Title:
STRIKE FORCE INDICATOR
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A golf club providing a universal training tool for golfers of all sizes is disclosed. The golf club includes an adjustable length shaft having a club head secured at one end thereof and a handle secured at the other end thereof, a sensor circuit disposed in the club head, wherein the sensor circuit includes a first sensor adapted to generate and transmit a first measurement signal representing a first desired characteristic of the golf club, and a display circuit disposed in the handle, wherein the display circuit is adapted to receive the first measurement signal, analyze the first measurement signal, and transmit an output to a user in response to the analysis of the first measurement signal.



Inventors:
Murph, Eric (Lehigh Acres, FL, US)
Murph, Georgia Mae (Fort Myers, FL, US)
Snead, Rose (Fort Myers, FL, US)
Application Number:
12/143359
Publication Date:
06/04/2009
Filing Date:
06/20/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
473/232, 473/223
International Classes:
A63B69/36
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HALL, SHAUNA-KAY N
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP (Toledo, OH, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A golf club comprising: an adjustable length shaft having a club head secured at one end thereof and a handle secured at the other end thereof; a sensor circuit disposed in the club head, wherein the sensor circuit includes a first sensor adapted to generate and transmit a first measurement signal representing a first desired characteristic of the golf club; and a display circuit disposed in the handle, wherein the display circuit is adapted to receive the first measurement signal, analyze the first measurement signal, and transmit an output to a user in response to the analysis of the first measurement signal.

2. The golf club according to claim 1, wherein the primary sensor is an accelerometer.

3. The golf club according to claim 1, wherein the sensor circuit includes a second sensor adapted to generate and transmit a second measurement signal representing a second desired characteristic of the golf club and the display circuit is adapted to receive the second measurement signal, analyze the second measurement signal, and transmit an output to a user in response to the analysis of the first measurement signal and the second measurement signal.

4. The golf club according to claim 1, further including a source of electrical energy disposed in the handle, the source of electrical energy in electrical communication with at least one of the sensor circuit and the display circuit.

5. The golf club according to claim 4, further including a user interface adapted to control the flow of electrical energy between the source of electrical energy and at least one of the sensor circuit and the display circuit.

6. The golf club according to claim 1, further including a length adjusting device integrated with the shaft and adapted to adjust the length of the shaft.

7. The golf club according to claim 1, wherein the display circuit includes: an output display device adapted to transmit the output to the user; and a processor adapted to receive the first measurement signal, analyze the first measurement signal, and control the output transmitted by the output display device in response to the analysis of the first measurement signal.

8. The golf club according to claim 7, wherein the display circuit includes a programmable component adapted to control the functions of the processor.

9. A golf club comprising: an adjustable length shaft having a club head secured at one end thereof and a handle secured at the other end thereof; a sensor circuit disposed in the club head, wherein the sensor circuit includes a first sensor adapted to generate and transmit a first measurement signal representing a first desired characteristic of the golf club; a display circuit disposed in the handle, wherein the display circuit is adapted to receive the first measurement signal, analyze the first measurement signal, and transmit an output in response to the analysis of the first measurement signal; a source of electrical energy disposed in the handle and in electrical communication with at least one of the sensor circuit and the display circuit; and a user interface disposed in the handle and adapted to control the flow of electrical energy between the source of electrical energy and at least one of the sensor circuit and the display circuit.

10. The golf club according to claim 9, wherein the first sensor is an accelerometer.

11. The golf club according to claim 9, wherein the sensor circuit includes a second sensor adapted to generate and transmit a second measurement signal representing a second desired characteristic of the golf club and the display circuit is adapted to receive the second measurement signal, analyze the second measurement signal, and transmit an output to a user in response to the analysis of the first measurement signal and the second measurement signal.

12. The golf club according to claim 9, wherein the display circuit includes: an output display device adapted to transmit the output to the user; and a processor adapted to receive the first measurement signal, analyze the first measurement signal, and control the output transmitted by the output display device in response to the analysis of the first measurement signal.

13. The golf club according to claim 12, wherein the display circuit includes a programmable component adapted to control the functions of the processor.

14. The golf club according to claim 9, further including a length adjusting device integrated with the shaft and adapted to adjust the length of the shaft.

