Title:
Collapsible Combination Golf Cart and Bag
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A collapsible combination golf bag cart (10) is provided for converting between an expanded mode (12) for use on a golf course and a compact mode (14) for storage. The combination (10) includes an external frame (16), a club containment subassembly (18), a front wheel subassembly (20), a rear wheel subassembly (22), a handle (24), and a seat (26). The combination (10) is characterized by a front wheel (66) which rotates and folds underneath in compact mode (14) and rear wheels (106) which pivot backward in expanded mode (12). The external frame (16) and club containment subassembly/bag (18) maintain an offset parallelogram shape for optimal club presentation.



Inventors:
Reimers, Eric W. (Missoula, MT, US)
Deden, Michael J. (Missoula, MT, US)
Application Number:
13/788996
Publication Date:
09/12/2013
Filing Date:
03/07/2013
Assignee:
SUN MOUNTAIN SPORTS, INC. (Missoula, MT, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B55/60
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
RESTIFO, JEFFREY J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
IPLO-Intellectual Property Law Offices (San Jose, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A rolling golf club carrier comprising: an external frame including a base plate, at least one rear frame member, a mid-frame bracket and a collar; a club containment enclosure mated with said external frame; a front wheel subassembly including a front wheel; and a rear wheel subassembly including two rear wheels pivotally mounted on said external frame; wherein said front wheel is attached to said base plate in a manner such that it may be extended forward therefrom for use or folded underneath said base plate for storage; and wherein said rear wheels may be pivoted rearward for use or set against said base plate for storage.

2. The rolling golf club carrier of claim 1 and further including a seat extending forward of said club containment enclosure.

3. The rolling golf club carrier of claim 2 wherein said seat pivots upward to lie flat against said club containment enclosure when not in use.

4. The rolling golf club carrier of claim 2 wherein said seat is pivotally supported on said mid-frame bracket.

5. The rolling golf club carrier of claim 4 wherein said mid-frame bracket is generally U-shaped and includes pivot pins situated on opposing sides thereof; and said seat includes a pair of seat lever arms which engage said pivot pins.

6. The rolling golf club carrier of claim 5 wherein said mid-frame bracket includes, on each side thereof, a stop pin situated between said pivot pin and said rear frame member; and said seat lever arms each further include a stop pin slot to engage said stop pin when said seat is pivoted to a horizontal seating position.

7. The rolling club carrier of claim 1 wherein said rear wheels are mounted on telescoping axles in order to provide a wider wheelbase.

8. The rolling club carrier of claim 1 wherein said rear wheels provide, in conjunction with said front wheel, a long and stable wheelbase in said expanded mode.

9. A golf cart and bag combination, comprising a cart portion having a frame, three wheels, and a handle; and a club containment bag portion secured to said cart portion; wherein said combination is interchangeably convertible between a compact storage mode and an expanded use mode.

10. The golf cart and bag combination of claim 9, wherein said three wheels include a front wheel and a pair of rear wheels.

11. The golf cart and bag combination of claim 9, wherein said frame includes a left rear beam, a right rear beam, a base plate and a mid frame bracket.

12. The golf cart and bag combination of claim 9, wherein said club containment bag portion includes a back panel, and upper sheath portion and a lower sheath portion.

13. The golf cart and bag combination of claim 9, and further including a collar member being a part of both said cart portion and said club containment bag portion.

14. The golf cart and bag combination of claim 11, and further including a seat member pivotally attached to said mid-frame bracket to extend forward therefrom for seating or pivot upward therefrom for storage.

15. The golf cart and bag combination of claim 11, further including a collar member being a part of both said cart portion and said club containment bag portion; and wherein said club containment bag portion includes a back panel, and upper sheath portion and a lower sheath portion.

16. The golf cart and bag combination of claim 15, and further including a seat member pivotally attached to said mid-frame bracket to extend forward therefrom for seating or pivot upward therefrom for storage.

17. The golf cart and bag combination of claim 16, wherein said base plate and said collar member are parallel and offset so as to define an offset parallelogram.

18. The golf cart and bag combination of claim 15, said rear wheels are pivotally mounted on said frame at a pivot joint; and a rotator disk is associated with said pivot joint; said rotator disk including an expanded stop detent and a compact stop detent to mate with a stop post which is stationary with respect to said rotator disk in order to define the limits of pivotal positions of said rear wheels.

