Title:
GOLF TEE PLACEMENT AND PRACTICE APPARATUS AND SYSTEM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A golf tee apparatus and placement system may include a replaceable resilient flexible golf tee mechanically secured to an anchor to reduce the risk that the tee will move during play. And, like the legendary multi-function “Swiss Army Knife” the golf tee apparatus and placement system may further include a protective carrying sleeve and cover that does triple duty by also functioning as a high leverage tool and handle to ease placing tees on a grassy area.



Inventors:
Stiles, Craig Allan (Malta, MT, US)
Application Number:
12/562944
Publication Date:
03/25/2010
Filing Date:
09/18/2009
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
473/396, 473/402
International Classes:
A63B57/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WONG, STEVEN B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SEED INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW GROUP LLP (SEATTLE, WA, US)
Claims:
1. A golf tee apparatus, for positioning golf balls over a grassy area such as a golf teeing area or a driving range, the apparatus comprising: an elongate anchor shaft, having a pair of opposing ends and an auger blade secured there around, the shaft further having an anchor base tip at an inferior one of the opposing ends thereof to initiate and guide the insertion of the apparatus into soil of the grassy area, the auger blade to screw said apparatus into and out of the soil of the grassy area; an anchor head tee support, having a pair of opposing faces, an inferior one of the opposing faces thereof secured to a superior one of the opposing ends of said anchor shaft; a resilient flexible golf tee, positioned on a superior one of the pair of opposing faces of said anchor head tee support, to support a golf ball at a known height above the superior face of said anchor head tee support; and a collar to secure said resilient flexible golf tee to the superior face of said anchor head tee support while a user plays golf.

2. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein said collar is removable and a detachable fastener to detachably secure said resilient flexible golf tee to said anchor head tee support.

3. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein said golf tee is a pliant riser that is mechanically secured to the anchor head tee support by said collar.

4. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein said anchor shaft protrudes through the superior face of said anchor head tee support and further comprises a threaded alignment bolt operable to set the position of said resilient flexible golf tee on the superior face of said anchor head tee support.

5. The apparatus as claimed in claim 4 wherein said collar is removable and comprises a nut sized to thread on said threaded alignment bolt, the collar sized to fit over an inferior end of said resilient flexible golf tee and thereby secure said golf tee to said anchor head tee support.

6. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein said anchor head tee support comprises any polygonal substantially flat plate having at least three sides and points for gripping and rotating said apparatus in the course of screwing the apparatus into said soil.

7. A golf tee placement system, for reliably positioning golf balls over a grassy area such as a golf teeing area or a driving range, the system comprising: a golf tee apparatus, as claimed in claims 1 through 6; and an elongate hollow cover sleeve tool, having a body with two opposing ends, including: a first end with means for gripping said anchor head tee support; and a second end with means for gripping said collar, said first end sized and shaped so that when in use placing or removing a golf tee the cover sleeve tool can pass downward over said collar, without interference, to engage and gripingly engage said anchor head tee support from above; the body of said cover sleeve tool configured for use as a handle to manually screw or unscrew said golf tee apparatus into or out of the soil of said grassy area.

8. The system as claimed in claim 7 wherein said cover sleeve tool is of a length and breadth sufficient to house and encase at least the entire anchor shaft, auger blade and anchor base tip during transport, to protect a user from the risk of injury and exposure to residual soil.

9. The system as claimed in claim 7 the body of said cover sleeve tool further comprises a telescoping portion to adjust a distance between said first and said second ends to thereby permit collapsing for storage or extending to house and encase the resilient flexible golf tee during transportation or storage.

10. A golf tee placement system, for reliably positioning golf balls over a grassy area, the system comprising: a golf tee apparatus; and a hollow cover sleeve for a use alternately as: a handle and tool to manually screw or unscrew said golf tee apparatus into or out of soil of said grassy area; and a protective cover inside which said golf tee apparatus is transported or stored.

11. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein any edges of said collar are both offset and inset from any edges of said anchor head tee support so as to permit the cover sleeve tool of claims 7 to 11 to be applied from above with said cover sleeve tool griping the edges of the anchor head tee support thereby permitting a user to screw the golf tee apparatus into the soil.

12. The apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein the anchor head tee support comprises any non-circular curvilinear plate adapted to prevent slippage between the cover sleeve tool of claims 7 to 11 and said anchor head tee support.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims benefit under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/098,581, filed Sep. 19, 2008 and entitled “GOLF TEE PLACEMENT AND PRACTICE APPARATUS AND SYSTEM,” which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

1. Technical Field

The present disclosure relates generally to golfing practice and more particularly to the reliable and accurate placement and storage of durable reusable golf tees.

2. Description of the Related Art

Conventional golf tees lack endurance and tend to move when one hits a golf ball and comes in contact with the tee forcing the need to pick the tee up, replace the tee and reset the height. Newer tee designs are more complex and more expensive than conventional wooden tees, but on impact the tee may tilt or pivot from the head in order to absorb the impact and not fly away or break. Despite these efforts there remains a need for a golf tee that may be easily placed and used repeatedly without breakage or loss. Various attempts have also been made to invent a tool to accurately place these new reusable tees. The following four approaches have been considered, where the reference numbers are those used in the respective patents or patent application.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,905,999 to Voinovich et al in 1990 teaches a practice tee with a flexible tubular top and a threaded anchor that is screwed into the ground using a detachable handle that is a tool (much like a T-handled Allen-key) inserted downward through the center of the hollow tubular member 18. Disadvantageously, the tool serves no other purpose and is relatively cumbersome. Voinovich teaches that tee height is set by screwing or pressing the tee into the ground to a level where the lower end of the tubular member is substantially coincident with the ground. Disadvantageously, there is provided no base member or other reliable indicator that the correct height setting has been achieved, which deficiency causes the user to take the time needed to visually verify (e.g., by bending low to ground level and looking into the grass) that the depth setting is accurate—or leads to inconsistency in setting tee height. Tubular member 18 is connected by stretching it over serrations 34 and 36 resulting in a friction fit to anchor member 20 such that the flexible tee is replaceable, but it remains subject to being torn away from the anchor with sufficient lateral force during golfing.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,085,431 to McGuire in 1992 similarly teaches a golf tee with a pliant riser and a rigid anchor but having no base member to offer lateral support or facilitate rapid insertion to the correct height setting. McGuire teaches a color coded or altered texture tee height indicator 30 marked on the outside of riser 22, which indicator requires visual verification to set consistently. In use McGuire's tee is screwed or pressed in to the desired height at which anchor shoulder 48 could be below grade such that the ground can provide some lateral support to resist tee leaning. Similarly, the placement tool taught by McGuire is in three primary components, namely a handle, shaft, and sleeve, that could be one piece or detachable and thus more compactly stored. However, the tool of McGuire includes a relatively thin tool shaft and sharp stabilizing tip 76 that creates a risk of injury or damage to clothing if placed in a user's pocket. Disadvantageously, like that of Voinovich the placement tool serves no other purpose. Pliant riser 22 is apparently replaceable, but with greater difficulty than that of Voinovich. Anchor 23 has a head 40 that sits inside the hollow core of pliant riser 22 above riser base disc 32 that McGuire indicates may be glued or welded in place above anchor shoulder 48. From FIG. 3 it is not entirely clear how the change of flexible tees could occur if riser base disc 32 is rigid. It may be that the lower end of pliant riser 22 is simply stretched to fit over head 40 resulting in a friction fit that remains subject to being torn away from the anchor with sufficient lateral force during golfing. The McGuire patent starting at column 1 line 44 sets out the disadvantages of some prior art.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,728,013 to Luther in 1998 similarly teaches a crude placement tool (Luther, FIG. 4) that is inserted downward through the center core of the tee (rubbery elastic tube 15) suitable for either pressing or threading spike 12 into the ground so as to visually set the tee height of the tubular body. Rubbery elastic tube 15 is friction fit into body 10, such that it is also replaceable. Luther teaches making the inner diameter of body 10 slightly smaller than the outer diameter of tube 15 and then suggests an H cut creating flaps to enhance the friction if needed, but the resulting friction fit remains subject to being torn away from the anchor with sufficient lateral force during golfing.

