Title:
GOLF CLUB ALIGNMENT MARKINGS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A golf club is provided having alignment markings that assist a golfer in finding a desired setup position before addressing the ball. In one embodiment, a golf club according to the present invention includes a shaft having a substantially tubular shape, a club head having an upper surface, a lower surface, a toe end, a heel end, and a striking face disposed therebetween, and a hosel that couples the upper surface of the club head to the shaft. One or more alignment markings are disposed on the upper surface of the club head between the hosel and the heel end in a direction substantially parallel to the striking face. A proper setup is attained by a golfer when the shaft is seen by the golfer as substantially parallel to at least one of the alignment markings.



Inventors:
Pouliot, Jason (Corona Del Mar, CA, US)
Shmoldas, Andre (Solana Beach, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/553915
Publication Date:
03/11/2010
Filing Date:
09/03/2009
Assignee:
Premium Gold Brands, LLC (Corona Del Mar, CA, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
473/313, 473/340
International Classes:
A63B53/04; A63B69/36
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20070078018Golf range with automated ranging systemApril, 2007Kellogg et al.
20080039239Method of repairing divotsFebruary, 2008Jolly
20070037639Bat and method of manufacturing the sameFebruary, 2007Kobari et al.
20080242414Game devices with integrated gyrators and methods for use therewithOctober, 2008Rofougaran
20070093315Air-resistance reducing golf club headApril, 2007Kang
20020142867Method of play and training device for development of soccer skillsOctober, 2002Peterson et al.
20090253525Detachable cue tip assemblies and cue sticks having sameOctober, 2009Lickfold
200701352241-4 Player bulls eye putting gameJune, 2007Miller
20040121862Training device for batting and pitchingJune, 2004Socci
20090191929GOLF SIMULATOR CONNECTED TO THE INTERNETJuly, 2009Nicora
20010027136Golf club alignment deviceOctober, 2001Chris



Primary Examiner:
PASSANITI, SEBASTIANO
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MITCHELL P. BROOK (San Diego, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A golf club comprising: a shaft having a substantially tubular shape; a club head having an upper surface, a lower surface, a toe end, a heel end, and a striking face disposed therebetween; a hosel coupling the upper surface to an end of the shaft; and one or more alignment markings disposed on the upper surface substantially parallel to the striking face, the one or more alignment markings being disposed between the hosel and the heel end, whereby a proper line of sight is attained by a golfer positioned over a ball to be struck when the shaft is seen by the golfer as substantially parallel to at least one of the one or more alignment markings.

2. The golf club of claim 1, wherein the golf club is a putter.

3. The golf club of claim 1, wherein the club head is formed integrally with the hosel.

4. The golf club of claim 1, wherein the hosel comprises, a lower portion extending from a recess in the upper surface, the recess being adjacent to the striking face, and an upper portion configured for receiving the end of the shaft.

5. The golf club of claim 4, wherein the lower portion extends substantially perpendicular to the striking face and an upper portion.

6. The golf club of claim 4, wherein the lower portion extends forwardly diagonally from the recess and further extends substantially perpendicular to the striking face.

7. The golf club of claim 4, wherein the upper portion comprises a socket having a closed end and an open end, the closed end being coupled to the lower portion and the open end being oriented upwardly of the club head to receive the end of the shaft.

8. The golf club of claim 4, wherein the club head comprises, a front member including the striking face and a rail that extends rearwardly of the strike face from the toe end to the heel end, the recess being defined within the rail; a rear member parallel to the front member, the middle member being U-shaped with upwardly extending outer portions and with a central portion recessed in relation to the rail, and a middle member interposed between the front member and the rear member, the middle member being U-shaped and having upwardly extending outer portions and a recessed central portion juxtaposed to, and forming an essentially continuous channel with, the central portion of the rear member.

9. The golf club of claim 8, wherein the recess is a depression in the proximity of the toe end, and wherein the toe end is raised in relation to the lower portion of the hosel.

10. The golf club of claim 8, wherein outer portions of the middle member have ends that are channel shaped and that are downwardly inclined toward the central portion of the middle member.