19. A collapsible combination golf bag and cart, comprising: a bag subassembly including a wheel cavity; a transport subassembly including a retractable front wheel and a pair of pivotally mounted rear leg assemblies, each with a rear wheel; and an expansion subassembly facilitating pivoting said front wheel into and out of said wheel cavity and pivoting said rear leg assemblies from against said bag body to rearward and outward therefrom to a stable rolling wheelbase; wherein said transport and expansion subassemblies can be manipulated to collapse from an expanded mode into a compact mode.

20. The combination of claim 19, and further including: a handle operationally engaged with said rear leg assemblies.

Description:

This is a non-provisional application claiming priority from a provisional application (U.S. Ser. No. 61/608,503) filed on 8 Mar. 2012 by the same inventor and from another provisional application (U.S. Ser. No. 61/754,555) filed on 19 Jan. 2013 by the same inventors.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates generally to accessories for golfers and particularly to methods for supporting and transporting golf clubs and accessories used by golfers.

BACKGROUND ART

Most walking golfers who use a wheeled conveyance (golf bag cart or golf trolley) to carry the clubs and accessories use a separate golf bag and golf cart. The bag holds the clubs and is attached to the cart component only when the golfer gets to the course and wants to wheel it around. However, for golfers who walk consistently it is much more convenient to have a single combination bag and cart, rather than separate components.

Various attempts have been made over the years to create workable combinations. Some golf bags have simply included attached small wheels, similar to wheeled luggage. While these might work on courses where there are continuous cart paths these are totally inadequate for rolling on grass or wet surfaces. Other combinations have rigid structures which take up a great deal of space and are thus unsuitable for compact storage or transport in an automobile trunk or the like.

Accordingly, there is significant room for improvement and a need for a compact combination golf bag and cart which wheels freely on rough surfaces, has comfort accessories, reduces to a compact volume and shape for storage and transport, and is stable in use.

DISCLOSURE OF INVENTION

Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide a combination golf bag and three wheeled cart for carrying a golf clubs and accessories in a highly stable manner.

Another object of the invention is to provide a collapsible combination bag and cart system which transitions between a compact (storage) mode and an expanded (operational) mode.

A further object of the present invention is to provide a combination bag and cart system which, when folded, takes up minimally more trunk or storage locker space than the bag itself.

Yet another object of the invention is to provide a combination bag and cart system which is typically much more balanced and stable than separate bag and cart systems.

A further object of the present invention is to provide a golf bag and cart system with an extremely sturdy and stable seat for use by the golfer during the round.

Another object of the invention is to provide a combination bag and cart system which, when expanded, has a long wheel base for handling, stability and easy rolling.

Still another object of the invention is to ride lower to the ground than other cart systems, while still providing enough ground clearance to avoid fouling in the rough.

Briefly, one preferred embodiment of the present invention is a collapsible combination golf bag and cart system having a sturdy external frame, a club containment subassembly for supporting and containing golf clubs and accessories, a front wheel subassembly for providing a long wheelbase and easy handling; a rear wheel subassembly for providing rolling capability on the course, mechanisms in each wheel subassembly for readily converting the system back and forth between a compact mode where it resembles a conventional golf bag to an expansion mode where it is a push cart with an integral bag, and a usable seat for the golfer. The presently preferred embodiment of the system has a single retractable front wheel and a pair of rear wheel assemblies which can be expanded rearward to provide a very stable wheelbase.

An advantage of the present invention is that it provides good rolling stability when in use in the expanded cart mode.

Another advantage of the invention is that it is a single integral unit which does not require assembly and disassembly when used in various circumstances.

An additional advantage of the invention is that it utilizes a leg assembly for the rear wheels which is mounted on the sides of the external frame, facilitating folding to a position where the wheels align with the bag body, thus taking minimal forward to rear space.

Yet another advantage of the present invention is that the construction is relatively lightweight for ready handling by average golfers and is less expensive than separate component systems.

Still another advantage of the present invention is that it is compact enough in the storage mode to be used on a powered golf cart.

A further advantage of the present combination bag and cart invention is that it is well adapted for storage in a cart barn at a golf course, as it is very compact in footprint and stacks effectively when needed.

Yet another advantage of the present invention is that the use of larger, standard diameter wheels allows the combination to roll smoothly through thicker turf and rougher terrain than prior combination cart systems.

