Title:
PUTTING TRAINING DEVICE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A putting training device has one or two blade-like alignment guides positioned to extend from the blade of a putter. In one embodiment the alignment guides extend generally parallel to each other to facilitate a generally parallel putting stroke. In an alternative embodiment, each of the alignment guides is generally arcuate in shape and extends from the blade of the putter in a generally concentric manner, to facilitate a generally arcuate putting stroke. The ends of the alignment guides are tapered to prevent the alignment guides from catching on the putting surface. Additionally, at least one of the alignment guides is movable, such that the space between the two alignment guides can be tailored for the experience level of each user.



Inventors:
Mclaughlin, Terence Kevin P. (Coquitlam, BC, CA)
Application Number:
11/379699
Publication Date:
12/07/2006
Filing Date:
04/21/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B69/36
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20070275787Bowling ball having an RFID tagNovember, 2007Bouchard et al.
20050124441Spiral wound laminate wood and method for constructionJune, 2005Botten et al.
20050003905Soft golf clubJanuary, 2005Kim et al.
20060030432Performance measuring device for golf clubFebruary, 2006Katayama
20040147330Swing fault-correction matrixJuly, 2004Dimare
20020034993Golf green divot repair tool with distance conversion aidMarch, 2002Mincher
20070265114Golf Training Mechanism And MethodNovember, 2007Carbaugh et al.
20040137999Apparatus for golf trainingJuly, 2004Park
20060252582Ball speed automatic pausal indicatorNovember, 2006Balingit
20090305801LOCKING MECHANISM FOR A CONVERTIBLE GAME TABLEDecember, 2009Chung
20060240915Basketball Shooting VisorOctober, 2006Hohl Jr.



Primary Examiner:
PASSANITI, SEBASTIANO
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
OYEN, WIGGS, GREEN & MUTALA LLP (VANCOUVER, BC, CA)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A golfing aid for use in practicing the game of golf, the golfing aid comprising: a guide detachably affixable to the head of a golf club, the guide comprising an elongated forward part having spaced-apart top and bottom edges that are substantially straight when viewed from a direction in which the top and bottom edges are aligned; wherein, when the guide is affixed to the head of a golf club, the front part projects forwardly from and substantially perpendicular to the face of the golf club and the top and bottom edges of the forward part are aligned when viewed from directly above.

2. A golfing aid according to claim 1 wherein the guide comprises a rearward part aligned with the forward part, wherein, when the guide is affixed to the head of a golf club, the rearward part projects rearwardly from and substantially perpendicular to the face of the golf club.

3. A golfing aid according to claim 2 wherein the rearward part projects at least two inches rearwardly from the face of the golf club when the guide is affixed to the head of the golf club.

4. A golfing aid according to claim 1 wherein the forward part comprises a blade having a thickness, a width and a length wherein the thickness is less than the width and the width is less than the length.

5. A golfing aid according to claim 4 wherein the top and bottom edges are constituted by top and bottom edges of the blade.

6. A golfing aid according to claim 5 wherein the blade has a face extending between the top and bottom edges and the face has a color that contrasts visually with the top edge.

7. A golfing aid according to claim 1 comprising a tab projecting at right angles to the forward part and an affixing means for detachably affixing the tab to a face of the head of a golf club.

8. A golfing aid according to claim 7 wherein the affixing means comprises a removable adhesive on the tab.

9. A golfing aid according to claim 7 wherein the affixing means comprises a magnet on the tab.

10. A golfing aid according to claim 8 comprising a pad of a magnetic material, the pad of magnetic material detachably affixable to the face of the head of a golf club.

11. A golfing aid according to claim 10 comprising a reusable adhesive on the pad wherein the pad can be adhered to the face of a head of a golf club by way of the reusable adhesive and the magnet can detachably affix the tab to the pad.

12. A golfing aid according to claim 1 wherein the top edge is concave arcuate.

13. A golfing aid according to claim 1 wherein the guide is attachable to the head of a golf club in a position such that the top edge lies in a plane substantially parallel to the ground when the golf club is addressing a golf ball.

14. A golfing aid according to claim 1 wherein the guide comprises a first guide and the golfing aid comprises a second guide, the second guide detachably affixable to the head of a golf club and comprising an elongated forward part; wherein, when the first and second guides are affixed to the head of a golf club with the second guide at a position spaced apart from the first guide, the front part of the second guide projects forwardly from the head of the golf club substantially parallel to the first guide.

15. A golfing aid according to claim 14 wherein the first and second guides are attachable to a golf club on either side of a striking area on a face of the head of the golf club while leaving the striking area free to strike a golf ball.

