Title:
Golf putter and vision line putting method
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A putter that meets the design requirements of the USGA Rules of Golf for use with a one-handed, facing-the-hole, vision enhanced putting method consists of a shaft with a straight portion and three bends in the lower 5 inches and a grip with at least one flat land. An angled bore may be provided to enhance tactile feedback to the golfer. Methods for use of the putter are provided that allow the golfer to align the target hole, the intended line of ball travel, the ball and the putter face with minimal movement of the body other than the golfer's eyes for most putts.



Inventors:
Burns Jr., Robert J. (Jacksonville, FL, US)
Application Number:
11/481386
Publication Date:
01/10/2008
Filing Date:
07/05/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B53/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
BLAU, STEPHEN LUTHER
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ARTHUR G. YEAGER, Esq. (JACKSONVILLE, FL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed as new and what it is desired to secure by Letters Patent of the United States is:

1. A golf putter for putting with a one-handed facing-the-hole putting style to provide an enhanced vision plane for a user in a normal address position comprising, (a) a shaft having a straight upper portion including a top end and a connector portion having an upper end portion and a lower end portion; (b) a hand grip attached to said upper portion of said shaft; (c) a putter head having a toe and heel and face attached to said lower end portion of said connector portion; and (d) said connector portion having a first bend adjacent said upper end portion of said connector portion for positioning a user's hand adjacent a putting line for such user and a second bend adjacent said lower end portion of said connector portion for providing an angle of projection of said shaft from the vertical plane through said toe and said heel of said putter head of a minimum of ten degrees.

2. The putter as defined in claim 1 further including a third bend adjacent said lower end portion of said connector portion to define a second angle of said straight upper portion of said shaft from the vertical to provide said putting head will not be obstructed by a hand of a user grasping said hand grip.

3. The putter as defined in claim 2 wherein said second angle does not exceed twenty degrees.

4. The putter as defined in claim 1 wherein said hand grip does not exceed 1.75 inches in width.

5. The putter as defined in claim 1 wherein said putter head is at least 4 inches in width.

6. The putter as defined in claim 1 wherein said face of said putter head is convex.

7. The putter as defined in claim 1 wherein said putter head includes a bottom surface and upwardly curved side portions.

8. The putter as defined in claim 1 further including a third bend between said upper and lower end portions of said connector portion to define a second angle of said straight upper portion of said shaft from the vertical to provide said putting head will not be obstructed by a hand of a user grasping said hand grip.

9. The putter as defined in claim 1 wherein said grip includes at least one substantially flat land.

10. The putter as defined in claim 2 wherein second angle does not exceed twenty degrees; said hand grip does not exceed 1.75 inches in width; and said putter head is approximately 4 inches in width.

11. The putter as defined in claim 10 wherein said putter head includes a bottom surface and upper curved side portions and said face is convex.

12. The putter as defined in claim 1 wherein said face of said putter head is flat.

13. The putter as defined in claim 1 wherein said hand grip includes a shaft opening for attaching said upper portion of said shaft to said hand grip.

14. The putter as defined in claim 13 wherein said shaft opening is angled from the vertical.

15. A method of putting a golf ball comprising the steps of: (a) selecting a putting club for putting with a one-handed facing-the-hole putting style to provide an enhanced vision plane for a golfer in a normal address position including a shaft having a straight upper portion including a top end and a connector portion having an upper end portion and a lower end portion, a hand grip attached to the upper end portion of the shaft, a putter head having a toe and heel and face attached to the lower end portion of the connector portion, the connector portion having a first bend adjacent the upper end portion of the connector portion for positioning a golfer's hand adjacent a putting line for such golfer and a second bend adjacent the lower portion of the connector portion for providing an angle of projection of the shaft from the vertical plane through the toe and the heel of the putter head of a minimum of ten degrees; (b) grasping the putter grip by one hand of a golfer; (c) positioning both feet of the golfer to one side of the intended line of the putt; (d) positioning the golfer's body substantially facing the direction of the line of the putt; (e) positioning the ball forward of the golfer's shoulder and the one hand grasping the putter grip; (f) positioning the hand grasping the putter grip substantially over the intended putting line and behind the ball substantially along the putting line; (g) positioning the golfer's upper body and head toward the putting line to cause the golfer's eyes to be in a substantially horizontal position, with at least one eye located substantially vertically above the target line but behind the ball to provide that the golfer's eyes, the putter face, the ball, and the target form a vision line including a vista of all the essential elements of a putt with little or no movement of any body part other than the golfer's eyes; and (h) striking the ball with a force sufficient to cause the ball to roll to, or just beyond the target hole.

16. The method of claim 15 wherein step (h) includes the step of: (i) moving the putter head by rotating around a horizontal axis the wrist of the hand holding the putter grip.

17. The method of claim 15 wherein step (h) includes the step of: (i) moving the putter head by a combination of rotation of the wrist and movement of the putting arm.

18. The method of claim 15 wherein step (h) includes the step of: (i) moving the putter head with a hinging motion of the putting arm elbow, keeping the wrist in a fixed position.

19. The method of claim 15 wherein step (h) includes the step of: (i) maintaining the user golfer's body still during the putting stroke with the exception of the putting arm, wrist and hand.

20. The method of claim 15 wherein step (a) includes selecting a putter having a length slightly greater than the distance from the putting surface to the golfer's wrist.

21. The method of claim 15 wherein step (b) includes grasping the putter grip with the palm of the hand generally facing the target hole.