Another advantage is that the built in retractable seat is strong and stable and allows the golfer to rest during the round.

These and other objects and advantages of the present invention will become clear to those skilled in the art in view of the description of the best presently known mode of carrying out the invention and the industrial applicability of the preferred embodiment as described herein and as illustrated in the several figures of the drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The purposes and advantages of the present invention will be apparent from the following detailed description in conjunction with the appended drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a side elevational view of the preferred embodiment of a combination golf bag and cart according to the present invention, shown in expanded mode;

FIG. 2 is a side elevational view showing the compact mode of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the preferred embodiment, with club containment subassembly being partially exploded, and illustrated without the handle;

FIG. 4 is a top view of the preferred embodiment;

FIG. 5 is a rear view of the embodiment of FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a side view of the front wheel subassembly in expanded mode, with some interior components shown in phantom;

FIG. 7 is a side view of the bottom portion of the combination and the front wheel subassembly, minus the wheel itself, shown in compact mode;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the expanded mode of an alternate embodiment of the combination golf bag and cart system of the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the compact (storage) mode of the alternate embodiment;

FIG. 10 is a left side view of the alternate embodiment in the expanded (cart) mode;

FIG. 11 is a left side view of the compact mode of the alternate embodiment;

FIG. 12 is a top view of the expanded mode of the alternate embodiment;

FIG. 13 is a top view of the compact mode of the alternate embodiment;

FIG. 14 is a front view of the compact mode of the alternate embodiment;

FIG. 15 is a rear view of the expanded mode of the alternate embodiment;

FIG. 16 is a detail side view of one of the rear wheel joint structures of the alternate embodiment;

FIG. 17 is a detail front view of the wheel joint structure of FIGS. 16; and

FIG. 18 is a view of the interior surface of the proximal end of one of the leg plate members of the alternate embodiment.

BEST MODE FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION

The present invention is collapsible combination golf bag and cart system used to carry and transport golf clubs and accessories. The presently preferred embodiment of the collapsible combination bag and cart (“combination”) is referred to by the general reference character 10 in the drawings and description.

Side elevational views of the expanded mode and compact mode of the combination golf bag and cart system 10 of the present invention are shown in the first two figures of the drawings. The combination golf club cart and bag 10 is shown in its expanded mode 12 in FIG. 1 and in its collapsed mode 14 in FIG. 2. The combination 10 is adapted to be easily converted between these modes for use on the golf course in the expanded mode 12 or storage in a locker, garage or vehicle in the collapsed mode 14. The overall shape of the preferred embodiment 10 is that of an offset parallelogram. This shape is particularly advantageous for presentation of golf clubs to the user, as taught in the inventor's U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,676,464 and 4,778,136.

The combination may be considered as including several component subassemblies. These include an external frame 16, a club containment subassembly (bag) 18, a front wheel subassembly 20, a rear wheel subassembly 22, a handle 24, and, in the preferred embodiment 10, a seat 26. These component subassemblies are assembled together to form the functional combination 10.

As seen in the exploded view of FIG. 3, the external frame 16 includes a base plate 28 which is affixed to a left rear beam 30 and a right rear beam 32 at about a 120° angle. A mid-frame bracket 34 is attached to the rear beams 30 and 32 at a similar angle at a position offset by a little more than half their length from the base plate 28. The mid-frame bracket 34 provides support for the components of the club containment subassembly 18 and also supports the seat 26. At the top end of the rear beams 30 and 32, a collar 36 is affixed, again at the same angle, so as to be parallel to, but offset from, the base plate 28.

The collar 36, as is best seen in the top view of FIG. 4, is crisscrossed with internal dividers 38 so as to separate the collar 36 into a plurality of discreet club slots 40. In the preferred embodiment 10, there are fifteen club slots 40, with five slots each in three rows arranged front to back. A pair of handle brackets 42 extend rearward from the collar 36 to facilitate pivotal attachment of the handle 24. In the preferred embodiment, the external frame 16 is constructed of a strong structural material as it is required to support the weight of the entire combination structure 10 and its contents, as well as the weight of a user sitting on the seat 26.

