Title:
Golf Training Apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Novel tools and techniques for teaching a player the proper alignment when addressing a golf ball. In one aspect, such tools and techniques provide an alignment aid that allows the player to visualize both the intended target line of the shot as well as the position of the ball relative to the player's stance, allowing the player to easily modify his stance to obtain the proper alignment.



Inventors:
Bowman, Michael G. (Arvada, CO, US)
Bowman, Randy B. (Arvada, CO, US)
Application Number:
13/050619
Publication Date:
09/29/2011
Filing Date:
03/17/2011
Assignee:
Squared Up Corporation (Arvada, CO, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
473/409
International Classes:
A63B69/36
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GARNER, WERNER G
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ADSERO IP LLC (LITTLETON, CO, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A golf training apparatus, comprising: a housing; one or more lasers disposed at least partially within the housing for emitting one or more beams of light within a visible spectrum; a beam alignment device disposed within the housing, the beam alignment device being configured to direct a first beam of light along a target axis defining an intended target line of a golf ball struck by a user and to direct a second beam of light along an alignment axis corresponding to a stationary position of the golf ball relative to a stance of the user; a control device to receive input from the user; and a control circuit in electrical communication with at least the one or more lasers and the control device, the control circuit being configured to control operation of the one or more lasers based at least in part on input received by the control device.

2. The golf training apparatus of claim 1, wherein the control device comprises an accelerometer.

3. The golf training apparatus of claim 2, wherein the input from the user comprises movement of the golf training apparatus.

4. The golf training apparatus of claim 1, wherein the one or more lasers comprises at least a first laser to generate the first beam and at least a second laser to generate the second beam.

5. The golf training apparatus of claim 1, wherein the one or more lasers comprises a rotating laser to create the first beam and the second beam.

6. The golf training apparatus of claim 5, wherein the beam alignment device comprises a laser housing defining a first aperture to allow projection of the first beam and a second aperture to allow projection of the second beam.

7. The golf training apparatus of claim 1, wherein the beam alignment device comprises one or more prisms.

8. The golf training apparatus of claim 1, wherein the beam alignment device comprises one or more lenses.

9. The golf training apparatus of claim 1, wherein the control device comprises a remote control receiver.

10. The golf training apparatus of claim 1, wherein the control device comprises a Bluetooth receiver.

11. The golf training apparatus of claim 10, wherein the input from the user comprises control signals received from a wireless phone.

12. The golf training apparatus of claim 1, further comprising: a base, having a surface configured to be placed on the ground, on which the housing is disposed.

13. The golf training apparatus of claim 12, wherein the base is configured to allow the housing to rotate relative to the ground.

14. The golf training apparatus of claim 12, wherein the base is configured to allow the housing to be disposed at a variable angle relative to horizontal.

15. The golf training apparatus of claim 12, wherein the housing is coupled with the base.

16. A golf training method, comprising: aligning a golf training apparatus with respect to a target location, the golf training apparatus comprising: a housing; one or more lasers disposed at least partially within the housing for emitting one or more beams of light within a visible spectrum; a beam alignment device disposed within the housing, the beam alignment device being configured to direct a first beam of light along a target axis defining an intended target line of a golf ball struck by a user and to direct a second beam of light along an alignment axis corresponding to a stationary position of the golf ball relative to a stance of the user; a control device to receive input from the user; and a control circuit in electrical communication with at least the one or more lasers and the control device, the control circuit being configured to control operation of the one or more lasers based at least in part on input received by the control device; and placing the golf ball on the alignment axis; evaluating an alignment of the user addressing the golf ball, based at least in part on the position of the user relative to at least one of the beams of light.

17. The golf training method of claim 16, further comprising: modifying the alignment of the user, based at least in part on the position of the user relative to at least one of the beams of light.

18. The golf training method of claim 16, further comprising: controlling operation of the golf training apparatus using a software program on a wireless phone.

19. The golf training method of claim 16, further comprising: controlling operation of the golf training apparatus using a remote control device.

20. A golf training system comprising: a golf training apparatus, comprising: a housing; one or more lasers disposed at least partially within the housing for emitting one or more beams of light within a visible spectrum; a beam alignment device disposed within the housing, the beam alignment device being configured to direct a first beam of light along a target axis defining an intended target line of a golf ball struck by a user and to direct a second beam of light along an alignment axis corresponding to a stationary position of the golf ball relative to a stance of the user; a control device to receive input from the user; and a control circuit in electrical communication with at least the one or more lasers and the control device, the control circuit being configured to control operation of the one or more lasers based at least in part on input received by the control device; and a remote control facility in communication with the golf training apparatus to provide the user input to the control device.

21. The golf training system of claim 20, wherein the remote control facility comprises: a software application comprising instructions executable by a computing device to control operation of the golf training apparatus.

