FIG. 9.

The skeleton or cage includes a plurality of cage ribs, such as the upper cage rib 152a, secondary cage rib 152b, tertiary cage rib 152c, and bottom cage rib 152d, each extending about the circumference of the golf travel case. The cage ribs may be formed of cast aluminum, or extruded or reinforced plastic, for example, and include stationary rib portions 153a,b,c,d at a rear side 154 of the golf travel case, with a straight middle portion 155a,b,c,d extending between a first side portion 156 and a second side portion 157 of the stationary rib portions to allow the golf travel case to be laid flat and conveniently rest on the rear side.

The cage also includes first pivot arms 158a,b,c,d pivotally connected to the rear stationary rib portions. Each of the first pivot arms includes a free distal end 160 and a proximal end 162 pivotally connected to the first side portion of the stationary rib portions at first hinges 164a,b,c,d. Second pivot arms 166a,b,c,d are similarly pivotally connected to the rear stationary rib portions, with each second pivot arm having a free distal end 168 and a proximal end 170 pivotally connected to the second side portion of the stationary rib portions at second hinges 172a,b,c,d. The golf travel case pivot arms are movable between an open configuration, and a closed configuration, as described above.

In the second embodiment of the golf travel case, the first pivot arms are connected and supported by one or more longitudinally extending first side telescoping control tubes 174a,b, and the second pivot arms are connected and supported by one or more longitudinally extending second side telescoping control tubes 174c,d. Each of the first and second side telescoping control tubes, which may be formed of metal tubing, such as aluminum tubing, or extruded or reinforced plastic tubing, for example, includes a top end 176 fixedly mounted to the first or second upper pivot arm, respectively, such as by welding, and a bottom end 178 fixedly mounted to the first or second bottom pivot arm, respectively, such as by welding. A handle 180 is connected to the top ends of the first and second side telescoping control tubes, each of which typically includes an upper control tube section 182, a middle control tube section 184 slidably connected to the upper control tube section and having a larger diameter than the diameter of the upper control tube section, and a bottom control tube section 186 fixedly mounted between the tertiary and bottom cage ribs, and slidably connected to the middle control tube section and having a larger diameter than the diameter of the middle control tube section. Referring to FIGS. 13A and B, the control tubes are typically mounted to a portion of a pivot arm by a tube collar 188, having a mounting plate 190 with mounting holes 192 for receiving mounting bolts 194, opposing split tube connecting portions 196, and spring clips 198 bearing a detent 200 that is received in a corresponding tube aperture 202. The tube collar is mounted to a pivot arm mounting flange 204 including mounting apertures 206. Alternatively, as is illustrated in FIG. 13C, a portion of a cage rib, such as a rear stationary portion or pivot arm, may include a tube collar 207 molded in to the cage rib for receiving a control tube. The control tubes of the first embodiment described above may be similarly mounted to the rear stationary rib portions by such a tube collar, or a tube collar molded into the rear stationary rib portions.

Referring to FIGS. 16 and 17, the upper and middle control tube sections of the first and second side telescoping control tubes each preferably carry a spring loaded detent pin 208a,b that is removably lockable in a corresponding detent pin aperture 210a,b of the control tube section below. The golf travel case is thereby moveable between a longitudinally extended configuration, as is illustrated in FIGS. 8, 10 and 11, in which the detent pins are in a locked configuration, and a longitudinally collapsed configuration, illustrated in FIGS. 9, 14 and 15, in which the detent pins are in their unlocked configuration. In a presently preferred aspect, the handle includes a release 212 which is connected to cooperate with the detent pins, and which may be pressed manually to simultaneously unlock the detent pins to allow the golf travel case to be moved to the longitudinally collapsed configuration.

The rear stationary rib portions are additionally connected and supported by one or more longitudinally extending telescoping support tubes 214a,b,c. The first pivot arms are also connected and supported by one or more longitudinally extending telescoping support tubes, and the second pivot arms likewise each connected and supported by one or more longitudinally extending telescoping support tubes. The telescoping support tubes, which may be formed of metal tubing, such as aluminum tubing, or extruded or reinforced plastic tubing, for example, each typically have a top end 216 fixedly mounted to the upper stationary rib portion, upper first pivot arm and upper second pivot arm, respectively, such as by welding, and a bottom end 218 fixedly mounted to the bottom stationary rib portion, bottom first pivot arm and bottom second pivot arm, respectively, such as by welding. Each of the telescoping support tubes typically includes an upper tube section 220, a middle tube section 222 slidably connected to the upper tube section and having a larger diameter than the diameter of the upper tube, and a bottom tube section 224 fixedly mounted between the tertiary and bottom cage ribs, and slidably connected to the middle tube section and having a larger diameter than the diameter of the middle tube. As is illustrated in FIG. 12, the telescoping support tubes are also typically mounted to the stationary rib portion and first and second pivot arms by bushings 226.