The club containment subassembly 18 serves, in conjunction with the external frame 16, the purposes ordinarily associated with a typical golf bag, such as one that would be used with a separate walking cart. This subassembly includes, in the preferred embodiment, a back panel 44 (best seen in FIG. 5) which extends between the rear beams 30 and 32 for the entire extent between the base plate 28 and the collar 36. Front and side circumferential protection for the bag interior is provided by sheathing. In the preferred embodiment illustrated there is an upper sheath 46 for the area above the mid-frame bracket 34 and a lower sheath 48 for the portion between the mid-frame bracket 34 and the base plate 28. Pockets 50 are provided on the sheathing components to carry golf balls, accessories and the like used by the golfer. In addition, one or more zippered pockets 50 may be placed on the back panel 44. In the presently preferred embodiment 10, the back panel 44, the upper sheath 46 and the lower sheath 48 are thermoformed elements to hold shape well, but could also be fabric or other materials.

In order to provide shaft protection and to minimize sticking when clubs are inserted into the club slots 40, the preferred embodiment 10 includes an equal plurality of longitudinal tubes 52 extending at least the majority of the length of the bag body 18, with one tube 52 being associated and aligned with each club slot 40.

The seat 26 is supported on the mid-frame bracket 34 in such a manner that it can extend out to a position parallel to the ground for use by the golfer or pivot up to rest against the upper sheath 46 when not in use. To accomplish this, the mid frame bracket 34 is provided with a pair of seat pivot pins 54 and a pair of stop pins 56, with one of each extending outward from the sides of the mid-frame bracket 34. The seat 26 includes seat lever arms 58 extending rearward, each provided with a pivot aperture 60 for engaging a respective seat pivot pin 54. Stop pin slots 62 are provided rearward of each pivot aperture 60 to align with and capture the respective stop pin 56 when the seat 26 is pivoted into the use position. The seat 26 is also preferably provided with a seat cushion 64 for improved golfer comfort.

The front wheel subassembly 20 (best seen in FIGS. 3, 6 and 7) attaches to the front end of the base plate 28 and includes a front wheel 66, a front fork 68 and a pivot/rotate mechanism 70. The pivot/rotate mechanism 70 facilitates the transition between the expanded mode 14 (FIG. 1) where the front wheel 66 is vertical and engages the ground surface and the compact mode 16 (FIG. 2) where the front wheel 66 is folded up to a horizontal position to rest against the bottom of the base plate 28.

As particularly shown in FIGS. 6 and 7, the pivot/rotate mechanism 70 includes a front base bracket 72 formed as part of the base plate 28. This is provided with a transverse pivot pin 74 near its bottom edge and a pair of beveled lock holes 76 situated vertically above and slightly rearward of the pivot pin 74. A fork flange cap 78 rotates on the pivot pin 74 and, in the use mode 14 (FIGS. 1, 3 and 6), nests within the base bracket 72, with a pair of depressible lock pins 80 engaging the lock holes 76 to secure the fork flange cap 78 in position with the front wheel 66 extending outward from the base plate 28. The front (exterior) of the fork flange cap 78 is open and square shaped in the preferred embodiment 10 (although it could also be round) and defined by a peripheral wall 82. A pair of opposingly expanded mode positioning detents 84 and a pair of opposing compact mode positioning detents 85, offset by ninety degrees from the expanded mode detents 84, are formed in the peripheral wall 82 and a spring anchor 86 is situated in the interior of the fork flange cap 78 to attach to a compression spring 88 extending through the cap 78.

The front fork 68 includes a pair of fork arms 90 which support the front wheel 66 on a front axle 92 and a nose cone 94 section adapted to mate with the fork flange cap 78. A spring plate 96 extends across between the fork arms 90 at the exterior end of the nose cone 94 and includes a spring connector 98 to attach to the exterior end of the compression spring 88.

The nose cone 94 is hollow and is adapted to mate with the fork flange cap 78. The interior end of the nose cone 94 includes at least a pair of positioning protrusions 100 adapted to mate with the positioning detents 84 and 85 on the fork flange cap 78.

One of the fork arms 90 is provided with an alignment screw structure 102 situated around the front axle 92 (see FIG. 6). The alignment screw 102 is provided to properly align the front wheel 66 between the fork arms 90 such that the cart 10 tracks properly.

