Title:
Expandable putting green
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A flexible, expandable putting green including interlocking panels. In various aspects of the invention, the interlocking panels are flexible pads or mats having a foam backing underlayer covered by a simulated grass surface overlayer. The interlocking panels provide flexibility in design to allow a user to construct a putting surface of any desired size or shape. At least one of the panels includes a removable portion that forms a hole in the panel into which a cup may be inserted such that it is recessed in the putting surface to receive a golf ball. In various embodiments, multiple panels may be compiled into a starter kit including materials for a basic putting green and expansion kits to provide unlimited expansion possibilities.



Inventors:
Dennesen, James J. (Hampstead, NH, US)
Application Number:
11/489124
Publication Date:
02/22/2007
Filing Date:
07/19/2006
Assignee:
DENNCO, INC
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B67/02; A63B69/36
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Primary Examiner:
GRAHAM, MARK S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CHOATE, HALL & STEWART LLP (BOSTON, MA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A flexible, expandable putting green, comprising: at least two interlocking panels; and at least one interlocking mechanism, wherein said interlocking mechanism includes interlocking teeth disposed on each of said at least two interlocking panels.

2. The expandable putting green of claim 1, wherein at least one side of said interlocking panels comprises simulated grass.

3. The expandable putting green of claim 1, further comprising: at least one removable portion disposed in at least one of said interlocking panels.

4. The expandable putting green of claim 1, further comprising: at least one recessed cup, wherein said at least one recessed cup fits into a hole revealed when said at least one removable portion is removed from said interlocking panels.

5. The expandable putting green of claim 1, wherein said at least one interlocking mechanism includes a first configuration of interlocking teeth and a second configuration of interlocking teeth.

6. An interlockable putting green panel, comprising: at least one interlocking mechanism, wherein said interlocking mechanism includes interlockable teeth disposed on an edge of said interlockable putting green panel, and wherein at least one side of said interlockable putting green panel comprises simulated grass.

7. The interlockable putting green panel of claim 5, further comprising: at least one removable portion disposed in an inner section of said interlockable putting green panel.

8. A method of expanding a putting green, comprising: disposing a first interlockable panel adjacent to a second interlockable panel, wherein at least one side of said interlockable panels comprises simulated grass; and interlocking said first interlockable panel with said second interlockable panel by interlocking teeth of said first interlockable panel to teeth of said second interlockable panel.

9. The method of claim 8, further comprising: removing a first removable portion from at least one of said first and second interlockable panels to reveal at least one hole.

10. The method of claim 8, further comprising: inserting a cup into said at least one hole.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/700,678, filed Jul. 19, 2005, which is incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to the field of putting surfaces and, more particularly, to a method and apparatus for a flexible, expandable putting green that is versatile and portable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Portable practice putting greens are widely used in many offices and homes throughout the world. Although such putting greens can be as simple as a carpet and a sideways glass, typical practice putting greens include a unitary putting surface laid on the ground with a cup at one end to which the golfer directs his putting shots. To improve portability of practice putting greens, rigid modular panels have been developed that may be connected together with various attachment mechanisms to form an integrated putting surface. (See, for example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,302,803, 6,669,572, 6,672,970 and 6,672,971 all to Barlow, which are all incorporated herein by reference). In other areas, foam pads have been developed that are capable of attachment to one another by interlocking teeth. (See, for example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,212,842 to Glydon, U.S. Pat. No. 6,588,167 to Chang, U.S. Pat. No. 6,761,563 to Lin, and D370,818 to D'Alessio, which are all incorporated herein by reference).