Referring to FIGS. 8, 9, in this second embodiment, the golf travel case typically includes wheels 228a,b which are mounted to support plates which are in turn mounted to the bottom rear portion 232 of the outer jacket. Alternatively, as is further described below, the wheels may be mounted to the bottom rear stationary rib, and extend through suitable apertures in the bottom rear portion of the outer jacket. In addition, as is illustrated in FIGS. 8 and 9, one or more foot pedestals 234 may also be mounted to the bottom front portion of the outer jacket, to allow the golf travel case to be balanced in an upright position on the wheels and foot pedestals. The outer jacket may be fastened in a closed configuration with one or more fasteners, such as a zipper, clips or buckles on straps either fully or partially encircling the closed golf travel case, or any combination thereof, or the like, as described above.

Referring to FIGS. 18-23, in a third embodiment, the golf travel cover, case or bag includes a skeleton or cage 242. As is illustrated in FIGS. 8-9 described above relating to the second embodiment, the skeleton or cage is likewise covered by a soft cover or outer jacket, typically formed of a fabric, such as a polyethylene material, having a opening including a front portion, a top portion, and a bottom portion. The outer jacket also has an open configuration, and a closed configuration, as is described above, and the outer jacket of the golf travel case is likewise moveable between a longitudinally extended configuration, as is illustrated in FIG. 8, and a longitudinally collapsed configuration, as is illustrated in FIG. 9.

The skeleton or cage includes a plurality of cage ribs, such as the upper cage rib 252a, secondary cage rib 252b, tertiary cage rib 252c, and bottom cage rib 252d, each extending about the circumference of the golf travel case. The cage ribs may be formed of cast aluminum, or extruded or reinforced plastic, for example, and include stationary rib portions 253a,b,c,d at a rear side 254 of the golf travel case, with a straight middle portion 255a,b,c,d extending between a first side portion 256 and a second side portion 257 of the stationary rib portions to allow the golf travel case to be laid flat and conveniently rest on the rear side.

The cage also includes first pivot arms 258a,b,c,d pivotally connected to the rear stationary rib portions. Each of the first pivot arms includes a free distal end 260 and a proximal end 262 pivotally connected to the first side portion of the stationary rib portions at first hinges 264a,b,c,d. Second pivot arms 266a,b,c,d are similarly pivotally connected to the rear stationary rib portions, with each second pivot arm having a free distal end 268 and a proximal end 270 pivotally connected to the second side portion of the stationary rib portions at second hinges 272a,b,c,d. The golf travel case pivot arms are movable between an open configuration, and a closed configuration, as described above.

In the third embodiment of the golf travel case, the first pivot arms are connected and supported by one or more longitudinally extending first side telescoping control tubes 274a,b, and the second pivot arms are connected and supported by one or more longitudinally extending second side telescoping control tubes 274c,d. Each of the first and second side telescoping control tubes, which may be formed of metal tubing, such as aluminum tubing, or extruded or reinforced plastic tubing, for example, includes a top end 276 fixedly mounted to the first or second upper pivot arm, such as by welding, and a bottom end 278 fixedly mounted to the first or second bottom pivot arm, such as by welding. A handle 280 is connected to the top ends of the first and second side telescoping control tubes, each of which typically includes an upper control tube section 282, a middle control tube section 284 slidably connected to the upper control tube section and having a larger diameter than the diameter of the upper control tube section, and a bottom control tube section 286 fixedly mounted between the tertiary and bottom cage ribs, and slidably connected to the middle control tube section and having a larger diameter than the diameter of the middle control tube section. As illustrated in FIGS. 21A and B, the control tubes are typically mounted to a portion of a pivot arm, by a tube collar 288, having a mounting plate 290 with mounting holes 292 for receiving mounting bolts 294, opposing split tube connecting portions 296, and spring clips 298 bearing a detent 300 that is received in a corresponding tube aperture 302. The tube collar is mounted to a pivot arm mounting flange 304 including mounting apertures 306. Alternatively, as is illustrated in FIG. 13C, a portion of a cage rib, such as a rear stationary portion or pivot arm, may include a tube collar molded in to the cage rib for receiving a control tube.

Referring to FIGS. 16 and 17 described above, the upper and middle control tube sections of the first and second side telescoping control tubes each preferably carry a spring loaded detent pin that is removably lockable in a corresponding detent pin aperture of the control tube section below. The golf travel case is thereby moveable between a longitudinally extended configuration, as is illustrated in FIGS. 18 and 19, in which the detent pins are in a locked configuration, and a longitudinally collapsed configuration, illustrated in FIGS. 22 and 23, in which the detent pins are in their unlocked configuration. In a presently preferred aspect, the handle includes a release 312 which is connected to cooperate with the detent pins, and which may be pressed manually to simultaneously unlock the detent pins to allow the golf travel case to be moved to the longitudinally collapsed configuration.