15. A golf club comprising: an adjustable length shaft having a club head secured at one end thereof and a handle secured at the other end thereof; a sensor circuit disposed in the club head, wherein the sensor circuit includes a first sensor adapted to generate and transmit a first measurement signal representing a first desired characteristic of the golf club; a display circuit disposed in the handle, wherein the display circuit is adapted to receive the first measurement signal, analyze the first measurement signal, and transmit an output in response to the analysis of the first measurement signal; a source of electrical energy disposed in the handle and in electrical communication with at least one of the sensor circuit and the display circuit; a length adjusting device integrate with the shaft and adapted to adjust the length of the shaft; and a user interface disposed in the handle and adapted to control the flow of electrical energy between the source of electrical energy and at least one of the sensor circuit, the display circuit, and the length adjusting device.

16. The golf club according to claim 15, wherein the first sensor is an accelerometer.

17. The golf club according to claim 15, wherein the sensor circuit includes a second sensor adapted to generate and transmit a second measurement signal representing a second desired characteristic of the golf club and the display circuit is adapted to receive the second measurement signal, analyze the second measurement signal, and transmit an output to a user in response to the analysis of the first measurement signal and the second measurement signal.

18. The golf club according to claim 15, wherein the display circuit includes: an output display device adapted to transmit the output to the user; and a processor adapted to receive the first measurement signal, analyze the first measurement signal, and control the output transmitted by the output display device in response to the analysis of the first measurement signal.

19. The golf club according to claim 18, wherein the display circuit includes a programmable component adapted to control the functions of the processor.

20. The golf club according to claim 18, wherein the length adjusting device is dynamically controlled by the processor and the processor is dynamically calibrated to perform analysis in response to the adjusted length of the shaft.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/004,945 filed on Dec. 3, 2007.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to golf clubs. More particularly, the invention is directed to an apparatus for determining a desired characteristic of an adjustable length golf club during use.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The prior art relevant to the present invention, and described below, consists of various systems and devices for measuring the velocity of an object, the distance traveled by an object or the location of the point of impact of an object on an implement. It is thus known in the art that the velocity of an object may be measured or inferred by using sensors and that the measurement or the inferred velocity may be displayed on a display.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,688,183 to J. Sabatino, filed Mar. 21, 1995, is a velocity monitoring system for golf clubs. The system is comprised of a golf club, a monitor, and an acceleration sensor that generates a noise reading. The Sabatino patent suffers from the fact that it requires a noise reading to calculate club speed.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,173,610 to R. L. Pace, filed Dec. 23, 1998, is a sports swing impact speed indicator. The device is comprised of an accelerometer, an event window timer and a liquid crystal display. The Pace patent suffers from the fact that it requires a timer to measure speed.

U.S. Pat No. 4,991,850 to Wilhelm, filed Dec. 22, 1988, is a golf swing evaluation system for sensing the force and location of impact of a golf club head on a golf ball. The Wilhelm patent suffers from the fact that it requires a pre-determined shaft length and a pre-determined calibration of the evaluation system based on the shaft length.

The existing prior art inadequately addresses the need for an inexpensive, transportable, and easy to use, apparatus for calculating and displaying characteristics of a swing motion of an adjustable length golf club. Currently, golf clubs including integrated sensors and displays for training and conventional golf play analysis are customized for a particular user or situation by a one-time manufacturing process.

It would be desirable to have a universal golf club for golfers of all sizes, wherein a sensor circuit and a display circuit cooperate to provide the golfer with a desired characteristic of the golf club swing motion and strike force and an adjustable length shaft minimizes the space used for storing the golf club while providing a dynamic length setting for users of different heights.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Concordant and consistent with the present invention, a universal golf club for golfers of all sizes, wherein a sensor circuit and a display circuit cooperate to provide the golfer with a desired characteristic of the golf club swing motion and strike force and an adjustable length shaft minimizes the space used for storing the golf club while providing a dynamic length setting for users of different heights, has surprisingly been discovered.

In one embodiment, a golf club comprises: an adjustable length shaft having a club head secured at one end thereof and a handle secured at the other end thereof; a sensor circuit disposed in the club head, wherein the sensor circuit includes a first sensor adapted to generate and transmit a first measurement signal representing a first desired characteristic of the golf club; and a display circuit disposed in the handle, wherein the display circuit is adapted to receive the first measurement signal, analyze the first measurement signal, and transmit an output to a user in response to the analysis of the first measurement signal.

In another embodiment, a golf club comprises: an adjustable length shaft having a club head secured at one end thereof and a handle secured at the other end thereof; a sensor circuit disposed in the club head, wherein the sensor circuit includes a first sensor adapted to generate and transmit a first measurement signal representing a first desired characteristic of the golf club; a display circuit disposed in the handle, wherein the display circuit is adapted to receive the first measurement signal, analyze the first measurement signal, and transmit an output to a user in response to the analysis of the first measurement signal; a source of electrical energy disposed in the handle and in electrical communication with at least one of the sensor circuit and the display circuit; and a user interface disposed in the handle and adapted to control the flow of electrical energy between the source of electrical energy and at least one of the sensor circuit and the display circuit.

