Title:
DEVICE AND METHOD FOR STORAGE OF A GOLF CLUB
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A club restraining device comprising a sleeve having an axial sleeve opening sized and configured to receive the shaft of a golf club. An engagement plate is moveably coupled to the sleeve and includes a first face and an opposing second face. The engagement plate includes a first opening extending from the first face toward the second face. A first magnet is disposed in the first opening, with the first magnet being configured to magnetically urge the club head toward the magnet and into engagement with the second face when the club head is positioned in proximity to the engagement plate.



Inventors:
Barry, Michael A. (IRVINE, CA, US)
Application Number:
14/156229
Publication Date:
02/12/2015
Filing Date:
01/15/2014
Assignee:
BARRY MICHAEL A.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B55/10
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
MAI, TRI M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
STETINA BRUNDA GARRED & BRUCKER (ALISO VIEJO, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A device for stowing a golf club in a golf bag, the golf club having a club head and a shaft, the device comprising: a sleeve having an axial sleeve opening sized and configured to receive the shaft of a golf club; an engagement plate moveably coupled to the sleeve and including a first face and an opposing second face, the engagement plate having a first opening extending therein; and a first magnet in the first opening; the first magnet being configured to magnetically urge the club head toward the magnet and into engagement with the engagement plate when the club head is positioned in proximity to the engagement plate.

2. The device recited in claim 1, wherein the engagement plate is rotatably coupled to the sleeve.

3. The device recited in claim 2, wherein the engagement plate is rotatable about a single axis relative to the sleeve.

4. The device recited in claim 1, wherein the first opening and the first magnet are configured to create a press-fit engagement between the first magnet and the engagement plate when the first magnet is disposed within the first opening.

5. The device recited in claim 1, further comprising a pair of peripheral club support elements coupled to and extending from the engagement plate in opposed relation to each other, the pair of peripheral club support elements being configured to be engageable with respective peripheral portions of the club head.

6. The device recited in claim 5, wherein each peripheral club support element includes a rear end portion and a forward end portion, the rear end portions being angled toward each other.

7. The device recited in claim 5, wherein the pair of peripheral club support elements are integral with the engagement plate.

8. The device recited in claim 1, wherein the sleeve includes a knurled outer surface.

9. The device recited in claim 1, wherein the first opening extends completely between the first face and the second face.

10. The device recited in claim 1, wherein the engagement plate includes a second opening spaced from the first opening and extending from the first face toward the second face, the device further comprising: a second magnet in the second opening.

11. The device recited in claim 1, further comprising a shoulder extending into the first opening.

12. The device recited in claim 11, wherein the shoulder extends into the first opening from the second face.

13. A device for stowing a golf club in a golf bag, the golf club having a club head and a shaft, the device comprising: a shaft restraining member configured to be disposable in operative communication with the shaft of the golf club to capture the shaft and restrain movement of the shaft relative to the shaft restraining member when the shaft is captured therein; a club head restraining member rotatably coupled to the shaft restraining member; and a magnet coupled to the club head restraining member and configured to urge the club head toward the club head restraining member when the club head is placed in proximity to the magnet.

14. The device recited in claim 13, further comprising a pair of peripheral club support elements coupled to and extending from the club head restraining member in opposed relation to each other, the pair of peripheral club support elements being configured to be engageable with respective peripheral portions of the club head.

15. The device recited in claim 14, wherein each peripheral club support element includes a rear end portion and a forward end portion, the rear end portions being angled toward each other.

16. The device recited in claim 14, wherein the pair of peripheral club support elements are integral with the club head restraining member.

17. The device recited in claim 13, wherein the shaft includes a knurled outer surface.

18. The device recited in claim 13, wherein the club head restraining member is rotatable about a single axis relative to the shaft restraining member.

19. The device recited in claim 13, wherein the club head restraining member includes an opening formed therein sized to receive the magnet.

20. The device recited in claim 19, further comprising a shoulder extending into the opening.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present patent application is a continuation-in-part of prior U.S. application Ser. No. 13/961,601, filed Aug. 7, 2013, the contents of which are expressly incorporated herein by reference.