Disadvantageously, by engaging the placement tool to the tee through the narrow bore of the flexible riser—all of these approaches employ variants on a tool design that suffer from a relatively small surface area for connection between the placement tool and the tee during the screwing or pressing action needed for placement. This small surface area increases the likelihood of tool slippage and wear while also resulting in a sharp slender tool shaft—without any substantive counter benefit.

US application 2007/0202966 by Lipidarov teaches a smooth-edged round supporting disc 22 that could conceivably be adapted to the designs of Voinovich, McGuire, or Luther in order to enhance lateral stability and facilitate accurately setting tee height without the need for visual verification to set consistently. Even in Lipidarov's FIG. 8 illustrating an embodiment having an auger like spiral fin 50 on base stake 26, Lipidarov disadvantageously teaches no placement tool and instead apparently relies on the user grasping either cylinder 20 or supporting disc 22 in order to screw the tee into the ground to the correct height set by the base. Given that Lipidarov purports to teach a high-endurance flexible cylinder design—the use of cylinder 20 to screw the tee into the ground would be an unsatisfactory point at which to grasp the tee particularly for use in dry harder ground. Similarly many users would find it unacceptable to grasp the smooth or even sharp edges of supporting disc 22 with their finger tips thus exposed to discomfort and their fingernails exposed to the soil against which that disc is to be firmly positioned. This design makes it difficult to place or remove the tee because there is no rigid handle-like surface, placement tool, or other external means for golf tee manipulation. Flexible cylinder 20 is centered on and relies on support disc 22 for strength and stability. Lipidarov teaches that tube 24 is centered under support disc 22 but he fails to clearly set out how the three components are connected. According to the best embodiment shown in FIG. 8 it appears that cylinder 20, disc 22, and tube 24 may all be molded together as a single part that is connected to the anchor stake 26 by threads. In this “best case” there is an ostensibly mechanical connection from below to help resist the tee being torn from the anchor with sufficient lateral force during golfing—however because Lipidarov teaches that tube 24 is also “made of soft flexible material” the inner threads connecting it are thus soft and flexible, thereby reducing its effect to that of a friction fit like the serrations of Voinovich.

It is thus desirable to achieve a golf tee design based on a flexible tee that is mechanically secured to the anchor rather than merely frictionally fit thereto. Similarly it is desirable to identify a placement tool design providing a larger working surface area for engagement between the tool and the tee.

Design patent 348,296 to Salonica merely shows a stylish auger on the exterior of a conventional tee.

BRIEF SUMMARY

A golf tee apparatus, for positioning golf balls over a grassy area such as a golf teeing area or a driving range may be summarized as including an elongate anchor shaft, having opposing ends and an auger blade secured there around, the shaft further having an anchor base tip at the inferior end thereof for initiating and guiding the insertion of the apparatus into the soil of the grassy area, the auger blade being adapted for screwing said apparatus into and out of the soil of the grassy area; an anchor head tee support, having opposing faces, located at and the inferior face thereof secured to the superior end of said anchor shaft; a resilient flexible golf tee, positioned on the superior face of said anchor head tee support, for supporting a golf ball a known height above the superior face of said anchor head tee support; and a collar, for securing said resilient flexible golf tee to the superior face of said anchor head tee support while a user plays golf. Said collar may be removable and may have detachable fastening means for detachably securing said resilient flexible golf tee to said anchor head tee support. Said golf tee may a pliant riser that may be mechanically secured to the anchor head tee support by said collar.