16. A golfing aid according to claim 14 wherein the second guide comprises a rearward part aligned with the forward part of the second guide, wherein, when the second guide is affixed to the head of a golf club, the rearward part projects rearwardly from and substantially perpendicular to the face of the golf club.

17. A golfing aid according to claim 16 wherein the rear parts of the first and second guides are connected by a bridging member.

18. A golfing aid according to claim 14 wherein the first and second guides are substantially mirror images of one another.

19. A golfing aid according to claim 1 wherein the front portion of the guide projects a distance of at least 5 cm forward from the face of a golf club head.

20. A golfing aid according to claim 1 wherein the bottom edge of the guide has a convex curvature.

21. A golfing aid according to claim 7 wherein the guide comprises a sheet of a plastic material and the tab is formed integrally with the sheet.

22. A golfing aid according to claim 14, wherein said first guide is movably attached to the head of the golf club, such that a selected distance between the first guide and the second guide can be varied.

23. A golfing aid according to claim 1, wherein the front part of the guide is tapered such that the top edge becomes closer to the bottom edge in its portion toward a front end of the guide.

Description:

REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority from U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/144,190 filed on 4 Jun. 2005. For purposes of the United States, this application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/144,190 filed on 4 Jun. 2005, which is hereby incorporated by reference herein.

TECHNICAL FIELD

This invention relates to golf training devices, and more particularly, but not by way of limitation, to devices that can be removably attached to the blades of putters for training a golfer's putting stroke.

BACKGROUND

Recreational sports and hobbies are popular all around the world. It is when a person is in the pursuit of some degree of proficiency in these types of activities that a diversion from the routine patterns of life can be experienced. Many times, a person may excel in a particular side interest or pastime to such a degree that they may be competitive with others who have the same interests.

Golfers are among those who practice a great deal in order to prepare themselves to play with any degree of competence. They must be able to hit the golf ball with any of a number of different clubs properly under a variety of circumstances. Many golfers hire teaching professionals to assist them in developing their golfing skills. Hours of time may be spent in preparation for a single game.

Putting is a very important component in the game of golf. A golfer should keep his or her head very still, in a fixed position during the putting stoke. It is therefore very difficult for the golfer to determine whether the blade of the putter is being drawn back properly during the backswing and whether the blade of the putter is maintained in the proper orientation during the putt. If the golfer's head moves to watch the putter during the putt stroke, the rest of the putting stroke can be affected. Therefore, it is not only important that a golfer be able to practice a mechanically sound putting stroke, but also to be able to readily determine that the putting stroke is being done properly.

As can be appreciated, there is a need for golf training devices that can be used while practice putting to not only help develop a good putting stroke, but can also provide feedback to the golfer that the putting stroke is proper.

Various aids have been developed for the purpose of helping golfers to develop their putting skills. These include the aids described in the following patents and patent applications:

    • U.S. Pat. No. 3,384,376 issued to Greenlee on 21 May 1968;
    • U.S. Pat. No. 3,844,569 issued to Swanson on 29 Oct. 1974;
    • U.S. Pat. No. 4,167,268 issued to Lorang on 11 Sep. 1979;
    • U.S. Pat. No. 4,291,883 issued to Smart et al. on 29 Sep. 1981;
    • U.S. Pat. No. 4,647,045 issued to Bilyeu on 3 Mar. 1987;
    • U.S. Pat. No. 4,789,158 issued to Chiesa on 6 Dec. 1988;
    • U.S. Pat. No. 4,953,867 issued to Rigsby on 4 Sep. 1990;
    • U.S. Pat. No. 5,135,229 issued to Archer on 4 Aug. 1992;
    • U.S. Pat. No. 5,351,961 issued to Eulau on 4 Oct. 1994;
    • U.S. Pat. No. 5,362,058 issued to Honig on 8 Nov. 1994;
    • U.S. Pat. No. 5,441,268 issued to Shier on 15 Aug. 1995;
    • U.S. Pat. No. 5,441,270 issued to Williams on 15 Aug. 1995;
    • U.S. Pat. No. 5,551,695 issued to Wolk on 3 Sep. 1996;
    • U.S. Pat. No. 5,620,377 issued to Glockner on 15 Apr. 1997;
    • U.S. Pat. No. 6,095,930 issued to Siddall on 1 Aug. 2000;
    • U.S. Pat. No. 6,722,999 issued to Yi on 20 Apr. 2004;
    • U.S. Pat. No. 6,872,149 issued to Devon on 29 Mar. 2005;
    • US Patent Application Publication No. 2004/0157674 (Bower) published on 12 Aug. 2004; and
    • International Application Publication No. WO 2005/079933 (Chang et al.) published on 1 Sep. 2005.