STATEMENT RE: FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH/DEVELOPMENT

Not applicable

BACKGROUND

1. Technical Field

The present disclosure relates generally to the storage of golf clubs. More particularly, the present disclosure relates to a device and method for securely storing golf clubs in a fashion that mitigates wear and damage while retaining easy accessibility during play.

2. Related Art

For many, the sport of golf is a favored pastime, and one of the most significant investments a golfer makes is in their golf clubs. Typically, a golfer will store their golf clubs in a specially designed golf club bag, both on and off the course.

Generally, while in a golf club bag, golf clubs are loose and frequently jostle with each other. Because golf clubs represent a significant investment, and the physical integrity of a golf club head can have a direct impact on a golfer's play, numerous measures have been undertaken in order to protect golf club heads from being damaged.

For example, it is common for many golfers to cover the heads of their stored golf clubs with golf club headcovers made of a protective, usually padded material. However, headcovers suffer from various deficiencies, including the requirement that the headcover must be removed to use the golf club during play, and as such may be misplaced or lost.

Many golfers have also experienced an accidentally upturned golf club bag resulting in numerous clubs clattering to the ground, perhaps resulting in embarrassment and damage to the golfer's clubs.

Consequently, there is a need for an improved device and method for storage of golf clubs.

BRIEF SUMMARY

To solve these and other problems, a device and method for improved storage of a golf club is contemplated wherein a golf club shaft may be placed in a protective tube and the golf club head may be held by a restraining element. The restraining element may be, for example, a resiliently flexible snap-in holder for the golf club head, or a resiliently flexible membrane configured to fit snugly around the golf club hosel in combination with a magnet for restraining the golf club head. In such a way, it may be seen that when a golf club shaft is inserted within the tube and attached to the restraining elements, the golf club may be restrained and substantially prevented from jostling or rotating when stored.

The device for restraining translational and rotational motion of a golf club may have a tube with upper and lower end portions. The tube may have a substantially axial, or linear opening therethrough, extending between the upper and lower end portions. The tube may be sized and configured to receive through the opening a golf club shaft. The upper end portion of the tube may be coupled with a golf club restraining element. Such a restraining element may be selectively engagable with a golf club, and may be configured to substantially restrain translational and rotational motion of the golf club relative to the tube when the golf club is engaged with the restraining element.

The golf club restraining element may be, in one embodiment, a resiliently flexible housing with a housing opening of a size and configuration suitable for accepting the placement of a golf club head. The housing may be configured to substantially circumnavigate at least a portion of the golf club head, and to retain the golf club head and prevent translational and rotational motion of the golf club through a frictional engagement. Such a resiliently flexible housing may have, for example, two resiliently flexible opposed flanges configured to substantially circumnavigate and frictionally engage a club head.

The tube may be configured with a cap member attached to the tube's lower end portion. In such a way, it may be seen that a cap would provide radial support to the tube. Such a cap member may be configured with one or more apertures. A benefit of the cap member being configured with apertures may be to allow drainage of accumulated rainwater within the tube.

In another embodiment, the restraining element may comprise a resilient body for frictionally engaging with a golf club, and a magnet for magnetically engaging with the golf club. The resilient body and the magnet may cooperate to substantially restrain the translational and rotation motion of the golf club. The magnet may be disposed in a magnet housing. The magnet housing may be sized, formed, and configured to mitigate damage which may occur during magnetic engagement of the magnet to the golf club head. The magnet may also be coupled to a magnet release mechanism for disengaging the golf club head from the magnet. Such a magnet release mechanism may include, for example, a lever. The magnet may be positioned proximal to the upper end portion of the tube and may be operatively connected to the resilient body. It is contemplated that the operative connection of the magnet to the resilient body may include a ball-and-socket joint, which may offer the advantage of allowing the magnet to be repositioned to accommodate a variety of club head surface configurations.