Said anchor shaft may protrude through the superior face of said anchor head tee support and may further include a threaded alignment bolt, for setting the position of said resilient flexible golf tee on the superior face of said anchor head tee support. Said collar may be removable and may include a suitably sized nut adapted to thread on to said threaded alignment bolt, the collar being sized so as to fit over the inferior end of said resilient flexible golf tee and thereby secure said golf tee to said anchor head tee support. Said anchor head tee support may include any polygonal substantially flat plate having at least 3 sides and points for gripping and rotating said apparatus in the course of screwing the apparatus into said soil.

A golf tee placement system, for reliably positioning golf balls over a grassy area such as a golf teeing area or a driving range may be summarized as including a golf tee apparatus; and an elongate hollow cover sleeve tool, having a body with two opposing ends, including: a first end with means for gripping said anchor head tee support; and a second end with means for gripping said collar, said first end being sized and shaped so that when in use placing or removing a golf tee the cover sleeve tool can pass downward over said collar, without interference, to engage and gripingly engage said anchor head tee support from above; the body of said cover sleeve tool being adapted for a use as a handle to manually screw or unscrew said golf tee apparatus into or out of the soil of said grassy area. Said cover sleeve tool may be of a length and breadth sufficient to house and encase at least the entire anchor shaft, auger blade and anchor base tip during transport, for protecting a user from the risk of injury and exposure to residual soil.

The body of said cover sleeve tool may further include a telescoping segment for permitting a variable distance between said first and second ends thereby collapsing for storage or extending to house and encase the resilient flexible golf tee during transportation or storage.

A golf tee placement system, for reliably positioning golf balls over a grassy area may be summarized as including a golf tee apparatus; and a hollow cover sleeve for a use alternately as: a handle and tool to manually screw or unscrew said golf tee apparatus into or out of the soil of said grassy area; and a protective cover inside which said golf tee apparatus is transported or stored. The edges of said collar may both be offset and inset from the edges of said anchor head tee support so as to permit the cover sleeve tool to be applied from above with said cover sleeve tool griping the edges of the anchor head tee support thereby permitting a user to screw the golf tee apparatus into the soil. The anchor head tee support may include any non-circular curvilinear plate adapted to prevent slippage between the cover sleeve tool and said anchor head tee support.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention, in order to be easily understood and practiced, is set out in the following non-limiting examples shown in the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is an illustration of one embodiment of the apparatus of the present invention in perspective view.

FIG. 2 is an illustration of a side view one embodiment of the apparatus of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is an illustration of one embodiment of the system of the present invention in perspective view showing the golf tee apparatus inside its cover sleeve tool.

FIG. 4 is an illustration of an alternate embodiment of the apparatus of the present invention showing a removable threaded collar.

FIGS. 5A and 5B are illustrations of another embodiment of the system of the present invention in exploded view with 2 cover sleeve tools—one being inverted to show the inferior end.

In the drawings, identical reference numbers identify similar elements or acts. The sizes and relative positions of elements in the drawings are not necessarily drawn to scale. For example, the shapes of various elements and angles are not drawn to scale, and some of these elements are arbitrarily enlarged and positioned to improve drawing legibility. Further, the particular shapes of the elements as drawn, are not intended to convey any information regarding the actual shape of the particular elements, and have been solely selected for ease of recognition in the drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In the following description, certain specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of various disclosed embodiments. However, one skilled in the relevant art will recognize that embodiments may be practiced without one or more of these specific details, or with other methods, components, materials, etc. In other instances, well-known structures associated with golf tees have not been shown or described in detail to avoid unnecessarily obscuring descriptions of the embodiments.

Unless the context requires otherwise, throughout the specification and claims which follow, the word “comprise” and variations thereof, such as, “comprises” and “comprising” are to be construed in an open, inclusive sense, that is as “including, but not limited to.”

