Title:
Soccer-golf games with electronic scoring and sensing system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An impact-responsive scoring and sensing goal post that forms an active target for hybrid soccer golf games of numerous variations, and a soccer golf game using the goal pole. The portable electronic “goal-pole” comprises an upstanding, cylindrical stanchion that supports sensor circuitry and display apparatus. The goal pole can be disposed in different predetermined locations over a playing surface to provide a target. The solid state circuitry responds to an impact-responsive electrical switch to energize an activation line for a predetermined time, turning on a trio of driver transistors activating a motor that rotates the visual display, a plurality of LED's, and a loud recorded message for audibly indicating a score.



Inventors:
Hinn, Robert C. (North Little Rock, AR, US)
Application Number:
12/384444
Publication Date:
11/26/2009
Filing Date:
04/06/2009
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
273/374, 473/476, 273/317.2
International Classes:
A63B67/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GRAHAM, MARK S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Stephen D. Carver (Little Rock, AR, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method of playing a soccer golf game on a course comprising of a plurality of holes, a plurality of teeing grounds, a fairway and a target in the form of a goal pole, the method comprising the steps of: selecting a number of players to participate in the game; providing a playing ball for each of said players; selecting one of said players to begin play by placing said ball on the ground on a teeing ground with the intent of kicking said ball towards said target; repeating said kicking by each player until all said balls have been kicked from said teeing ground; repeating said kicking until each players' said ball has contacted said target goal pole; counting the number of kicks each player used to reach said target; and, indicating that the target has been reached and impacted to complete play of a given hole by a given player with the goal pole.

2. The method as set forth in claim I wherein: after each of said players has kicked his her ball, the player whose ball is furthest from said goal pole relative to said balls of other players shall repeat kicking of his or her ball towards said goal pole; and, after each of said players has impacted said goal pole with his or her ball, the players move on to the next hole and repeat the process until all the holes are completed and a total of all the kicks for all the holes for each player is tabulated.

3. The method as set forth in claim I wherein the target goal pole comprises: means for securing the goal pole in a vertically upright position; an elongated stanchion having a bottom adapted to be disposed upon a playing surface; display means elevated by said stanchion; sensor means for providing an activation signal in response to ball impact; circuit means for activating the goal pole in response to said sensor means; and, motor means for activating said mechanical display means in response to said circuit means.

4. The method as set forth in claim 3 including the further step of securing the goal pole stanchion bottom to a conventional golf green cup.

5. The method as defined in claim 3 including the further step of securing the goal pole stanchion bottom to a planar base overlying the playing surface.

6. The method as defined in claim 3 including the further steps of: Providing a soccer ball as a display; Interconnecting said motor means via a driveshaft extending vertically upwardly to said display to rotate said soccer ball; and, audibly indicating a score with said circuit means in response to goal pole impact.

7. The method as defined in claim 6 including the further steps of providing a plurality of lights for indicating a score, and activating said lights with said circuit means in response to said sensor means.

8. The method as defined in claim 7 wherein said plurality of lights comprise LED's and said circuit means comprises means for flashing said LED's for a predetermined time after an impact.

9. A portable goal pole for use in the game of soccer-golf for sensing the impact of a ball and indicating a score, the goal pole comprising: an elongated stanchion having a bottom adapted to be disposed upon a playing surface and a top; a housing secured to said stanchion; mechanical display means secured to said housing; sensor means disposed within said housing for detecting goal pole impacts; circuit means disposed within said housing for providing an activation signal in response to said sensor means; motor means for activating said mechanical display means in response to said circuit means; and, means for securing the stanchion to deploy the goal pole in a vertically upright position.

10. The goal pole as defined in claim 9 further comprising means for securing the stanchion bottom to a conventional golf putting cup.

11. The goal pole as defined in claim 9 further comprising means for securing the stanchion bottom to a planar base overlying the playing surface.

12. The goal pole as defined in claim 9 wherein the mechanical display means comprises a rotatable sphere, and said motor means is connected via a driveshaft extending vertically upwardly from said motor means through said housing.