11. The gold club of claim 8, wherein the outer portions of the rear member are rounded and downwardly inclined toward the central portion of the rear member.

12. The golf club of claim 1, wherein the one or more alignment markings are a plurality of parallel lines, or circular or elliptical segments, of different lengths.

13. The golf club of claim 1, wherein the one or more alignment markings are a plurality of parallel lines, or circular or elliptical segments, of different widths.

14. The golf club of claim 1, wherein the one or more alignment markings are of different colors.

15. The golf club of claim 14, wherein there are two alignment markings, one white and the other one red.

16. The golf club of claim 1, wherein there are two alignment markings spaced apart at a distance less than a diameter of the shaft.

17. The golf shaft of claim 16, wherein the two alignment markings are disposed adjacently to the striking face.

18. The golf club of claim 1, wherein the one or more alignment markings are painted, etched, or shaped as one or more grooves on the upper surface.

19. The golf club of claim 1, wherein the one or more alignment markings are a plurality of alignment markings, and wherein the plurality of alignment markings are disposed at such a distance one from the other that a proper line of sight is attained by a golfer positioned over a ball to be struck when the shaft is seen by the golfer as substantially parallel to at least one of the plurality of alignment markings and is further seen as obscuring at least one of the one or more of the plurality of alignment markings.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/094,749, filed Sep. 5, 2008, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a golf club, and more particularly to a golf club having one or more alignment markings that assist a golfer in a proper positioning of the club before a golf swing.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

A golfer may be unable to achieve a desired game level due to a poor setup position before swinging the club. With proper setup, a golfer can create power and control the direction of a swing. A golfer's ability to address the ball properly, that is, to have the golf club (including irons, woods, drivers and putters) impact the ball with proper position and alignment, is often a distinguishing feature between a skilled and a relatively unskilled golfer.

In order to assist a golfer in finding a proper setup position, golf clubs have been developed that include visual indicia of a desired direction of contact position between club head and ball. Such visual indicia include markings disposed on the upper surface of the club head, for example, one or more lines that are perpendicular to the striking face of the club head, or one or more grooves or notches that also are perpendicular to the striking face of the club head. Other golf clubs have been developed that include combinations of lines on the club head and on the shaft, or combinations of lines on the club head and on the ball, which must be aligned to achieve a proper club position. Examples of these types of golf clubs are described in U.S. Pat. No. 1,631,594 to Redman; U.S. Pat. No. 4,128,244 to Duclos; U.S. Pat. No. 5,564,990 to Weeks; U.S. Pat. No. 5,690,556 to Condon; U.S. Pat. No. 5,704,851 to Lucetti; U.S. Pat. No. 5,755,625 to Jackson; U.S. Pat. No. 6,447,401 to Torkos; U.S. Pat. No. 6,551,195 to Byrne et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 6,722,998 to Miller; U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,796,911 and 7,048,639, both to Grace; U.S. Pat. No. 7,066,829 to Lister; U.S. Pat. No. D404,450 to Weeks; and U.S. Pat. Nos. D502,233, D502,234, and D502,236, all to Grace.

U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,564,990 and D404,450, both to Weeks, illustrate a putter having an alignment indicator on the upper surface of the club head that includes two lines that are parallel to the striking face and that include a center marking disposed therebetween. Such an arrangement requires a positioning of the golf shaft between parallel lines that may be too laborious for a golfer that is intent on concentrating on other aspects of the game.

Golf clubs having hosels also are known and have become increasingly popular. A hosel operates as a connector between the head and the shaft of the golf club and can influence balance, feel and power of the club. Some modern hosels are designed to place as little mass as possible over the top portion of the club head, especially in open top head designs, causing a lowering of the center of gravity of the club. Examples of golf clubs having hosels and also having alignment indicia are described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,014,992 to McCallister; U.S. Pat. No. 5,226,654 to Solheim; U.S. Pat. No. 5,255,919 to Johnson; U.S. Pat. No. 6,409,610 to Ahn et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 6,422,949 to Byrne et al.; and U.S. Pat. No. 6,817,953 to Farmer. One drawback of known hosel designs is a twisting of the hosel during a club swing and also during the subsequent impact with the ball, causing a loss of accuracy of the shot.