In another embodiment, a golf club comprises: an adjustable length shaft having a club head secured at one end thereof and a handle secured at the other end thereof; a sensor circuit disposed in the club head, wherein the sensor circuit includes a first sensor adapted to generate and transmit a first measurement signal representing a first desired characteristic of the golf club; a display circuit disposed in the handle, wherein the display circuit is adapted to receive the first measurement signal, analyze the first measurement signal and transmit an output in response to the analysis of the first measurement signal; a source of electrical energy disposed in the handle and in electrical communication with at least one of the sensor circuit and the display circuit; a length adjusting device integrated with the shaft and adapted to control the length of the shaft, and a user interface disposed in the handle and adapted to control the flow of electrical energy between the source of electrical energy and at least one of the sensor circuit, the display circuit, and the length adjusting device.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The above, as well as other advantages of the present invention, will become readily apparent to those skilled in the art from the following detailed description of the preferred embodiment when considered in the light of the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1a is a perspective view of a golf club according to an embodiment of the present invention showing the golf club extended;

FIG. 1b is a perspective view of the golf club of FIG. 1a showing the golf club retracted;

FIG. 2a is a fragmentary perspective view of a shaft of the golf club of FIG. 1a;

FIG. 2b is an enlarged fragmentary perspective view of the shaft of FIG. 2a;

FIG. 3 is a fragmentary perspective view of a club head of the golf club of FIG. 1a;

FIG. 4 is a fragmentary perspective view of a handle of the golf club of FIG. 1a;

FIG. 5 is a schematic view of a plurality of circuits and devices integrated with the golf club of FIG. 1a; and

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a user cooperating with the golf club of FIG. 1a showing the golf club in use.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

The following detailed description and appended drawings describe and illustrate various embodiments of the invention. The description and drawings serve to enable one skilled in the art to make and use the invention, and are not intended to limit the scope of the invention in any manner.

FIGS. 1a and 1b show a golf club 10 according to an embodiment of the present invention. The golf club 10 includes a hollow shaft 12 having a club head 14 secured at one end thereof and a handle 16, having a grip portion 18, secured at the other end thereof. The shaft 12 may be formed from any material, as desired. The grip portion 18 may formed from any material for grasping by a human hand such as leather, for example. Other materials suitable for the shaft 12 and grip portion 18 may be used, as desired. The club head 14 includes a face 20 which is adapted to strike a projectile device such as a golf ball, for example. It is understood that the club head 14 may be formed from any material appropriate for forming a golf ball striking face 20 such as wood, metal, alloys, and composites, for example. Other materials may be used, as desired. As shown, a Z-axis lies in the direction of the golf club handle 16. A pair of mutually perpendicular X and Y-axes define an X-Y plane which is generally perpendicular to the Z-axis. The Y-axis as illustrated is the axis of movement of the golf club head 14 during normal swinging.

As more clearly shown in FIG. 1b, the shaft 12 is collapsible or telescoping. As shown in FIG. 1a, the shaft 12 is in an extended position and ready for use. The shaft 12 may have any fully-extended length, as desired. As shown in FIG. 1b, the shaft 14 is in a retracted position and ready for storage. It is understood that the shaft 12 may be adjusted for any length, as desired. It is further understood that the shaft 12 length may be adjusted to pre-determined lengths or dynamically adjusted in real-time for customized lengths.

As more clearly shown in FIGS. 2a and 2b the shaft 12 may include a length adjusting device 19. The length adjusting device 19 is adapted to adjust the length of the shaft 12 to a plurality of desired lengths. As shown, the length adjusting device 19 is integrated with the shaft 12 and in electrical communication with at least one of a plurality of electrical paths 28. It is understood that the length adjusting device 19 for extending and retracting the shaft 12 may be any adjusting device or system. As a non-limiting example, the length adjusting device 19 may be one of an electromechanical system and an interlockable segment system. As another example, the length adjusting device 19 may include selectively engaged locking pins or retaining devices. Other means for extending and retracting the shaft 12 may be used, as desired.

