Title:
Practice Putting Green
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An indoor golf putting green is disclosed comprising base panels (12), base-panel spacers (14), stand-board spacers (54), rails, a stand-board (18) and a putting surface (24). The putting surface is fully contourable providing a large variety of slopes which can be configured on the surface, allowing the user to practise a variety of putts. The stand-board is also contourable, and can be placed around the base panels at a variety of locations thus allowing the user to practise putts of differing length.



Inventors:
Gibbons, Graham William (Perth, GB)
Application Number:
10/585551
Publication Date:
11/06/2008
Filing Date:
01/13/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
473/162, 473/196, 473/279
International Classes:
A63B69/36; A63B67/02
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20090069121Leg straps with horizontal handlesMarch, 2009Roman
20090227387Practice putter with pointed striking surfaceSeptember, 2009Pontius
20060281584Method and apparatus to locate lost golf ballsDecember, 2006Ramsay
20050221904Flooring system for bowling alleyOctober, 2005Ford et al.
20040192478Meteorite shower - throwing toySeptember, 2004Ovadia
20090258719GOLFER TRAINING DEVICEOctober, 2009Wortman
20070202966High endurance flexible golf ball tee apparatusAugust, 2007Lipidarov
20040142758Golf practice and exercise matJuly, 2004Shioda
20060160640Two piece lacrosse stick headJuly, 2006Rettberg
20050009630Wood type golf club headJanuary, 2005Chao et al.
20090291780ATHLETIC TRAINING APPARATUS AND METHODNovember, 2009Gutierrez



Primary Examiner:
LEGESSE, NINI F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP (Indianapolis, IN, US)
Claims:
1. An apparatus for practicing golf shots, comprising: a body portion; a first adjustment mechanism for varying the height of the body portion at a first point; a second adjustment mechanism for varying the height of the body portion at a second point.

2. (canceled)

3. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1, wherein the body portion comprises a putting portion over which a ball is adapted to travel and a stance-board to support the user, wherein the stance-board is placeable at any side of the putting portion.

4. (canceled)

5. Apparatus as claimed in claim 3, wherein the stance board and the putting portion both have adjustment mechanisms.

6. Apparatus as claimed in claim 5, wherein the stance board has at least four adjustment mechanisms with at least four of the adjustment mechanisms being provided at different points.

7. Apparatus as claimed in claim 3, the putting portion comprising a support portion and a contacting portion, and in use, the contacting portion is provided over the support portion and contacts a golf ball, wherein the support portion comprises a plurality of support portion panels, each support portion panel supporting a part of the contacting portion and being connectable to at least one adjacent support portion panel by engagement mechanisms.

8. (canceled)

9. (canceled)

10. Apparatus as claimed in claim 3, wherein the putting portion has at least four pairs of adjustment mechanisms and as such at least eight different points that are variable in height.

11. Apparatus as claimed in claim 10, wherein the putting portion is made from a material flexible enough to be able to form a slope between the points of the adjustment mechanism when the vertical heights at the points are different, but rigid enough such that it does not sag between the points when the vertical height at the points are equal.

12. Apparatus as claimed in claim 3, wherein at least two apertures are provided in the putting portion, the apertures being sized to receive golf balls.

13. Apparatus as claimed in claim 12, wherein a holder is provided under said apertures, the holder being adapted to hold golf balls therein, wherein the holder is formed integrally with the putting portion.

14. (canceled)

15. Apparatus as claimed in claim 13, wherein in use, the distance between the stance-board and the apertures is variable.

16. (canceled)

17. (canceled)

18. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1, wherein each of the first and second adjustment mechanisms comprises spacers which are adapted to be joined or stacked together to space the body portion away from a resting surface.

19. Apparatus as claimed in claim 18, wherein the spacers comprise a base portion and an engagement mechanisms, the engagement mechanisms being adapted to engage with corresponding engagement mechanisms provided on the body portion.

20. Apparatus as claimed in claim 19, wherein the engagement mechanism comprises a rib and slot.

21. Apparatus as claimed in claim 20, wherein the rib engages the slot or alternatively prevents it from engaging with the slot in order to vary the vertical height of the body portion.

