Title:
PORTABLE GOLF CLUB SUPPORT SYSTEM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A golf club holder for removably supporting a golf club above a ground surface, the golf club holder comprising a shaft and a handle that are each coupled to a joint. The handle and the shaft may be movable between a first position where they are substantially parallel, and a second position where they are substantially perpendicular. The shaft may include a ground-piercing member. The ground-piercing member of the first shaft can be pushed into the ground and supported thereby. The golf club holder can be folded up to be transported.



Inventors:
Miller, James V. (Itasca, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/550164
Publication Date:
06/28/2007
Filing Date:
10/17/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B53/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BLAU, STEPHEN LUTHER
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ICE MILLER LLP (INDIANAPOLIS, IN, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A golf club holder, the holder comprising: a shaft configured to penetrate a ground surface at a first acute angle from the ground surface; and a handle coupled to the shaft to pivot relative to the shaft between a first substantially parallel position and a second substantially perpendicular position; wherein the handle is configured to support a golf club at a second acute angle from the shaft, the golf club having a club shaft and a head.

2. The golf club holder of claim 1, wherein both the first and second angles are each between about thirty and about sixty degrees.

3. The golf club holder of claim 1, wherein the first and second angles are inversely related to one another.

4. The golf club holder of claim 1, wherein the first substantially parallel position further comprises the longitudinal axis of the shaft and the longitudinal axis of the handle being substantially collinear with each other.

5. The golf club holder of claim 1, wherein the handle is coupled to the shaft by means of a rotatable joint.

6. The golf club holder of claim 5, wherein the joint is a nut and a bolt, a rivet, or a pivot pin.

7. The golf club holder of claim 4, wherein the shaft and the handle are coupled by a joint, whereby the joint allows the shaft and the handle to be pivotably moveable between the first substantially parallel and substantially collinear position and the second substantially perpendicular position.

8. The golf club holder of claim 1, wherein the handle comprises a longitudinal cavity extending from one end of the handle to a middle portion thereof, the cavity substantially configured to receive at least a portion of the shaft.

9. The golf club holder of claim 8, wherein the handle further comprises a plurality of protrusions, each of the protrusions extending a distance into the cavity of the handle, the distance being sufficient so as to inhibit the relative movement of the shaft and the handle between the first substantially parallel position and the second substantially perpendicular position.

10. The golf club holder of claim 1, wherein the handle includes a plurality of indentations on its surface.

11. The golf club holder of claim 1, wherein the handle includes a series of elevated rings such that the handle comprises a first diameter and each elevated ring comprises a second diameter, the second diameter being greater than the first diameter.

12. The golf club of claim 1, wherein the handle comprises a gradually changing diameter.

13. A method for removably supporting at least one golf club above a ground surface, the method comprising: providing a golf club holder comprising a shaft and a handle, the shaft having a proximate end and a distal end, the handle being coupled to the shaft at the proximate end of the shaft, and the distal end of the shaft comprising a piercing end capable of penetrating the ground surface; providing at least one golf club, the golf club having a head and a club shaft; locating the golf club holder such that the piercing end of the shaft is touching the ground surface and the proximate end of the shaft is above the ground surface; applying pressure to the golf club holder, thereby forcing the piercing end of the shaft into the ground surface and forming a first acute angle between the ground surface and the shaft; pivoting the handle away from the shaft such that the handle is substantially parallel to the ground surface; and resting the club shaft of the at least one golf club against the handle, such that the head of the golf club is resting on the ground surface, thereby forming a second acute angle between the club shaft and the shaft.

14. The method of claim 13, wherein the step comprising pivoting the handle away from the shaft is completed prior to applying pressure to the golf club holder.

15. The method of claim 13, further comprising the steps of: removing the at least one golf club from the golf club holder; pivoting the handle toward the shaft such that the handle is substantively parallel and substantially collinear with the shaft; and pulling on the handle, thereby dislodging the distal end of the shaft from the ground surface.

16. A golf club holder, the holder comprising: a handle; a shaft, the shaft having a proximate end and a distal end, the proximate end being movably coupled to the handle and the distal end being configured to penetrate a ground surface at a first angle from the ground surface; a plurality of fabric supports surrounding the shaft that are hingedly coupled to the shaft in a location adjacent to the distal end of the shaft, the fabric supports each having a first end and a second end and being displaceable between a collapsed position wherein the fabric supports are disposed adjacent to the shaft in a manner substantially parallel thereto, and an open position wherein the fabric supports extend radially from the shaft; a fabric shade coupled to and supported by the plurality of fabric supports; and a plurality of couplings that are hingedly coupled to the first end of each fabric support and the shaft in a location proximate to the distal end of the shaft, thereby allowing the fabric supports and fabric shade to move between the collapsed position and the open position.

