Title:
BALL COLLECTOR
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The ball collector has a form similar to a golf club head and is used for collecting golf balls and positioning them on the tee. The ball collector comprises a body having a concavity in its base leading to a pair of arms at one end. The pathway between the concavity and the arms includes a summit onto or over which the ball passes to hold the ball in the arms.



Inventors:
Rolando, Eddy Louis Cyril (London, GB)
Application Number:
12/603423
Publication Date:
04/08/2010
Filing Date:
10/21/2009
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
473/386
International Classes:
A63B57/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
WONG, STEVEN B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HAYES SOLOWAY P.C. (TUCSON, AZ, US)
Claims:
1. A ball collector comprising a body having a ball guidance pathway, the ball guidance pathway comprising a concavity on the underside of the body to fit over the ball and leading to a pair of arms at one end of the body sized to hold the ball but allowing the ball to be removed from the top of the arms, the pathway having bottom edge formations between the concavity and the arms rising to a summit to hold the ball on the arms.

2. A ball collector as claimed in claim 1, wherein the summit is a projection that prevents the ball from rolling back down the pathway.

3. A ball collector as claimed in claim 1, wherein the concavity has a top and sides that guide the ball to roll along the top of the concavity and roll up the bottom edge formations to the arms.

4. A ball collector as claimed in claim 1, wherein the ball collector is made of a plastics material of a rigidity/hardness such that the collector will not deform under the weight of a golf ball or pressure applied thereto by a golfer.

5. A ball collector as claimed in claim 1, further including a handle.

6. A ball collector as claimed in claim 5, wherein the handle is telescopic.

7. A ball collector as claimed in claim 1, wherein the exterior of the body opposite to the arms has a ball manoeuvring formation.

8. A ball collector as claimed in claim 5, wherein the handle further includes a stand, to enable to device to be supported.

9. A ball collector as claimed in claim 1, wherein an external part of the body includes at least one tee-receiving socket to receive a golfing tee.

10. A ball collector as claimed in claim 9, wherein the tee-receiving socket is configured to receive and hold a tee and allow the tee to be planted into the ground or other surface.

11. A ball collector as claimed in claim 9, wherein the tee-receiving socket comprises a base that the stem of the tee passes into and which has a channel to receive the stem of the tee and which grips the tee.

12. A ball collector as claimed in claim 9, wherein the tee-receiving socket comprises a cavity or recess in the exterior of the body that has a back wall and a top wall to constrain and guide the tee, the back wall being curved or otherwise angled forwardly at its upper end to guide the tee from an initially partly inclined state to an upright state as the body is pressed down into the ground or other support surface.

13. A ball collector as claimed in claim 9, wherein the body has a plurality of tee-receiving sockets and which are each of different heights to each other to drive a tee to a different selected depth into the ground or other support surface.

14. A ball collector as claimed in claim 5, wherein the handle comprises a stem that is provided with a ball gripping pick-up cup at an end.

15. A golfing accessory comprising a long handle stem and a body at one end of the handle stem, the body having a cavity or recess in an external face thereof that defines at least one tee-receiving socket to receive a golfing tee and hold the tee and allow the tee to be planted into the ground or other surface.

16. A golfing accessory as claimed in claim 15, wherein the tee-receiving socket comprises a base that the stem of the tee passes into and which has a channel to receive the stem of the tee and which grips the tee.

17. A golfing accessory as claimed in claim 15, wherein the tee-receiving socket comprises a cavity or recess in the exterior of the body that has a back wall and a top wall to constrain and guide the tee, the back wall being curved or otherwise angled forwardly at its upper end to guide the tee from an initially partly inclined state to an upright state as the body is pressed down into the ground or other support surface.

18. A golfing accessory as claimed in claim 15, wherein the handle comprises a stem that is provided with a ball gripping pick-up cup at an end.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a device for picking up balls, particularly golf balls.

BACKGROUND TO THE INVENTION

For golfers, one form of practice is to go to a driving range, where they can practice their swing, driving balls without disturbing other golfers on a course. The golfer can make a large number of repeated drives into the driving area. The golf balls are allowed to remain where they fall. They are typically gathered by the proprietor of the driving range at the end of each day. As a result the golfer requires a large number of golf balls, each of which have to be placed on a tee before driving.