The resilient body of the embodiment may have a body opening with a shaft portion and a hosel portion. In such a way, a golf club shaft may be inserted through the resilient body through the shaft opening, and then repositioned to the hosel portion of the resilient body for retaining the hosel. It is contemplated that the shaft portion and the hosel portion may be interconnected to allow for such repositioning.

Other embodiments may omit the tube for containing the golf club shaft. Such embodiments may only include a member for insertion of the golf club, and golf club restraining elements, so long as the translational and rotational motions of the golf club are substantially restrained relative to the member when the golf club is inserted through the member and engaged with the golf club restraining elements.

Further, a method of using the device is contemplated, in which a device according to one of the embodiments is provided, and a golf club is received therein and interfaced with a golf club restraining element so that the translational and rotational motion of the club is substantially restrained relative to the member. For embodiments in which a golf club restraining element includes a magnet and a magnet release mechanism, the method additionally contemplates releasing the golf club from the magnet by actuating the magnet release mechanism.

According to another embodiment, there is contemplated a device comprising a sleeve having an axial sleeve opening sized and configured to receive the shaft of a golf club. An engagement plate is moveably coupled to the sleeve and includes a first face and an opposing second face. The engagement plate includes a first opening extending from the first face toward the second face. A first magnet is disposed in the first opening, with the first magnet being configured to magnetically urge the club head toward the magnet and into engagement with the second face when the club head is positioned in proximity to the engagement plate.

The engagement plate may be rotatably coupled to the sleeve. The engagement plate may be rotatable about a single axis relative to the sleeve.

The first opening may extend completely between the first face and the second face. The first opening and the first magnet are configured to create a press-fit engagement between the first magnet and the engagement plate when the first magnet is disposed within the first opening. The device may further include a shoulder extending into the first opening. The shoulder may extend into the first opening from the second face.

The engagement plate may include a second opening spaced from the first opening and extending from the first face toward the second face. The device may further include a second magnet in the second opening.

According to yet another embodiment, there is a device including a shaft restraining member configured to be disposable in operative communication with the shaft of the golf club to capture the shaft and restrain movement of the shaft relative to the shaft restraining member when the shaft is captured therein. A club head restraining member is rotatably coupled to the shaft restraining member. A magnet is coupled to the club head restraining member and is configured to urge the club head toward the club head restraining member when the club head is placed in proximity to the magnet.

The shaft restraining member may include a wall disposed about a central axis to define an axial opening extending therethrough. The club head restraining member may be rotatable relative to the shaft restraining member about a single rotation axis angularly offset from the central axis.

The club head restraining member may include an attachment plate attachable to the shaft restraining member, and an engagement plate rotatable relative to the attachment plate and engageable with the club head. The engagement plate may include a cavity complimentary to a portion of an outer periphery of the attachment plate.

The club head restraining member may include an opening formed therein sized to receive the magnet. The opening and the magnet may be configured to create a press-fit engagement between the magnet and the club head restraining member when the magnet is disposed within the opening. The device may further include a shoulder extending into the opening.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other features and advantages of the various embodiments disclosed herein will be better understood with respect to the following description and drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a restraining device disposed in a golf club bag and engaged with a golf club, the restraining element being of the resiliently flexible housing type;

FIG. 2 is a top view of the restraining device depicted in FIG. 1, showing the golf club attached to the restraining element;

FIG. 3 is an exploded view of FIG. 1, showing the golf club, an embodiment of the device of the present invention of the flexible housing type, and the golf bag;

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of an embodiment of the present invention of the resiliently flexible housing type restraining the golf club;

FIG. 5 is an exploded view of FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a bottom view of the device, showing the cap member;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a golf club restrained by a second embodiment of a restraining element including a resilient body and a magnet;

FIG. 8 is an exploded view of the restraining element of FIG. 7;

FIG. 9 is a top view of one embodiment of a resilient body;

FIG. 10 is a top view of a second embodiment of a resilient body;

FIG. 11 is a top view of a magnet and a magnet release mechanism in an engaged configuration with the magnet being engaged with a golf club head;

FIG. 12 is a top view of the magnet release mechanism being actuated to move the magnet towards a disengaged configuration;

