Title:
Ultra Light Golf Practice Platform
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An ultra light, low cost and easy-changed-contour-surface golf swing platform is invented. The platform is easy to operate and capable of providing plurality of lie conditions such as uphill, downhill, sidehill up and sidehill down lies which usually are provided only by complicated inclination and rotation mechanisms in other inventions of similar purpose. The ultra-light and low cost golf swing platform needs no power to operate so that it is also portable to anywhere. It is easily affordable for driving range stations and individual golfers.



Inventors:
Jong, Chiou-muh (Ellicott City, MD, US)
Application Number:
11/309316
Publication Date:
04/05/2007
Filing Date:
07/26/2006
Assignee:
Jong, Chiou-muh (Ellicott City, MD, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B67/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LEGESSE, NINI F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CHIOU-MUH JONG (ELLICOTT CITY, MD, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method for creating a platform with a plurality of changeable lie conditions for practicing golf swings on uneven fairways comprising the steps of: Providing a wedge-shaped deck made of light material, shaped in polygon or circular configuration and strong enough to support a human weight without substantial deformation; colligating a layer of surface fastener material on the top surface of said wedge-shaped deck; providing a plurality of contour pads substantially smaller than said wedge-shaped deck in sizes; colligating a layer of surface fastener material on the surfaces of top sides and bottom sides of said contour pads; forming uneven surface at a plurality of locations on said wedge-shaped deck by separately engaging bottom surface of each of a plurality of said contour pads on said top surface of said wedge-shaped deck; and covering a piece of golf swing mat on said uneven surface, whereby creating a platform with a plurality of changeable lie conditions through relocation and re-engaging of each of said contour pads on said wedge-shaped deck.

2. The method as described in claim 1, wherein said wedge-shaped deck has an inclination angle of 0 to 15 degree relative to horizontal plane.

3. The method as described in claim 1, wherein said contour pads have convex surfaces on top the sides, flat surfaces on the bottom sides and a substantially thin thickness of circumferential edges such that transition from surface of said wedge-shaped deck to surface of each of said contour pads is smooth.

4. The method as described in claim 1, wherein the step of engaging a plurality of said contour pads on said wedge-shaped deck is easy repetitions of fastening and peeling off engagements between said wedge-shaped deck and said contour pads.

5. An ultra light golf swing practice platform comprising: a wedge shaped deck of light material strong enough to support a human weight without substantial deformation and shaped in polygon or circular configuration, strong enough to support a golfer; a plurality of contour pads of light material, strong enough to support human weight, spread over said wedge shaped deck for creating unevenness on said wedge shaped deck; and an artificial turf golf driving mat sitting on the uneven surface formed by said multiple contour pads adhesive on said wedge shaped deck by means of fiber surface fastener.

6. The golf swing platform as described in claim 5, wherein said wedge shaped deck has an inclined top surface with angle ranged from 0 to 15 degree relative to horizontal plane.

Description:

1. FIELD OF INVENTION

The present invention relates to a golf practice device. Specifically, the present invention relates to an ultra light and low cost to build golf practice device including a practice platform capable of simulating a plurality of hitting conditions.

2. STATE OF ART

It has been always a hot topic for inventors to create good methods and practical devices to help a golfer to improve his skill in hitting ball on various fairway surfaces. To see this, all one needs to do is to search USPTO patent database, using “golf” as keyword in title field and “platform” in description field, one will find a lot of patents about platforms for improving swing on variety of hitting surfaces. For example, U.S. Published Nos. 20020187848, 20020128084, 20020119827, 20010044344, 20010034272, U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,921,342, 6,514,152, 6,450,895, 5,944,615, 5,720,670, 5,558,334, 5,527,042, 5,470,074, 5,358,251, 5,340,111, 5,046,741, 5,005,837, 4,875,684, 4,331,332, 4,279,420, 3,693,979, 3,639,923, 3,633,918, 3,633,917, 3,430,964 and 2,937,875 published as early as 43 years ago, are all related to improving golfer's skill in hitting ball on surfaces of various inclinations. This fact reveals that golf swing is really a difficult skill to learn, it needs practice after practice to master, and that for the last forty plus years, the enthusiasm to invent an ideal device improving golf swing skill never decays.