13. The goal pole as defined in claim 12 wherein the mechanical display means is in the form of a soccer ball disposed within a plastic housing.

14. The goal pole as defined in claim 9 further comprising a plurality of lights for indicating a score, and said circuit means includes driver means for activating said lights in response to said sensor means.

15. The goal pole as defined in claim 14 wherein said plurality of lights comprise LED's, and said circuit means comprises means for flashing said LED's for a predetermined time after an impact.

16. The goal pole as defined in claim 9 wherein said sensor means comprises an impact sensing switch formed from a displaceable, elongated, electrically conductive shaft extending coaxially within a conductive, spiral spring mass.

17. A portable goal pole for use in the game of soccer golf for sensing the impact of a ball and indicating a score, the goal pole comprising: an elongated stanchion adapted to be disposed in a vertically upright position upon a playing surface; a housing secured to said stanchion; display means secured to said housing; sensor means disposed within said housing for detecting goal pole impacts; circuit means disposed within said housing for providing an activation signal in response to said sensor means; motor means for moving said display means in response to said circuit means for a predetermined time after impact; a plurality of LED's for visually indicating a score in response to said circuit means for a predetermined time after impact; and, transducer means for audibly indicating a score in response to said circuit means for a predetermined time.

18. The goal pole as defined in claim 17 wherein said display means comprises a rotatable sphere emulating a soccer ball that comprises a plurality of shiny, reflective panels that glisten brightly in sunlight.

19. The method as set forth in claim 17 wherein said goal pole further comprises means for securing the stanchion bottom to a conventional golf green cup.

20. The method as defined in claim 17 wherein said goal pole further comprises means for securing the stanchion bottom to a planar base overlying the playing surface.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This utility patent application is based upon, and claims the filing date of, prior pending provisional application entitled “Scoring and Sensing System for Soccer-Golf Games” Ser. No. 61/128,122, which was filed May 20, 2008, inventor Robert C. Hinn.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

I. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to targets for projectile games involving balls that are kicked by players. More particularly, the present invention relates to a scoring and sensing goal pole that detects the impact of kicked balls (or projectiles) and which aids in scoring hybrid games of soccer-golf.

II. Description of the Prior Art

In recent years the sports of golf and soccer have become very popular. There are many elements of the two games that are similar. Both games involve relatively large, outdoor playing facilities, such as a conventional golf course, and both involve specific “targets” that determine scoring. Golf and soccer games both use projectiles, i.e., balls that are shot towards the target. In golf, the target comprises a cup on a conventional golf green, and in soccer a goal is the target. In each game the balls are projected by player impact, either with a club or, in the case of soccer, by physical contact through kicking or head butting. The substantial popularity of the games of soccer and golf has led to the development of hybrid versions of these games.

For example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,190,272 issued to Bernard Feb. 20, 2001 illustrate one form of a hybrid “Soccer-Golf” game. Play is conducted upon a suitable field, such as a golf course, which may be provided with a plurality of goals, each disposed upon the golf course greens. Players kick a ball from starting points towards the remotely spaced goals or targets. Scoring occurs upon each kick, and terminates when the goals are penetrated by the balls. Players may calculate scores based upon the number of kicks required to reach the goals. As with the game of golf, the player with the lowest point total or score wins.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,200,234 issued to Hannon on Mar. 13, 2001 shows another hybrid soccer-golf game where players kick soccer balls over a large, outdoor course towards various goals. The game may be played over a golf course by placing goals at various greens, successively kicking towards the greens, and then penetrating target goals. The player with the fewest number of kicks to complete the course is the winner.

U.S. Pat. No. 7,059,600 issued to Jarimba on Jun. 13, 2006 disclose a hybrid soccer-golf game using soccer balls that are hit with clubs towards target balls. Multiple players using different play balls may take turns striking their ball toward the target ball. Points are awarded for the fewest strokes or for location on the target ball that is hit.