SUMMARY

The following embodiments and aspects thereof are described and illustrated in methods which are meant to be exemplary and illustrative, and are not intended to be limiting in scope.

One aspect of the invention provides a golfing aid for use in practicing the game of golf. The golfing aid comprises a guide detachably affixable to the head of a golf club. The guide comprises an elongated forward part having spaced-apart top and bottom edges that are substantially straight when viewed from a direction in which the top and bottom edges are aligned. When the guide is affixed to the head of a golf club, the front part projects forwardly from and substantially perpendicular to the face of the golf club and the top and bottom edges of the forward part are aligned when viewed from directly above. The golfing aid may be used for practicing putting.

In addition to the exemplary aspects and embodiments described above, further aspects and embodiments will become apparent by reference to the drawings and by study of the following description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Exemplary embodiments are illustrated in referenced figures of the drawings. It is intended that the embodiments and figures disclosed herein are illustrative rather than restrictive.

FIG. 1 is an isometric view of an alignment guide according to an embodiment of the invention;

FIGS. 2A to 2C show alternative mechanisms for attaching an alignment guide to a head of a golf club;

FIG. 3 is an isometric view showing a pair of alignment guides mounted to the head of a putter; FIG. 3A is an isometric view showing a pair of alignment guides spaced apart by a spacer;

FIG. 4 is a top view of a putter equipped with a pair of alignment guides addressing a golf ball; FIG. 4A us a top view of a putter equipped with the alignment guides and spacer of FIG. 3A addressing a golf ball;

FIG. 5 is a top schematic view showing the use of an alignment guide to check a golfer's head position;

FIG. 6 is a top view showing an alignment guide mounted in a horizontal position for guiding a putter in a desired arc;

FIG. 7 is a top view of a golf training device according to another embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 8 is a top view of another golf training device according to the invention;

FIG. 9 is a side view of an alignment guide in accordance with the principles of the present invention;

FIG. 10 is a top perspective view of an attachment mechanism for alignment guides; and

FIG. 11 is a top perspective view of an attachment mechanism for generally arcuate alignment guides.

The various elements depicted in the drawings are not necessarily drawn to scale.

DESCRIPTION

Throughout the following description specific details are set forth in order to provide a more thorough understanding to persons skilled in the art. However, well known elements may not have been shown or described in detail to avoid unnecessarily obscuring the disclosure. Accordingly, the description and drawings are to be regarded in an illustrative, rather than a restrictive, sense.

FIG. 1 shows a putting training device 10 according to one embodiment of the invention. Device 10 has a blade-like body 11 having a forward portion 12 and a rearward portion 14. Device 10 is configured to be attachable to a golf club in the vicinity of the head of the golf club such that member 11 can be aligned with the direction in which the golf club should be swung. This generally means that member 11 should extend perpendicular to the striking face of the golf club. Member 11 serves as a guide that can be observed by a golfer who is practising golfing strokes.

Device 10 includes an attachment mechanism 15 for attaching device 10 to the head of a golf club. In the illustrated embodiment, mechanism 15 comprises a tab 16 which extends substantially perpendicularly to member 11. Tab 16 includes an attachment means 18 for detachably fixing device 10 to the head of a golf club.

Device 10 has a narrow top edge 20 and a bottom edge 22. In the illustrated embodiment, edges 20 and 22 lie on either side of a face 24 that may include indicia 26 such as a logo or the like. Top edge 20 may be arcuate having a radius of curvature equal to a radius of a path on which it is desirable to swing a golf club. The use of this optional feature is described in more detail below.

A pair of alignment guides 10, which may be mirror images of one another may be supplied and used together by attaching both alignment guides to a golf club simultaneously.

FIGS. 2A through 2C illustrate a number of alternative mechanisms for attaching a device 10 to the head of a golf club. In FIG. 2A a reusable tacky adhesive material 32 is provided between tab 16 and the head 40 of a golf club. Material 32 holds tab 16 against face 41 of golf club 40. Preferably tab 16 is held closely spaced to and parallel to face 41 so that member 11 projects perpendicular to face 41. In an alternative embodiment (not shown) a small pad bearing a reusable tacky material is detachably connected to tab 16 by way of a dovetail, snap, other interlocking arrangement or the like. The pad bearing the reusable tacky material can be removed and replaced with a new pad when the tacky material no longer sticks well enough to the face of a golf club.