More importantly, it reveals that, with the exception of U.S. Pat. No. 6,921,342, an ideal device that is affordable and love to use by the individual golfers has yet to be seen in driving ranges and golfers' backyards. This is not saying that previous inventions such as those listed above are not good. Actually, if any device based on previous inventions mentioned above is available, one can really benefit by using it repeatedly and very possibly some golf schools/academies already have some such kinds in use. The problem is, we do not see these devices anywhere in the driving ranges and the reason, as quoted from paragraph 4 of U.S. Pub. No 20010,044344, “The electrical-mechanical and electrical-hydraulic platform devices are complicated and expensive to design, manufacture, sell and maintain”. In fact, any customized component, not only electrical-mechanical or electrical-hydraulic one, used in the new invention is expensive to design, manufacture, sell and maintain, even the socket-ball combinations and movable supports used in U.S. Pat. No. 20010,044344 are not cheap to build either. Although it is very possible that some affluent private country clubs or golf learning schools may have expensive devices based on any of above mentioned inventions, it is yet to see them appear in the more public driving ranges and widely used by generic public golf lovers as a common practice tool.

As all kind technologies progress, the more recent inventions mentioned above have some modernized functions imbedded in the inventions, for example, Published No. 20010034272 has programmable memory to help learning, U.S. Pat. No. 5,358,251 uses pressure sensors for detecting weight distribution during golf swings. However, the central theme in all inventions mentioned above is still regarding to the creation of easy and convenient golf swinging practice platform with a plurality of lies on various inclinations. To achieve this goal, almost all designs in the inventions mentioned above have inclinable platforms such that golfer can adjust to uphill, downhill and sidehill surfaces. To make a platform inclinable, a lot of inventions mentioned above, U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,633,917, 5,340,111 and 5,358,251 to name a few, use hydraulic cylinders together with other highly customized parts to achieve the function. Some designs such as U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,430,964, 3,633,917, 4,279,420, 5,005,837 and 5,558,334 are rotatable, either with power assistance or not. Of the 25 inventions mentioned above, only 10 of them do not need electric power to operate.

The commercial driving ranges usually partition the driving area into many small swing stations. Between the stations, there is a short separation wall or other barrier to protect golfers from hurting by wild drive. On the floor of each station, typically a movable driving floor mat is sitting on the ground, with a rubber tee inserted from bottom of the mat. Some better equipped stations have power supply, some also have roofs to partially shield golfer from sunshine and rainfall. Some even have overhead hanging fans blowing heat in the winter, make stations usable all year round. Each station is about 7 to 10 foot wide. With limited space in each station, a lot of practice platforms embodied from previous mentioned inventions will not fit in such stations. Even those stations with roofs, the environment condition should still be considered as ambient, thus the platforms which are not weather resistant, especially those with complicated moving parts and control wirings will be suffering from high maintenance cost if they are installed in such stations.

The cost of using a swing station varies from around $3 to $10 per bucket of balls in the Maryland suburban area, depends on the number of balls in the bucket and driving range location. Membership subscription usually is much more affordable. Even that, the long term cost to use driving range for developing consistent golf swing is high for a normal golfer. And for this cost the golfer can only use the flat driving platform. If a driving range owner considers to invest money to upgrade some of the swing stations to be inclinable, no owner can afford a complicated, expensive and high maintenance cost inclinable platforms because then he or she needs to transfer the additional investment cost to the consumers and may not have positive impact on the business. Since most driving ranges associated with the golf courses have only roofless, no power swing stations, these golf course owners may not like any platform which requires power to operate because the cost to dig ground, bury power cables and to maintain them in the outdoor is high enough to stop them from installing such platform. This concludes that, among the 25 above mentioned inventions, 15 of those require power to operate have already been excluded out as practical platforms for the driving ranges.

Some designs, although require no power to operate, the level of customization for the components used in those designs are too high to be cost effective. These include U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,005,837, 5,046,741, 5,527,042, 6,514,152 and Pub. Nos. 20010044344, 20020187848.

Still, some designs are quite simple to build and require no power source but tedious to operate, either need manual adjustment of the threads one by one in order to change the inclination or need to lift the whole platform for making big adjustment. These designs include U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,430,964, 3,639,923, 4,279,420 and 4,331,332.

It should be pointed out that, a highly customized component is already expensive to design, manufacture and maintain, production in very limited volume make the component even more expensive. After all, only some specific, not even generic golfers use a golf swing platform, so the big volume production will never happen. Therefore, it is easy to see that all the complicated, multifunctional swing platforms may belong to no where, may belong only to training schools or private country clubs where some people can afford the high cost, but never belong to driving ranges where normal or weekend golfers have more limited resources to build up consistent swings. U.S. Pat. No. 6,921,342 addressed this problem by using widely used office chair mechanism for convenient operation of lifting and releasing of platform's up and down in order to create various lie conditions. However, the minimum length of commonly manufactured gaslift mechanism is a little too long for such application, which tends to make the platform sitting too high on the ground in order to have enough height for installing the gaslift mechanism.