22. The method of claim 15 wherein step (b) includes grasping the putter grip with the palm of the hand generally facing away from the target hole.

23. The method of claim 15 wherein step (b) includes grasping the putter grip with the palm of the hand generally facing at a selected angle.

24. The method of claim 15 further including the step of: (i) aligning the putter face perpendicular to the line of the putt with a twisting motion of the wrist or rotation of the grip with the fingers while the putter head rests on the putting surface.

25. The method of claim 24 further including the step of

26. The method of claim 25 further including the step of: (k) reversing the direction of the putter head movement toward the ball along the intended putting line.

27. A method of putting a golf ball with a putter in accord with claim 2, the method comprising the steps of: (a) selecting a putting club having a club head member, a shaft member, and a gripping member positioned opposite said club head member; (b) grasping said putter grip with one hand; (c) positioning both feet of the golfer to one side of the intended line of the putt; (d) positioning the golfer's body substantially facing the direction of the line of the putt; (e) positioning the foot on the opposite side of the body from the putter approximately one short step distance closer to the hole than the foot on the putter side of the golfer's body; (f) positioning the ball adjacent to the toe of the foot closest to the hole; (g) positioning the hand gripping the putting club substantially over the intended putting line and behind the ball substantially along the putting line; (h) positioning the golfer's upper body and head toward the putting line to cause his eyes to be in a substantially horizontal position, with at least one eye located substantially vertically above the target line but behind the ball to provide that the golfer's eyes, the putter face, the ball, and the target form a vision line including a vista of all the essential elements of a putt with little or no movement of any body part other than the golfer's eyes; and (i) striking the ball with a force sufficient to cause the ball to roll to, or just beyond the target hole.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

The present application is related to a document disclosure entitled “New ‘Facing The Hole’ Putting Method & Putter”, filed Jul. 20, 2005 by the present inventor.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable.

REFERENCE TO A MICROFICHE APPENDIX

Not Applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Technical Field

This invention relates to a golf putter. The putter is designed for use with a facing-the-hole, one-handed, vision-improved putting method. The putter and method fully comply with the current Rules of Golf as published by the United States Golf Association and are therefore designed for use in tournament play.

2. Relevant Art

The putting stroke is the most frequently executed stroke in the game of golf. Although the distance the golf ball has to travel during a putt is far less than most other strokes in the game, the putt requires a great deal of precision to be executed successfully. On a 10 foot-long putt, the golfer must orient the face of the putter within 1 degree to either side of the center of the target hole. To understand what one-degree is, think of the second hand of a clock. One degree is equivalent to one sixth of a second. In terms of distance, the golfer's putter has a typical heel-to-toe length of 4″. Movement of less than 0.07″ of the toe of the putter head from its perfect perpendicular position is required in order to successfully sink the putt.

Even under ideal green surface conditions, the golfer will sink a 10 foot putt with an error of 0.07″ only if the distance the ball has traveled during the putt is exactly 10 feet. If the golfer hits the ball too softly, he will miss the putt short. And, if the golfer hits the ball farther than 10′, he will miss the putt as well if the putter toe is off just 0.07″. To be confident of sinking a 10 foot putt, the golfer wants to hit the ball beyond the hole. When he does that, he must be sure the ball reaches the hole in a position where the ball is entirely within the target hole diameter. To be successful under this requirement the golfer has only a 0.6 degree error or a movement of the toe less than 0.04″.

Whatever putting method the golfer uses, he has very little room for error. Not only must the golfer get the orientation of the putter face correct initially, he must also make sure the putter face returns to that position during the putting stroke.

There are many other factors besides putter alignment and putt speed that determine the success of the putt. These factors include, among many others, the contour of the putting surface, the imperfections in the surface, the kind of the grass on the green, the cut of the grass, the moisture in the grass, where the hole is positioned, etc.

But, even under ideal conditions we continue to see perfectly straight putts, both short and long, missed. There are some excellent discussions included in previously submitted patent applications as to why these simple straight putts are missed. Chandler has an excellent description and set of references, which describe the problems associated with putting. In addition, there is a study done by Gideon Ariel, Ph.D. available for viewing on the Internet. Dr. Ariel has experimental data showing how the muscles involved in putting techniques affect the outcome and consistency of putting. Ariel showed that the fewer joints and muscles involved in the putting method, the more accurate and consistent were the results.

There are two general categories of putting methods. The first category is the traditional method, which dominates on golf courses today. This method is defined by a two-handed grip with the golfer's body facing perpendicular to the line of the putt. In the second category is a set of putting methods defined by a body position where the golfer faces the target hole. Each category has a set of structural problems that explain why so many putts are missed.

For example, the traditional method involves the bones and muscles of two hands, two arms, both shoulders and the back. A great deal of time must be spent training and coordinating all of these body parts. Any twitch or extraordinary tightening of any of these muscles can cause a golfer to start the ball off the intended target line. We see many fairly short, straight, simple putts missed in pressure situations because the muscles do not react the same in competition as in practice situations.

But, there are at least two other problems with equally serious consequences with the traditional putting method and traditional putter designs. The putter head actually travels in an arc with an axis somewhere around the putter's spine. To make the ball travel in the intended line, the golfer must make sure the ball is struck at precisely the right point in the arc. Or, the golfer must train the muscles to make extremely complex compensating motions to cause the putter to travel along the putting line. The arc motion is a problem that must be compensated for whether the golfer uses a short, belly or long putter.