Reference throughout this specification to “one embodiment” or “an embodiment” means that a particular feature, structure or characteristic described in connection with the embodiment is included in at least one embodiment. Thus, the appearances of the phrases “in one embodiment” or “in an embodiment” in various places throughout this specification are not necessarily all referring to the same embodiment. Further more, the particular features, structures, or characteristics may be combined in any suitable manner in one or more embodiments.

As used in this specification and the appended claims, the singular forms “a,” “an,” and “the” include plural referents unless the content clearly dictates otherwise. It should also be noted that the term “or” is generally employed in its sense including “and/or” unless the content clearly dictates otherwise.

The headings and Abstract of the Disclosure provided herein are for convenience only and do not interpret the scope or meaning of the embodiments.

According to FIG. 1 there is illustrated one embodiment of a golf tee apparatus denoted generally as 100 and sometimes hereinafter referred to as Mr. Twist-Tee. An anchor sub-assembly is comprised of anchor shaft 110 operably connected to auger blade 120 suitable for twisting into the type of grass covered soil (not shown) typically associated with a golfing tee area, driving range, or lawn. Anchor head tee support 130 terminates the anchor sub-assembly and is adapted to support a replaceable golf tee preferably in the form of a pliant riser 150 positioned on and secured thereto by any suitable means such as collar 140 shown, according to one embodiment, operably connected to anchor head tee support 130 using mechanical fasteners 145 such as any suitable screw or bolt & nut combination.

According to a preferred embodiment, collar 140 is removable and threads onto a suitable alignment post (not shown) protruding from the top of anchor shaft 110 a short distance through anchor head tee support 130. The alignment post is typically a threaded extension of shaft 110 and used to both center and mechanically secure pliant riser 150 to the superior end of the anchor sub-assembly.

Pliant riser 150 is typically an elongate and generally tubular member that may be formed from any suitable flexible material such as natural or synthetic rubber. According to a preferred embodiment, pliant riser 150 is formed from a light-weight highly-durable rubber formula similar to that used by the Rhinehart company manufacturing lamb nipples for feeding baby animals, which rubber composition and wall thickness has been shown to be very resistant to physical abrasion by golf clubs while still being sufficiently rigid to support a golf ball.

Anchor base tip 105 is preferably a straight spike-like portion having no auger blade and seen at the bottom of anchor shaft 110. Anchor base tip 105 is used to initiate penetration into the soil so as to stabilize the auger blade and reduce the risk of damage to the grassy area while thereafter guiding the insertion of the apparatus into the soil. The function of anchor base tip 105 when pressed into the soil is similar to that of a pilot hole drilled at a carefully selected location to start a larger hole.

Auger blade 120 is any suitable rigid material capable of cutting smoothly through soil. Metal, ceramic, plastic, wood and other materials may be used according to criteria such as cost and application. Typically a functional (i.e., not a ceremonial gift) embodiment of the apparatus would be based on an anchor sub-assembly molded from good quality plastic and having the base tip 105, anchor shaft 110, auger blade 120, and anchor head tee support 130 all produced at once as a single integrated component to which the golf tee would later be attached. In a less expensive (e.g., promotional) throw away embodiment the golf tee could be permanently attached. However, in a better quality embodiment collar 140 and pliant riser 150 are detachable from anchor head tee support 130.

Depending upon user preference and golfing conditions, pliant riser 150 may be installed in different lengths so as to support a golf ball at different preferred heights above a grassy area.

According to FIG. 2 there is illustrated a cut away side view of the same embodiment seen in FIG. 1, but in which it is made apparent how collar 140 is installed over the base of pliant riser 150. Although mechanical fasteners 145 are shown, it is to be understood that any suitable means for detachably interlocking pliant riser 150 to the superior face of anchor head tee support 130 at the top of the anchor sub-assembly may be used, according to appearance and cost considerations.