FIG. 13 is an upper perspective view front of another embodiment of a club restraining device with a golf club shown in phantom engaged with the device;

FIG. 14 is an upper perspective view rear view of the club restraining device shown in FIG. 13, with a plurality of magnets exploded from an engagement plate;

FIG. 15 is a sectional view showing a magnet nested within an opening formed in the engagement plate; and

FIG. 16 is a front upper perspective view of another embodiment of a club restraining device inserted within a club separating device shown in phantom;

FIG. 17 is a rear upper perspective view of the club restraining device shown in FIG. 16; and

FIG. 18 is an upper perspective exploded view of the club restraining device shown in FIG. 17.

Common reference numerals are used throughout the drawings and the detailed description to indicate the same elements.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

According to various aspects of the present invention, a device and method for improved storage of a golf club is contemplated which has a tube for receiving within it a golf club shaft, and a restraining element for restraining a golf club, preventing the golf club from substantially translating or rotating. In such a way, a golf club may be stored in a fashion that prevents the golf club from contacting other golf clubs or falling, which is a common cause of damage to a golf club.

Referring now to the figures, and more particularly to FIG. 1, a device according to an embodiment of the present invention is shown. The embodiment may comprise a tube 20 with an upper end portion 22 and a lower end portion 24. The upper end portion 22 and the lower end portion 24 may be opposed to one another on the tube 20, and extending between the two may be a substantially axial tube opening 26. A golf club restraining element 28 may be coupled to the upper end portion 22.

The tube opening 26 may be sized and configured to allow passage therethrough of a typical golf club shaft 30, with a sufficient axial nature and interior width to accommodate the typical golf club shaft 30. The distance between the upper end portion 22 and the lower end portion 24 of the tube 20 may be long enough to accommodate a typical golf club shaft 30. It may be preferable that the tube 20 be longer than a typical golf club shaft 30, and be configurable by the user to be a certain length. Such configuration may occur through, for example but without limitation, cutting the material of the tube, or through the employment of a telescopic or segmented tube configuration. The interior or exterior cross-sectional surface of the tube 20 transverse to axial path of the tube opening 26 may be, for example but without limitation, spherical, oval, square, rectangular, hexagonal, or octagonal. The tube 20 may be formed of any suitable material for storage of golf clubs, for example but without limitation, a plastic or a metal. It may be preferable that the tube 20 be formed of a transparent plastic, so that a golfer may examine the condition of a golf club without removing it from storage, or may more prominently display the features of their golf club, such as the color or design of a golf club shaft 30.

A typical golf club may include a golf club shaft 30 and a golf club head 32. A golf club head may 32 may include a toe 34, a crown 36, a heel 38, and a sole 40. A golf club may also have a hosel 42 at the junction between the golf club shaft 30 and the golf club head 32. Golf clubs traditionally are stored in a golf club bag 44.

The golf club restraining element 28 of the present invention may be functionally coupled to the upper end portion 22 of the tube 20, and may be configured to substantially restrain translational and rotational motion of golf club received within the tube opening 26. To substantially restrain motion in this case means mitigating perceptible motion of the golf club independent of the restraining element 28 during the conditions expected to be faced while playing the sport of golf or in a golfer's regular transportation of a golf club. It may be seen that during less expected conditions, such as during sudden shocks or impacts to the device or club, perceptible motion may have a likelihood of not being restrained.

It may be seen that the device may be configured with a fastener 46 for attachment to an external surface. The external surface may be, as illustrated, the interior of a golf club bag 44. In such a way, it may be appreciated that the device may be configured in such a way that the golf club may not only restrained with respect to the device, but may also be restrained with respect to another object. The fastener 46 may be any apparatus or material suitable for fastening, including but not limited to hook and loop fasteners, screws, tape, or adhesive.