In the third embodiment of the golf travel case, the rear stationary rib portions are additionally connected and supported by one or more longitudinally extending fixed, upper, middle and bottom offset support tubes 314a,b,c, which may be formed of metal tubing, such as aluminum tubing, or extruded or reinforced plastic tubing, for example. The first pivot arms are also connected and supported by one or more longitudinally extending fixed, upper, middle and bottom offset support tubes, and the second pivot arms likewise each connected and supported by one or more longitudinally extending fixed, upper, middle and bottom offset support tubes. Each of the upper offset support tubes 314a have a top end 316 fixedly mounted to the upper stationary rib portion 254a, upper first pivot arm and upper second pivot arm, respectively, such as by a screw and lock washer combination 317, or welding, for example, and a bottom end 318 slidably mounted to the next lower stationary rib portion 254b, first pivot arm and second pivot arm, respectively, by a bushing 319. Similarly, each of the middle offset support tubes 314b has a top end 320 fixedly mounted to the secondary stationary rib portion 254b, secondary first pivot arm and secondary second pivot arm, respectively, such as by a screw and lock washer combination 317, or welding, for example, and a bottom end 322 slidably mounted to the next lower stationary rib portion 254c, first pivot arm and second pivot arm, respectively, by a bushing 319. Each of the bottom offset support tubes 314c has a top end 324 fixedly mounted to the tertiary stationary rib portion 254c, tertiary first pivot arm and tertiary second pivot arm, respectively, such as by screw and lock washer combination 317, or welding, for example, and a bottom end 326 fixedly mounted to the bottom stationary rib portion 254d, bottom first pivot arm and bottom second pivot arm, respectively, such as by a screw and lock washer combination 317, or welding, for example.

As illustrated in FIGS. 8, 9 described above, in this third embodiment, the golf travel case typically includes wheels which are mounted to support plates which are in turn mounted to the bottom rear portion of the outer jacket. Alternatively, as is further described below, the wheels may be mounted to the bottom rear stationary rib, and extend through suitable apertures in the bottom rear portion of the outer jacket. In addition, as is illustrated in FIGS. 8 and 9 described above, one or more foot pedestals may also be mounted to the bottom front portion of the outer jacket, to allow the golf travel case to be balanced in an upright position on the wheels and foot pedestals. The outer jacket may be fastened in a closed configuration with one or more fasteners, such as a zipper, clips or buckles on straps either fully or partially encircling the closed golf travel case, or any combination thereof, or the like, as described above.

FIGS. 31-33 show front, top and bottom perspective views of the skeleton of a currently preferred variation of the third embodiment of the golf travel case of FIGS. 18-23 in its expanded state.

Referring to FIGS. 24-30, in a fourth embodiment, the golf travel cover, case or bag includes a skeleton or cage 342. As is illustrated in FIGS. 8-9 described above relating to the second embodiment, the skeleton or cage is likewise covered by a soft cover or outer jacket, typically formed of a fabric, such as a polyethylene material, having a opening including a front portion, a top portion, and a bottom portion. The outer jacket also has an open configuration, and a closed configuration, as is described above, and the outer jacket of the golf travel case is likewise moveable between a longitudinally extended configuration, as is illustrated in FIG. 8, and a longitudinally collapsed configuration, as is illustrated in FIG. 9.

The skeleton or cage includes a plurality of cage ribs, such as the upper cage rib 352a, secondary cage rib 352b, tertiary cage rib 352c, and bottom cage rib 352d, each extending about the circumference of the golf travel case. The cage ribs may be formed of cast aluminum, or extruded or reinforced plastic, for example, and include stationary rib portions 353a,b,c,d at a rear side 354 of the golf travel case, with a straight middle portion 355a,b,c,d extending between a first side portion 356 and a second side portion 357 of the stationary rib portions to allow the golf travel case to be laid flat and conveniently rest on the rear side.

The cage also includes first pivot arms 358a,b,c,d pivotally connected to the rear stationary rib portions. Each of the first pivot arms includes a free distal end 360 and a proximal end 362 pivotally connected to the first side portion of the stationary rib portions at first hinges 364a,b,c,d. Second pivot arms 366a,b,c,d are similarly pivotally connected to the rear stationary rib portions, with each second pivot arm having a free distal end 368 and a proximal end 370 pivotally connected to the second side portion of the stationary rib portions at second hinges 372a,b,c,d. The golf travel case pivot arms are movable between an open configuration, and a closed configuration, as described above.