Automated devices for placing balls ontees have been devised. However, these are substantial devices, often requiring high installation costs, and high maintenance costs. As a result they are expensive for golfers to use and, in what can be an expensive sport, add yet another element of cost. As a result only a small number of driving ranges have such devices. It is therefore usually necessary for the golfer to place each ball on the tee before each drive. This requires a lot of bending which can be time consuming, tiring and even cause injury to the golfer's back, or aggravate and old injury.

Other devices have been suggested which enable a golfer to pick up a ball and place it on a tee without bending. These generally consist of a device including grabbing means at the end of a handle, usually approximating the shaft of a golf club. These are difficult to use requiring the co-ordination of gathering and grabbing the ball, and then releasing the ball while balancing it on the tee. Alternative devices include a pair or arms or a ring which can be pushed over a golf ball, the device deforming during this process. Such devices are difficult to use, because they require a firm surface to press upon without the ball being pushed into the surface. In addition it is difficult to control the amount of force required to urge the device over the ball, without using so much force that the ball springs out of the device.

It is one general object of the present invention to provide an improved device for picking up a golf ball with a view to placing it in position on a tee.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to a first aspect of the present invention there is provided a ball collector comprising a body having a ball guidance pathway including a concavity on its underside to fit over the ball, leading to a pair of arms at one end sized to hold the ball but allowing the ball to be removed from the top of the arms, the pathway having bottom edge formations between the concavity and the arms, the edge formations rising to a summit to hold the ball on the arms.

In use, the device is placed over a golf ball, and while the golf ball is kept on the ground the device is pulled back, guiding the ball along the pathway and into the arms of the device, without deforming the device. The concavity on the underside of the body serves to deflect the ball in the direction towards the arms as the body is pressed down over the ball so that the ball rides the edge formations and into the arms.

The device can then be lifted, picking up the golf ball, which can be placed on a golfing tee. The device is then lowered rearwardly out of the way leaving the golf ball on the tee.

Once in the arms of the device the ball cannot roll back along the pathway due to the presence of the summit, which suitably is a projection that prevents the ball from rolling back down the pathway. Typically the summit will form part of the edge formations along the bottom edge of the guide, capturing the golf ball.

Preferably the ball collector is made of a plastics material of a hardness/rigidity such that it will not deform under the weight of a golf ball or pressure applied to it by a golfer. This contrasts to the prior art arrangements with designs that have jaws or other parts that are arranged to flex when pressed down over a ball on the ground. In the present invention the body of the ball collector will not flex when pressed down and will resist flexure even when downward pressing forces of the order of 10 to 100 Newtons are applied to it.

Preferably the device further comprises a handle. Conveniently this handle may be telescopic. Preferably the handle further includes a stand, to enable to device to be supported.

Preferably an external part of the body, suitably the end of the body opposite to the arms, also includes a ball manoeuvring formation for rolling the ball along the ground or other support surface in a guided manner. This formation will typically comprise a depression sized to accept a substantial portion of the ball, with a cut out in the base.

Advantageously an external part of the body, suitably the end of the body opposite to the arms, includes at least one tee-receiving socket to receive a golfing tee. The tee-receiving socket is suitably configured to receive and hold a tee and allow the tee to be placed into the ground or other support surface that will be used for teeing-off/striking the ball. This socket suitably comprises a base that the stem of the tee passes into and which grips the stem of the tee. Preferably the socket comprises a cavity or recess in the exterior of the body that has a back wall and a top wall to constrain or guide the tee. The socket may have a concave back wall that curves or is angled in a concave manner at its upper end to guide a tee from an initially partly inclined state to an upright state as the body is pressed down into the ground or other support surface. Suitably the concave back wall of the socket transitions to a planar top wall that bears down onto the tee to drive it into the ground or other support surface.

In a particularly preferred embodiment the body has a plurality of such tee-receiving sockets and which are each of different heights to each other to drive a tee to a different selected depth into the ground or other support surface. Where there are two or more such tee-receiving sockets these are suitably arranged in a row across the body, preferably with the bases all level with each other but each having a different respective height/spacing of the top wall above the base. Alternatively, but less suitably, they may be arranged in a row extending deeper into the body.

In a further improvement to the ball collector the handle stem may be provided with a ball gripping pick-up cup. This may be a resilient cup-shaped moulding, eg of rubber/elastomer or elastomer/rubber-lipped, to fit over and grip onto a ball and can provide a useful extra facility for picking up stray golf balls from the ground though it is not suitable for placing the balls on a tee.