The transition of the front wheel subassembly 20 between the expanded mode 12 (FIGS. 1 and 6) and the compact mode 14 (FIGS. 2 and 7) is accomplished first by pulling outward on the front wheel 66 in order to overcome the force of the compression spring 88 and disengaging the positioning protrusions 100 from the expanded mode positioning detents 84. The front fork 68 is then rotated ninety degrees and released such that the positioning protrusions 100 engage the compact mode positioning detents 85 and are held there by the compression spring 88. The user then pivots the front fork 68 and front wheel 66 by manually depressing the lock pins 80 to disengage them from the lock holes 76 (the beveling on both surfaces surrounding each lock hole 76 facilitates this) and rotating the front fork 68 downward and rearward to rest between the rear wheels and against the bottom of the base plate 28. The return to the use mode 12 is accomplished by the reverse process, with the lock pins 80 being depressed to allow the fork flange cap 78 to fit into the front base bracket 72 to re-engage the lock holes 76.

The rear wheel subassembly 22 primarily includes a pair of rear wheel structures 104 which are essentially identical and symmetrical. Each rear wheel structure 104 includes a rear wheel 106 mounted on an axle rod 108. A leg plate 110 extends from each rear axle 106 to a pivot axle 112 on the external frame 16 below the mid-frame bracket 34. A rotator disk 114 (shown in a cutaway inset on FIG. 2) on the pivot axle 112 has an expanded stop detent 116 and a compact stop detent 118 to engage a stop post 120 in either of two rotational positions. In the expanded mode 12 (FIG. 1) the stop post 120 is captured in the expanded stop detent 116, while the leg plate 110 can be manually rotated on the pivot axle 114 to the compact mode 14 of FIG. 2) where the stop post 120 is captured in the compact stop detent 118.

In the preferred embodiment 10 a cross rod 122 extends between the two leg rear plates 110 to tie them physically together and provide increased structural stability. Reinforcing disks 124 are provided at the lower ends of each leg plate 122 to support the rear axle rods 108 and anchor the ends of the cross rod 122. In some embodiments the rear wheels 106 are mounted on or directly exteriorly adjacent to the reinforcing disks 124.

Although the preferred combination cart and bag 10 is wide enough that it is laterally stable, a different embodiment envisions an expanded rear wheel base to provide even greater stability. In this embodiment the individual rear axle rods 108 are replaced by a single telescoping axle rod 126 extending between and passing through each of the leg plates 110 and reinforcing disks 124 to engage each of the rear wheels 106. The telescoping axle rod 126 (portions of which will extend into the interior of the cross rod 122) may be extended longitudinally to move the rear wheels 106 outward from the leg plates 110 to create a wider separation.

In an alternate embodiment of the invention illustrated in FIG. 8, the alternate combination bag and cart 810 is shown in a perspective view in its expanded mode 812 (also referred to as “deployed state” or “cart mode”). The invention is illustrated in FIG. 9 in a compact mode 814 also referred to as a “storage” mode or folded mode 814, where it is collapsed into a minimal volume configuration for compact storage in an auto trunk compartment, bag locker or garage, for example. The transition between the folded mode 814 and the expanded mode 812 (and back) is discussed later herein.

The perspective views of FIGS. 8 and 9 and the other views illustrated FIGS. 10-18 show various components of the alternate combination golf bag and cart system invention 810. In these drawings, it may be seen that this alternate embodiment of the invention includes three cooperative subassemblies. These are a bag subassembly 816 which is adapted to store and protect the golf clubs and associated accessories such as golf balls, tees and the like; a transport subassembly 818 which facilitates rolling easily around a golf course, thus relieving the user from carrying the combination; and an expansion subassembly 820 which works with the other two subassemblies to convert the invention between the compact mode 814 and the expanded mode 812. It is understood that some components of the invention are a part of more than one of the subassemblies.

The bag subassembly 816 includes a bag body 822 which defines an interior cavity 824 into which the shafts of golf clubs (not shown) are inserted. A rigid internal frame 826 provides structural shaping to the bag body 822. A rigid (injection molded in the preferred embodiment) base member 828 provides bottom structure and a relatively rigid (thermoformed plastic) back plate 830 extends between the base member 828 and a rigid (injection molded) collar member 832 at the top of the bag body 822. The collar 832 includes a plurality of interior dividers 834 in the alternate embodiment 810 to provide separation for the clubs when inserted into the interior cavity 824. A flexible fabric sheath 836 is bonded to the base member 828, the back plate 830 and the collar member 832 and formed around the interior frame 826 to laterally enclose the interior cavity 824.