Referring to FIGS. 1a and 3, the club head 14 includes a sensor circuit 22 in electrical communication with the electrical paths 28. The sensor circuit 22 includes a first sensor 24 and a second sensor 26. It is understood that the club head 14 may include additional circuitry and sensors, as desired. The electrical paths 28 provide electrical communication between the sensor circuit 22 and a display circuit 30. In certain embodiments, the electrical paths 28 provide direct electrical communication between the sensors 24, 26 and the display circuit 30. Specifically, the electrical paths 28 are adapted to transmit at least one of a first measurement signal 31 and a second measurement signal 33 from the sensor circuit 22 to the display circuit 30. The electrical paths 28 are also adapted to transmit electrical energy to the sensor circuit 22. It is understood that any number of electrical paths 28 may be included, as desired. It is further understood that the measurement signals 31, 33 may be transmitted by other means, such as radio waves, for example. In certain embodiments a first printed circuit board (not shown) provides a mounting substrate for the first sensor 24 and the second sensor 26. The first printed circuit board may also provide electrical communication between the first sensor 24 and the second sensor 26, as desired.

The first sensor 24 may be any sensor adapted to measure a first desired characteristic of a swing motion of the golf club 10. In certain embodiments, the first sensor 24 is an accelerometer. Where the first sensor 24 is an accelerometer, the first sensor 24 may be adapted to measure the centripetal acceleration along the Z-axis. As such, the first sensor 24 transmits the first measurement signal 31, through at least one of the electrical paths 28 to the display circuit 30. It is understood that the first measurement signal 31 contains data representing at least the first desired characteristic of a swing motion of the golf club 10. It is further understood that the calibration, orientation, and desired characteristic measurement of the first sensor 24 may be calibrated, as desired.

The second sensor 26 may be any sensor adapted to measure a second desired characteristic of the swing motion of the golf club 10. In certain embodiments, the secondary sensor 26 is a speed sensor, adapted to measure the speed of the club head 14 and transmit the second measurement signal 33, including at least the speed data measurement, to the display circuit 30. In another embodiment, the second sensor 26 is a pressure sensor adapted to measure the pressure exerted on the face 20 of the club head 14 and transmit the second measurement signal 33, including at least the pressure measurement data, to the display circuit 30. In yet another embodiment, the second sensor 26 is an accelerometer adapted to measure the acceleration of the club head 14 relative to a desired orientation of the secondary sensor 24. It is understood that the second measurement signal 33 includes data representing at least the second desired characteristic of the swing motion of the golf club 10. It is further understood that the calibration, orientation, and desired measurement of the second sensor 26 may be calibrated, as desired.

Referring to FIGS. 1a and 4, the handle 16 includes the display circuit 30 in electrical communication with the electrical paths 28. The display circuit 30 includes a processor 32, a programmable component 34, and an output display device 36. In certain embodiments a second printed circuit board (not shown) provides a mounting substrate for the processor 32, the programmable device 34, and the output display device 36. The second printed circuit board may also provide electrical communication between each of the processor 32, the programmable device 34, and the output display device 36. The processor 32 may be any device for receiving at least one of the first measurement signal 31 and the second measurement signal 33, analyze the received measurement signals 31, 33, and control the output 42 of the output display device 36 in response to the analysis of the measurement signals 31, 33. The programmable component 34 is in electrical communication with the processor 32 and adapted to control the processing and analysis functions of the processor 32. The output display device 36 may be any device for generating and transmitting the output 42 to a user. In the embodiment shown, the output display device 36 is a digital display device such as a liquid crystal display or a light emitting diode (LED-based) display, for example. Other devices may be used, as desired.

As shown, the handle 16 also includes a source of electrical energy 38 and a user interface 40. The source of electrical energy 38 may be any portable source of electrical energy such as a battery, for example. The source of electrical energy is in electrical communication with at least one of the sensor circuit 22, display circuit 30, and the length adjusting device 19. The user interface 40 is adapted to control the flow of electrical energy between the source of electrical energy 38 and at least one of the sensor circuit 22, the display circuit 30, and the length adjusting device 19. In certain embodiments, the user interface 40 is a push button device adapted to initiate the extension and retraction of the shaft 12 and activate the measurement components of the golf club 10 such as the sensor circuit 22 and the display circuit 30. As a non-limiting example, the user interface 40 may include additional user selected features such as a control of the extension of the shaft 12 to one of the pre-determined lengths, a control of the programmable component 34, a control of the sensor circuit 22, and a control of the output display device 36.

Referring to FIG. 5, the processor 32 is adapted to receive the measurement signals 31, 33, analyze the measurement signals 31, 33 based upon a pre-determined programming, and control the output display device 36 in response to the analysis of the measurement signals 31,33. In certain embodiments, the processor 32 is in electrical communication with the length adjusting device 19. Specifically, the length adjust device 19 may be controlled by the processor 32 for extending and retracting the shaft 12. The processor 32 may also be adapted to receive a feedback signal 35 from the length adjusting device 19, wherein the feedback signal 35 represents the adjusted length of the shaft 12. As a non-limiting example, the processor 32 may also be adapted to automatically adjust the analysis of the measurement signals 31, 33 in response to the variable length of the shaft 12 or the feedback signal 35. As another example, the analysis performed by the processor 32 may be pre-programmed for pre-determined lengths of the shaft 12.