17. A combination golf club holder and golf club, the combination comprising: a shaft configured to penetrate a ground surface at a first acute angle from the ground surface; a handle coupled to the shaft to pivot relative to the shaft between a first substantially parallel position and a second substantially perpendicular position; a club shaft, the club shaft having a proximate end and a distal end; a golf club head coupled to the distal end of the club shaft; and a grip coupled to the proximate end of the club shaft; wherein the shaft and the club shaft are arranged such that the club shaft is removably supported by the handle, the golf club head is supported by the ground surface, and the shaft forms a second acute angle with the club shaft.

18. The combination golf club holder and golf club of claim 17, wherein the first acute angle and the second acute angle are each between about thirty and about sixty degrees.

19. The combination golf club holder and golf club of claim 17, wherein the grip of the club shaft is disposed above the handle.

Description:

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/727,411, filed Oct. 17, 2005, which is herein incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND

1. Field

The present invention relates to a support apparatus and method for supporting one or more golf clubs in a generally vertical condition. The golf club support apparatus is portable and is suitable for being carried with golf clubs in a golf bag.

2. Background

A golfer driving a golf ball onto or adjacent to a green often carries two clubs, one club being an iron to be used in making an approach shot, the other club being a putter for attempting to sink the ball into the hole cup. This is particularly true because golf cart paths rarely come close enough to golf greens so as to permit the golfer to select clubs conveniently from his or her golf bag. When the golfer is using one club, the other club is often placed on the ground. As a result, the handle of the other club often becomes wet and difficult to use. Moreover, the golfer may forget, walk away, and leave the unused club on the ground.

In recognition of the fact that it is frequently necessary to take one or more clubs in addition to the putter when one approaches the green, a number of accessory-type devices are known for holding one or more clubs while another is being used. One such device is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,127,530 to Ortuno (“Ortuno”). Ortuno discloses a wire-type golf club stand, the top (proximal) end of which is deformed to provide a receptacle for the grip of one or more golf clubs. In Ortuno, the head of the club rests on the ground. The device disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 2,887,137 to Robb (“Robb”) teaches the use of a disk element at the top of a support rod. The disk comprises a plurality of slots therethrough for receiving the handle portion of the golf club. In Robb, the head of the club rests on the ground.

The device disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,149,087 to Thompson comprises an elongated rod, the distal end of which may be inserted into the ground. A hook-type structure is provided in the vicinity of the handle of the rod so that one or more clubs may rest therein and be supported thereby, with the head of the supported club resting on the ground.

A similar device is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,080,239 to Roland (“Roland”). The holder disclosed in Roland also comprises an elongated rod, the distal end of which is inserted into the ground. Mounted adjacent to the handle of the rod are a series of ring-like members. To support the club, the handle of the golf club may be placed within a ring-like member and the head of the club will rest on the ground. U.S. Pat. No. 5,597,363 to Leote (“Leote”) discloses a similar device for supporting the shaft of a club while the head rests on the ground. The device of the Leote patent also includes a holder for other golf accessories such as, for example, a golf ball or a towel.

The device disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,285,990 to Engel is a golf club rest for supporting the shaft of a club with the club head sitting on the ground. The device of U.S. Pat. No. 5,390,916 to Govoni discloses another such device wherein the supporting rod not only has a hook-type member extending from the top thereof, but the rod also comprises a hollow tube for receiving the shaft of a golf club. Thus, the shaft of a first club can be held within the tube, with the head of the first club up, and a second club can be received and supported by the hook such that the head of the second club rests on the ground, thereby supporting the club in a substantially vertical position.

The disclosures of U.S. Pat. No. 699,291 to Johnson and U.S. Pat. No. 5,417,334 to Wu each show holders for golf clubs wherein the grip of the club is oriented downwardly and the head of the club extends upwardly. Finally, U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,616,749 and 4,991,839 each disclose golf club supports which hold one or more golf clubs in a generally prone position with the head of the club sitting on the ground and the grip of the club at least slightly elevated above the ground.

SUMMARY

A golf club holder is provided for removably supporting a golf club above a ground surface in such a manner that the club has a head which contacts the ground surface and a shaft which extends above the ground surface. The golf club holder may have a handle and a shaft that are each coupled to a joint. The handle and the shaft may be pivotably movable between a first position where they are substantially parallel to each other, and a second position where they are substantially perpendicular to each other. The shaft may include a ground-piercing member. The golf club holder can be folded up to be transported. The ground-piercing member of the shaft can be pushed into the ground, and supported thereby.