In the third embodiment of the golf travel case, the first pivot arms are connected and supported by one or more longitudinally extending first side telescoping control tubes 374a,b, and the second pivot arms are connected and supported by one or more longitudinally extending second side telescoping control tubes 374c,d. Each of the first and second side telescoping control tubes, which may be formed of metal tubing, such as aluminum tubing, or extruded or reinforced plastic tubing, for example, includes a top end 376 fixedly mounted to the first or second upper pivot arm, such as by welding, and a bottom end 378 fixedly mounted to the first or second bottom pivot arm, such as by welding. A handle 380 is connected to the top ends of the first and second side telescoping control tubes, each of which typically includes an upper control tube section 382, a middle control tube section 384 slidably connected to the upper control tube section and having a larger diameter than the diameter of the upper control tube section, and a bottom control tube section 386 fixedly mounted between the tertiary and bottom cage ribs, and slidably connected to the middle control tube section and having a larger diameter than the diameter of the middle control tube section. As illustrated in FIGS. 21A and B described above, the control tubes are typically mounted to a portion of a pivot arm, by a tube collar, having a mounting plate with mounting holes for receiving mounting bolts, opposing split tube connecting portions, and spring clips bearing a detent that is received in a corresponding tube aperture. The tube collar is mounted to a pivot arm mounting flange including mounting apertures. Alternatively, as is illustrated in FIG. 13C, a portion of a cage rib, such as a rear stationary portion or pivot arm, may include a tube collar molded in to the cage rib for receiving a control tube.

Referring to FIGS. 16 and 17 described above, the upper and middle control tube sections of the first and second side telescoping control tubes each preferably carry a spring loaded detent pin that is removably lockable in a corresponding detent pin aperture of the control tube section below. The golf travel case is thereby moveable between a longitudinally extended configuration, as is illustrated in FIGS. 24 and 25, in which the detent pins are in a locked configuration, and a longitudinally collapsed configuration, illustrated in FIGS. 27-30, in which the detent pins are in their unlocked configuration. In a presently preferred aspect, the handle includes a release which is connected to cooperate with the detent pins, and which may be pressed manually to simultaneously unlock the detent pins to allow the golf travel case to be moved to the longitudinally collapsed configuration.

In the fourth embodiment of the golf travel case, the rear stationary rib portions are additionally connected and supported by one or more longitudinally extending fixed, upper, middle and bottom offset support tubes 414a,b,c, which may be formed of metal tubing, such as aluminum tubing, or extruded or reinforced plastic tubing, for example. The first pivot arms are also connected and supported by one or more longitudinally extending fixed, upper, middle and bottom offset support tubes, and the second pivot arms likewise each connected and supported by one or more longitudinally extending fixed, upper, middle and bottom offset support tubes. Each of the upper offset support tubes 414a have a top end 416 fixedly mounted to the upper stationary rib portion 354a, upper first pivot arm and upper second pivot arm, respectively, such as by a screw and lock washer combination 417, or welding, for example, and a bottom end 418 slidably mounted to the next lower stationary rib portion 354b, first pivot arm and second pivot arm, respectively, by a bushing 419. Similarly, each of the middle offset support tubes 414b has a top end 420 fixedly mounted to the secondary stationary rib portion 354b, secondary first pivot arm and secondary second pivot arm, respectively, such as by a screw and lock washer combination 417, or welding, for example, and a bottom end 422 slidably mounted to the next lower stationary rib portion 354c, first pivot arm and second pivot arm, respectively, by a bushing 419. Each of the bottom offset support tubes 414c has a top end 424 fixedly mounted to the tertiary stationary rib portion 354c, tertiary first pivot arm and tertiary second pivot arm, respectively, such as by a screw and lock washer combination 417, or welding, for example, and a bottom end 426 fixedly mounted to the bottom stationary rib portion 354d, bottom first pivot arm and bottom second pivot arm, respectively, such as by a screw and lock washer combination 417, or welding, for example.

As is illustrated in FIGS. 24-30, in the fourth embodiment, a rear lower backing plate 430 may be mounted to the rear side of the bottom and adjacent stationary rib portions 354c,d. The backing plate may be formed of metal, such as aluminum, or extruded or reinforced plastic, for example, and may be mounted to the stationary rib portions by fasteners such as bolts or screws, for example. Wheels 432a,b are mounted to support plates 434a,b which are in turn mounted to the bottom rear portion 436 of the rear lower backing plate. In addition, as is illustrated in FIGS. 8 and 9 described above, one or more foot pedestals may also be mounted to the bottom front portion of the outer jacket, to allow the golf travel case to be balanced in an upright position on the wheels and foot pedestals. The outer jacket may be fastened in a closed configuration with one or more fasteners, such as a zipper, clips or buckles on straps either fully or partially encircling the closed golf travel case, or any combination thereof, or the like, as described above.

It will be apparent from the foregoing that, while particular forms of the invention have been illustrated and described, various modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, it is not intended that the invention be limited, except as by the appended claims.