Portions of the internal frame 826 and the base member 828 are formed toward the front of the bag body 822 to define a wheel cavity 838. Various permanent ball and accessory pockets 840 (ordinarily fabric) are placed on the exterior of the bag body 822 in positions where they do not interfere with the other assemblies. Optionally, the pockets 840 may be replaced by removable containers for the accessories which may be attached to the collar or the like.

The transport subassembly 828 includes a front wheel 842 which rotates on a front axle 844 which is supported by a two pronged front frame 846 attached to the bag body 822 at a front pivot 848. The front pivot 848 is situated at the front lower extent of the wheel cavity 838 and mounted on the base member 828. The front pivot 848 has a limited rotation range, with the rotational extremes being as shown in FIGS. 8 and 9. A pivot cam lever 850 locks and releases the front pivot 848 such that the front wheel 842 can be extended out forward of the bag body 822 in the expanded mode 812 or retracted into the wheel cavity 838 in the compact mode 814. In the alternate embodiment 810, the positioning of the front wheel 842 is accomplished manually by the user.

The transport subassembly 818 includes a pair of leg assemblies 851 symmetrically and pivotally mounted on the bag back plate 830 of the bag body 822. The leg assemblies 851 further include a left rear wheel 852 and a right rear wheel 854. Each rear wheel 852, 854 is mounted on a corresponding rear axle 856 at the distal end of a leg pivot plate 858. Each leg pivot plate 858 operates in tandem with a corresponding parallel link 860 arranged in a pivoting parallelogram array with the pivot plate 858. Each leg plate 858 and corresponding parallel link 850 is connected at it its proximal end to a pivot joint 862 mounted on the bag back plate 830 at a point generally equidistant from the base member 828 and the collar 832. Each leg plate 858 also includes an attachment point 864 and a return spring 866 situated near its proximal end as discussed hereinafter. At least one of the left rear wheel 852 and the right rear wheel 854 includes a brake 868 (see FIG. 10) which the user may activate to engage the wheel in place to frictionally prevent rotation, such as when the combination cart/bag 810 is parked on a slope. The detailed structure of the pivot joint 862 and the associated components is discussed in more detail hereinafter in connection with FIGS. 16-18.

The front components of the expansion subassembly 820, the front pivot 848 and pivot cam 840 lever, have already been discussed above. The rear components are associated with the rear wheels 852 and 854 and have interworking mechanisms.

The user drives the operation of the rear elements of the expansion subassembly 820 by operating a handle 870. The handle 870 rotates in a limited arc on a handle pivot rod 872 between an extended position as shown in FIG. 8 in the expanded mode 812 and a position where it is folded against the rear of the bag body 822 in the compact mode 814, as shown in FIG. 9. A handle adjustment cam lever 874 is provided to lock the handle 870 in its desired positions. The handle 870 also serves as the steering and propelling element when the invention is in the expanded mode 812.

Situated on each side of the handle 870, at a position slightly displaced from the handle pivot rod 872, is a connection point 876, which serves as a location for pivotal attachment for one end of a push rod 878, the other end of which connects to the attachment point 864 on the corresponding one of the leg pivot plates 858. Each push rod 878 has a ball tip 880 on each end to facilitate rotation on the attachment point 864 and connection point 876. When the handle 870 is rotated about the handle pivot rod 872 from the compact mode 814 to the expanded mode 812 the push rods 878 pull upward and outward on the leg pivot plates 858, resulting in the leg assemblies 851 rotating rearward on the pivot joints 862. This causes the parallel links 860 to be urged away from the leg pivot plates 858, which in turn cause the leg assemblies 51 to laterally spread, thus resulting in the expanded wheel base seen in the expanded mode 812. Conversely when the handle 870 is rotated back into the compact mode 814 the push rods 878 and return springs 866 drive the leg assemblies 851 forward and inward, overcoming the force of the return springs 866 such that the wheels 852 and 854 are forced against the side of the bag body 822 to achieve a minimal footprint.

In addition to its function as part of the transport subassembly 818 the handle 870 also supports some conventional elements which facilitate the use and comfort of the golfer. These include a storage tray 882, a grip 884, and an umbrella mount 886.

In the partially cut-away view of FIG. 15, the interior frame 826 and the interior cavity 824 are shown (since portions of the bag back plate 830 are cut away). Also shown is the rigid interior back panel 888 which particularly supports a pivot joint frame 890. The pivot joint frame 890 extends across between both pivot joints 862 and aligns and rigidly supports the pivot joints 862, which are particularly shown in FIGS. 16 and 17.