22. The golf training system of claim 20, wherein the computing device is selected from the group consisting of a wireless phone, a handheld computer, and a tablet computer.

23. The golf training system of claim 20, wherein the remote control facility comprises: a remote control device separate from the golf training apparatus, the remote control device being configured to receive input from a user and to transmit signals to control operation of the golf training apparatus based a least in part on input from the user.

24. A golf training apparatus configured to project one or more beams of visible light to assist in the alignment of a user relative to a target location and/or a ball position.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a nonprovisional application claiming the benefit, under 35 U.S.C. §119(e), of provisional U.S. Patent Application No. 61/318,172, filed Mar. 26, 2010 by Bowman et al. and entitled “Golf Training Apparatus,” the entire disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.

COPYRIGHT STATEMENT

A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material that is subject to copyright protection. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent document or the patent disclosure as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office patent file or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright rights whatsoever.

BACKGROUND

In the sport of golf, experienced players understand the importance of “squaring up” to the target and to the ball at address. As a general formulation, the concept of “squaring up” means to align one's body when addressing the golf ball to ensure that the player is appropriately positioned with respect to both the golf ball and the intended target of the player's shot. A player, in general, hits the ball in the direction in which the player is aligned, and if this alignment does not correspond to the intended target, then the shot most likely will be off line also. With consistency in the setup and address, a player will be more confident in his ability to repetitively hit the ball squarely and in the direction intended.

For inexperienced players, however, the correct alignment is often unintuitive and difficult to master. As a result, an inexperienced player will often develop a habitual misalignment at address, and may introduce swing flaws as an unconscious attempt to compensate for this misalignment. Golf instructors traditionally have used several techniques in attempting to teach proper alignment to students. Such techniques include the use of 2 clubs placed on the ground, plastics rods/sticks, and/or the like. Such techniques are of limited effectiveness, especially when practiced by inexperienced players without the guidance of an instructor.

Hence, there is a need for more robust techniques and tools to train players of all abilities the correct alignment when addressing a golf ball. It would be helpful if such tools and techniques could be implemented by an inexperienced player without the need for professional instruction, and/or if such tools could be easily transported (e.g., in a typical golf bag) and set up, to allow a player to engage in training without significant logistical difficulties.

BRIEF SUMMARY

A set of embodiments, therefore, provides improved tools and techniques for teaching a player the proper alignment when addressing a golf ball. In one aspect, certain embodiments provide an alignment aid that allows the player to visualize both the intended target line of the shot as well as the position of the ball relative to the player's stance, allowing the player to easily modify his stance to obtain the proper alignment. In certain embodiments, such tools can also allow the player to verify a number of other important details, such as clubface alignment, location of the hands at address, the divot location (after the shot) relative to the original ball position.

One set of embodiments provides a golf training apparatus. In general, the golf training apparatus might be configured to project one or more beams of visible light to assist in the alignment of a user relative to a target location and/or a ball position.

An exemplary apparatus might comprise a housing. The apparatus, in an aspect of some embodiments, might have one or more light-emitting devices (e.g., one or more lasers, a rotating laser, one or more light-emitting diodes, etc.) disposed at least partially within the housing. (In other cases, the light-emitting devices might be disposed external to the housing, e.g., coupled with an exterior surface of the housing, etc.) In another aspect, the lasers (or other light-emitting devices) might emit one or more beams of light within a visible spectrum.

In some cases, the apparatus will further comprise a beam alignment device, which also might be disposed within the housing. In some embodiments, the beam alignment device is configured to direct a first beam of light along a target axis defining an intended target line of a golf ball struck by a user. In other embodiments, the beam alignment device might be configured to direct a second beam of light along an alignment axis corresponding to a stationary position of the golf ball relative to a stance of the user. A variety of beam alignment devices are possible in different embodiments. Merely by way of example, in some cases, a beam alignment device might merely comprise a fitting that is designed to hold one or more light-emitting devices in a specified orientation. In other cases, a beam alignment device might comprise one or more prisms, such as cylindrical prisms, triangular prisms, one or more lenses, such as lenticular lenses, etc.

In certain embodiments, the apparatus further comprises a control device to receive input from the user and/or a control circuit, which might be in electrical communication with the light-emitting device(s) and/or the control device. In some cases, the control device might comprise a button, accelerometer, etc., which can allow for control of the apparatus by manipulation. In other cases, the control device might comprise a remote control receiver, a Bluetooth receiver, and/or the like. In a particular aspect, the input from the user might comprise control signals received from a remote control device, a wireless phone, and/or the like. In an aspect, the control circuit might be configured to control operation of the light-emitting device(s), e.g., based at least in part on input received by the control device.