According to a second aspect of the present invention there is provided a golfing accessory comprising a long handle stem and a body at one end of the handle stem, the body having a cavity or recess in an external face thereof that defines at least one tee-receiving socket to receive a golfing tee. The tee-receiving socket is suitably configured to receive and hold a tee and allow the tee to be placed into the ground or other support surface that will be used for teeing-off/striking the ball.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

To help understanding of the invention, specific embodiments thereof will now be described by way of example and with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a top perspective view of a device according to the invention, without a handle, that serves to collect and place a golf ball on a tee;

FIG. 2 is a bottom perspective view of the device of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a schematic view of the device of FIG. 1 picking up a ball;

FIG. 4 is a schematic view of the device of FIG. 1 placing the ball on a tee;

FIG. 5 is a rear elevation view of the stand for the device;

FIG. 6 is a front elevation view of the stand of FIG. 5; and

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the stand of FIG. 5 as fitted on the device of FIG. 1;

FIG. 8 is a rear perspective view of a second embodiment of the device and which differs from the first embodiment in that the body incorporates three extra cavities on the rear face to serve as tee-receiving sockets to receive and place a tee into the ground;

FIG. 9 is a rear perspective ‘segmental’ view of a variant of the second embodiment of the device that differs from the second embodiment in having the three tee-receiving sockets arranged in a row that extends deeper into the body of the device rather than spread across the device;

FIG. 10 is a side elevation view of the FIG. 9 arrangement;

FIG. 11 is a side elevation view of a ball gripping attachment for the handle stem of the ball collector (or tee-placing device); and

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of the ball gripping attachment of FIG. 10.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, the device there-shown comprises the ball placer 1 according to the invention. The device includes a body 2 of moulded plastics material, of a hard/inflexible enough substance/construction not to deform under the weight of a golf ball, or more particularly the pressure applied to the device by a golfer forcing the device down onto a golf ball. The body 2 is provided with a concavity 6 in it base near one end 8, sized to capture a golf ball, the concavity 6 covering the majority of the ball, but allowing a small portion of the ball to extend from beneath the concavity to enable movement of the ball in relation to the device.

Extending from the concavity 6 is a ball guidance pathway 10, comprising the top and sides of the concavity 6. The guidance pathway 10 extends along the length of the body 2 and extends deeper into the body 2 covering more of the golf ball, but still enabling a small portion of the ball to rest on the ground when covered by the device. The guidance pathway 10 is provided with edge formations 12 along its bottom edges 14 reducing the width of the guide at its bottom edges 14, and extends into the arms 16 of the device. The formations 12 act to prevent the golf ball from coming out of the bottom of the guidance pathway 10, or from entering the device at this point, capturing the ball within the device, but still with the lower curve of the ball extending out of the device. The edge formations 12 direct the golf ball along the guidance pathway 10 and into arms 16 extending from the other end 18 of the body 2. The arms 16 are shaped such that the golf ball is held securely in the arms 16 and can be lifted thereby and placed on a tee.

The edge formations 12 include a summit, here a peaked projection, 26 over which the golf ball is manoeuvred into the arms 16. Thus the ball is captured in the arms and prevented from backwards movement along the guide by the summit 26. The ball is held in the arms 16 between the summit 26 and the ends 24 of the edge formations 12.

Referring now to FIG. 3, in use, to collect a golf ball using the device, the body 2 is positioned over the ball (FIG. 3a) and moved until the ball is captured by the concavity 6. Pressing down lightly on the device, the body 2 is moved backwards rolling the ball along the top 28 of the concavity 6 of the guidance pathway 10, between the edge formations 12 (FIG. 3b). Maintaining a slight downwards pressure on the ball backwards movement is continued until the ball appears between the arms 16 and the device is positioned on the ground. Lifting of the device from this position will lift the golf ball captured between the arms 16 (FIG. 3c). The ball is supported from the side and front by the arms 16, 24, from underneath by the edge formations 12 and from behind by the summit 26.

Now turning to FIG. 4, to deposit the golf ball on a golf tee the ball is lifted in the device and positioned on the tee (FIG. 4a). Once the ball is in place, the device can be lowered away from the ball. At this point if the ball is not positioned correctly on the tee this will be felt as the device 1 is lowered and the position can be re-adjusted. Lowering of the device will leave the ball on the tee and then the device can be removed by a backward swing, with the open arms 16 that extend on either side of the ball on the tee simply being drawn back away from the tee and ball (FIG. 4b).