FIG. 2B shows an alternative embodiment in which, instead of a reusable adhesive 32, a magnet 31 is attached to tab 16. The mechanism of FIG. 2B is useful when head 40 includes magnetic material to which magnet 31 is attracted. Magnet 31 may be, for example, a flat rare-earth magnet strong enough to permit device 10 to be reasonably firmly attached to golf club 40. Magnet 31 may be embedded within tab 16 if desired.

FIG. 2C shows an alternative embodiment of mechanism 15 which may be used in cases where golf club 40 does not include sufficient magnetic material to attach magnet 31 in a desired location on face 41. In the embodiment of FIG. 2C, a magnet 31 is attached to tab 16. A thin sheet of magnetic material 33 is attached to the face 41 of golf club 40 with the use of a suitable adhesive 32. Adhesive 32 preferably comprises a reusable adhesive that can be peeled off from face 41 without leaving any significant residue.

FIG. 3 shows a head 40 of a golf club (which may be a putter) having a pair of alignment guides 10 (individually identified as 10A and 10B) attached so that the alignment guides 10 project perpendicularly to a face 41 of the golf club with top edges 20 uppermost. Faces 24 extend vertically when the golf club is addressing a golf ball to be struck. In the illustrated embodiment, alignment guides 10 each include an optional edge 13 that extends perpendicularly to member 11. Edge 13 is spaced above the center of tab 16 and extends rearwardly from tab 16. Edge 13 can be placed in contact with the top edge of a putter to cause faces 24 to be vertically aligned relative to the putter. Edges 13 are strictly optional and can interfere with using alignment guides 10 in configurations wherein faces 24 are not vertically aligned (which is sometimes desirable).

Face 41 has a central striking zone 42 within which it is desirable to hit the golf ball. Alignment guides 10A and 10B are located on either side of striking zone 42.

In the illustrated embodiment, alignment guides 10A and 10B are mirror images of one another. Tabs 15 project inwardly toward striking zone 42 on either side of striking zone 42. Tabs 15 are separated sufficiently that the golf club can strike a golf ball without interference from either of tabs 16.

As shown in FIG. 4, alignment guides 10A and 10B are separated by a distance D. Furthermore, when viewed from directly above, a user can see only top edges 20 (and tab 16) of alignment guides 10A or 10B. The user does not see faces 24 or indicia 26, when looking from above. A user can therefore tell when his or her head is aligned directly above alignment guides 10A and 10B by observing top edge 20.

FIG. 5 shows that a user can also tell by observing top edge 20 whether his or her head is aligned so that both eyes are in the plane of a member 11 of device 10A or 10B.

A device 10, or a pair of alignment guides 10A and 10B, can provide a user with readily understandable visual feedback regarding a number of different aspects of the user's putting stroke. A user begins by mounting one or two alignment guides 10 to a golf club, such as a putter, as shown in FIGS. 3 or 4. After the alignment guides have been mounted to the golf club then the user can use the device to check his or her body position, and especially to check that his or her head is directly above the golf ball, and the alignment guides.

As shown in FIG. 5, a user can also tell whether his or her eyes are both aligned in a plane perpendicular to face 41 of the golf club and over a device 10. If not, one or both eyes will be able to see a face of the device 10.

The user can then draw the golf club away from the ball. It is desirable to maintain the face of the golf club perpendicular to the intended direction 45 (see FIG. 4) of travel of the ball while this is being done. By observing guides 10A and 10B during the backswing, the user can have immediate visual feedback which will tell the user whether the club is being twisted in a way that could detract from the putt.

As the user begins to swing the club forward to hit the ball, the user can observe guides 10A and 10B to verify that the face of the club is still being held perpendicular to intended direction 45. By placing guides 10A and 10B on either side of striking area 42, the user can also verify that the head 40 is moving on a trajectory which will cause it to contact the golf ball in striking zone 42.

It can be appreciated that the distance D separating guides 10A and 10B can be adjusted and, furthermore, this adjustment can be made based upon the skill level of the golfer. An expert golfer may be able to manipulate the golf club so skillfully that he or she can putt consistently with guides 10A and 10B separated from one another by only slightly more than the diameter of a golf ball. A less experienced golfer may need to space guides 10A and 10B somewhat farther apart. For example, alignment guides 10A and 10B may be spaced apart so that when a golf ball is aligned with striking zone 42, there is a clearance of approximately ¼″ between the golf ball and each of alignment guides 10A and 10B. This distance may be increased for beginning golfers.