Many projectile games that are not necessarily similar to soccer or golf exist where balls or discs or the like are thrown or driven towards a target. Of course, in any competitive sports game, the proper determination of scoring is important. Thus a number of targets have been developed for registering a “score” or “hit” in response to impact in tossing or throwing type games. There are both passive targets and “active” targets that provide a feedback signal to the player or players when a score or “hit” occurs.

For example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,676,511 issued to Mackie on Jun. 30, 1987 discloses a target for use in a ball game in the form of an upstanding post. Objective target areas to be it are disposed on opposite faces. Illuminated lights indicate when a target area has been properly struck by the ball for scoring. The lights are actuated by pressure-sensitive actuators that respond to impact.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,553,860 issued to Zelikovich on Sep. 10, 1996 also disclose a sensing target that is responsive to impact. Different modulated signals are generated and transmitted remotely in response to impact sensors, providing distinguishing data for scoring determination.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,883,569 issued to Kolefas on Mar. 16, 1999 discloses another “active,” impact-responsive scoring device. Circuitry transmits a signal upon impact that is remotely sensed by a receiver which generates a sound in accordance with the signal. Impacts are detected by conductive layers in sensing means.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,908,194 issued to Schachter on Jun. 1, 1999 disclose a sports target utilizing an acoustic sensor. Active electronic circuitry determines if a valid hit has occurred. In response to sensed impact, the device plays a digitally recorded, audio message. The signal may be transmitted to a remote receiver.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,554,284 issued to Chou Apr. 29, 2003 shows an electrically responsive target assembly for impact ball games. The target has front and rear sheets with multiple aligned conductors. In response to ball contact or impact, the target material deforms, and the conductors are temporarily electrically joined to complete an alarm circuit.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,776,417 issued to Holgate on Aug. 17, 2004 show a target for “disc golf” that captures properly thrown disc projectiles. The target has a basket assembly attached to a supporting center pole that captivates impacting disks used in the game.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,974,390 issued to Shioda on Dec. 13, 2005 disclose a practice system having a practice ball and a target assembly. An energy absorbing surface attached to a rigid frame held in place by a frame support monitors “hits.”

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

This invention provides an improved soccer golf game and an impact responsive scoring post that forms an active target for projectile games. Ideally the target is used for soccer-golf games of numerous variations.

An electronic “goal-pole” or target in the general form of an upstanding, cylindrical post that is affixed to the ground for playing soccer golf or kick golf games. The target goal pole can be removed and affixed to different locations, varying the difficulty of play. For example, the goal pole can be placed in or near the cup upon a conventional golf green, were soccer-golf is to be played upon a golf course.

The goal pole can be used indoors, in backyards, and other limited spaces. Preferably the goal pole is attached to a base that sits flat upon the ground, or floor, allowing the target to be struck by a ball and not tip over. The device is mobile and can be placed in any location indoors or outside. For indoor or backyard use, a small ball is used, although any size ball would be suitable.

The game is played by setting up a course using one or more goal poles and corresponding starting locations. The game can be played upon a golf course, but ideally the game is played on a course designed exclusively for the game of soccer-golf. In the best mode each hole is approximately 50-100 yards long. By comparison, standard golf course holes average 300-400 yards in length. The soccer ball is kicked from the starting location, and successively kicked until it strikes the targeted goal pole. The goal pole electronically senses the slightest impact of a ball, and provides a visual and audible warning to the player that scoring impact has occurred.

Preferably, the goal pole circuitry provides one or more of the following three response to impact: 1) an electric motor in the device spins and/or oscillates an object, such as a highly visible simulated soccer ball; 2) indicator lights come on, flash, and/or strobe; and, 3) a digitally recorded message is transmitted audibly through either acoustic means, or the message is transmitted via radio to a remote receiver. The impact responses are preferably activated for a predetermined amount of time before resetting.

One alternative form of the game is played on a miniature golf course. A small inflatable soccer-type ball, about the size of a softball, is kicked with the feet until it strikes the goal pole.