The programmable component 34 is in communication with the processor 32. In certain embodiments, the programmable component 34 is adapted to manage and control the processing functions of the processor 32. Specifically, the programmable component 34 is adapted to control the analysis of the measurement signals 31, 33. The programmable component 34 provides a means for a user to actively manage the operation of the processor 32 and thereby control the resultant output 42 of the output display device 36. The output display device 36 is adapted to present an output 42 to the user of the golf club 10, wherein the output 42 represents an analysis of the measurement signals 31, 33. In certain embodiments, the output 42 represents a calculated force of impact between the face 20 and a golf ball. Specifically, the output 42 may be adapted to present the calculated force in a numerical form representing pounds per square inch. In another embodiment, the output 42 represents a calculated speed of the club head 14 at impact. As such, the output 42 may be adapted to present the calculated speed in a numeric form representing miles per hour. In yet another embodiment, the output 42 may represent a calculated peak acceleration, wherein the sensors 24, 26 cooperate with the processor 32 to calculate an assessment of swing performance. For example, where the calculated force at the time of impact is at a maximum, the output 42 represents a “good” condition. Where the calculated force of impact is near maximum, the output 42 represents an “improving” condition. Where the calculated force of impact is below a desired level, the output 42 represents a “poor” condition. It is understood that maximum level of impact force may be determined as a function of maximum acceleration at the time of impact. It is further understood that the level of calculated force may be determined as a function of the speed of the club head 14 at the time of impact. Other methods of determining the force and the range of swing performance may be used, as desired. It is understood that any conventional method for calculating the desired characteristic of the golf club 10 during a swing or impact may be used, as desired. For example, the acceleration along the Z-axis may be used to calculate the velocity of the club head 14 at impact using the equation az=v2/r. As such, the value of ‘r’ may be selected based on a user provided input or may be dynamically measured as a function of the length adjusting device 19 or feedback signal 35. It is further understood that the processor 32 in cooperation with the programmable component 34 may be adapted to analyze the measurement signals 31, 33 using a plurality of algorithms and processing functions.

In use, the golf club 10 is removed from a stored position. The user engages the user interface 40, thereby extending the shaft 12 to a useable position, as shown in FIG. 1a. In certain embodiments, the length adjusting means 19 is engaged to extend the shaft 12 to a desired length. It is understood that the shaft 12 may be manually extended or automatically extended by an electromechanical system integrated with the shaft 12. In the extended position, the golf club 10 is ready for use, as shown in FIG. 6. It is understood that the analysis performed by the processor 32 may be adjusted for various lengths of the extended shaft 12. Where the user swings the golf club 12, the sensors 24, 26 measure particular characteristics of the swing such as acceleration or speed. The sensors 24, 26 transmit the measurement signals 31,33 to the display circuit 30. The processor 32 of the display circuit 32 analyzes the measurement signals 31,33 and controls the output 42 of the output display device 36 in response to the analysis. Where the user strikes the golf ball with the face 20 of the club head 14, at least one sensor 24, 26 transmits another measurement signal 31,33 to the display circuit 30. The processor 32 of the display circuit 32 analyzes the measurement signal 31,33 and controls the output 42 of the output display device 36 in response to the analysis of the measurement signal 31,33. As a non-limiting example, where the user swings and strikes a golf ball in a conventional manner, the output 42 of the output display device 34 represents the contact force between the club head 14 and the golf ball and a calculated club head 14 speed at the time of impact. As another example, where the user swings and strikes a golf ball in a conventional manner, the output 42 of the output display device 36 represents a swing assessment in the form of a color output to the user, i.e. red for “poor”, yellow for “improving”, and green for “good”. It is understood that other outputs may be used to identify swing characteristics to the user, as desired.

The golf club 10 provides a universal training tool for golfers of all sizes. The adjustable shaft 12 minimizes the space used for storing the golf club 10 while providing a dynamic length setting for users of different heights. The programmable component 34 in cooperation with the processor 32 provides automatic, real-time calibration and feedback to the user and further allows the user to customize the analysis of the desired measurement data.

From the foregoing description, one ordinarily skilled in the art can easily ascertain the essential characteristics of this invention and, without departing from the spirit and scope thereof, make various changes and modifications to the invention to adapt it to various usages and conditions.