According to FIG. 3 there is illustrated one embodiment of the system, according to which cover sleeve tool 300 is a simple tubular member that golf tee apparatus 100 slides inside for storage. As shown the body of cover sleeve tool 300 is a smooth moderately sized cylinder that provides a good grip for a typical human hand and as such functions well as a handle. Tool contact area 310 is shown as a hexagonal face molded or machined into the superior end of the body of cover sleeve tool 300, however it is to be understood that any polygon or non-circular shape could be used for the tool to grip anchor head tee support 130 and permit a user to apply a rotational force to screw golf tee apparatus 100 into or out of soil. The diameter of the upper or superior end 305 of the tool as shown is larger than the lower or inferior end 306—so that tool opening 310 can slide over collar 140 (shown as a hexagonal plate with screw fasteners) to engage the inferiorly positioned anchor head tee support 130 and frictionally grip it so as to allow a user turning cover sleeve tool 300 to screw golf tee apparatus 100 into or out of the soil of a suitable grassy area. Further, when cover sleeve tool 300 is inverted, the smaller diameter of the lower or inferior end 306 is sized so that so that tool opening 315 engages collar 140 and is thus unable to pass over it to reach anchor head tee support 130. When so inverted cover sleeve tool 300 is used, on suitably equipped embodiments, to unthread collar 140 from alignment post/threaded extension 405 of shaft 110 and thus permit the removal of collar 140 so as to effect the replacement of pliant riser 150.

According to FIG. 4 there is illustrated a preferred embodiment of the apparatus, in which collar 140 is a threaded nut and the threaded extension 405 of shaft 110 is visible. When a user is replacing a worn pliant riser 150, collar 140 is slipped over the new pliant riser 150 and then the combination is slipped over the top of threaded extension 405 and screwed down onto the anchor sub-assembly until collar 140 is proximal anchor head tee support 130.

According to FIGS. 5A and 5B there is illustrated a preferred embodiment of the system, denoted generally as 500 in which the means—for cover sleeve tool 300 to engage anchor head tee support 130 at one end and collar 140 at the opposing end—are both visible. In FIG. 5A the system is shown in its upright orientation with golf tee apparatus 100 partially inserted into cover sleeve tool 300 through large diameter opening 310. Inside opening 310, tool engagement surface 311 is visible forming the outer boundary of large opening 310. Tool engagement surface 311 is sized to match anchor head tee support 130 such that surfaces 135 and 311 mate, which permits cover sleeve tool 300 to operate as a wrench on anchor head tee support 130. Similarly, tool engagement surface 316 is sized to match collar 140 such that surfaces 145 and 316 mate, which permits cover sleeve tool 300, when inverted, to operate as a wrench on collar 140. In FIG. 5B cover sleeve tool 300 is shown in its inverted orientation with inferior end 306 at the top of the drawing. According to a preferred embodiment, engagement hoop 505 permits cover sleeve tool 300 to comprise 2 parts that slidingly engage one another in a telescoping action so that the entire length of golf tee apparatus 100 may be concealed inside cover sleeve tool 300 to protect users from injury and soil.

The above description of illustrated embodiments, including what is described in the Abstract, is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the embodiments to the precise forms disclosed. Although specific embodiments of and examples are described herein for illustrative purposes, various equivalent modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the disclosure, as will be recognized by those skilled in the relevant art. The teachings provided herein of the various embodiments can be applied to other tee assemblies, not necessarily the exemplary golf tee assemblies generally described above.

The various embodiments described above can be combined to provide further embodiments.

These and other changes can be made to the embodiments in light of the above-detailed description. In general, in the following claims, the terms used should not be construed to limit the claims to the specific embodiments disclosed in the specification and the claims, but should be construed to include all possible embodiments along with the full scope of equivalents to which such claims are entitled. Accordingly, the claims are not limited by the disclosure.