Accordingly, there is a need for a practice putting green with an enhanced design that provides for versatile expandability and improved portability.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

An expandable putting green including interlocking panels. In various aspects of the invention, the interlocking panels are flexible pads or mats having a foam backing underlayer covered by a simulated grass surface overlayer. The interlocking panels provide flexibility in design to allow a user to construct a putting surface of any desired size or shape. At least one of the panels includes a removable portion that forms a hole in the panel into which a cup may be inserted such that it is recessed in the putting surface to receive a golf ball. In various embodiments, multiple panels may be compiled into a starter kit including materials for a basic putting green and expansion kits to provide unlimited expansion possibilities.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention is described with reference to the figures of the drawings, in which:

FIG. 1A illustrates the assembling of a modular expandable putting green according to one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 1B is a schematic illustration of one possible layout of the expandable putting green of the present invention;

FIG. 1C is a modular expandable putting green disassembled and packed into a carrying container according to one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 1D further illustrates an assembled expandable putting green according to another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2A is a detailed schematic illustration of a starter kit for the expandable putting green according to one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2B shows the thickness of the expandable putting green according to one embodiment of the invention; and

FIG. 3 is a detailed schematic illustration of an expansion kit for the expandable putting green according to one embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF VARIOUS EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

It is to be understood that both the foregoing general description and the following detailed description are exemplary and explanatory only and are not restrictive of the invention that is claimed. It may be noted that, as used in the specification and the appended claims, the singular forms “a”, “an” and “the” include plural referents unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. References cited herein are hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety, except to the extent that they conflict with teachings explicitly set forth in this specification.

Referring now to the figures of the drawing, the figures constitute a part of this specification and illustrate exemplary embodiments of the invention. It is to be understood that in some instances various aspects of the invention may be shown schematically or may be exaggerated to facilitate an understanding of the invention.

FIG. 1A-D illustrates the assembling and disassembling of a modular expandable putting green according to various embodiments of the invention. In one embodiment shown in FIG. 1A, the Expand-a-Green™ (trademarked by Dennco, Inc.) includes a starter kit with ten modular interlocking panels 2, two regulation size cups 4 and two flagsticks 6. A flagstick 6 may be inserted and/or removed from a cup 4. The schematic illustrations of FIGS. 1B and 2A show possible modular panel layouts including panels 2 without removable portions and panels 2 with removable portions 8 for the recessed cups 4. Further, the panels 2 are connectable to one another by interlocking teeth 12. Most of the interlocking teeth 12 resemble a “dove-tail” type connection 14; however, certain of the teeth 12 may be differently configured, e.g., 16, to aid in orientation of the different shaped mats 18 when the panels 2 are connected to one another. A portion of the attachment mechanism of the panels 2 including both the dovetail type interlocking teeth 14 and the differently configured interlocking teeth 16 are illustrated with a dotted line in FIGS. 1B and 2A. The configuration as described provides for ease of shipping of multiple interlocking panels which may be stacked and easily transported in a 20 inch by 20 inch by 5 inch container 20 (see FIG. 1C). FIG. 2B is a side view showing the depth or thickness of a modular panel 2 according to one embodiment of the invention.

The expandable putting green, comprising at least two interlocked panels, is flexible, wherein the interlocked or individual panels may be bent, squeezed, and/or twisted in any direction. The panels may be constructed from material possessing elastic qualities, or of material that allows the panels to be compressed, condensed, and/or folded. The interlocked panels or assembled green retains flexibility while two or more of the panels are interlocked. In still other embodiments, the flexible, expandable putting green (i.e., at least two assembled, interlocking panels) takes and holds its shape without the need for any rigid platforms, molding, or backing.

In various aspects, the flexibility of the present invention provides a soft, comfortable surface to practice for the user. Furthermore, the flexible surface provides more “give” than a rigid surface or platform, and better simulates a real golf playing or putting surface.

It is will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that there are a variety of ways to removably interlock the panels described in this application. By way of example and not by limitation, the panels may also be removably interlocked by any one or a combination of Velcro, hooks, tacks, glues, latches, or tongue and groove mechanisms.