Preferably, as noted above, tabs 16 project inwardly toward striking zone 42. When this is the case, if the golfer does not aim the swing of the golf club correctly then the golf ball will hit one or the other of tabs 16. This will cause the direction of the golf ball to be dramatically altered. By observing the direction in which the golf ball moves, it will be obvious to the golfer that the golf club has been swung in such a manner that the ball has been struck either too far in or too far out on face 41. By observing the direction in which the ball moves the golfer can tell which direction he or she should adjust his or her swing to hit the ball consistently in striking zone 42 of face 41. The ends of tabs 16 closes to sweet spot 42 may be thickened or have protrusions to enhance this effect. The thickening or protrusions are small enough that they do not contact a golf ball when the golf ball is hit with sweet spot 42.

Beginning golfers may attach alignment guides 10A and 10B to a golf club with tabs 16 facing outwardly so that tabs 16 do not interfere with striking the ball in a way that could be distracting or even discouraging to a beginning golfer. As the golfer's skills improve, the golfer can switch the sides on which alignment guides 10A and 10B are attached to the golf club so that tabs 16 project inwardly toward the sweet spot of the club.

Another problem that plagues some golfers, especially on the putting stroke, is in moving the putter in too much of an arc, instead of parallel to, or nearly parallel to intended direction 45. While there is some debate as to whether it is best to move the putter in a straight line exactly parallel to intended direction 45 or whether it is better to deliberately cause the putter to move in a very gentle arc, it is clearly the case that too much of an arc can interfere with the ability to consistently sink putts. Forward portions 12 of guides 10A and 10B preferably have a length such that, if the golf club is moved in a trajectory which has a significant arc, then the golf ball will tend to hit one of alignment guides 10A or 10B before leaving the space between alignment guides 10A and 10B. By observing the path that the golf ball takes relative to alignment guides 10A or 10B, a user can learn whether his or her putting stroke follows closely enough to the line of intended direction 45.

As noted above, there is one school of thought that says that it is desirable to deliberately move a putter through an arc when making putts. The arc begins and ends inside the line along which it is desired to propel a golf ball. The golf ball is hit at an apex of the arc when the golf club head is moving in the intended direction of the putt. Where a device 10 has a top edge 20 which is formed with an arc having a suitable radius then device 10 may be used as a training aid to show a golfer the correct trajectory for swinging a putter to make a putt using such an arcuate stroke.

As shown in FIG. 6, this can be accomplished by flipping device 10 so that the plane of member 11 is substantially parallel to the ground. A guide 44 having a convex edge 45 which has a radius of curvature matching that of device 10 may be placed on the ground and may be held in place, for example, with spikes or pins 46. By sliding the top edge 20 of device 10 along convex edge 45, the golfer can learn how it feels to move the head 40 of a putter in an arc which has the desired radius.

Lower edges 22 of device 10 are preferably convex in curvature so that the tendency of device 10 to dig into the ground if it is accidentally brought into contact with the ground is reduced and so that the likelihood that device 10 will be brought into contact with the ground is also reduced.

Faces 24 may be coloured or textured in a way that contrasts significantly with top edge 22. In this way, a person can tell most easily whether they are looking down on a device 10 directly edge-on. Edges 20 preferably also have a colour that contrasts with the appearance of a natural or artificial grass putting green.

In a prototype embodiment, a device 10 has a forward portion 12 that projects approximately 10 centimetres (about 4 inches) from front face 41 of a golf club. Forward projection 12 is typically longer than about 5 centimeters (about 2 inches) and less than about 15 centimeters (about 6 inches). A rear section 14 preferably projects approximately the same distance rearwardly from the front face of the golf club as forward portion 12 projects forwardly.

The thickness of member 11 is not critical. For example, member 11 may have a thickness of approximately 3 mm. Member 11 is preferably blade-like, having a thickness that is significantly less than the vertical distance between top edge 20 and bottom edge 22 over the majority of the length of device 10. This causes member 11 to have an appearance when viewed edge-on from directly above that is distinctively different from the appearance of member 11 when viewed from a position that is not directly above member 11. Top edge 20 may be marked with a color that contrasts with faces 24 and with grass to further emphasize this distinctive difference in appearance.

Front portion 12 and rear portion 14 are preferably approximately equivalent in length so that their presence attached to a golf club does not significantly affect the balance of the golf club.

While the above Figures show a device 10 which includes a body 11 which has a substantially continuous face 24, face 24 may be apertured in order to make device 10 lighter in weight and/or for ornamentation, and/or to provide a trademark or other indicia by means of the apertures.