In another aspect, the apparatus might further comprise a base having a surface configured to be placed on the ground. The housing, then, might be disposed on the base and/or coupled with the base. (In some cases, the base may be incorporated within the housing.) In an aspect, the base might be configured to allow the housing to rotate relative to the ground. In another aspect, the base might be configured to allow the housing to be disposed at a variable angle relative to horizontal.

Another set of embodiments provides golf training systems. A system in accordance with one set of embodiments might comprises a golf training apparatus (e.g., such as the apparatus described above), along with a remote control facility. One example of a remote control facility can be a software application comprising instructions executable by a computing device (such as wireless phone, handheld computer, tablet computer, laptop computer, etc., to name a few examples), to control operation of the golf training apparatus (e.g., by transmitting signals to be received by the control device in the golf training apparatus). In another aspect, the remote control facility might be a dedicated remote control device separate from the golf training apparatus; the remote control device being configured to receive input from a user and to transmit signals to control operation of the golf training apparatus based a least in part on input from the user.

Yet another set of embodiments provides golf training methods. An exemplary method might comprise aligning a golf training apparatus (such as the apparatus described above, for example) with respect to a target location. The method might further comprise placing the golf ball on the alignment axis, and evaluating an alignment of the user addressing the golf ball, based at least in part on the position of the user relative to at least one of the beams of light. In some cases, the method might further comprise modifying the alignment of the user, based at least in part on the position of the user relative to at least one of the beams of light. In other cases, the method might further comprise controlling operation of the golf training apparatus using a software program on a wireless phone

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A further understanding of the nature and advantages of particular embodiments may be realized by reference to the remaining portions of the specification and the drawings, in which like reference numerals are used to refer to similar components. In some instances, a sub-label is associated with a reference numeral to denote one of multiple similar components. When reference is made to a reference numeral without specification to an existing sub-label, it is intended to refer to all such multiple similar components.

FIG. 1 illustrates a plan view of a golf training apparatus assisting a golfer's alignment with a target line and a ball, in accordance with various embodiments.

FIG. 2 illustrates an elevation view of a golf training apparatus of a golf training apparatus assisting a golfer's alignment with a target line and a ball, as depicted in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a perspective drawing of a golf training apparatus, in accordance with various embodiments.

FIG. 4 is a cutaway plan view of a golf training apparatus, in accordance with various embodiments.

FIGS. 5A-5C illustrate various views of a base for a golf training apparatus, in accordance with various embodiments.

FIGS. 6A, 6B, 6C, and 6D are simplified schematic diagrams of a control circuit for a golf training apparatus, in accordance with various embodiments.

FIG. 7 is a process flow diagram illustrating a method of golf training, in accordance with various embodiments.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF CERTAIN EMBODIMENTS

While various aspects and features of certain embodiments have been summarized above, the following detailed description illustrates a few exemplary embodiments in further detail to enable one of skill in the art to practice such embodiments. The described examples are provided for illustrative purposes and are not intended to limit the scope of the invention.

In the following description, for the purposes of explanation, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of the described embodiments. It will be apparent to one skilled in the art, however, that other embodiments may be practiced without some of these specific details. In other instances, certain structures and devices are shown in block diagram form. Several embodiments are described herein, and while various features are ascribed to different embodiments, it should be appreciated that the features described with respect to one embodiment may be incorporated with other embodiments as well. By the same token, however, no single feature or features of any described embodiment should be considered essential to every embodiment, as other embodiments may omit such features.

Unless otherwise indicated, all numbers used herein to express quantities, dimensions, and so forth used should be understood as being modified in all instances by the term “about.” Similarly, terms of alignment (such as “align,” “coaxial,” “normal,” and their derivatives) used herein should be interpreted to include the term “generally,” in recognition that exact precision in such alignment is rarely feasible using typical manufacturing techniques, and that various embodiments should be understood to include alignment with sufficient, if not exact, precision to accomplish the objectives of such embodiments.

In this document, the use of the singular includes the plural unless specifically stated otherwise, and use of the terms “and” and “or” means “and/or” unless otherwise indicated. Moreover, the use of the term “including,” as well as other forms, such as “includes” and “included,” should be considered non-exclusive. Also, terms such as “element” or “component” encompass both elements and components comprising one unit and elements and components that comprise more than one unit, unless specifically stated otherwise.

As noted above, certain embodiments provide improved tools and techniques for teaching a player the proper alignment when addressing a golf ball. In one aspect, certain embodiments provide an alignment aid that allows the player to visualize both the intended target line of the shot as well as the position of the ball relative to the player's stance, allowing the player to easily modify his stance to obtain the proper alignment. In certain embodiments, such tools can also allow the player to verify a number of other important details, such as clubface alignment, location of the hands at address, the divot location (after the shot) relative to the original ball position, and/or the like.