FIG. 2A depicts a detailed schematic illustration of a starter kit for the expandable putting green according to one embodiment of the invention. This figure illustrates the numbers and types of different panel components included in an example of a starter kit. The panels 2 may be of different sizes and shapes. For example and referring to FIG. 2A, a starter kit may include panels 2 of the following type: four of (1), three of (3), one of (5), one of (7), and one of (9). A starter kit may also include panels 2 of the following type: four of (1), three of (3), two of (5), and one of (7), wherein (5) is a reversible panel that can take the shape as represented by (5) and (9). In one embodiment, the panels 2 are 0.25 inches thick and are made of closed cell foam to form a foam backing underlayer and a green surface polypropylene fabric as an overlayer. In other embodiments, the panels are flexible, wherein the panels may be bent, squeezed, or twisted in any direction. The panels may be constructed from material possessing elastic qualities, or of material that allows the panels to be compressed, condensed, and/or folded. The interlocked panels or assembled green can retain flexibility while two or more of the panels are interlocked. In still other embodiments, the expandable putting green (i.e., the assembled, interlocking panels) takes and holds its shape without the need for any rigid platforms, molding, or backing. The panels 2 may have varying lengths and widths to accommodate playing surfaces of any desired size and/or shape. The assembled kit may be approximately 5-500 inches long, and preferably 80-100 inches long, and approximately 5-500 inches wide, and preferably 25-50 inches wide. The different types of individual panels 2 that make up the starter kit may have lengths and widths between approximately 5-100 inches wide and/or long, and preferably 15-25 inches wide and/or long. As illustrated by panel types (1) and (3) in FIG. 2A, certain of the panels 2 include removable portions 8 that may be removed by the user to form a hole in the panel 2 and into which a recessed cup 4 is inserted. The removable portions 8 and/or cup 4 may have a diameter of approximately 1-10 inches, and preferably approximately 4-5 inches. The removable portions 8 and/or cup 4 may have a diameter that is the same, slightly smaller, or slightly larger than a regulation golf hole size of approximately 4.250 inches.

In still other embodiments, the flexibility of the panels 2 allows for the introduction of various shapes, sizes and textures underneath each panel 2. The introduction of an object under a panel 2 can simulate a real golf course or grass lawn for playing, including “breaks.” Furthermore, the flexibility of the panels 2 allows a user to lay the green over a sloped or undulating surface (e.g., driveway or lawn) and the green can either take on the undulating shape of the surface on which it lies, or one can introduce objects under the panels 2 to adjust for the slope or undulating surface. In yet another embodiment, at least one or more of the panels 2 are reversible, and can be used interlocked with the panel lying on its face or back. In still other embodiments, the panels 2 or green can be laid on or abut up against another surface to further simulate golf play. Some other surfaces include, but are not limited to, grass, sand, gravel, pavement, artificial turf, and any type of body of water.

In various embodiments, the expandable putting green of the present invention may be manufactured by die cutting sheets or rolls of panel 2 material into the final desired shape of the green. An entire 10-piece starter set may be cut in a single stroke from a single cutting die, minimizing time and expense of manufacture. Alternatively, individual cutting dies are created for different shaped panels 2 (e.g., a different cutting die for expansion pieces (3) and (13)). In other embodiments, panels 2 made from different dies and/or different factories can be used interchangeably. In one aspect, the panel 2 material comprises a flexible backing. In another aspect, the flexible backing is laminated onto the panel material. For example, flame lamination may be used to obtain waterproof lamination without the use of adhesives.

FIG. 3 illustrates an expansion kit for the expandable putting green according to yet another embodiment of the invention. The expansion kit includes additional panels 2 to provide for versatility in expanding the putting surface. In one aspect, the expansion kit includes additional types of panels 2 such as the following: two of (3) and three of (13). The expansion kit panels 2 may further include removable portions 8 that may be removed by the user to form a hole in the panel 2 and into which a recessed cup 4 is inserted.

Other embodiments of the invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art from a consideration of the specification or practice of the invention disclosed herein. It is intended that the specification and examples be considered as exemplary only, with the true scope and spirit of the invention being indicated by the following claims.