22. Apparatus as claimed in claim 19, wherein the engagement mechanism is a conical portion provided on each spacer.

23. (canceled)

Description:

This invention relates to an apparatus for practising golf shots, and particularly for practising putting.

Accurate putting requires a considerable amount of practise. A number of factors have to be assessed and taken into consideration before attempting a putt. These include the speed of the green, the degree and shape of any slopes between the hole and the ball and of course the distance and bearing of the hole from the ball.

As an alternative to practising on greens, indoor practising mats have been developed. However such known systems suffer from a number of disadvantages, in particular the limited variety of shots that they can simulate.

According to the present invention there is provided an apparatus for practising golf shots, comprising:

    • a body portion;
    • a first adjustment means which is adapted to vary the height of the body portion at a first point;
    • a second adjustment means which is adapted to vary the height of the body portion at a second point.

Preferably, a slope can be provided between the first and second points and said slope has a curved profile. Typically a slope is provided only when the vertical height of at the first and second points is different.

Thus embodiments of the present invention can provide a slope with a curved profile as well as a slope with a straight profile, depending on the in-use height and position of the first and second (and any further) adjustment means.

Preferably, the body portion is made from a material flexible enough to be able to form the slope between the first and second points when the vertical heights at the first and second points is different, but rigid enough such that it does not sag between the first and second points when the vertical height at the first and second points is equal.

The body portion may comprise a putting portion over which a ball is adapted to travel and a stance-board to support the user.

The putting portion may itself comprise a support portion and a contacting portion that contacts the golf ball. Preferably, the support portion supports the contacting portion. In use therefore, the contacting portion is preferably provided over the support portion. Preferably, the contacting portion is adapted to be rolled up for storage purposes.

Preferably, the support portion supports the contacting portion substantially over the whole of a face of the contacting portion.

Preferably, the support portion is pliable and more preferably resilient.

Preferably the support portion comprises a plurality of separate panels, each panel connectable with at least one other panel to form the support portion.

Preferably, the support portion comprises three panels, each panel supporting a part of the contacting portion. Optionally the support portion may comprise four or five or more than five panels. Each panel can be, for example, around 1 metre in length.

Preferably, each support portion panel can be connected to an adjacent support portion panel by engagement means such as castellations provided on the edges thereof. Preferably, the support portion includes a storage area that is adapted to receive the contacting portion when the apparatus is not in use.

Preferably, each of the first and second adjustment means comprises spacers. In use, the number of spacers can be independently varied to vary the height of the body portion at the first or second points respectively.

Preferably, the spacers comprise a base portion and an engagement means. Preferably, the engagement means is adapted to engage with corresponding engagement means provided on the support portion. The engagement means may be a rib and slot and preferably a rib is provided on a first face of each spacer. Preferably a slot is provided in the body portion at each of the first and second points. The spacers are adapted to be joined or stacked together to space the support portion further away from a resting surface. The rib is adapted to be orientated to engage with the slot or alternatively to prevent it from engaging with the slot.

Alternatively the engagement means may be a conical portion provided on the spacer.

Preferably, a target is provided in the putting portion and/or the contacting portion. The target may be an aperture in the contacting portion and may be a recess in the support portion. Typically the recess is a holder adapted to retain balls. Preferably, the aperture and holder are provided towards an end of the contacting and putting portion. Preferably, there are two apertures and two holders. Preferably, each aperture is provided towards an end of the putting surface and is preferably off-centre from the main axis of the putting surface in order to increase the variety of shots which may be practised on the apparatus.

Preferably the holder is formed integrally with the putting portion or alternatively formed separately and attached thereto.

Preferably, the stance-board is adapted to locate at any side of the putting portion. Preferably, the distance between the stance-board and the aperture can be varied in use by locating the stance-board to varying positions on a side of the putting portion. The first and second adjustment means may be provided on the stance-board or on the putting portion.

Preferably, the stance board and the putting portion both have adjustment means. More preferably, the stance board has four adjustment means provided at four different points. Preferably the putting portion has at least three pairs, preferably at least four pairs, more preferably at least five pairs, optionally at least six pairs of adjustment means and as such at least six, eight, ten and twelve different points respectively that can be varied in height by the user. Thus a variety of slopes may be simulated by the user independently varying the height of the putting portion at each adjustment means.