Other systems, methods, features, and advantages of the invention will be or will become apparent to one with skill in the art upon examination of the following figures and detailed description. It is intended that all such additional systems, methods, features, and advantages be included within the description, be within the scope of the invention, and be protected by the accompanying claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

The invention can be better understood with reference to the following figures. The components in the figures are not necessarily to scale; emphasis is instead being placed upon illustrating the principles of the invention. Moreover, in the figures, like reference numerals designate corresponding parts throughout the different views.

FIG. 1 is a front view of a golf club holder in a second position;

FIG. 2 is a side view of a the golf club holder of FIG. 1 in the second position;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a golf club supported by the golf club holder of FIG. 1 in the second position;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the golf club holder of FIG. 1 in a first position;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view in an exemplary operational environment of the golf club holder of FIG. 1 in the second position; and

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of the golf club holder of FIG. 1 in a first position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

As shown in FIGS. 1-5, golf club holder 10 is adapted for removably supporting a golf club 50 above a ground surface (not shown) in such a manner that the club 50 has a club head 52 which contacts the ground surface and a club shaft 54 which extends above the ground surface. The golf club holder 10 includes a shaft 12, a joint 20, and a handle 30. The joint 20 may include a pivot pin 24. The shaft 12 has a longitudinal axis B-B and may include a ground piercing end 16. The handle 30 has a longitudinal axis C-C, may be substantially cylindrical, and may include a plurality of indentations 32.

The shaft 12 may be fabricated from a metal, a wood, a plastic, or another rigid material. The shaft 12 may be fabricated as a solid or hollow, tubular structure. In one embodiment, the shaft 12 comprises aluminum. However, as will be appreciated by one of ordinary skill in the art, the shaft 12 may be comprised of almost any material. The handle 30 may be fabricated from metal, wood, plastic, foam, rubber, foam rubber, or a combination of these or other materials. In one embodiment, the handle 30 is fabricated from rubber similar to that found in a golf club grip. Again, one of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that handle 30 may be comprised of many different materials without affecting the operation of the golf club holder 10.

The piercing end 16 of the shaft 12 is shown in the drawings as a symmetrical solid of revolution, but a variety of shapes for piercing end 16 of the shaft 12 are possible. For example, the piercing end 16 of the shaft 12 may be an angled planar surface bisecting the shaft 12. Several methods of providing a ground piercing shape are known in the art, and the pictorial description of the piercing end 16 of the shaft 12 is merely illustrative and is not intended to limit the claimed invention in any way.

The shaft 12 is coupled by the joint 20 to the handle 30. The joint 20 allows the shaft 12 and the handle 30 to pivot with respect to one another via an axis A-A. The pivot pin 24 of the joint 20 may extend through a first and second opening in the shaft 12 and the handle 30, respectively, and may be, for example, flared at each end to hold the shaft 12 and handle 30 together. In one embodiment, the pivot pin 24 may comprise a rivet. In another embodiment, the pivot pin 24 may comprise a bolt and a nut. Several methods of coupling the shaft 12 to the handle 30 together while providing for relative pivoting are known in the art, and the descriptions of the joint 20 and pivot pin 24 are merely illustrative, and are not intended to limit the claimed invention in any way.

The shaft 12 and the handle 30 may pivot between a first position wherein the longitudinal axis B-B of the shaft 12 and the longitudinal axis C-C of the handle 30 are substantially parallel and substantially collinear (shown in FIG. 4), and a second position wherein the longitudinal axis B-B of the shaft 12 and the longitudinal axis C-C of the handle 30 are substantially at a right angle to one another (shown in FIGS. 1-3). The relative positions of the longitudinal axis B-B of the shaft 12 and the longitudinal axis C-C of the handle 30 are maintained by a set of protrusions 14 that are incorporated into the handle 30. The protrusions 14 extend into a cavity 36 (which is a hollow area) of the handle 30. The cavity 36 extends from one end of the handle 30 to a middle portion along the length of the handle 30, and may be a longitudinal opening, such as the u-shaped notch shown in FIG. 2. The joint may be coupled to the handle 30 near an interior end of the cavity 36, as shown in FIG. 1.

The cavity 36 is substantially configured for receiving a portion of the shaft 12, such that the first position a portion of the shaft 12 is partially, substantially, or completely enveloped by the handle 30. The protrusions 14 extend into a cavity 36 far enough to inhibit relative movement between the shaft 12 and the handle 30 between either the first or second position, but not so far into the cavity 36 so as to prevent movement altogether. Therefore, the protrusions 14 provide a clearance less than the diameter of the shaft 12 such that the protrusions 14 engage and releaseably retain the shaft 12 when the golf club holder 10 is in the first position (substantially parallel). Thereby, the protrusions 14 function to keep the handle 30 in either the first position (substantially parallel) or the second position (substantially perpendicular). The degree of incursion by the protrusions 14 into the cavity 36 and the overall tolerance of the cavity 36 relative to the shaft 12 will determine the “tightness” of the locking of the golf club holder 10 into either the first or second position.