To obviate such drawbacks, club designs have been developed, in which the lower end of the hosel is coupled to the club head within a cavity in a central position on the upper portion of the club head, such that the point of impact with the golf ball is disposed directly in front of the point of attachment of the shaft with the club head. Indicia may be disposed on the club head perpendicularly to the striking face, in order to assist the golfer in finding the most desirable direction of impact with the ball. This club design causes the impact force applied to the striking face to travel up the shaft, giving the golfer a more sensitive feel for the stroke. In variants of this design, the lower end of the hosel is recessed into the club as closely as possible to the center of gravity of the club head, so to reduce the torque applied to the golf club at the time of impact with the ball. Examples of these types of golf clubs are described in U.S. Pat. No. 3,042,405 to Solheim; U.S. Pat. No. 6,350,208 to Ford; U.S. Pat. No. 7,086,957 to Solheim et al.; and in U.S. Patent Application Publication Nos. 2007/0093313 to Johnson and 2007/0117646 to Solari. Unfortunately, this club design also reduces the moment of inertia of the golf club by reducing the imaginary lever arm between the end of the hosel and the center of gravity of the head, which causes a corresponding reduction in the energy transferred from the golf club to the ball.

Accordingly, it is desired to provide a golf club having visual indicia that enable a golfer to optimize setup at the time of the stroke, such that the striking face will travel along an optimized direction of travel and with an optimized inclination with respect to the ground.

It is also desired to provide a golf club that maximizes the precision of the shot by minimizing the torque exerted on the club head at the time of impact with the ball.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a golf club having one or more alignment or set-up markings that assist a golfer in finding a desired setup position before addressing the ball, and that further assist the golfer in attaining such a desired setup position consistently. These alignment or set-up markings preferably are positioned on the upper surface of the club head, most preferably in the proximity of the heel end. A golf club constructed according to the principles of the present invention may be configured in a variety of shapes, for example, as a putter, iron, driver or wood.

In one embodiment, a golf club includes a shaft, a club head having an upper surface, a lower surface, opposite toe and heel ends, and a striking face disposed therebetween. The golf club further includes a hosel coupling the upper surface of the club head to the shaft. One or more alignment markings are disposed on the upper surface of the club head in a direction substantially parallel to the striking face, and are preferably positioned between the hosel and the heel end. For example, two parallel alignment markings may be imprinted on the upper surface of the club head, and a proper line of sight would then be attained by a golfer standing over a ball to be struck when the shaft is seen by the golfer as substantially parallel to the one of the alignment marking and as obscuring the other alignment marking.

The hosel includes a lower portion extending forwardly of the striking face and an upper portion shaped to receive the end of the shaft. Further, the hosel may be formed integrally with the club head, or club head and hosel may be separate components that are assembled together. In one embodiment, the lower portion of the hosel extends forwardly of the striking face in a direction substantially perpendicular to the striking face, while the upper portion of the hosel extends upwardly of the lower portion and is shaped as a socket receiving the lower end of the shaft.

The club head may have a plurality of configurations. In one embodiment, the club head includes a front member formed by the striking face and by a rail extending rearwardly of the striking face from the toe end to the heel end; a rear member parallel to the front member, which is U-shaped with upwardly extending outer portions and a recessed central portion; and a middle member interposed between the front member and the rear member, which is also U-shaped with upwardly extending outer portions and a recessed central portion. The central portions of the middle and rear members are juxtaposed one to the other to form an essentially continuous channel.

The outer portions of the middle member may have ends that are channel shaped and that are inclined downwardly in the direction of the central portion, while the outer portions of the rear member may be rounded and inclined also downwardly in the direction of the central portion.

In a preferred embodiment, the lower portion of the hosel extends forwardly of the striking face from a recess, which is defined by a depression in the rail of the front member near the heel end.

When more than one alignment marking is present, the alignment markings on the club head may be configured as lines of different lengths and/or different widths, as circular or elliptical segments also of equal or different lengths and/or widths, or as combinations thereof. Further, such alignment markings may be of different colors, for example, white and red.