Thus a basic object is to provide an improved scoring system for impact games.

More particularly, it is a broad object of my invention to provide an electronic scoring indicator for a hybrid soccer-golf game.

Another basic object is to provide a “goal-pole” for the games of soccer-golf.

A still further object is to provide an improved soccer golf game.

Another object is to provide a scoring indicator of the type described that gives a visual warning when players have properly struck the target when kicking the ball and competing.

A related object is to provide a means for enhancing scoring upon the greens used in hybrid soccer-golf games.

Another important object is to provide a target assembly for use with various projectile games, such as soccer, golf, a hybrid soccer-golf game, or the like.

It is also an object to provide a goal pole for indicating scoring with soccer-golf games that can be used inside or outdoors.

A further object is to provide a goal pole of the character described which may be successfully employed at either a kick golf course, a conventional golf course, or upon a smaller, miniature golf course.

Yet another object of the present invention is to provide an improved soccer ball target that convincingly and reliably informs players when the target has been hit by the ball.

It is also an object to provide an improved soccer-golf game, and an improved method of play.

These and other objects and advantages of the present invention, along with features of novelty appurtenant thereto, will appear or become apparent in the course of the following descriptive sections.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the following drawings, which form a part of the specification and which are to be construed in conjunction therewith, and in which like reference numerals have been employed throughout wherever possible to indicate like parts in the various views:

FIG. 1 is a partially exploded, plan view of a preferred goal pole constructed in accordance with the invention, with the goal pole adapted to be disposed within a golf green cup;

FIG. 2 is a view of the goal pole disposed within a base upon ordinary ground;

FIG. 3 is an enlarged, fragmentary sectional view of the bottom of the goal pole, showing it engaged within a base;

FIG. 4 is an enlarged fragmentary, partially exploded view of the bottom of the pole, showing it engaged within a golf green cup;

FIG. 5 is an enlarged, fragmentary sectional view of the upper portion of the preferred goal pole;

FIG. 6 is an exploded view of the goal pole engaged within a base;

FIG. 7 is an exploded view of the goal pole engaged within a golf green cup;

FIG. 8 is an electrical schematic view of the preferred electronic circuitry that is disposed within the goal pole;

FIG. 9 is a schematic view of shock sensor switch (SWI);

FIG. 10 is a view of a typical nine-hole soccer-golf course;

FIG. 11 is a view of a single hole; and,

FIG. 12 is a close up view of a typical soccer-golf hole in accordance with the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

With initial reference directed to FIGS. 1-4 of the accompanying drawings, a soccer-golf game score indicator and sensing goal pole is generally designated by the reference numeral 15. In play, soccer balls, for example, are kicked towards the goal pole 15, which is disposed upon a playing surface in a target area. The portable goal pole may be used indoors or outdoors, either upon a small limited area, upon a soccer-golf course designed exclusively for this game, or upon a conventional golf course with fairways, tee-boxes, and conventional putting greens. As best seen in FIGS. 1 and 4, the goal-pole 15 is adapted to be fastened within a conventional putting cup 17, of the type normally disposed upon golf green. As seen in FIGS. 2 and 3, the goal pole 15 can alternatively be fastened to a generally planar rubber base 62 which can lie flush over a suitable horizontal playing surface such as the ground, a golf course, or an indoor carpet or floor.

As seen in FIGS. 1-4 the goal pole 15 comprises an elongated stanchion portion 22 that rises vertically upwardly from cup 17 via shaft 18 (FIG. 1) extending through a cup cover 19. Alternatively a rubber base 62 as in FIGS. 2 and 6 can provide support. Stanchion 22 supports an upper sensor housing 24 that enclose the electronics and sensing apparatus, motors and battery power explained later.