The handle 30 may be coupled to the shaft 12 such that in the first position, shown in FIG. 4, the longitudinal axis C-C of the handle 30 is substantially parallel and substantially collinear to the longitudinal axis B-B of the shaft 12. In this first position, the golf club holder 10 resembles a walking stick or a ski pole. As shown in FIG. 4, in the first position the golf club holder 10 may be easily stored in a golf bag. Furthermore, in the first position, the golf club holder 10 is also easy to carry, and may be used as a walking stick, as a position marker, or as a spear to aid in picking up and removing trash. The handle 30 may include a plurality of indentations 32, which can prevent the club shaft 54 of the club 50 from sliding off of the handle 30 while the golf club holder 10 is in the second position. Additionally, the plurality of indentations 32 may facilitate gripping of the handle 30 when the piercing end 16 of the shaft 12 is driven into the ground surface 100.

The shape of the indentations 32 may be circular, v-shaped, u-shaped, squared, parabolic, or the like. The indentations 32 may each, in some fashion, decrease in diameter from the diameter of the handle 30 to about the diameter of the shaft 12. Alternatively, the handle 30 could have a series of elevated rings, such that the shaft has a first diameter and each ring has a second diameter greater than the first diameter. In yet another alternative, the handle 30 may have no indentations or rings at all, and may have a single diameter, or a gradually changing diameter from end-to-end or middle-to-end. Many configurations of the handle 30 are possible such that the handle provides sufficient friction to support the club shaft 54 of the club 50.

In operation, a golfer locates the golf club holder 10 in a desired position such that the piercing end 16 of the shaft 12 is touching the ground surface, and the shaft 12 is at an angle of about between thirty (30) and sixty (60) degrees to the ground surface at that point. The golfer then applies pressure to the golf club holder 10, thereby forcing the piercing end 16 of the shaft 12 into the ground surface. The ground itself will support golf club holder 10. Next, the golfer pivots the handle 30 away from the shaft 12, until the longitudinal axis C-C of the handle 30 is substantially parallel to the ground surface 100. Of course, the golfer may also “open” the handle 30 prior to placing the piercing end 16 of the shaft 12 into the ground.

As shown in FIG. 3, in this first position the golf club holder 10 is adapted for removably supporting one or more golf clubs 50 above the ground surface in such a manner that the club 50 has a head 52 which contacts the ground surface and the club 50 has a club shaft 54 which extends above the ground surface. The golfer may later remove the golf club holder 10 by folding the handle 30 back so that the longitudinal axis B-B is parallel and substantially collinear to the longitudinal axis C-C, and pulling on the handle 30, which will cause the golf club holder 10 to become dislodged from the ground surface. Of course, the golfer may also fold the handle 30 back parallel to the shaft 12 prior to removal from the ground.

Turning to FIG. 5, a perspective view of the golf club holder 10 in an exemplary operational environment is shown. The shaft 12 of the golf club holder 10 has penetrated a ground surface 56. The club shaft 54 of the golf club 50 is shown resting on the handle 30 such that the club shaft 54 of the golf club 50 forms a first acute angle a with the shaft 12 of the golf club holder 10. The shaft 12 is shown inserted into the ground surface 56 at a second acute angle β, where the second acute angle β is between about thirty (30) and sixty (60) degrees. While the second acute angle β is between about thirty (30) and sixty (60) degrees, the first acute angle α and the second acute angle β are inversely related such that as one increases, the other decreases. Where the second acute angle β is about forty-five (45) degrees, the majority of the force exerted by the golf club 50 on the golf club holder 10 due to gravity is in the direction of the shaft 12, thereby holding the shaft 12 into the ground surface 56. As more golf clubs 50 are rested against the golf club holder 10, the force of gravity acts to hold the golf club holder 10 in place, rather than to remove it from the ground.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of the golf club holder 10. In this alternate embodiment, the golf club holder 10 includes fabric shade 42, fabric supports 44, and couplings 46. The couplings 46 may be hinged to allow the fabric supports 44 to move from a first position substantially parallel to the shaft 12 to a second position wherein the fabric supports 44 extend radially from the shaft 12 of the golf club holder 10. In this embodiment, the golf club holder 10 is essentially an umbrella. This embodiment allows for a golfer to have a golf umbrella that also acts as a golf club support.

While various embodiments of the invention have been described, it will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that many more embodiments and implementations are possible that are within the scope of this invention. Accordingly, the invention is not to be restricted except in light of the attached claims and their equivalents.





 
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