Members 11 could optionally be made to be folding or telescoping so that the distance that they extend in front of face 41 of the golf club may be adjusted.

Optionally, two alignment guides 10A and 10B may be connected together. For example, an arm may be provided to connect rear portions 14 of two alignment guides 10A and 10B. The arm may be adjustable in length, a variety of different arms may be provided to allow selection of a desired distance D between alignment guides 10A and 10B or the arm may be permanently affixed between alignment guides 10A and 10B. Providing such an arm can help to ensure that the faces 24 of two alignment guides 10A and 10B remain parallel to one another, enhance the rigidity of alignment guides 10A and 10B, and make it possible to repeatedly achieve a desired spacing between two alignment guides 10A and 10B. The arm may be attached to alignment guides 10A and 10B in any suitable manner.

FIG. 3A shows a pair of alignment guides 10A and 10B connected by a bridge 50. Bridge 50 has at least one vertical slot 52 at each of its ends. Slots 52 are capable of receiving the rear portions 14 of alignment guides 10A and 10B. Slots 52 are parallel to one another so that members 11 remain parallel with one another. Several slots 52 may be provided at each end of bridge 50 to allow the spacing between members 11 to be adjusted to suit the skill level of a golfer. In the illustrated embodiment, each end of bridge 50 has three parallel slots 52. Since bridge 50 holds alignment guides 10A and 10B parallel to one another it is not particularly advantageous to provide edges 13 on alignment guides that are intended to be used with a bridge 50.

Bridge 50 has indicia 56 that indicate its center. As shown in FIG. 4A, indicia 56 may be aligned with the point at which one wants the golf club to hit a golf ball. By observing indicia 56, which may be an observable mark, projection, indentation or the like, the golfer can observe whether he or she is hitting golf balls with the correct part of the club face.

Alignment guides 10A and 10B are versatile devices that may also be used in other ways. For example, alignment guides 10A and 10B may be mounted on a golf club so that tabs 16 project outwardly and the top edges of alignment guides 10A and 10B are inclined outwardly (i.e. so that members 11 form an angle with one another when viewed from the front or are even horizontal or nearly horizontal). To facilitate this, the alignment guides preferably do not have projecting edges 13. In some golf clubs, the hosel or shaft attaches to the head of the golf club at a location that could interfere with placing one of the alignment guides in this configuration. Notches 17 are provided to allow an angled alignment guide to be placed close to the hosel or shaft.

When alignment guides 10A and 10B are in this outwardly-angled configuration and are equally spaced on either side of the sweet spot of a golf club, then curved sections 19 of alignment guides 10A and 10B frame the golf ball as the golf club approaches the golf ball. This provides a golfer with an immediate visual indication that the ball is, or is not, being hit by the sweet spot of the golf club. Each of curved sections 19 may have a radius of curvature roughly equal to, and preferably slightly greater than the radius of a golf ball.

An alignment guide 10A or 10B can also be used in conjunction with an external track or straight edge to observe “gating” during a golf swing. The golfer can arrange to swing in a direction parallel to the external track or edge. If the club face becomes non perpendicular to the direction of swing then member 11 of the alignment guide will cease to be parallel to the nearby track or edge. Since the human eye can readily ascertain relatively small deviations from parallelism, any gating can be identified.

FIGS. 7-11 illustrate alternative embodiments of the invention. FIG. 7 shows a putting training device 100. Putting training device 100 includes a putter head 110 connected to a putter shaft 120. Two alignment guides, 130 and 140 are connected to putter head 110. Alignment guides 130 and 140 are generally parallel to each other, and generally perpendicular to the face 112 of putter head 110. In some embodiments, alignment guide 140 is attached in a fixed position on putter head 110, while alignment guide 130 is movable with respect to alignment guide 140 such that the space between alignment guides 130 and 140 can be adjusted. Dashed lines 150, 152, 160 and 162 represent a desired proper parallel putting stroke, with dashed lines 150 and 152 illustrating the desired proper backswing of putting training device 100, and dashed lines 160 and 162 illustrating the desired proper follow through.