Sensor housing 24 also supports a highly visible, mechanically operable display device, generally indicated by the reference number 26 that preferably rotates in response to a score. Preferably the display device 26 resembles a soccer ball, but a variety of configurations and shapes are quite possible. The mechanical display device 26 preferably comprises a translucent, plastic housing 27, which separates vertically into two separate, generally hemispherical pieces. The display device 26 is coupled to an interior motor discussed later via a driveshaft 28 (FIG. 6).

With additional reference directed to FIGS. 5-7, the sensor housing 24 preferably comprises a tubular plastic sleeve. A circuit board 34, a small, low power DC motor 35, a battery pack 37, and at least one audio transducer 25 (i.e., a small low power speaker) are protectively located within housing 24. Preferably there are several LED's 40 disposed on top of the housing 24 that visually flash when activated by the circuit in response to sensed scoring.

The display device 26, nominally a modified soccer ball, has a plurality of shiny, reflective panels 42 (i.e., FIG. 1) that glisten brightly in the sunlight to allow a distant observer to observe a score after a hit when rotation occurs. These reflective 42 panels cooperate with LED's 40 in the top of the housing 24 to make sure a visual score warning is reliably provided.

As best seen in FIG. 6, a support stanchion 22 couples to housing 24, and whose bottom couples to a reduced diameter bushing 58. A lower screw fitting 60 mates with bushing 58, to compressively secure a rigid, circular support stand 62 after penetrating central orifice 63.

As best seen in FIG. 7, a support stanchion 22 whose top couples to housing 24, and whose bottom couples to a reduced diameter bushing 58, is threadably attached to a shaft 55 that passes through a golf hole or cup cover 19. A golf flag ferrule 54 is attached to bottom of shaft 55. The ferrule 54 snugly fits within a conventional golf green cup 17.

Referencing FIG. 8, a circuit for the goal pole 15 has been generally designated by the reference numeral 70. An LM555C Chip designated by the reference numeral 72 is activated by SPST “on/off” switch 74 to receive power from battery 75.

An impact-sensing switch has been generally indicated by the reference numeral 76 in FIG. 8. Switch 76 is electrically coupled to line 77 and, in response to sudden impacts it activates the LM555 chip U1 on its line 2. U2 activates the alarm and the goal pole display in response to a scoring hit from a kicked ball. Switch 76 can be constructed with the spiral spring arrangement 79 of FIG. 9 described later.

As seen in FIG. 9, switch 76 comprises a spring mass 79 that vibrates in response to any slight contact on the goal pole 15, first closing electrical contacts associated with switch 76 and then opening them. When switch 76 is closed, LM555 Chip 72 outputs a voltage on line 80 for a predetermined time. Voltage on line 80 activates driver transistor 86 (i.e., Q2) that activates visual array 44 comprising LED diodes D2-D6. Transistor 86 also turns on driver transistor 84 (i.e., Q3) that ultimately activates chip 73 (i.e., U2). U2 activates transistor 82 (i.e., Q1) that energizes DC motor 88 (i.e., shown electrically via symbol “M”) that activates and mechanically rotates the display device 26.

When transistor 84 activates U2, an internal, recordable sound section plays a prerecorded message through transducer 25 that acoustically warns nearby players of a score. Concurrently, transistor 86 operates the LED's D2D6 discussed earlier FIG. 9 shows spiral spring arrangement 79 that can function as switch 76 to trigger 555 Chip 72 (FIG. 8). An elongated, electrically conductive shaft 78 anchored to the device circuit board 34 is concentrically surrounded by a conductive, spiral spring element 75. In response to shock-inducing impacts with the goal pole, spring 75 physically contacts the shaft 78 to close the switching circuitry, that latches “on” for a predetermined time.