Moreover the slope of the stance-board can also be manipulated in many different ways by independently varying the height of the adjustment means provided on the stance-board so the user can experience the variety of slopes found in practise.

Preferably, the contacting portion is adapted to be rolled up for storage. More preferably, the contacting portion is stored in a stowage portion when not in use.

Preferably, the contacting portion is made from a material that will vary in the friction it provides to golf balls before and after it has been brushed. One suitable material could be polypropylene.

Preferably the body portion comprises rails adapted to resist movement of golf balls thereover. More preferably the contacting portion of the body portion comprises the rails adapted to resist movement of golf balls thereover.

Preferably, the stance-board is more rigid than the putting portion. Preferably therefore, the stance-board is adapted to support the weight of a user.

An embodiment of the present invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a plan view of a putting apparatus;

FIG. 2 is a side view of the FIG. 1 putting apparatus;

FIG. 3a is a perspective view of a panel which forms part of the putting apparatus of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3b is an end view of the FIG. 3a panel;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of part of the putting apparatus of FIG. 1 in a packaged configuration;

FIG. 5a is a side view of a stand-board which forms part of the FIG. 1 apparatus;

FIG. 5b is a bottom view of the FIG. 5a stand-board;

FIG. 6a is a side view of a plurality of stand-board spacers in an engaged configuration;

FIG. 6b is a sectional view of the FIG. 6a stand-board spacers in an exploded configuration;

FIG. 6c is a bottom view of the FIG. 6a stand-board spacers;

FIG. 6d is a top view of an alternative stand-board spacer;

FIG. 6e is a sectional view of a plurality of the FIG. 6d stand-board spacers;

FIG. 6f is a top view of a base-panel spacer;

FIG. 6g is a sectional view of a plurality of base-panel spacers;

FIGS. 7a-7e are end views of the FIG. 1 apparatus showing a variety of different combinations of spacers supporting said apparatus without a stand-board;

FIGS. 8a-8e are a series of end views of the FIG. 1 apparatus showing a variety of different combinations of spacers supporting said apparatus including a stand-board;

FIG. 9 is a series of illustrations showing the variety of different types of slope which can be created on a face of the FIG. 1 apparatus;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of an underside of the FIG. 1 apparatus;

FIG. 11a is a sectional view of a rail which forms part of the FIG. 1 apparatus; and,

FIG. 11b is a sectional view of a part of the FIG. 1 apparatus showing the attached rail.

A putting apparatus 10 in accordance with the present invention is shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 and comprises three base panels 12a-12c, base-panel spacers 14, stand-board spacers 54, rails 16, a stand-board 18 and a putting surface 24.

Holes 22 are provided in the putting surface 24 and recesses 23 are provided in the base panel 12c below the holes 22. The holes 22 are sized to allow a golf ball (not shown) to drop through the putting surface 24 into the recesses 23. The holes 22 provide targets to the user just as a hole in a golf putting green provides a target. Typically two holes 22, each provided away from a central axis of the putting surface 24, are provided to give two targets to the user and thus allow for a larger variety of shots to be simulated.

The base panels 12a-12c are rectangular in shape and provide planar faces for supporting the putting surface 24.

The rails 16 extend in an upwardly direction around three edges of the base panel 12c proximate to the holes 22 to prevent stray golf balls from falling off the panel 12c.

At a fourth edge of the base panel 12c, castellations 20 are provided for engagement with complementary castellations 20 in an edge of the base panel 12b in order to join the base panels 12b and 12c together. At an opposite edge of the base panel 12b, further castellations 20 are provided for connection with complementary castellations on the base panel 12a. Thus the base panels 12a-12c can be joined in a line to provide support for the putting surface 24. Optionally further panels (not shown), similar to the panel 12b, can be added.

The putting surface 24 is rolled out over the base panels 12a-12c to provide a suitable surface over which golf balls may travel. The castellations 20 in the base panels 12a-12c provide a smooth, continuous connection between the panels 12a-12c and do not affect the movement of a golf ball passing over these connections.