But the biggest problem with the traditional putting method is that the golfer cannot see the target hole during the putting stroke. The golfer looks at the ball and the clubface. The golfer attempts to hold the position of and distance to the hole in memory while focusing on the putter head. To make sure the clubface is perpendicular to the line selected; the golfer must rotate his head a number of times to focus first on the clubface then on the target. Then, he must actually imagine whether the clubface is rotated less than a degree offline. To make this method even more problematic, Chandler points out that the golfer's head is in an unnatural position when viewing the target. The golfer's eyes are positioned approximately with one eye above the other, not at all parallel with the ground and not exactly on a vertical line. This position creates a visual distortion causing a right-handed golfer to perceive the target farther right than it actually is. In addition, the golfer's perception of distance to the target is sub-optimal because the distance between the eyes is reduced. Thus, the golfer does not have maximum stereoscopic capability he normally would have.

We can summarize in three categories the major problems with the traditional putting method:

1. Too many body parts involved in the putting stroke;

2. Too much coordination compensating needed for the arc the putter head travels; and

3. Many visual problems with alignment due to body and head position.

The second category of putting methods has been developed to solve one or more of the problems inherent in the traditional putting method. In the second category, the golfer faces the hole.

A number of patents have been issued for methods and putters designed for a facing-the-hole body position. These patents include Chandler III—U.S. Pat. No. 6,152,832; Gidney—U.S. Pat. No. 6,039,657; Biel—U.S. Pat. No. 5,125,657; Leek—U.S. Pat. No. 4,621,816 RE33,169; Garber—U.S. Pat. No. 4,592,552; Guendling—U.S. Pat. No. 4,523,758; Swenson—U.S. Pat. No. 4,240,636; Bernhardt—U.S. Pat. No. 4,163,554; Kropp—U.S. Pat. No. 3,574,349; and Florian—U.S. Pat. No. 3,679,207.

Prior to the present invention, none of the methods in this category has sufficiently solved the problems of the traditional method. There are many reasons, which will be discussed hereinbelow.

First, to be used in tournament play, the putting methods and putters must meet the requirements of the USGA Rules of Golf. An important rule pertaining to any facing-the-hole putting method is described in Appendix II, Section 4-1b. This rule states “the projection of the straight part of the shaft on the vertical plane through the toe and heel (of the putter head) shall diverge from the vertical by at least 10 degrees”.

Most of the patents listed above do not meet this requirement. Please note that Gidney claims to meet the requirement by providing a 10-degree angle. However, Gidney's 10-degree angle is in the incorrect plane.

Only the following patents are legal under the rule:

1.Swenson4,240,636 (two-handed, no pivot)
2.Bernhardt4,163,554 (two-handed)
3.Florian3,679,207 (two-handed)
4.Chandler III6,152,832 (one-handed below shoulder)

These four putter patents can be further divided into two subcategories. Three (those of Swenson, Bernhardt, and Florian) fall into a category that requires two hands to be placed on the putter. While these putters are legal, two-handed, facing-the-hole, croquet-style putters suffer from two, perhaps all three, of the same problems of the traditional putting style. Since two hands are involved in the putting stroke, the golfer needs to coordinate the bones and muscles of both hands and arms.

Swenson does not provide all the details about how his putter will be used. It is not clear if the upper hand is to serve as a pivot point. If it is a pivot point the putter head will travel in an arc, one of the same problems as in the traditional putting stroke. If Swenson wants the left hand to move during the putting stroke, there will be serious coordination problems. The hands will both have four degrees of freedom of motion that will have to be overcome to successfully sink a putt. Without an anchor each hand can move in an X, Y, and Z direction plus each can rotate around an axis between the elbow and the hand.

Bernhardt defines the upper hand position as a pivot point. The idea here is the same as used with the long and belly putters used in the traditional putting style. By anchoring the upper hand against a part of the body, many muscle movements on the left side of the body are eliminated. This method, while reducing the number of muscles in the pivot side of the body, can still produce coordination interference during the putting stroke.

All three of these putters also fail to solve the arc problem of the traditional putting stroke. Notice in each patent, drawings are shown depicting the golfer from a front view. The pivot points are all substantially off the side of the putting line. The 10-degree angle requirement makes the pivot point over 7 inches to the side of the putting line for a long, 40″ putter. Thus a fairly significant arc will be produced during the stroke. These patents fail to eliminate the arcing problem of the traditional method.

Finally, how well do these three putters solve the visual alignment and perception problems of the traditional putting method? All three two-handed, facing-the-hole methods provide the capability for superior distance judgment from the ball to the hole. This is due to the fact that the golfers' eyes lie on a horizontal plane and allow full stereoscopic width between the eyes. Visualization in aligning the face of the putter perpendicular to the putting line, however, is still a major problem in all of these patent descriptions.

Since each putter requires the top end of the shaft to be placed against a part of the body, the ball must locate below, or even behind, the golfer's eyes along the line of the putt. Neither Swenson nor Florian show a side view of the golfer in the address position when the golfer is attempting to square the face of the putter to the proper line. Bernhardt does show this side view in his FIG. 6. It is assumed the side views of Swenson and Florian would reveal substantially the same problem.

With the ball behind the golfer's eyes, the golfer has to move his head repeatedly up and down to focus first on the target and then on the putter face. These up and down head movements are highly reminiscent of the back and forth head motion of the traditional putting method. Thus, we would expect alignment errors similar to the traditional putting method. Thus, we should expect putts to be improved as to distance, but not as to being on-line.