The operation of putting training device 100 will now be described. A user or golfer adjusts the position of alignment guide 130 such that the desired space between alignment guides 130 and 140 for the golfer is achieved. Alignment guides 130 and 140 are spaced apart from each other by a distance slightly greater than a diameter of a golf ball. For example, the alignment guides 130 and 140 would be set farther apart for beginners and set increasingly closer as the golfer's putting strokes become more precise. Alignment guides 130 and 140 are then aligned or pointed at the hole or target. A golf ball is placed between alignment guides 130 and 140. As the golfer starts the backswing of putting training device 100, there is instant visual and mechanical feedback on whether the putter face 112 is staying square to the hole or is rotating. If putter face 112 is rotating, alignment guides 130 and 140 will provide visual feedback to the golfer by rotating and emphasizing that they are no longer pointing to the target. Additionally, if the putter face 112 rotates sufficiently such that the golf ball comes into contact with one of alignment guides 130 and 140, a vibration will be felt by the golfer. If putter face 112 is maintained in a substantially square alignment during the backswing, alignment guides 130 and 140 will provide visual feedback to the golfer, as alignment guides 130 and 140 will continue to substantially point to the target. Additionally, no contact will be made between the golf ball and the alignment guides 130 and 140 and no vibration will be felt by the golfer.

Similarly, as the golfer makes a forward swing with putting training device 100, if the proper alignment of putter face 112 is not maintained, alignment guides 130 and 140 will provide visual feedback to the golfer by rotating and emphasizing that they are no longer pointing to the target. Additionally if the rotation of the putter face 112 is great enough, the golf ball will come into contact with one of the alignment guides 130 and 140 and a vibration will be felt by the golfer. If the proper alignment of putter face 112 is maintained, alignment guides 130 and 140 will provide visual feedback to the golfer, as alignment guides 130 and 140 will continue to substantially point to the target. Additionally, no contact will be made between the golf ball and alignment guides 130 and 140, and no vibration will be felt by the golfer. As can be appreciated, the closer alignment guides 130 and 140 are placed together, the amount of deviation of the alignment of putter face 112 that is needed to have the alignment guides 130 and 140 come into contact with the golf ball is decreased.

FIG. 8 shows a putting training device 200. Putting training device 200 includes a putter head 210 connected to a putter shaft 220. Two, generally arcuate alignment guides 230 and 240 are connected to putter head 220. In some embodiments, alignment guide 240 is attached in a fixed position on putter head 210, while alignment guide 230 is movable with respect to alignment guide 240 such that the space between alignment guides 230 and 240 can be adjusted. Additionally, such embodiments, alignment guide 230 may be shorter than alignment guide 240 to allow the proper arcuate stroke of putting training device 200. Dashed lines 250, 253,260 and 263 represent a desired proper arc shaped putting stroke, with dashed lines 250 and 252 illustrating the desired proper backswing of putting training device 200, and dashed lines 260 and 262 illustrating the desire proper follow through.

The operation of putting training device 200 (see FIG. 8) will now be described. A user or golfer adjusts the position of alignment guide 230 such that the desired space between alignment guides 230 and 240 for the golfer is achieved. For example, the alignment guides 230 and 240 can be set far apart for beginners and set increasingly closer as a golfer's putting skills become more precise. The putter face 212 is aligned or pointed at the hole or target. A golf ball is placed between alignment guides 230 and 240. As the golfer starts the backswing of putting training device 200, there is instant visual and mechanical feedback on whether the putter face 212 is staying properly aligned. If putter face 212 is rotating, alignment guides 230 and 240 will provide visual feedback to the golfer by rotating with the putter face 212 and emphasize that the putter face 212 is no longer aligned to the target. Additionally, if the putter face 212 rotates sufficiently such that the golf ball comes into contact with one of alignment guides 230 and 240 a vibration will be felt by the golfer. If putter face 212 is maintained in proper alignment during the arcuate backswing, alignment guides 230 and 240 will provide visual feedback to the golfer. Additionally, if putter face 212 is maintained in proper alignment, no contact will be made between the golf ball and the alignment guides 230 and 240, and no vibrations will be felt by the golfer.

Similarly, as the golfer makes a forward swing with putting training device 200, if the proper alignment of putter face 212 is not maintained, alignment guides 230 and 240 will provide visual feedback to the golfer by being rotated, thus emphasizing that the putter face 212 is no longer properly aligned. Additionally, if the rotation of the putter face 212 is great enough, the golf ball will come into contact with one of the alignment guides 230 and 240 such that vibrations will be felt by the golfer.

If the proper alignment of putter face 212 is maintained, alignment guides 230 and 240 will provide visual feedback to the golfer, as the putter face 212 will continue to substantially point to the target. Additionally, no contact will be made between the golf ball and alignment guides 230 and 240, and no vibration will be felt by the golfer. As can be appreciated, the closer alignment guides 230 and 240 are placed together, the amount of deviation of the alignment of putter face 212 that is needed to have the alignment guides 230 and 240 come into contact with the golf ball is decreased.