Further, the alignment markings may be painted or etched on the upper surface of the golf club, or may be shaped as grooves sculpted on the upper surface. When there are two parallel alignment markings, the first and the second markings may be disposed adjacently to the striking face and spaced apart at a distance less than a diameter of the shaft.

These and other features and advantages of the present invention will be appreciated from review of the following detailed description of the invention, along with the accompanying figures in which like reference numerals refer to like parts throughout.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Exemplary embodiments of the invention will be explained in detail with reference to the following figures, in which like reference numerals refer to like parts throughout:

FIG. 1 is a top perspective view of a golf club according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a detail perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a top view of the embodiment of FIG. 1 in a proper striking position;

FIG. 4 is a top view of the embodiment of FIG. 1 in an improper striking position;

FIG. 5 is a detail perspective view of exemplary markings on a golf club according to the invention;

FIG. 6 is a detail perspective view of exemplary markings on a golf club according to the invention;

FIG. 7 is a detail perspective view of exemplary markings on a golf club according to the invention;

FIG. 8 is a detail perspective view of exemplary markings on a golf club according to the invention;

FIG. 9 is a detail perspective view of exemplary markings on a golf club according to the invention;

FIG. 10 is a detail perspective view of exemplary markings on a golf club according to the invention;

FIG. 11 is a detail perspective view of exemplary markings on a golf club according to the invention;

FIG. 12 is a detail perspective view of exemplary markings on a golf club according to the invention;

FIG. 13 is a detail perspective view of exemplary markings on a golf club according to the invention; and

FIG. 14 is a detail perspective view of exemplary markings on a golf club according to the invention.

It will be recognized that some or all of the figures are schematic representations for purposes of illustration and do not necessarily depict the actual relative sizes or locations of the elements shown.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

In the following paragraphs, the present invention will be described in detail by way of example with reference to the drawings. Throughout this description, the preferred embodiment and examples shown should be considered as exemplars, rather than as limitations on the present invention. As used herein, the “present invention” refers to any one of the embodiments of the invention described herein, and any equivalents. Reference to various feature(s) of the “present invention” throughout this document does not mean that all claimed embodiments or methods must include the referenced feature(s).

Referring first to FIG. 1, a first embodiment of a golf club 10 according to the present invention includes a shaft 12 (only a portion of which is shown in FIG. 1), a club head 14, and a hosel 16 coupling club head 14 to shaft 12. While golf club 10 is illustrated in the shape of a putter, a person skilled in the art will appreciate that golf club 10 may be constructed in a variety of other shapes, such as a wood or an iron.

Shaft 12, club head 14 and hosel 16 may be produced from a variety of materials. For example, shaft 10, club head 14 and hosel 16 may be made of steel, but some or all of the components of golf club 10 may also be manufactured from other metallic or nonmetallic materials. To cite just one example, a carbon composite material may be employed when the ability to drive the ball to longer distances is of greater concern than the accuracy of the shot.

Club head 14 is defined by a lower surface 18 (often identified as the “sole” in the golf trade), an upper surface 20, a toe end 22, and a heel end 24, which collectively delimit a front face 26 (often identified as the “striking face” in the golf trade) and a rear face 28 opposite to front face 26. Club head 14 may be shaped like an essentially oblong block with rounded edges, or may include one or more cavities in the upper portion that cause the center of gravity of club head 14 to be situated in a lower position. Further, striking face 26 may be inclined at an angle (often identified as the “loft” in the golf trade) with respect to the vertical axis of club head 14, and maybe polished to a smooth finish or carry grooves or ridges in a variety of patterns that are known in the art.

In the illustrated embodiment, club head 14 is composed of a front member 30, which defines the front portion of club head 14; a rear member 32, which is parallel to front member 30 and defines the rear portion of club head 14; and a middle member 34, which is interposed between front member 30 and rear member 32.

Front member 30 includes front face 26, which is the surface of impact of golf club 10 with a ball, and further includes a rail 36, which extends rearwardly of front face 26 from toe end 22 to heel end 24. Hosel 16 is coupled to club head 14 in a depression or recess 38, which is carved within rail 36 in the proximity of heel end 24, as described in greater detail hereinbelow.