The stand-board 18, shown in more detail in FIGS. 5a and 5b, is positioned at a side of the base panels 12a-12c and can support a user whilst putting a ball along the putting surface 24. It should be noted that the stand-board 18 can be positioned at the base panels 12a-12c close to the holes 22 or far away from the holes 22 so that a user can practise shots of different lengths. The stand-board 18 can also be moved to the opposite side of the panels 12a-12c to provide for left-handed golfers. A mount 28 may be provided in the stand-board 18 in order to mount advertising material or the like. Slots 26 can be provided to mount a name badge or a sign of any sort. A polypropylene surface cover with a rubber backing may be provided on the stand-board 18.

The base-panel spacers 14, shown in more detail in FIGS. 6f-6g, space the base panels 12a-12c away from the surface upon which it is resting, such as a floor or carpet (not shown). The base-panel spacers 14 have an upstanding rib 30 which can engage with a slot 40. Slots 40 are provided in the underside 42 of the base panels 12a-12c.

The base-panel spacers 14 are typically 20 mm in height and so if it is required to raise a point of one of the base panels by 20 mm, a single spacer is required. The base-panel spacer 14 is oriented to prevent its rib 30 from engaging the slot 40 so that the base panel is spaced away from the floor by the full height of the spacer, 20 mm. Should a greater height be required for spacing that point of the base panel away from the floor, further spacers 14 can be added together, as shown in FIG. 6g. If a 40 mm height is required two spacers 14 are used, if a 60 mm height is required then three spacers 14 are required and so on. Additionally a spacer 14 can be turned to allow its rib 30, which is about 10 mm in height, to engage with the slot 40. This spacer would then space the base panel 12a-12c by 10 mm less. Hence, the panels 12a-12c can be spaced away from the floor in increments of 10 mm.

The slots 40 for engagement with spacers 14 are provided at a number of points. Typically, there are slots 40 in each of the corner of the base panels, 12a and 12c, and a slot 40 around the middle of the two edges of the base panel 12b. Thus, the assembled putting apparatus 10 can provide a putting surface 24 with a great variety of different slopes by varying the number and orientation of the spacers 14 at these points. FIG. 9 shows some of the slopes which can be provided by the putting apparatus 10.

The stand-board spacers 54 support the stand-board 18, generally in each corner thereof. The stand-board spacers 54, shown in FIGS. 6a-6e, have conical tops 56 for location in the underside 32 of another spacer 54 or in a corresponding recess (not shown) in the underside of the stand-board 18. The stand-board spacers 54 are reinforced for load bearing and are larger in diameter than the spacers 14 used for the base panels 12a-12c. The spacers 54 can be similarly varied underneath the stand-board 18 to provide a contoured surface on which the user stands in order to closely replicate the situation found in practise on actual putting greens. Rubber contact pads 58 may be provided on the bottom of the stand-board spacers 54, as shown in FIGS. 6a-6c, although a rubber O-ring contact 55, as shown in FIGS. 6d and 6e, is preferred in order to increase the stability of the stand-board 18.

In preferred embodiments, the stand-board 18 can continue the angle of slope provided on the base panels 12a-12c. Given that the width of the stand board 18 is around half that of a base-panel 12a-12c, the slope between two points on the stand-board 18 will be steeper than the slope between two points of a base panel 12a-12c (spaced to the same height as the stand-board 18) because the stand-board spacers 54 are closer together than the base-panel spacers 14. To allow for this, a pack of spacers 54 is provided with spacers of differing heights, for example, 10 mm, 15 mm and 20 mm. In this way, where a slope on a base-panel 12a is provided by a difference of a single spacer 14 for example, the same angle of slope can be created on the stand-board 18 by the use of a spacer 54 which is 10 mm in height.