Referring now to FIG. 9, there is illustrated a side view of an alignment guide 300, such as illustrated in FIGS. 7 and 8. Alignment guide 300 has a notch 310 which is cut to correspond or mate with the shape the putter head or mounting mechanism on which it is to be used. Edge 320 is tapered from the front of top edge 330 towards notch 310, to facilitate the smooth movement of alignment guide 300 during a putting swing by at least preventing edge 320 from catching on the putting surface. It is contemplated that alignment guide 300 be attached to a putter head using suitable mechanical or chemical attachment methods. Good results have been achieved by manufacturing alignment guide 300 from metals, such as various types of sheet metal, or from various types of plastics. It is desirable that the chosen material for alignment guide 300 be non-corrosive, durable, light in weight and strong. It is further desired that the material having a high impact strength and be able to accept and retain coloring materials for an extended length of time.

It is contemplated that alignment guide 300 could be bendable such that, for example, if a golfer utilized an arcuate putting stroke, alignment guide 300 could be readily bent to a particular arc shape to coincide with the golfer's putting stroke.

FIG. 9 shows another putting training device 400. Putting training device 400 includes generally parallel alignment guides 430 and 440 and a mounting bracket 435. Alignment guides 430 and 440 are similar in shape to alignment guides 130 and 140 of FIG. 7. Alignment guide 440 is fixed to mounting bracket 435 while alignment guide 430 is removably secured to mounting bracket 435 with a screw, such as a thumb screw 432. Thumb screw 432 can be loosened to allow the adjustment of the position of alignment guide 430, such that the space between alignment guides 430 and 400 can be changed. Mounting bracket 435 is placed on the top of putter blade 410 and secured to the putter shaft 420 with a screw 434.

FIG. 10 shows another putting training device 500. Putting training device 500 includes generally arcuate alignment guides 530 and 540 and a mounting bracket 535. Alignment guides 530 and 540 are similar in shape to alignment guides 230 and 240 of FIG. 8. Alignment guide 540 is fixed to mounting bracket 535 while alignment guide 530 is removably secured to mounting bracket 535 with a screw, such as a thumb screw 532. Thumb screw 532 can be loosened to allow the adjustment of the position of alignment guide 530, such that the space between alignment guides 530 and 500 can be changed. Mounting bracket 535 is placed on the top of putter blade 510 and secured to the putter shaft 520 with a screw 534.

As there are at least two schools of thought on putting strokes, a parallel or straight back stroke, and an arcuate stroke, it is anticipated that putting training device 100 be utilized by a golfer practicing the parallel putting stroke and that putting training device 200 be utilized by a golfer practicing an arcuate stroke.

Although alignment guides 140 and 240 are described as fixed and alignment guides 130 and 230 are described as being movable, it is contemplated to be within the scope of this invention that either or both of the alignment guides of each putting training device 100 and 200 may be adjustable with respect to the other alignment guide, or that neither alignment guide be adjustable, i.e. each is attached at a preset fixed position.

As can be appreciated, putting training devices 100 and 200 will help a golfer to develop a steady, smooth, swing while minimizing the margin of error. This is accomplished by training the golfer to have the face of the putter strike the ball squarely and to make a complete follow through.

It is further contemplated that the alignment guides of putting training devices 100 and 200 may be connected together such that they could be attachable to the shaft of the putter where the shaft joins the club head (e.g. at the hosel of the club see FIGS. 10 and 11), such that the putting training devices could be utilized with putters of virtually any shape.

In the preceding detailed description, reference has been made to the accompanying drawings that form a part hereof, and in which are shown by way of illustration specific embodiments in which the invention may be practiced. These embodiments, and certain variants thereof, have been described in sufficient detail to enable those skilled in the art to practice the invention. It is to be understood that other suitable embodiments may be utilized and that logical changes may be made without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention. The description may omit certain information known to those skilled in the art. The preceding detailed description is, therefore, not intended to be limited to the specific forms set forth herein, but on the contrary, it is intended to cover such alternatives, modifications, and equivalents, as can be reasonably included within the spirit and scope of the appended claims.

While a number of exemplary aspects and embodiments have been discussed above, those of skill in the art will recognize certain modifications, permutations, additions and sub-combinations thereof. It is therefore intended that the following appended claims and claims hereafter introduced are interpreted to include all such modifications, permutations, additions and sub-combinations as are within their true spirit and scope.





 
Previous Patent: Putting training device

Next Patent: Golf club