Middle member 34 is generally U-shaped, with opposing and parallel arms 40 and 42 and with a connecting central portion 44 that extends between arms 40 and 42, so to define a central cavity within club head 14. Arms 40 and 42 have free ends, which are identified respectively with reference numerals 46 and 48 and which are shaped like channels or grooves inclined downwardly toward connecting portion 44. Middle member 34 generally has a lower height than front member 30, and rail 36 may wrap around middle member 34, as shown in FIG. 1, where rail 36 is depicted as wrapping around middle member 34 at heel end 24.

Rear member 32 is also generally U-shaped, with opposing and parallel arms 50 and 52. A connecting central portion 54 extends between arms 50 and 52 and defines a central cavity within club head 14 that is a continuation of central connecting portion 44, such that central connecting portions 44 and 54jointly provide a channel within club head 14 that extends rearwardly from rail 36 in an essentially perpendicular direction.

Free ends 56 and 58 are rounded and inclined downwardly toward connecting portion 54, with profiles different from groove-shaped ends 46 and 48, and generally have a lower height than ends 46 and 48 of middle member 34.

The above described configuration of club head 14 provides for a weight balancing between toe end 22 and heel end 24, thereby increasing the moment of inertia of club head 14 and resistance to twisting of club head 14 when the ball is struck off the “sweet spot” of striking face 26. Additionally, the channel defined by connecting portions 44 and 54 provides a visual guide to the golfer for aiming in the direction of the ball.

Hosel 16 couples shaft 12 to club head 14 and, in the illustrated embodiment, extends outwardly and forwardly of front face 26. As shown in greater detail in FIG. 2, hosel 16 is composed of a lower portion 60, shaped like an arm extending from depression 38, and of an upper portion 62, shaped like a socket having a cavity oriented upwards that is configured for receiving the lower end of shaft 12. The socket of upper portion 62 and the lower end of shaft 12 may be joined using one or more techniques known in the art, such as adhesive bonding, welding, or interference fit.

Hosel 16 may be integrally formed with club head 14, that is, club head 14 and hosel 16 may be a single piece, or hosel 16 may be a component that is separate from club head 14 and that is joined to club head 14 using a secondary operation, for example, by adhesive bonding, by welding, by coupling with one or more fasteners such screws, or, if plastic materials are employed, by co-molding or insert molding. When hosel 16 is provided as a separate component joined with club head 16 through a secondary operation, lower portion 60 may be configured to optimize such secondary operation, for example, may include an appendage that penetrates within club head 14 between front member 30 and middle member 34, increasing contact surfaces and/or mechanical interference between lower portion 60 of hosel 16 and club head 14.

Lower portion 60 is housed at least partly inside depression 38 and preferably extends perpendicularly or nearly perpendicularly from depression 38 in a forward direction, that is, toward the point of impact with the golf ball, causing upper portion 62 also to be disposed forwardly of front face 26. In particular, lower portion 60 may extend horizontally from depression 60, or may extend first diagonally (upwardly and outwardly) in the outermost area of lower portion 60, and then horizontally in the area of lower portion 60 that is joined to upper portion 62. This design configuration provides for an improved stroke precision, because by having hosel 16 disposed within depression 38, the distance between the centers of gravity of hosel 16 and club head 14 is reduced and any twisting of club head 14 during ball impact is correspondingly reduced. Stroke precision is further increased by having lower portion 60 act prevalently in tensile mode, while previous hosel designs that are S-shaped become subject to torsional stresses during ball impact, reducing stroke accuracy and also the transmission of energy to the ball because of the energy losses caused by the twisting of the club head. Disposing upper portion 62 in a forward position with respect to front face 26 also causes the longitudinal axis of shaft 12 to intersect a horizontal axis passing through the center of gravity of club head 14 before front face 26, providing an imaginary lever arm that increases the moment of inertia of golf club 10.