One set of embodiments, for example, provides a golf training apparatus. One such apparatus projects two lines of light, one corresponding to the intended target line of the ball's flight path and the other corresponding to the ball's position normal to that target line. Other embodiments can project more or fewer lines; for example, one embodiment might project only a line corresponding to the target path, while another embodiment might project a line, in addition to the target line and the position line, that corresponds to the ball's intended flight path to allow the player to align for a draw—in which the ball's flight path curves from right to left for a right-handed player—or fade, in which the ball's flight path curves from left to right for a right-handed player, while still maintaining the same target axis.

To illustrate, one embodiment provides an apparatus comprising a housing, with one or more light emitting devices (e.g., lasers, light emitting diodes (“LED”), and/or the like) disposed at least partially within the housing (and/or outside the housing). Such devices might operate to emit one or more beams of light within a visible spectrum. In some aspects, the apparatus might further comprise a beam alignment device disposed within the housing; the beam alignment device might be configured to direct a first beam of light along a target axis defining an intended target line of a golf ball struck by a user and to direct a second beam of light along an alignment axis corresponding to a stationary position of the golf ball relative to a stance of the user. In some cases, the apparatus might include a control device to receive input from the user and/or a control circuit in electrical communication with the light emitting devices and the control device; the control circuit thus might be configured to control operation of the one or more lasers, based at least in part on input received by the control device.

A number of variations are possible. Merely by way of example, in some cases, the light emitting device(s) might comprise one or more lasers, and in particular embodiments, such lasers might be green lasers, with a transmission wavelength of between about 510-570 nm. One example of such a laser is the model ER60 green laser diode, available from The Laser Guy.com™ of Houston, Tex., which is a 532 nm laser operating at 250 mA and 3.0 VDC, with an output power adjustable from 20 mw to 30 mw. Particular embodiments comprise four lasers, which might be arranged such that a first pair of lasers are generally coaxial but aligned in opposite directions, to project two, generally beams along an axis (e.g., the target axis) running through the apparatus; with another pair of lasers that are generally coaxial along an axis (e.g., the ball alignment axis) roughly normal to the target axis. In such embodiments, the beam alignment device might comprise one or more (e.g., four) prisms to focus each beam in the appropriate direction. Such prisms might be cylindrical prisms, triangular prisms, and/or the like. Alternatively, a beam alignment device might simply serve to secure each laser within the housing so as to ensure that the emitted light is projected along the appropriate axes.

Other configurations are possible as well. For instance, in some cases, there may be one laser (or two lasers), perhaps with mirrors, lenses, prisms and/or the like serving as beam alignment devices to project the emitted light along the appropriate axes. In other embodiments, the light emitting device might comprise a single, rotating laser. In such cases, the beam alignment device might comprise a laser housing defining one or more apertures to allow projection of beams along the appropriate axes.

As noted above, some embodiments might project a line, in addition to the target line and the ball position line, that corresponds to the ball's intended flight path to allow the player to align for a draw—in which the ball's flight path curves from right to left for a right-handed player—or fade, in which the ball's flight path curves from left to right for a right-handed player, while still maintaining the same target axis. In an embodiment, the direction of this line can be adjusted by the user (either manually or electronically through a control circuit) through a variety of angles from the target line (e.g., 5°, 10°, 15°, 20°, 25°, etc.) either by adjustment of the position of the light emitting device, adjustment of the beam alignment device, adjustment of a position of an aperture in a laser housing, etc.

In some embodiments, the control device might comprise a switch, which might be manually manipulable by the user. In certain aspects, the switch might allow selective operation of the device, for example to allow continuous operation of the light emitting devices, to allow intermittent operation of the light emitting devices (e.g., in repeating on-off cycles of varying duration, such as ten seconds on and ten seconds off, etc.), and/or to turn the light emitting devices off altogether. In other embodiments, the control device might comprise one or more accelerometers, which might control operation (e.g., via a switch in the control circuit) of the apparatus through movement, which for example, could allow a user to select a mode of operation (e.g., constant on, intermittent, or off) by moving the apparatus, such as by tapping the apparatus with a foot, club-head, and/or the like. In another aspect, a control circuit featuring such accelerometers could be configured to turn the apparatus off when movement (either directional or angular) greater than a certain threshold is detected; such functionality could provide for safeguards (e.g., to prevent inadvertent exposure of the projected light to the eyes of the user or another) and/or to prevent unintended operation and corresponding battery drain (e.g., if the user were to pick up the apparatus and place it in a golf bag without manually turning it off).

In further embodiments, the control device might comprise a remote control receiver, which could be configured to receive signals (e.g., RF signals) from a supplied remote control device and control operation of the apparatus accordingly. Alternatively and/or additionally, the control device might comprise a receiver (e.g., a Bluetooth receiver) configured to receive signals from a separate device (e.g., a wireless phone, handheld computer, etc.) running an application for controlling the apparatus. In fact, another set of embodiments provides golf training systems, an example of which might comprise an apparatus as described above, as well as a remote control device and/or a software application executing on a wireless phone (to name one example) for controlling operation of the apparatus.