The detailed structure and operation of the pivot joints 862 is best understood in connection with the illustrations of FIGS. 16-18. As best seen in the rear edge view of FIG. 17, the pivot joint frame 890 supports a pivot plate 892. The pivot plate 892 pivotally connects to a raised support post portion 894 which is free to rotate thereon and which conforms to the interior contours of the distal end of the leg member 858 and mates therewith. The raised support post portion 894 includes bolt holes 896 facilitating attaching the leg member 858 and the parallel link 860 to the pivot plate 892.

FIG. 17 also illustrates how the push rod 878 interacts with the leg plate 858. The attachment point 864 supports a ball tip 898 which mates with the ball tip 880 on the end of the push rod 872 to form a ball joint 900 which permits the push rod 872 to rotate and stay in close attachment as the leg member 858 is moved from position to position. The same sort of ball joint 900 is present at the other end of the push rod 872 where it engages the connection point on the handle 870.

The illustration of FIG. 18 shows the interior surface of the upper end of the leg plate 858, including the aperture designated at the attachment point 864 and the bolt holes 896 which facilitate securing the leg plate 858 to the support post 894. The prominent feature on the interior surface is a ramp 902 which engages the stationary pivot plate 892 and the leg plate 858 rotates from the compact mode 814 to the expanded mode 812. The ramp 902 acts to urge the leg member outward away from the bag body 822 during such rotation. The lever action is significantly greater at the proximal end of the leg plate 858 such that the wheelbase formed by the leg assemblies 851 in the expanded mode 812 is wide enough for stable handling and rolling over golf course surfaces.

In the alternate embodiment 810 the handle 870 and the leg assemblies 851 are primarily constructed of anodized aluminum for light weight and durability. The wheels 842, 852 and 854 are formed of lightweight structural plastic with cushioned traction surfaces and may either be provided with solid hubs or spoke hubs. The bag body components include a typically fabric sheath 836, molded or thermoformed plastic for the rigid structural elements (828, 830, 832 and 838) and either aluminum or composite materials for the interior frame 826 and pivot joint frame 890.

Many modifications to the above embodiments may be made without altering the nature of the invention. The dimensions and shapes of the components and the construction materials may be modified for particular circumstances.

While various embodiments have been described above, it should be understood that they have been presented by way of example only, and not as limitations.

INDUSTRIAL APPLICABILITY

The collapsible combination golf bag and cart 10 of the present invention is intended for use primarily by golfers who desire maximum convenience and safety while transporting a golf bag on a walking round. The combination system 10 is relatively lightweight and is extremely compressed in compact mode 14 to facilitate storage. It expands and folds with a minimum of effort. The expanded mode 12 is stable for rolling and supporting the clubs and accessories during the round.

For typical use, the combination golf bag and cart 10 will begin in the compact mode 14, for storage, with the handle 24 folded tightly against the back panel 44, the front wheel 66 rotated and folded flat against the base plate 28, and the rear wheel structures 104 held against the sides of the external frame 16. In this mode it has only the effective height of the bag body and the clubs and a small portion of the rear wheels 106 so the combination 10 easily fits into an automobile trunk or on a garage shelf, and facilitates stacking multiple units in a cart barn. Even in compact mode 14, however, the rear wheels are free to rotate and the combination 10 can be rolled to desired locations.

When the golfer has moved the compact mode 14 combination to a location where free rolling is desired it is time to transition into the expanded mode 12. To do this the golfer manually pivots the front wheel 66 forward and downward and around to extend forward from the front of the base plate 18 as described above. Similarly, each rear wheel structure 104 is manually rotated to disengage the stop pin 120 from the compact stop detent 118 and into the expanded stop detent 116. When the round is over, the golfer simply reverses the expansion process to return the combination 10 to the compact mode 14.

The extreme convenience, ease of operation and compactness of storage volume of the inventive collapsible combination golf bag and cart 10 makes it a joy to own and use and desirable accessory for any golfer who wishes to walk the course without carrying the weight of the bag.

For the above, and other, reasons, it is expected that the collapsible combination golf bag and cart 10 of the present invention will have widespread industrial applicability. Therefore, it is expected that the commercial utility of the present invention will be extensive and long lasting.