FIGS. 1-4 further show that club head 14 carries parallel markings on its upper face, which, in the illustrated embodiment, include a first marking 64 and a second marking 66. First and second markings 64 and 66 are shown shaped as linear segments, but in different embodiments of the invention, first and second markings 64 and 66 may have different shapes, for example, may be elliptical, circular, rectangular, or square, or a mixture thereof. Further, first and second markings 64 and 66 are shown in FIGS. 1-4 as having different lengths and widths, but in different embodiments of the invention, first and second markings 64 and 66 may have the same lengths and/or widths.

In addition, while the embodiment depicted in FIGS. 1-4 illustrates two parallel markings, a single marking or more than two parallel markings may alternatively be disposed on upper surface 20 of club head 14 and be configured to provide indicia that a golfer can use to find the desired setup.

FIGS. 5-14 illustrate a few, non-limiting examples of such alternative markings. FIG. 5 illustrates a first example, in which the markings on club head 14 consist of two parallel stripes 68 and 70 disposed on upper surface 20 in the proximity of heel end 24 and parallel to front face 26. In this first example, a longer and wider stripe 70 is adjacent to front face 26, and a shorter and narrower stripe 68 is parallel to stripe 70 and is situated farther away from front face 26 than stripe 70. Stripes 68 and 70 (and any other markings described herein) may be of the same color or of different colors, for example, stripe 68 may be white and stripe 70 may be red.

FIG. 6 illustrates a second example of alternative markings, in which a stripe 72 and an elliptical marking 74 are disposed parallel to front face 26, on upper surface 20 in the proximity of heel end 24. In this second example, elliptical marking 74 is disposed adjacent to front face 26 and stripe 72 is disposed at a greater distance from front face 26, however, a person skilled in the art will recognize that the lay-out of elliptical marking 74 and of stripe 72 could be inverted and that stripe 72 may be disposed adjacent to front face 26 and elliptical marking 74 at a greater distance from front face 26. Likewise, a person skilled in the art will recognize that stripe 72 and elliptical marking 74 may be of the same color or of different colors.

FIG. 7 illustrates a third example of alternative markings, in which a pair of elliptical markings are disposed on upper surface 20 parallel and adjacent to front face 26, and in the proximity of heel end 24. Even in this case, elliptical markings 76 and 78 may be of the same color or of different colors.

FIG. 8 illustrates a fourth example of alternative markings, in which two parallel rows of circular markings 80 are disposed adjacent and parallel to front face 26, extending longitudinally from heel end 22 on a portion of upper surface 20 to cause each row to appear in the form of a dashed line. While each row of circular markings 80 is depicted as having six circular markings 80, a person skilled in the art will appreciate that different numbers, sizes and colors of circular markings 80 fall within the scope of the present invention, and that markings 80 may have shapes other than circles (for example, square, oblong or elliptical shapes). In a variant of the present embodiment, different circular markings 80 within the same row may have different colors, with parallel circular markings (such as circular markings 81 and 83) in the same positions within the two rows having the same color, so that a golfer may detect color variations along the parallel rows and receive stronger visual indicia about the alignment of shaft 12 at different distances from the point of attachment of hosel 16 from club head 14. Alternatively, all circular markings 80 within the same row of circular markings 80 may be of the same color, and the two rows may be of the same color or of different colors.

The previously described examples include two parallel markings, either of which may be provided as a solid marking or alternatively as a plurality of markings disposed along an imaginary line parallel to front face 26. Still with reference to FIG. 5, if the distance between parallel stripes 68 and 70 is less than the diameter of shaft 12, a golfer can find a proper posture by aligning shaft 12 with the marking disposed farther away from striking face 26 (in FIG. 5, with stripe 68) causing the marking adjacent to striking face 26 (in FIG. 5, stripe 70) to become obscured. Instead, when the distance between parallel markings 68 and 70 is equal or larger than the diameter of shaft 12, a golfer achieves a proper posture by interposing the shaft between markings 68 and 70 along a direction parallel to markings 68 and 70.