TABLE 1
Best Mode Circuit Components
Part NumberValueNotes
C1, C3, C5, C7, C90.01 mfd.Disc ceramic capacitors
C2, C4, C6, C8, C104.7 mfd.16 WVDC tubular
capacitors
R1, R2100k ohm¼ watt resistors
R5, R94.7k ohm¼ watt resistors
R41 meg. Ohm¼ watt resistor
R680k ohm¼ watt resistor
R3, R7, R8, R101k ohm¼ watt resistor
U1LM5551-shot timer
U21SD1610BDYSound chip
D11N212Rectifier Diode
D2, D3, D4, D5, D6LED'sHigh bright
M1DC Motor3.0-4.5 volts DC
SW1SwitchSpring activated
SW2SwitchSPST
SP8Speaker8-ohm, >1 watt pwr.
Q1, Q2, Q32N3904Transistors

Operation:

A player, or group of players, prepares to play a round of Soccer-Golf on a course designed exclusively for this game. After a few minutes of stretching and warming, up the first player places his ball on the teeing ground and prepares to start. The first hole on this course is about sixty yards long. The grass in the lane from the teeing ground through the putting ground is cut short and is highly manicured. The hole is downhill with the ground leaning towards the left. In the distance the target can be seen in the form of the Goal Pole 15. The Goal Pole 15 comprises an elongated stanchion 22 which supports an upper sensor 24 that house the electronics, sensing apparatus, motor, and battery power. Above the sensor housing 24 sits a display device 26 in the form of a small soccer ball which is enclosed in a clear, plastic spherical housing 27. The Goal Pole 15 is approximately three to four feet tall and is fastened within a conventional golf putting cup 17.

The first player kicks the ball with enough force that it flies for about thirty yards before rolling down the hill and stopping about thirty feet from the Goal Pole 15. A more delicate touch is required to move the ball towards the Goal Pole 15 and the second shot comes to rest inches from it. The third kick strikes the Goal Pole 15 causing the impact sensor 79 in the circuit board 34 to immediately activate three responses. The display device 26 (i.e., a small soccer ball in the best mode) on the Goal Pole 15 begins to spin quickly as a plurality of shiny, reflective panels 42 glisten brightly in the sunlight. A battery pack 37 (i.e., FIG. 6) powers a low power DC motor 35 that spins the ball 26, activates LED's 40 that flash, as well as a speaker 25 inside the housing 27 that audibly announces a score by emitting a prerecorded message such as “GOALL!”. These three responses are activated for several seconds before resetting itself for the next player. The number of strikes is recorded for that hole and the player(s) moves to the next hole.

Game Play:

Referring now to FIGS. 10- 12 of the accompanying drawings, a soccer-golf course has been generally designated by the reference numeral 108. In FIG. 11, the soccer-golf course 108 is shown as a nine-hole course designed exclusively for this game. The soccer-golf course can be of any number holes, with each hole 109 having a starting place(s), teeing ground 112, and a fairway 113 leading to the target 15. Each hole 109 is up to 100 yards in length and covered in grass, natural or artificial.

As shown in FIG. 12, a player(s) 110 places a soccer ball 111, of any size, on the teeing ground 112 and kicks it down the fairway 113 towards the target 15, a goal pole, trying to avoid collections areas 114 that would steer the ball away from the target 15. Once the ball 111 is in play it cannot be touched with anything but the players' feet.

FIG. 10 shows the player 110 approaching the ball 111 for the second shot after having avoided the collection areas 114 and keeping the ball in the fairway 113. The ball 111 has to be at rest before being kicked again. The player 110 kicks the ball 111 towards the target 15. The ball 111 comes to rest two feet from the target 15. The third kick strikes the target 15 causing it to respond by spinning a small ball on top, flashing LED lights, and audibly announcing the score with a loud prerecorded message.

The player(s) adds the number of kicks to get from the teeing area 112 to the target 15 and moves on the teeing area for the next hole 109. After a predetermined number of holes are played, the total number of kicks for all the holes played is added up with the lowest score being the winner.

From the foregoing, it will be seen that this invention is one well adapted to obtain all the ends and objects herein set forth, together with other advantages which are inherent to the structure.

It will be understood that certain features and sub combinations are of utility and may be employed without reference to other features and sub combinations.

As many possible embodiments may be made of the invention without departing from the scope thereof, it is to be understood that all matter herein set forth or shown in the accompanying drawings is to be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.