Referring again to FIGS. 1 and 2, the rear end 8 of the body of the device, opposite to the arms 16, is provided with another means 30 for positioning the ball. This manoeuvres the ball by rolling it over the ground. It comprises a flared projection 32, flaring upwards and outwards, with the base being open 34. The flaring is sized to fit round the golf ball. This projection allows for a ball to be guided along the ground to a convenient position to be picked up or stored. In addition, this projection enables balls to be taken out of buckets or other storage devices: the projection 32 is positioned around the ball, which is then rolled up the side of the bucket and out of the top of the bucket. The flaring 32 holds the ball in the device while it is rolled up the side of the bucket or the like. In addition, this projection enables the user to pick the ball up by using his foot or a similar projection, to support the ball while the device is tilted round it, thus cradling the ball. Thus the ball call be lifted. This flared projection 32 also balances the device 1, enabling it to stand flat on the ground for ease of use.

Referring now to FIGS. 5, 6 and 7, the device may also be used in combination with a stand, particularly where the ground is not completely level, or there is a danger of the device being knocked over accidentally. The stand comprises a plastic moulding 42 which comprising a body 44 from which extend two grips 46, to releasably secure the stand to the handle stem/shaft 48 of the device. The body also has two arms 50 extending forwards and downwards and a pair of small projection grips 52 orthogonal to the first grips. These grips hold a U shaped metal tube 54. To act as a stand the metal tube is positioned with its ends 56 on the ground acting as legs 58, and supported by the projection grips 52 and arms 50. When the club is to be used, the metal tube 54 is rotated with the grips so that the legs 58 point upwards parallel to the shaft 48 of the device. A cap 60 may be provided for the top of the shaft 48 for holding the legs in position.

Referring now to FIGS. 8 to 10, these relate to a second embodiment of the invention where the body 2 on its side opposite to the ball collecting arms 16 does not have a ball manoeuvring means 30 but instead has a tee-receiving and placing/planting arrangement. This is shown in FIG. 8 as comprising an enlarged rear face zone 61 that is flattened and has a row of three cavities/recesses 62a-c therein. The three cavities/recesses 62a-c are each tall and oriented with their longest axis upright relative to the body 2 and handle stem 48. They are each sized to receive and hold a golfing tee T therein and comprise a base 63 with a narrow channel 64 to receive the stem S of the tee T and grip it sufficiently to carry the tee T substantially upright but at a moderate rearward incline to facilitate subsequent planting in the ground. Each of the three cavities/recesses 62a-c has a rear wall 65 that curves in a concave manner upwardly/forwardly to transition to a substantially planar/horizontal top wall 66. When the tee T is gripped in place in the channel 64 and the body 2 of the device is moved to the desired spot and lowered to the ground to plant the tee T, the stem S of the tee T will be still at a backward incline and the tip of the tee T may begin to penetrate the ground. The head of the tee T will then ride up the rear wall 65 of the cavity/recess as the device is pressed downwardly and will be deflected forwardly by the curvature to then be substantially upright as it is then driven hard by the top wall 66. Thereupon the upright tee T will have been prised free of the gripping elements of the channel 64 and left in situ planted in the ground. As will be seen the three cavities/recesses 62a-c are each of different heights to suit different desired depths of planting of the tee T.

FIGS. 9 and 10 show a variant of design of the second embodiment where the three cavities/recesses 62a-c are arranged in a row that extends into the body 2 oriented perpendicularly into the body. Again the three cavities/recesses 62a-c are upright and of different heights to suit different planting depths for the tee T and the cavities/recesses 62a-c have an approximate concave curvature/angling at the rear wall to top wall transition to deflect the tee T to an upright state for when it is driven hard into the ground.

Turning now to FIGS. 11 and 12, these show an attachment 67 for the upper end of the shaft/handle stem 48 of the device. This attachment 67 is a tubular extension that incorporates at its end an elastomeric gripping cup 68 for gripping over a golf ball, suitable, for example, for quickly picking up stray golf balls. The attachment further has a clip 69 suitable for clipping onto a frame or golf bag etc. This facility might also be integrally formed or assembled to the handle stem 48 rather than being a separate attachment.

The invention is not intended to be restricted to the details of the above-described embodiment. For instance, the device can be made of any inflexible material, including wood or metal. A myriad range of other embodiments and variations fall within the sprit and scope of the present disclosure.