Chandler is in a subcategory of facing-the-hole methods by himself. Chandler's patent is the only patent that advocates a legal, one-handed, facing-the-hole putting method. By using one hand only, Chandler successfully solves the arc-travel problem of both the traditional and two-handed, facing-the-hole-putting methods.

Chandler produces a 10-degree shaft angle by bending the shaft at the lower end. His putter then places the ball directly below a pivot defined by the shoulder joint. Thus, the putter head can travel in a perfect line along the desired line of travel of the ball without any manipulation to compensate for an arc. His method has another major advantage. By using a one-handed method, at least half of the number of muscles and bones used in traditional methods are eliminated from being involved in the putting stroke.

Chandler has successfully designed a putter that makes important improvements on two of the three major problems with the traditional putting method.

However, Chandler has left the most important problem untouched. Chandler's design is concerned about the center of gravity of the putter system. As a result, Chandler places the ball and the putter face directly below the golfer's shoulder. In this position, Chandler's method forces the golfer into a position where he cannot see the target and the putter face without moving the head up and down as described previously. Chandler attempts to solve this problem by pre-positioning the putter face. In his method the putter will stand on its own (if the ball is on a flat surface). The golfer then lets go of the putter and walks behind the ball and rotates the face of the putter until it is aligned properly. The golfer then returns to the side of the putter and re-grasps the putter. We would expect alignment errors to be introduced at this point. If the golfer senses he has disturbed the putter face position, he has no way of verifying that fact without repeating the entire process. Thus, rather than solving the visual perception problems of the traditional putting method, Chandler's method introduces new difficulties with the alignment process.

There is one additional problem with Chandler's design that should be noted. Chandler reveals innovative grip design. By using a slanted bore, Chandler is able to provide a grip whose sides are vertical. This vertical grip will cause strain in the golfer's wrist. FIG. 2 of Chandler's patent partially reveals the problem. Notice the golfer's right wrist is in an unnatural position. If you hang your hand to your side with the palm facing forward, you can see the hand wants to hold a putter grip in a more horizontal position, rather than in a more vertical position. Yet, Chandler's grip forces the hand to vertical. If you try to put your own hand in such an orientation, you will find you need to move the hand from the wrist toward the body. It is easy to feel the strain on the wrist and forearm muscles. This strain will produce errors in the process of executing the putting stroke.

In summary, none of the facing-the-hole putting methods or putters designed to work with these methods revealed to date have improved on all three of the problems in the traditional putting method. Thus, a need continues to exist for a putter;

  • 1. that complies with The Rules of Golf;
  • 2. that eliminates the arc path of the putter head;
  • 3. that significantly reduces the number of body parts required to execute the putting motion; and
  • 4. that improves on the visual problems involved in distance and alignment assessments.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one aspect of the present invention there is provided a golf putter for putting with a one-handed facing-the-hole putting style to provide an enhanced vision plane for a user in a normal address position comprising; a) a shaft having a straight upper portion including a top end and a connector portion having an upper end portion and a lower end portion; b) a hand grip attached to the upper portion of the shaft; c) a putter head having a toe and heel and face attached to the lower end portion of the connector portion; and wherein d) the connector portion has a first bend adjacent the upper end portion of the connector portion for positioning a user's hand adjacent a putting line for such user and a second bend adjacent the lower end portion of the connector portion for providing an angle of projection of the shaft from the vertical plane through the toe and the heel of the putter head of a minimum of ten degrees. Also included is a third bend adjacent the lower end portion of the connector portion to define a second angle of the straight upper portion of the shaft from the vertical to provide the putting head will not be obstructed by a hand of a user grasping the hand grip. The second angle does not exceed twenty degrees. The cross-sectional dimension measured in any direction of the hand grip does not exceed 1.75 inches in width. The putter head is preferably at least 4 inches in width but may be narrower and the face of the putter head is preferably convex but may be flat. The putter head includes a bottom surface and upwardly curved side portions. The hand grip includes a shaft opening and bore which may or may not be parallel with the axis of the shaft for selectively attaching the upper portion of the shaft to the hand grip in the shaft opening. The grip includes at least one substantially flat land.

In another aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of putting a golf ball comprising the steps of: selecting a putting club having a club head member, a shaft member and a gripping member positioned opposite said club head member; grasping said putter grip with one hand; positioning both feet of the golfer to one side of the intended line of the putt; positioning the golfer's body substantially facing the direction of the line of the putt; positioning the foot on the opposite side of the body from the putter approximately one short step distance closer to the hole than the foot on the putter side of the golfer's body; positioning the ball adjacent to the toe of the foot closest to the hole; positioning the hand gripping the putting club substantially over the intended putting line and behind the ball substantially along the putting line; positioning the golfer's upper body and head toward the putting line to cause his eyes to be in a substantially horizontal position, with at least one eye located substantially vertically above the target line but behind the ball to provide that the golfer's eyes, the putter face, the ball, and the target form a vision line including a vista of all the essential elements of a putt with little or no movement of any body part other than the golfer's eyes and striking the ball with a force sufficient to cause the ball to roll to, or just beyond the target hole.

Additional steps include moving the putter head by rotating around a horizontal axis the wrist of the hand holding the putter grip; moving the putter head by a combination of rotation of the wrist and movement of the putting arm; moving the putter head with a hinging motion of the putting arm elbow, keeping the wrist in a fixed position; and maintaining the user's body still during the putting stroke with the exception of the putting arm, wrist and hand.