More or fewer than two separate markings also may be employed. FIGS. 9-10 illustrate two examples having three parallel markings, and FIG. 11 instead illustrates an embodiment having a single marking. In particular, FIG. 9 illustrates three parallel markings 80, 82 and 84, each formed by circles disposed along imaginary lines parallel to front face 26, in the proximity of heel end 24. FIG. 10 instead illustrates three parallel markings 86, 88 and 90, two of which are shaped as stripes 86 and 88 disposed parallel to front face 26 and extending upwardly from heel end 24, while the third marking is shaped as an ellipse 90 disposed midways between parallel stripes 86 and 88. A person skilled in the art will recognize that may other multi-marking variations are possible and are still within the scope of the present invention. Other non-limiting examples may include altering the embodiment of FIG. 10 to have a stripe disposed between parallel ellipses, or employing other shapes, either imprinted as solid markings or as multi-piece markings, for example, as dashed or dotted lines. A person skilled in the art still will appreciate that the above described markings may be of a single color or of multiple colors.

In the examples of FIGS. 9-10, a golfer achieves a proper posture when shaft 12 is seen as surrounded by, and parallel to, the outermost markings (for example, stripes 86 and 88 in FIG. 10) and as obscuring the central marking (for example, ellipse 90 in FIG. 10) from the golfer's view. Should the central marking still be visible to the golfer, or should the outermost markings be seen as having directions transverse to shaft 12, then the golfer will readjust her posture until a parallel alignment of shaft 12 with the outer markings is achieved and the center marking disappears from her field of view.

FIG. 11 illustrates an alternative example, in which a single stripe 92 is disposed parallel to front face 26. In this embodiment, a proper posture is attained by the golfer when shaft 12 is seen as parallel to stripe 92 and “framed” by stripe 92. In a variant of this embodiment, stripe 92 is disposed at such a distance from front face 26 that, when the golfer has a proper posture, stripe 92 is seen as parallel and contacting shaft 12.

The markings described hereinbefore are disposed in the proximity of heel end 24 and, in the embodiments of FIGS. 1-11, extend over the curved portion of upper surface 20 that tapers towards heel end 24. In other embodiments of the invention, markings may be disposed on upper surface 20 that extend beyond the curved area of heel end 24 and into rail 36. FIGS. 12-14 illustrate three non-limiting examples, in which the markings extend from heel end 24 to depression 38 in rail 36.

In particular, FIG. 12 illustrates an example, in which two parallel markings 94 and 96 are situated parallel to front face 26, with a shorter, wider marking 94 situated adjacent to front face 26 and a longer, narrower marking 96 situated farther away from front face 26. Marking 96 extends from heel end 24 nearly as far as depression 38, and a comparison between FIGS. 6 and 12 shows that stripe 96 in FIG. 12 extends farther toward depression 38 than stripe 72 in FIG. 6. As previously noted, different shapes, dispositions and colors of marking could be employed in alternative to those depicted in FIG. 12, all of which shapes, dispositions and colors fall within the scope of the present invention. In the example of FIG. 12, a golfer attains a proper posture when shaft 12 is seen as parallel and between markings 94 and 96.

FIG. 13 illustrates instead an example of markings, in which three stripes 98, 100 and 102 (rather than two stripes) are disposed on the same or a similar portion of upper surface 20 as stripes 94 and 96 of FIG. 12. A golfer using a putter such as that depicted in FIG. 13 will attain a proper posture when shaft 12 is seen as disposed between, and parallel to, stripes 98 and 102, while stripe 100 will be not visible because obscured by shaft 12, in a manner similar to the clubs depicted in FIGS. 9-10.

FIG. 14 illustrates one more exemplary embodiment of the invention, in which more than three markings (in the illustrated embodiment, five stripes 104-112) are disposed on upper surface 20 in a direction parallel to front face 26, such that a golfer can find a proper posture not only by aligning shaft 12 in a direction parallel to stripes 104-112, but also by adjusting her setup by blocking certain stripes from view while allowing other stripes to be visible. Preferably, stripes 104-112 are of different colors, in order to assist the golfer in readily determining which stripes are blocked by shaft 12 from her field of view and which are still visible.