Another set of embodiments provides methods, including without limitation golf training methods. An exemplary method might comprise aligning a golf training apparatus (such as that described above, to name one example) with respect to a target location (e.g., such that the apparatus projects a beam along a target axis that is aligned with the target location), and placing the golf ball on the alignment axis. The method might further comprise the user addressing the golf ball, and/or evaluating the alignment of the user, based at least in part on the position of the user relative to one or more of the beams of light projected by the apparatus. In some cases, the method might further comprise controlling operation of the golf training apparatus using a remote control device and/or a software program on a wireless phone or similar device.

FIGS. 1 and 2 illustrate one possible use of a golf training device (apparatus) in accordance with a set of embodiments. By reference to both figures simultaneously, the golf training device 1 is configured to project beams 2 of visible light (e.g., laser light) to aid in the alignment of a golfer 3 (also referred to herein as a “player” and a “user”), which is represented in FIG. 1 by footprints 3, with respect to a target location (represented here as the flagstick 4) and the ball 5. The target location 4, of course, represents a point or area to which the player would like to hit the ball 5 by striking the ball 5 with a golf club in a conventional manner.

In the illustrated embodiment, the beams 2 are projected along two axes 6. A first axis (referred to herein as the “target axis” or the “X-axis”) 6a corresponds to a target line extending from the device 1 to a target 4. Given the distance between the device 1 and the ball 5, compared with the distance between the device 1 and the target 4 (which typically will range from 50-300 yards), the target line between the device 1 and the target 4 is a sufficient approximation of the true target line between the ball 5 and the target 4. A second axis (referred to herein as the “ball alignment axis,” the “alignment axis,” or the “Y-axis”) 6b is roughly normal to the target axis 6a.

In using the device 1, the player 3 will situate the device 1 so that the X-axis (target axis) 6a is aligned with the target 4. Once the player believes he has the apparatus 1 lined up correctly to the target 4, he can power the device 1 on (e.g., using a control device), and optionally take a step back behind the device (along the X-axis 6a) to verify that alignment is correct by visually looking at the visible light 2 projected along the X-axis 6a. Once alignment is correct, the player 3 will then address to the golf ball 5, using the beam 2, projected along the X-axis 6a, to ensure that his feet (and therefore his body) are correctly aligned (e.g., by ensuring that the distance from each foot to the X-axis 6a is consistent. Using the beam 2 projected along the Y-axis 6b (the ball alignment axis), the user can determine where, in relation to his stance (foot position), the ball 5 lies. For example, for many shots, the player 3 would want the ball 5 to be positioned neutrally between both feet, so that the player 3 would move his feet to ensure that the Y-axis 6b falls midway between his feet. In other cases, the player 3 might want to position the ball 5 closer to his lead foot (e.g., when hitting a long iron or a wood), while in other cases, the player 3 might want to position the ball 5 closer to his trailing foot (e.g., when hitting a short iron). In either case, the player 3 can adjust the position of his feet, relative to the Y-axis 6b to obtain the correct ball position (while maintaining consistent alignment with the X-axis 6a).

Various embodiments can provide other uses and benefits as well. For example, with repeated use of the training device to align shots, players will develop the ability to visualize the proper alignment to the target more precisely even when not using the device. This ability, in turn, creates confidence in the setup, which allows the player to focus on other aspects of the game. Moreover, once a user determines their ideal setup they can learn to change stances for hitting different flight patterned shots.

Additionally, through the use of the device, ball placement within the player's stance will become a much easier process; the player will now have the confidence that he is setting up square (i.e., aligned properly) by reference to the 4 lines being emitted. In certain embodiments, with the device being one solid unit, the location of the target will not play into the use of the device; the player need only point the device at the target, and the player immediately has guidelines on ball position and relationship to stance. Confidence can be built using the device repeatedly. Better ball position leads to more solid strikes on the golf ball. Ball placement affects every aspect of the swing for example, if the ball is located to far back in the player's, stance the weight of the player will usually be too far back in his stance, preventing a free swing.

In certain embodiments, clubface position will be addressed when placing the club down on the line towards the ball position. When placing the club head down for address and gripping the club, the user will be able to visually see whether he has their clubface open, closed, or square at address. Various embodiments also allow the player to train hand position at address. When lining up for a shot, the player will be able to visually see if his hands and club handle are in front of, behind, or hovering directly over the line projected between the users stance.