Additional steps include selecting a putter having a length slightly greater than the distance from the putting surface to the golfer's wrist; grasping the putter grip with the palm of the hand generally facing the target hole; or grasping the putter grip with the palm of the hand generally facing away from the target hole; or grasping the putter grip with the palm of the hand generally facing at a selected angle; and aligning the putter face perpendicular to the line of the putt with a twisting motion of the wrist or rotation of the grip with the fingers while the putter head rests on the putting; moving the putter head away from the ball along an extension of the putting line and reversing the direction of the putter head movement toward the ball along the intended putting line.

In a further aspect of the present invention there is provided a putter as described above for use with the described method.

The putter and method according to the present invention improves upon prior art devices and methods. The putter is specifically designed for use with a new putting method in which;

  • 1. The Rules of Golf are satisfied
  • 2. The golfer stands facing the hole
  • 3. The golfer uses only one arm to grasp and move the putter, and
  • 4. The ball is placed forward in the stance to allow the golfer to align the putter head preferably without moving any body part other than the eyes for most putts.

The golf putter according to the present invention includes a head. The putter also contains a shaft portion, which is generally straight. The lower 5 inches, contains three bends permitted by the rules of golf. Alternately, an angled bore could be formed in the putter head to eliminate the need for a third bend. In addition, in many applications it would be less expensive to bore the head. The straight portion of the shaft is connected on the upper end to a grip.

To use this putter the golfer will first walk around the green to assess all relevant factors that may affect the speed and direction he wants the ball to travel. This process may also include walking adjacent to and along the intended putting line counting the number of paces between the ball and the target hole. At the end of that process, the golfer may position himself at a point behind the ball facing the hole. He then focuses on a selected target. If the putt is straight, the target will be the target hole. If the green contains a contour, or if the grain of the grass will affect the ball path, the golfer will select a target a distance to the left or right of the target hole. Then a right-handed golfer will walk to a point left of the ball maintaining a body position facing the hole.

For the purpose of promoting an understanding of the method described and one embodiment of the putter of this invention, refer to FIG. 1.

The golfer stands with the left foot forward of the right foot. The toe of the right foot is approximately positioned in line with the heel of the left foot. This position is similar to the golfer being frozen mid-step while walking, a very natural and familiar position. The location of the toe of the left foot is approximately adjacent to the ball. The right foot is positioned to the left of the ball to meet the requirements of rule 1-61c of the USGA Rules of Golf. Upon first approaching this position, the golfer may position the right foot at a distance greater than the width of the putter head. In this position, the golfer can make preliminary practice swings to get a “feel” for how hard he wants to strike the ball to produce the proper distance of travel of the ball.

Notice the golfer uses only one hand to hold the putter. This improves on most prior art in that none of the muscles of the left side of the body are involved in the putting stroke.

The golfer then repositions the putter head directly behind the ball, moves the feet to the right such that the right foot is left of but very close to the putting line. The golfer focuses on the putter at this point and places the putter head a quarter inch or so behind the ball. The golfer rests the putter on the putting surface to fix this putter-head position.

The golfer then shifts his weight to the right leg and leans to the right (out of the plane and toward the viewer of FIG. 1). The right hand of the golfer, gripping the putter, is positioned left of or over an extension of the putting line and slightly behind the ball. The golfer's upper body and head are also bent to the right to a point where the golfer's right eye is also approximately above the putting line. The eye position is behind the hand, but slightly in front of a line extending upward from the straight portion of the shaft 10.

The putter is designed such that there is a bend of the putter shaft at a point above the connecting hole of the putter shaft. This bend produces a vertical face plane for the putter face and a backward-sloping putter shaft. With this geometry, the golfer can see the orientation of the putter face without interference of the hand or the shaft of the putter.

The golfer, in this position, and with the putter of this invention, is able to see the putter face, the ball, the putting line and the target all together without moving any body part. This set of elements critical to accurate alignment is called “the vision line”. The inventor is unaware of any other putter design and method combination capable of giving such a complete view of all parts involved in the intended putt. This complete view, which takes full advantage of a horizontal eye position and maximum distance between the eyes, eliminates all visual distortions of the traditional putting method. It also improves on the current art of all other facing-the-hole, modified croquet-style-putting methods.

The inventor recommends the golfer focus primarily on the target at this point in the process. The golfer can then simply move the eyes briefly to the putter face to check for perpendicularity. No body movement is required, as the golfer has maintained a perpendicular body position throughout the process. If the golfer determines the putter face is not correct, the golfer merely rotates the wrist slightly to produce the proper angle. The putter face angle is easily maintained because the putter remains resting on the putting surface. For the first time, the golfer no longer has to rely on memory or imagination to position the putter face. The proper angle can be determined with errors far less than 1-degree error from direct observation.

When the golfer is satisfied with the putter head alignment, he then begins to execute the putting stroke. The putting stoke can be executed with the eyes focused on the putter face, or on the target. The inventor anticipates golfers who first begin to use the invention may want to focus on the putter face at first, as this is the more familiar method. However, as the golfer becomes comfortable with the technique, it may become apparent it is more effective to focus on the target. Target focusing is familiar to those who participate in other sports. For example, a baseball pitcher focuses on the target throughout the pitching process. A basketball player focuses on the target. So do the bowler, the fisherman, the dart thrower and the pool player. One would never expect a tennis player to focus on the racket. Rather she focuses on the ball (the target). People in each of these sports have learned the most effective way to successfully achieve the desired outcome is to focus on the intended target. People in these sports have learned that, with practice, the body can be trained to automatically, and to accurately, follow what the eyes see. The same is true of the putting method associated with the present invention.