With continuing reference now to the embodiment depicted in FIGS. 1-4, first and second markings 64 and 66 are disposed in a direction essentially parallel and adjacent to front face 26. Preferably, first and second markings 64 and 66 are placed at a distance one from the other that is less than the diameter of shaft 12, so that a golfer having a proper setup and ready to strike a golf ball will see shaft 12 as parallel to first marking 64 and obscuring second marking 66. Instead, a golfer having an inappropriate setup will see both first marking 64 and second marking 66, as shown in FIG. 4, or see first marking 64 as having a direction transverse and not parallel to shaft 12. The golfer then can adjust her setup by aligning shaft 12 with first marking 64 and by having shaft 12 obscure second marking 66.

Alternatively, first and second markings 64 and 66 may be disposed at a distance one form the other that is equal or slightly larger than the diameter of shaft 12, so that a golfer having a proper setup will see shaft 12 as disposed between first and second markings 64 and 66 and parallel to those markings.

First and second markings 64 and 66, and any of the other markings described herein, may be painted or etched on club head 14, or may be configured as grooves sculpted on upper surface 20 of club head 14. Such grooves may be painted or not.

For a prompter detection of the relative positions of first and second markings 64 and 66, these markings may be of different sizes and colors, as described hereinabove. For example, first marking 64 may be longer and wider than second marking 66, providing for an easier alignment with shaft 12, and first marking 64 also may be white while second marking 66 may be red.

Club head 14 may also include additional indicia adapted to assist a golfer in achieving a proper impact with the ball. For example, a groove or notch may be carved on upper surface 20 of club head 14 perpendicularly to striking face 26 and in a position corresponding to the center of gravity of club head 14. Alternatively, a plurality of markings maybe positioned on upper surface 20 angularly to striking face 26 to form an arrowhead pattern and to indicate both the center of gravity of club head 14 and a direction of impact against the ball.

A method of use of a golf club according to the present invention will be described hereinbelow. The described method, for the sake of brevity, will relate to the use of the putter illustrated in FIGS. 1-4, but a person skilled in the art will appreciate that similar methods of use are applicable to other embodiments of the present invention.

While preparing to address a ball, the golfer will initially position his body by standing over the ball and by putting club head 14 on the ground just behind the ball. The golfer should stand far enough away, so that she can reach the ball with putter 10 comfortably and without a feeling of stretching out. Club head 10 should be held square with the ball.

The golfer will then adjust the position of club 10 by properly aligning shaft 12 along her line of sight with first and second markings 64 and 66. When first and second markings 40 and 42 are spaced apart at a distance that is less than the diameter of shaft 12, the golfer will align shaft 12 such that first marking 64 will be visible as parallel and adjacent to shaft 12 and as disposed on the opposite side of shaft 12 in relation to the ball, while second marking 66 will be obscured by shaft 12, in the arrangement shown in FIG. 3. The arrangement of FIG. 3 ensures that club head 14 is perpendicular to the ball and to the ground, so that the ball can be addressed at an optimal angle.

Instead, if the golfer can see both first marking 64 and second marking 66 as shown in FIG. 4, and/or if shaft 12 is seen as disposed at an angle in relation to first marking 66, then the golfer can rearrange the position of the club and/or her posture to achieve the club position illustrated in FIG. 3.

Alternatively, when first and second marking 64 and 66 are spaced apart at a distance equal or larger than the diameter of shaft 12, the golfer will achieve a proper posture by aligning shaft 12 in a parallel position between first and second markings 64 and 66.

By achieving a proper setup, head and body misalignment of the golfer are reduced, generating a more square and consistent stroke and reducing player fatigue. The body of the golfer also will be induced to develop a more natural swing arc, improving the quality of the stroke and the enjoyment of the game.

Thus, it is seen that a golf club having alignment markings is provided. One skilled in the art will appreciate that the present invention can be practiced by other than the above-described embodiments, which are presented in this description for purposes of illustration and not of limitation. The description and examples set forth in this specification and associated drawings only set forth embodiment(s) of the present invention. The specification and drawings are not intended to limit the exclusionary scope of this patent document. Many designs other than the above-described embodiments will fall within the literal and/or legal scope of the following claims, and the present invention is limited only by the claims that follow. It is noted that various equivalents for the particular embodiments discussed in this description may practice the invention as well.