The training device can also be used for putting. Merely by way of example, the device can be placed behind opposite the cup (i.e., on the side of the cup opposite the ball) to direct a beam toward the ball along a putting line. The player then can see the direction and/or type of spin he is producing off his putter, allowing the user to train a more accurate swing plane when putting.

FIG. 3 illustrates a housing for a golf training device, in accordance with one set of embodiments. The housing comprises a body portion 300 and a lid portion 305, which can be separable to allow for manufacture and/or repair of the device. Housed within the housing typically will be the light emitting devices, the control circuit, a power source (e.g., a battery), and any necessary beam alignment devices).

FIG. 4 illustrates a cutaway plan view of a golf training device 400, The illustrated device 400 comprises four lasers 405, with four corresponding prisms 410 to align the beams produced by the four lasers 405. (Additionally and/or alternatively, one or more lenses could be used to align the beams produced by the lasers 405. Merely by way of example, in a particular embodiment, the device might employ one or more lenticular lenses to align the beams; for example, the number of lenticules can be selected, based on the characteristics of the laser 405, to optimize laser performance and/or to balance performance with safety and/or regulatory concerns.) The housing 420 defines four apertures 415, through which the beams from the lasers 405 are directed by the prisms 410. One pair of lasers 405a, 405b are used to generate the beams along the target axis, while the other pair of lasers 405c, 410d are used to generate the beams along the ball alignment axis.

Various embodiments are configured to provide a variety of beam emission patterns. Merely by way of example, in some embodiments, the beam alignment device (e.g., prism 410a, lens, etc.) is situated in relation to the laser 405a in such a way that the laser is focused on a point on the ground between about 6 and about 30 inches (and, in certain cases, between about 12 and about 24 inches) from the device 400 (when the device 400 is placed on flat ground). This configuration will produce a visible line extending about the same distance from the device 400. In other cases, the beam alignment device might be configured to project a beam over a longer distance (e.g., several hundred yards), to allow the flight of the ball to be tracked against the target line and/or to allow the target axis to be aligned precisely with the target location. Other configurations are possible as well. For example, in some cases, the device 400 might be configured so that one laser 405a projects light a significant distance, while the other three lasers 405b, 405c, 405d project light only between about 6 and about 30 inches from the device.

The housing 420 can be constructed from a variety of materials, including without limitation various plastics and metals. In one embodiment, the housing is molded using WaterShed™ XC 11122 low viscosity liquid photopolymer. The lasers 405, in one embodiment, are 3V-5V green lasers, with power output from is 1 mW to 60 mW, although other light emitting devices (including other lasers, such as red lasers, and/or light emitting diodes, etc.) can be used as well. The prisms 410 can be, in one embodiment, ¼″ diameter cylindrical plastic rods; in other embodiments, they might be fitted plastic or glass lenses, plastic or glass triangular (i.e., pyramidal) prisms. Other beam alignment devices could include 2 to 4 way beam splitters (which might comprise be crystals, prisms, mirrors, etc.) and/or plastic or glass lenses (including, without limitation, lenticular lenses), among other options. The device 400 typically will include other components not illustrated by FIG. 4, including without limitation a power source, a control device and/or control circuit, and/or the like.

In one set of embodiments, the golf training device might include a base, which can allow the housing of the device to be manipulated with respect to the ground. Merely by way of example, FIG. 5A illustrates an elevation view of a base 500 that can be used in accordance with some embodiments. In some cases, the base might have feature a first surface that is configured to be placed on the ground, and a second surface that is configured to have the housing disposed thereon. (In some embodiments, the second surface generally opposes the first surface.) Merely by way of example, the base 500 illustrated by FIG. 5A comprises an upper body 505 (a plan view of which is illustrated by FIG. 5C) and a lower body 510 (a plan view of which is illustrated by FIG. 5B). The lower body 510 comprises a first surface 520 that is configured to be placed on the ground, while the upper body 505 comprises a second surface 515 that is configured to be have the housing of the apparatus (e.g., as illustrated by FIGS. 3 and 4) placed thereon. Although illustrated as being rectangular in FIGS. 5A-5C, the base 500 can take any of a variety of forms. Merely by way of example, the base 500 might have the same footprint as the housing for the device (e.g., the housing pictured in FIGS. 3 and 4 might have a similar, cross-shaped base).

In some instances, the base might include a rotational device, such as a turntable, set of bearings, etc., that allow a portion of the base to rotate along a central axis (which may be normal to the first and/or second surfaces of the base). Merely by way of example, in the illustrated embodiment, the upper body 505 and the lower body are coupled with a rotational coupling apparatus 525 (e.g., with an axle, set of bearings, etc.), such that the second surface 515, on which the housing is disposed, can rotate freely (and/or with resistance, detents, etc.) relative to the first surface 520, effectively allowing the housing to be rotated relative to the ground, without the first surface 520 of the base 500 rotating relative to the ground.