The putter is designed with features to assist in this focus-on-the-target method. Both the leading and trailing edges of the bottom portion of the putter head are chamfered. Chamfering is advantageous to help compensate for errors in executing the putting stroke. Since the golfer is not looking at the putter, it is possible during the learning period for the golfer to scrape the putting surface by having the putter too low. The chamfers help keep the putter from getting stuck or slowed when interference with the green surface occurs.

There are two options for physically executing the putting stroke. Both methods, however, result in movement of the putter face along the putting line rather than in arc around an offline axis.

In the first method of executing the putting stroke, the golfer moves only the wrist. Using this method, the number of body parts required is minimized. It should be noted that the path the putter shaft and head take during the putting stroke is not a true pendulum motion since the pivot point (the wrist) is not directly above the putter head. The golfer must lift the putter slightly off of the putting surface as a first movement. At that point, the golfer then pivots the putter around the axis of the wrist to move the putter head away from the ball a distance proportional to the length of the putt. Then, with gravity assisting, the golfer reverses the direction of the putter down the putting line and through the ball.

There is a potential problem with the first method. The golfer may rotate the forearm and wrist at some point during the putting stroke. This rotation can cause a putt to go off-line. If the golfer cannot overcome this problem, he has a second option.

In the second option, the golfer executes the stroke with a stiff wrist and forearm. In the second option the entire right arm from the shoulder down is used to move the putter. The method requires hinging movements of the shoulder and elbow joints. Again, the motion the arm takes is not a true pendulum motion. It may appear at first that moving the arm in this manner is the same manner as described by Chandler in his patent. Chandler describes a pure pendulum motion. His invention is built with this pendulum motion, aided by a center of gravity of the putting system located directly below the shoulder joint. With the stance he shows in FIG. 2 a pure pendulum motion is indeed possible.

Such is not the case in the present invention. The significant difference is that in the present invention, the ball is placed well in front of the shoulder joint. If the golfer attempts to rotate the arm around the shoulder, the putter head would be forced into the surface of the green. In the present invention, therefore, more complex movement is required. The golfer learns to withdraw the putter face along a line parallel to the putting surface for the first foot or so of the putting stroke. Then, when the golfer has completed the backward motion, he reverses the direction of the putter head again along a line just above the putting surface to and through the ball. These motions are better described as a pull and push of the putter along the surface rather than a pendulum arc around the shoulder axis.

While, this second method is more difficult to execute than the first method using the wrist only, it is still a motion easily programmed into muscle memory. It also solves the potential rotation problem with the wrist-only method. Both methods are described to provide options to suit the individual golfer's preference.

It should be noted that the putter of the present invention is not balanced as to center of mass as is Chandler's invention. The golfer using the putter as described above will have to exert forces with his right arm muscles to overcome a center of mass forward of the shoulder joint and possibly to the left of the putting line. The inventor has found it more important to have a clear “vision line”, rather than a weight-balanced pendulum motion, as the method to produce more consistent putting success.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING

The novel features believed to be characteristic of this invention are set forth with particularity in the appended claims. The invention itself, however, both as to its organization and method of operation, together with further objects and advantages thereof, may best be understood by reference to the following description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a side view of the putter in accord with the present invention illustrating the relationships among the putter, the ball, the hole, the golfer and the vision plane which includes all elements involved in the putting stroke;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the relationships among the putter of FIG. 3, the ball, the vision plane and the golfer;

FIG. 3 is a front elevation view of one embodiment of the putter illustrating the shaft bends required to meet the 10 degree angle and the minimum height, as required by the USGA Rules of Golf;

FIGS. 3A-3D are top perspective views of several embodiments of the hand grip used in accord with the present invention;

FIG. 4 is an enlarged front elevation view of the putter head and the shaft bends illustrating the bends are confined to the bottom 5 inches of the putter system as required by the USGA Rules of Golf;

FIG. 5 is an enlarged side perspective view of the lower part of the putter system. This figure shows the third bend of the shaft to allow the golfer to place the putter head in a position forward of the shoulder to allow the golfer to see the entire vision plane with no body movement other than the eyes. This figure also illustrates the putter head radii along the bottom surface required to allow the golfer to execute a putt without looking at the ball and putter head;

FIG. 6 is a schematic side view of the putter head illustrating the convex putter face, at two different positions, at the moment the head strikes the ball;

FIG. 7 is a front elevation view of an embodiment of a grip suitable for use with the putter;

FIG. 8 is a top view of the grip shown in FIG. 7; and

FIG. 9 is a left side elevation view of the grip shown in FIG. 7.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIG. 1 is a side view of the putter 9, the golfer 30, and the vision plane 21 of the putting system. The description herein is directed towards a right-handed user. It is to be understood that the putter 9 can be configured for a left-handed golfer. The objective of the putter 9 is to allow the golfer to see all elements involved in the putting action without moving any body parts other than the eyes. The golfer's right eye is placed forward of a line extended upward from the putter shaft 10 and behind a line extending vertically from the putter face 12. A bend 19 in the putter shaft, shown enlarged in FIG. 5, produces the angle B of FIG. 1. In the address position, the putter face 12 is placed just behind the ball 25 and approximately one foot length in front of a vertical line projected downward from the golfer's shoulder joint. This distance is illustrated as dimension 23. To produce this distance, a right-handed golfer places the left foot in front of the right foot. With the golfer in this position, angle B is provided to make sure the golfer's hand does not obstruct the golfer's view of the putter face and ball while maintaining a vertical orientation of the putter face 12. Angle B can vary depending on the size of the golfer and the most comfortable relative feet positions. However, angle B cannot exceed 20-degrees as required by The Rules of Golf. Once this address position is assumed the golfer has a clear view of the hole 22, the ball 25, and the putter face 12. These three elements and the golfers right eye are all contained in plane 21 that is a vertical plane extending upward from the putting line. This is called the vision line and is the unique feature of the putting method which distinguishes this method from all others and which allows superior capability for alignment of the putting face 12 perpendicular to the desired putting line.