Thus, the stand-board 18 is fully contourable and a great variety of different slopes, degree of slopes and direction of slope can be provided on the stand-board 18. In particular, the stand-board can be set to match the contours of the putting surface 24. Thus in order to use the putting apparatus 10, the user connects the base panel 12b to the base panels 12c and 12a via the castellations 20 to provide the line of base panels 12a-12c. The putting surface 24 is rolled over the base panels 12a-12c and the rails 16 (shown in FIGS. 11a &11b) attached to the putting surface 24. The stand-board 18 is then positioned next to the base panels 12a-12c at any point along their side, depending on the length of shot the user wishes to play and practise.

The spacers 14 are arranged below the base panels 12a-12c in any combination in order to provide a slope over which the user wishes to practise. For example, a single spacer may be provided at each point on the left-hand side of the base panels 12a-12c and no spacers on the opposite right-hand side of the base panels 12a-12c to provide a ‘left break’. Alternatively, a downhill putt may be practised by providing four spacers 14 at the end distant from the holes 22, and then reducing the number of spacers 14 at each side by one and finishing with no spacers at the end proximate to the holes 22. It will be appreciated that there is a great deal of variety in the choice of the spacers used and some of these shots are shown in FIG. 9.

Thus the user can stand on the stand-board 18 and practise putting golf balls along the putting surface 24 supported by the base panels 12a-12c. The number, position and orientation of the spacers 14 shape the stand-board 18 and base panels. Thus embodiments of the present invention benefit from being extremely adaptable at providing a large variety of different types of shot which the user may practise. Moreover, an important benefit of certain embodiments of the present invention is that a stand-board, such as the stand-board 18, can also be shaped like the putting surface in order to provide an authentic standing position for the user whilst practising the shots. Thus certain embodiments of the present invention provide for a large number of different shapes for the stand-board 18 also.

An important aspect while playing golf is the position of the users' feet and their stance whilst taking a shot. For example, shots on a slope are more difficult, not only due to judging the ball's direction and speed over the slope, but also due to the awkward stance the user has to adopt and the distribution of his or her weight whilst playing the shot. Thus, the ability to contour the stand-board to provide curves of many varying types is an important aspect of particularly preferred embodiments of the present invention.

Moreover, certain embodiments of the present invention also provide a stand-board that can be moved to allow the user to practise different lengths of shots and to allow left-handed golfers to practise as well.

Certain embodiments of the invention benefit from allowing the slope of a stance-board, such as the stand-board 18, to be adjusted so that it is in the same plane as the slope of a putting portion, such as the putting surface 24.

During storage, the putting apparatus 10 can be disassembled by disconnecting the castellations 20 between the base panels 12a-12c. The putting surface 24 can be rolled up over a cardboard tube, 44 (shown only in FIG. 4) and the stand-board 18 can be provided in recesses 46 on the under side 42 between the base panels 12a &12b. The spacers 14 and rails 16 can be stored within the tube 44. Thus, the putting apparatus 10 can be conveniently stored.

The base panels 12a-12c can be made from a material such as expanded polypropylene (EPP) and are stiff enough to remain flat when raised uniformly off the ground by the spacers 14 at various points, yet flexible enough to create undulations when raised in a non-uniform manner off the floor. Alternatively, the panels 12a-12c and stand-board 18 may be made from polystyrene or polyurethane foam.

The putting surface 24 is also be made from polypropylene but is flexible enough to allow it to be rolled up for storage. Alternatively Nylon™ or any other suitable synthetic material may be used as the putting surface.

The stand-board 18 is preferably manufactured by aluminium extrusion although other methods such as injecting moulding, reaction injection moulding, rotational moulding, vacuum forming or aluminium casting may be used. A further alternative is to make the stand-board 18 from wood.

The spacers 14, 54 are polypropylene injection mouldings to make them light in weight. The rails 16 are polypropylene extrusions.

The putting surface 24 is fully UV stabilised and treated to protect against dust mites, bacteria, mould, mildew, etc. The speed of greens is typically measured as a “stimp” value and certain embodiments of the present invention have a stimp value of around 10. However brushing the putting surface can slow down the movement of balls thereover—giving a stimp value of about 8.

A further benefit of certain embodiments of the present invention is that they are made from relatively inexpensive material, and do not require any tensioning or assembling means in order to function.

Improvements and modifications may be made without departing from the scope of invention.