Optionally, the base 500 might comprise bearing surfaces or devices to allow for a more secure fit between the base 500 and the ground and/or between the base 500 and the housing. Merely by way of example, in the illustrated embodiment, the base 500 comprises four legs 530, which can be made of rubber, plastic, or any suitable material. (It should be noted other embodiments might more or fewer, or no, legs 530.) In a particular embodiment, the legs 530 might each be attached to the lower surface 520 of the lower body 510 with a threaded attachment, such that each of the legs 530 can be raised or lowered (by threading the legs 530 into the base 500 relatively more or less) to allow the base to sit securely on an uneven ground surface. (Alternatively and/or additionally, the legs 530 might be spiked, to allow for partial insertion into the ground, might be incorporated into the lower body 510, etc.)

Similarly, the base 500 might feature one or more coupling mechanisms to allow the base 500 to be coupled with the housing of the golf training device. (As noted above, of course, in some embodiments, the base 500 might be integrated with, and/or permanently attached to, the housing itself) As illustrated by FIGS. 5A and 5C, for example, the upper surface 515 of the upper body 505 includes four coupling mechanisms 535 to allow the base 500 to be coupled with a housing of a golf training device. (It should be noted other embodiments might comprise more or fewer, or no, coupling mechanisms 535.) A wide variety of coupling mechanisms 535 can be used. In some cases, for example, the coupling mechanisms 535 might merely comprise rubber pads that provide friction between the base 500 and the housing. In other embodiments, the coupling mechanisms 535 might employ hook-and-loop fasteners (e.g., Velcro™ fasteners). In still other embodiments, the coupling mechanisms might comprise bolts, rivets or other, more relatively permanent fasteners. In further embodiments, the coupling mechanisms 535 might comprise tabs (or slots) that can fit into corresponding slots (or tabs) on the bottom surface of the housing. A variety of different coupling devices 535 (and, for that matter, legs 535) can be used in accordance with different embodiments.

In other embodiments, the base might be configured to allow adjustment of an angle of the base of the housing (and/or the upper surface 515) and the ground. This can be accomplished in a number of ways. Merely by way of example, in some cases, the height of the legs 530 might be adjustable (e.g., as described above) to allow the base to rest at an angle to the ground by adjusting some or all of the legs 530 to different heights. In other embodiments, the coupling between the upper body 505 and the lower body 510 might allow for adjustments to allow the upper body 505 and the lower body 510 to be non-coplanar. By changing the angle of the housing (relative to the ground and/or the horizontal), the user then can change the length that one or more of the beams of light will be projected before intersecting the ground.

FIGS. 6A-6D are schematic diagrams illustrating control circuits in accordance with various embodiments. One skilled in the art will appreciate, based on the disclosure herein, that these diagrams are simplified for purposes of illustration and description, and that various embodiments might include various other electrical components, such as resistors, capacitors, diodes, and/or the like, as necessary and/or appropriate.

FIG. 6A illustrates a control circuit 600 for controlling operation of a golf training device, such as the devices described above. The control circuit 600 includes a control device (in the illustrated embodiment, switch 605) and two sets of light emitting devices (e.g., lasers, LEDs, etc.) 610, along with a power supply 615. The switch 605 of FIG. 6A includes a toggle 620 that is manipulable by a user. The power supply 615 can include one or more batteries, A/C power (perhaps with an A/C-D/C transformer), and/or the like. In a particular embodiment, power supply 615 might comprise one to four 3V batteries with an amperage range of 350 to 2200 mA.

FIG. 6A illustrates the two sets of light emitting devices as being wired in parallel to indicate that either set can be powered on or off independent of the other. In one embodiment, one set of light emitting devices 610a might be used to propagate a beam along a target axis, while another set of light emitting devices 610b might be used to propagate a beam along a ball alignment axis. Hence, the control circuit 600 can allow the user, for example, to power on the light emitting devices 610a to visualize the target line without using the ball alignment feature (or vice versa). It should be noted, of course, that other configurations might be wired in serial or might otherwise require all light emitting devices 610 to be powered on or off together. It should also be recognized that there might be more or fewer than two sets of light emitting devices 610, and that each set might comprise one or more light emitting devices. Merely by way of example, in addition to (or alternative to) two sets of light emitting devices to represent the target axis and ball alignment axis respectively, there might be a third set of one or more light emitting devices to correspond to a ball flight path, as described above.

The switch 605, in certain embodiments can be configured to allow the user to select one or more sets of light emitting devices 610 to be powered on, as well as to specify the operation of the light emitting devices 610 (e.g., constant on, power off, intermittent on, etc.). In one embodiment, the switch 605 might be a 3-position timing switch to allow selection (e.g., via the toggle 620) from among 3 selectable timing positions, such as 30 seconds on, 10 sec off; 45 seconds on, 10 seconds off; 60 seconds on, 10 seconds off; etc. In some cases, the switch 605 might include a separate toggle 620 for each set of light emitting devices 610.