When moving the putter during the stroking movement, the golfer can either look at the putter face 12 or at the target hole 22. During the initial training, the golfer may choose to look at the putter's face, as this is the traditional method. However, more accuracy can be achieved as the golfer gains experience and confidence by focusing on the target hole 22. In either case, improvement over all other putting methods is achieved because the golfer can see all elements during the entire putting process.

The putting stroke is different from all other putting strokes known to the inventor.

Refer to FIG. 2. This figure shows the elements of the preferred embodiment of the putter 9 and the golfer 30 from a perspective view. The shaded portions of the putter 9 and the golfer 30 are on one side of the vision plane 21 described above (FIG. 1). The non-shaded elements are on the other side of the vision plane 21. There are two ways the golfer 30 can move the putter 9 during the putting stroke. In either method, the putter head 11 remains bisected by the plane 21. The vision plane 21 also approximately bisects the golfer's hand. So, the putter head moves along the putting line. There is no pivot point outside plane 21 and thus no arc path requiring compensation.

The first method of executing the putting stroke requires the golfer 30 to merely hinge the wrist. The forearm and shoulder remain stationary. The putter head 11 remains along the line of the putt. The putting line is the same as the intersection of the vision plane 21 and the putting surface. This method minimizes the number of muscles required to execute the putting motion, thus minimizing muscle coordination errors.

The second method of executing the putting stroke requires the golfer 30 to keep the wrist stiff and motionless. The putter head 11 is moved away from the target hole by hinging motions of the elbow and shoulder with a pulling motion. A true pendulum motion is not possible since both the elbow and the shoulder joints are well behind the ball 25 and putter head 11. In this method, the golfer 30 learns to move the putter head 11 backward and then forward by pulling the putter 9 back and then pushing the putter 9 along the putting line using a pushing motion. Muscle coordination is required to overcome the forces of gravity, which want to move the putter 9 in a pendulum motion. Also, the wrist must overcome forces of gravity, which tend to pull the putter shaft 10 into a vertical orientation. This method eliminates any tendency of the wrist to rotate causing the ball 25 to travel off the intended line. This method is more difficult to perfect, but produces more consistent and more accurate results. The elbow and shoulder motions are made with little effort and easily enable the golfer to keep the putter head along the putting line throughout the putting stroke with no compensation required for the traditional putting arc around any vertical axis.

FIG. 3 is the preferred embodiment of the present putter 9. It will be understood that the illustrated device intends no limitation of the scope of the invention. Variations, changes, modifications and departures from the device and methods disclosed may be adopted without departure from the scope or spirit of the present invention. The present invention is a putter 9 that is configured such that the golfer 30 uses one hand to grasp the device in an address position that permits the golfer 30 to see all components involved in alignment without any body motion other than the golfer's eyes.

The putter 9 consists of a straight shaft portion 10, which extends from the top free end of the putter to bend 15 which begins the connector portion 26 of the shaft. The bottom end of the connector 26 enters the putter head 11 at a point or hole 17 located anywhere on the top surface 18 of the putter head. The connector portion 26 may be of any acceptable configuration including, for example, (1) a curved portion integrally formed with the straight portion 10 as shown, (2) a separate component, (3) an integrally formed part of the head, or (4) a second straight portion of the shaft at a different angle from the straight portion 10. Another embodiment of the invention has no connector portion 26. In this embodiment, the straight portion of the shaft is connected directly to the putter head 11.

Regardless of how the straight portion of the shaft 10 is connected to the head 11, the angle A formed by the straight portion of the shaft with the vertical must be at least 10 degrees as specified in The Rules of Golf. The objective of the connector portion 26 is to move the head 11 as close to the golfer's right foot as possible in the address position. The design need not be concerned with center of gravity considerations.

Hand grip 13 is mounted on the free end of the straight portion of the shaft 10 and is configured such that the golfer 30 may comfortably hold, position and move the putter head 11 while stroking a putt. Many standard, readily available putter grips 13 may be used. Since the preferred putting method recommends the golfer 30 focus on the hole rather than on the putter head 11 during the putting stroke, the grip 13 takes on a more significant role in the present invention than in traditional putters. The grip design can have many unusual designs to give tactile feedback about the position of the putter in the golfer's hand. The grip 13 should have at least one relatively flat land 41. The lands 41 are shown in FIGS. 3A-3B. The land 41 is used for tactile feedback to the golfer. In the preferred embodiment, the flat portion of the grip is oriented 90-degrees from the standard orientation. The land may face the hole, or it may be on the side of the palm of the hand. The land(s) 41 may also be at non-perpendicular angle to the putting line—an angle that better fits the position of the golfer's hand position that relaxes the muscles of the golfer's wrist, and/or that gives a personalized tactile feedback. Three possible land orientations are shown in the first three different cross-sectional views labeled FIGS. 3A-3B. While these views were selected for illustrative purposes, many other designs are possible within the scope of The Rules of Golf for the purpose of providing tactile feedback.