3. SUMMARY OF INVENTION

The golf driving platform ideal for both individual and driving range station use is an ultra low cost, sturdy platform which generic golfers can build up consistent swings by repeatedly using it with affordable cost in the long term. The present invention aims to such goal as an ideal device for generic golfers to use. It offers easy adjustment of downhill, uphill and sidehill lies through light manual rotation of the entire platform and less frequent operations of moving contour pads around for creating uneven hitting surface contours. Because there is no moving parts or rotation mechanism, the cost of manufacturing is largely reduced and can be easily affordable in the driving range installations or by personal uses.

The present invention offers four obvious advantages. First, it is extremely low cost to build without sacrifice much of the plurality of inclinations. Second, it is ultra light as compared to those platforms with rotational and inclination mechanisms, consequently makes it highly portable to any practice ground. Third, present invention offers absolutely secure platform because no linkages or moving parts will be in action when a golfer is swinging on the platform, and last, the platform can be easily rotated to any orientation without using electric or hydraulic power and consequently is portable to any place.

4. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a golfer 101 standing on an ultra light platform 102 practicing golf shot on the uneven surface.

FIG. 2 shows the components forming the ultra light golf practice platform.

5. DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The objective of present invention is to provide a cost effective and sturdy golf swing practice platform without sacrificing much of the plurality of inclinations offered by previous inventions such as U.S. Pat. No. 5,340,111, which uses complicated electro-hydraulic cylinders to achieve the inclinations. U.S. Pat. No. 6,921,342 has argued that, even the platform is inclined at a fixed angle relative to horizontal ground, it still not sacrifice much of the plurality of lie conditions if the platform can rotate 360 degree and equipped with movable multiple contour pads for manipulating various hitting surface contours on the platform.

In reality, it is much more difficult to change platform inclination angle than to change the platform orientation, especially when some heavy load is placed on the surface of the platform. This is because inclination change will involve gravitational force while orientation change has nothing to with it. For a platform to be inclination adjustable, some sort of mechanical linkage with moving parts to support the platform is unavoidable. For the platform to support a golfer not only his weight, but also the impact on the platform from his movement in golf swing, the linkage needs to be super strong to maintain stable or feels sturdy by the golfer. As a matter of fact, adjustable inclination, sturdy and low price never coexist.

In present invention, the platform is so lighted that it is easy to manually rotate 360° on the ground to provide downhill, uphill, and sidehill down, sidehill up lie conditions. To totally avoid using inclination mechanism, present invention makes the platform incline at a fixed angle between 5° and 20° while introducing multiple movable contour pads to compensate the loss of plurality of inclinations due to fixed angle inclination. For any orientation the platform is rotated to, the plurality of combinations of multiple contour pads arbitrarily arranged on the surface of the platform will actually provide much more detailed local inclination conditions in addition to inclination from the fixed angle of the deck. Referring to FIG. 2, a wedge-shaped and light-weighted platform consisting of two halves 202 and 203 for easy portability has a flat surface planted with male or female engaging elements of the fiber surface fastener throughout the surface on whole platform. The multiple contour pads such as 204, 205 (these are two halves of a contour pad, sectioned to two halves for illustration purpose only) and 206 will be planted with opposite engaging elements of the fiber surface fastener in both sides in order to be firmly held on the platform surface for creating uneven and smooth contour surface throughout the whole platform. A golf swing mat 201 covered with turf on one side (part 102 as shown in FIG. 1) and planted with fiber surface fastener of opposite (relative to wedge-shaped platform surface) engaging elements on the other side, is then put on the top of wedge-shaped platform, sandwiching multiple contour pads movable whenever a different contour shape is desired. The combination is a whole set of golf swing practice platform extremely light-weighted, extremely portable and full of plurality of varied inclinations for practicing golf swing in all desired lie conditions.

Since the material used for such platform can be as light-weighted as plastic foam, a separate wedge-shaped platform consisting of two halves 207 and 208 can be served as additional layer for adjusting the fixed inclination of the whole platform. In this case, the bottom surface of 202 and 203 can be planted with fiber surface fastener of either male or female engaging elements, with 207 and 208 another gender of elements of the fiber surface fastener to secure them together as a platform.

In the commercial driving ranges, some forms of golf driving mats are always available. In this case the user can bring his platform without swinging mat 201 and use any one available in the driving range. One little difference is that the driving mats provided in commercial driving ranges would have not been planted with fiber fastener and would consequently result in less securely engaged with contour pads and wedge-shaped platform. However, because typical driving mats in the commercial driving ranges are thick and heavy, this would not be severe enough to cause any concern.

For being even more portable, a light-weighted two-wheel transportation cart can be specially designed for easy transportation of the platform from place to place. The assembly includes cart and platform can also be loaded in a car with bigger trunk for long distance transportation.

While present invention has been shown, described and illustrated in detail for illustrative purpose, it should be understood by those skilled in the art that equivalent changes in form and detail may be made therein without departing from the true spirit and scope of the invention as disclosed in the accompanying claims.