FIG. 6B illustrates a second embodiment of a control circuit 625, which is similar to the control circuit 600 of FIG. 6A, except that the control device comprises a switch 605 in communication with an accelerometer 630. (A toggle switch might be included as well). The control circuit 625 can allow control of the golf training device, as described above, through movement (angular or linear) of the golf training device. Upon sensing movement, the accelerometer 625 transmits a signal to the switch 605 to control operation of the light emitting devices 610.

Likewise, FIG. 6C illustrates a third embodiment of a control circuit 635, which is similar to the control circuit 600 of FIG. 6A, except that the control device comprises a switch 605 in communication with an RF receiver 640 that can receive RF signals from a remote control device 645 and thereby, via the switch 605, control operation of the light emitting devices 610. (A toggle switch might be included as well). In other embodiments, the remote control 645 and/or receiver 640 might be configured to operate by infrared transmissions and/or the like.

FIG. 6D illustrates a fourth embodiment of a control circuit 650, which is similar to the control circuit 635 of FIG. 6C, except that a Bluetooth receiver 655 can receive signals from a wireless device 660 (e.g., a wireless phone, handheld computer, etc.) and thereby control operation of the light emitting devices 610 via the switch 605.

It should be appreciated that the components of the control circuits illustrated in FIGS. 6A-6D can be combined as desired (such that, for example, a control device might comprise both a Bluetooth receiver and an accelerometer, or an RF receiver and a toggle switch, etc.). In one aspect, a control circuit might be implemented as a printed circuit board (“PCB”) programmed for 5 separate power circuits to control 5 separate lasers simultaneously, along with control settings for a selectable timing switch, and controls for the accelerometer, remote receivers, etc.

FIG. 7 illustrates a method 700 of golf training. At block 705, the method 700 comprises aligning a golf training device (such as the devices described above) with respect to a target location. For example, the golf training device could be aligned so that a beam of emitted light corresponds to a target line to the target location. The method 700 further comprises placing a golf ball on the ball alignment axis of the golf training device (block 710), such that the device emits a beam of light (or multiple beams of light) that intersect the ball and the player's stance. At block 715, the player addresses the ball in conventional fashion, and at block 720, the method 700 comprises evaluating the player's alignment, based at least in part on the position of the player relative to least one of the beams of light, for example, in the fashion described above.

In some cases, the method 700 comprises modifying the alignment of the player, based at least in part on the position of the player relative to at least one of the beams of light. Merely by way of example, if the evaluation of the player's stance indicates that the player is not aligned with the target line, the player's feet might be realigned (by movement of one or both feet closer to and/or further from the target axis), and/or if the ball is not aligned in the proper position in the player's stance, the player's alignment might be modified by moving one or both feet either closer to or further from the ball alignment axis.

In particular embodiments, the method 700 can comprise controlling operation of the golf training device (block 730), for example by operating a control device (using, inter alia, any of the methods described above to power on the golf training device (and/or some or all of the light emitting devices therein), to adjust the timing of the light emitting devices, and/or the like. Controlling operation of the golf training device might include, for instance, nudging the device with a foot or clubhead, manipulating a toggle, operating a software program on a wireless phone or other device, and/or operating a remote control device.

While certain features and aspects have been described with respect to exemplary embodiments, one skilled in the art will recognize that numerous modifications are possible. For example, the methods and processes described herein may be implemented using hardware components, software components, and/or any combination thereof. Further, while various methods and processes described herein may be described with respect to particular structural and/or functional components for ease of description, methods provided by various embodiments are not limited to any particular structural and/or functional architecture but instead can be implemented on any suitable hardware, firmware and/or software configuration. Similarly, while certain functionality is ascribed to certain system components, unless the context dictates otherwise, this functionality can be distributed among various other system components in accordance with the several embodiments.

Moreover, while the procedures of the methods and processes described herein are described in a particular order for ease of description, unless the context dictates otherwise, various procedures may be reordered, added, and/or omitted in accordance with various embodiments. Moreover, the procedures described with respect to one method or process may be incorporated within other described methods or processes; likewise, system components described according to a particular structural architecture and/or with respect to one system may be organized in alternative structural architectures and/or incorporated within other described systems. Hence, while various embodiments are described with—or without—certain features for ease of description and to illustrate exemplary aspects of those embodiments, the various components and/or features described herein with respect to a particular embodiment can be substituted, added and/or subtracted from among other described embodiments, unless the context dictates otherwise. Consequently, although several exemplary embodiments are described above, it will be appreciated that the invention is intended to cover all modifications and equivalents within the scope of the following claims.