For example, since the objective of the present invention is to provide a one-handed putter, the grip need not be of standard length. The grip needs only be long enough to provide a place for one, not two hands. Other cross-sectional shapes as permitted by The Rules of Golf are also permissible as suits the individual golfer. For example, additional lands can be used to provide additional tactile feedback. A six-land cross section possibility with an angled bore 41 shown as the fourth view labeled 3D (see also FIGS. 7 and 8).

The overall height, H, of the putter 9 is defined by the height of the golfer. In no case can the height be less than 18″. A putter 9 properly fitted to a golfer is the height from the ground to the golfer's wrist. Typically, this height is approximately 30″.

FIG. 4 is an enlarged front elevation view of the connector portion 26 and the putter head 11. Any connector portion 26 provided cannot exceed 5 inches measured along the axis 26A of the connector 26 as indicated by the dotted line. The two shaft-bends, 15 and 16, shown in this view are of variable radii and angles. The more severe these bends, the closer the centerline 27 of the putter head and golfer's hand will be to the vision plane 21 as shown in FIG. 2. It is not necessary for the centerline 27 and the golfer's hand to be precisely located in the vision plane. Some golfers 30 may prefer less severe bends the effect of which will be to move the golfer's hand slightly to the left of the vision plane 21.

The putter head 11 as shown is of a generic form. There are a wide variety of forms the head can take. The putter head 11 can be any of a number of designs currently available in the marketplace. However, there are some design considerations required for the preferred putter head design. The bottom surface 14 should have a curvature 24 symmetrical around the centerline 27. This curvature 24 serves two purposes. On flat surfaces, the curvature 24 reduces the drag during the putting stroke in case the putter head comes in contact with the putting surface. Secondly, the curvature 24 reduces the possibility of drag when the ball 25 rests on an angled surface contour. For similar reasons, the transition from the bottom surface 14 to the heel and toe should be smoothly chamfered. These preferred requirements are important since the putter 9 is to be preferably used with the golfer focused on the target hole, not on the putter 9 and ball 25.

The top surface 18 of the putter head 11 should be relatively flat. It can contain directional markings. While the hole 17 is shown on the centerline 27, it can be placed at any point on the top surface. The putter face 12 can be flat from head to toe and from the bottom to the top surfaces. However, the face can also have a radius from the bottom to the top surfaces. This preferred convex shape will be explained in more detail in the discussion of FIG. 5 below. The face 12 may contain an insert 20 of different material, such as a polymer, than the head 11 itself. The overall width W is preferably at least 4″ but may be narrower. Since the golfer 30 may not look at the putter head 11 during the stroke, a wider width may be preferred.

FIG. 5 is a side perspective view of one embodiment of the putter head 11 and lower portion of the shaft 10. The bend 19 in the shaft produces angle B. Angle B is needed to allow the golfer to see the putter face 12 without visual interference (as described above) while maintaining a virtual vertical orientation of the putter face 12. Angle B is typically small (less than 10-degrees) but by The Rules of Golf must be less than 20 degrees. While small, this angle is a critical feature of the invention. It allows the golfer to place the ball 25 in a forward position to see the entire vision line of the putt. The height HF is less than the height of a golf ball 25. Notice the leading 31 and trailing 32 edges of the bottom surface 14. Both have significant radii. These radii are additional features provided to reduce drag during the putting stroke in the case the putter head contacts the putting surface in either the backward or forward motion. The leading edge radius can be variable and can extend well into the putter face 12. The leading edge curvature can extend upward to cover the entire putter face 12, thus forming a convex face with a radius around an axis pointing out of the picture toward the viewer.

FIG. 6 shows a side elevation view of the putter head 11. A convex face 12 is a desirable feature that assists in producing topspin to the ball 25 at different striking angles. Since the golfer 30 does not look at the ball 25 during the putting stroke, and the putting stroke is not a pure pendulum motion, there is more variability in the vertical angle at which the putter head 11 will approach the contact point. The figure shows an overlay of two possible impact positions of the putter face on the ball 25. Also, since the golfer may choose to alternate between the two putting methods described above for implementing the putting stroke, different approach angles will be experienced. A convex face 12 minimizes the tendency for the putter face 12 to either drive the ball 25 into the putting surface or launch the ball 25 above the putting surface. Thus, an acceptable embodiment of the curvature 24 would extend over the entire putter face producing a cylinder 40 of radius 42 with an axis parallel to the ground. The radius 42 will be equal to or greater than the radius of the golf ball 25.

FIGS. 7-9 are front, side and top views of one embodiment of a grip 13 suitable for use with a putter 9 according to the present invention. Grip 13 may be described generally as a rectangular cross-sectional block of resilient material. The material of the grip 13 is of any conventionally used material, which may vary in hardness in different portions of the grip 13. FIG. 7 shows the shaft 10 entering the lower end of the grip at an angle C. Angle C can vary at either a positive or negative angle from zero. Different angles are permitted to suit the individual golfer. FIG. 9 reveals a second angle, angle D. Angle D can also vary either positively or negatively from zero to suit the golfer. The maximum for angles C and D are limited by The Rules of Golf, which limits the maximum cross-section dimension 29 of the grip to 1.75″. This maximum length is shown in FIG. 8.

While the invention has been described with respect to certain specific embodiments, it will be appreciated that many modifications and changes may be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit of the invention. It is intended therefore, by the appended claims to cover all such modifications and changes as fall within the true spirit and scope of the invention.