Referring now to FIG. 2, a preferred embodiment of the golf club restraining element 28 may be a resiliently flexible housing 48 having a housing opening portion 50. The resiliently flexible housing 48 may be sized and configured to accept a golf club head 32 and to substantially circumnavigate and frictionally engage at least a portion of the golf club head 32. Such a resiliently flexible housing 48 may be formed of any resiliently flexible material capable of flexing to accept placement of a golf club head 32, and capable of resiliency so as to bias towards returning to the pre-flexing configuration following flexing. In such a way, it may be seen that when a golf club head 32 is inserted into a resiliently flexible housing 48, causing the resiliently flexible housing 48 to flex by such insertion to conform to the dimensions of the golf club head 32, the force of the resiliently flexible housing 48 biasing towards returning to its original configuration may cause a frictional engagement between the resiliently flexible housing 48 and the golf club head 32. One embodiment of a resiliently flexible housing 48 may be configured to have a portion which substantially circumnavigates a portion of a golf club head 32, such substantial circumnavigation in combination with the biasing force of the resiliently flexible housing 48 resulting in a frictional engagement with the golf club head 32. It may be seen that such a frictional engagement may result in the lateral and rotational movement of the golf club being substantially restrained.

The housing opening portion 50 may be sized and configured to accept the golf club shaft 30 therethrough. The housing opening portion 50 may also be sized and configured to be substantially aligned with the axial path of the tube opening 26 to allow the golf club shaft 30 to enter into the tube 20 following insertion through the resiliently flexible housing 48.

The resiliently flexible housing 48 may also have a head opening portion 52 for frictionally engaging a golf club head 32. Such a head opening portion 52 may define the substantial circumnavigation of a portion of a golf club head 32 by, for example, the head opening portion 52 being at least partially defined by two opposing flanges 54 forming a portion of the resiliently flexible housing 48. Opposing flanges 54 may substantially circumnavigate a portion of the golf club head 32, and may resiliently flex to allow gripping a golf club head 32 in a frictional engagement. The head opening portion 52 may also allow for protrusion of bulkier portions of a golf club head 32, such as a golf club toe 34 and sole 40, so as to allow the placement and retention of golf clubs having golf club heads 30 of many different sizes, dimension, and configurations, such as but not limited to drivers, putters, irons, wedges, or hybrid clubs. It may be seen, however, that the head opening portion 52 may be configured in a multitude of ways which result in frictional engagement with an inserted golf club head 32.

The resiliently flexible housing 48 and its constitutive portions, such as the opposed flanges 54 in one particular embodiment, may be formed of a resiliently flexible material, including but not limited to, a plastic such as polyvinyl chloride, polyurethane, polyethylene or polypropylene, or a metal such as aluminum, steel or titanium. It may also be appreciated that the resilient flexibility may not be entirely a result of the resiliently flexible housing 48 being formed of a resiliently flexible material, but rather may be in some respects a result of components or combinations of components allowing the resiliently flexible housing 48 to resiliently flex, such as but not limited to hinges, springs or elastics.

As shown in FIG. 3, the tube 20 may have proximal to the lower end portion 24 a cap member 56. The cap member 56 may be formed of the same material as the tube 20, or a different material. The cap member 56 may provide radial support to the tube 20. It may be seen that such radial support would allow a tube 20 formed of a lighter and more flexible material to resist being crushed, compressed or bent during use or transit, such crushing, compressing, or bending potentially allowing damage to occur to a club stored within the tube 20, such as a golf club shaft 30 becoming bent or otherwise deformed.

As shown in FIG. 4 and the exploded view FIG. 5, a connection of the upper end portion 22 to the golf club retaining element 28 may be achieved by interlocking radial segments having common midpoints but different diameters. The connection of the cap member 56 to the lower end portion 24 may be made in the same fashion, for example, by having the cap member 56 fit inside the lower end portion 24. It may be seen that such connections between the components of the device may be achieved through different components being placed in interlocking configurations on the inside or outside of each other. The connections between components may be achieved through a variety of other means and forms of engagement known in the art, and as such should not be limited by the presently described embodiments or illustrations.

As shown in FIG. 6, the cap member 56 may be configured with one or more apertures 58. Such a configuration may allow pooled water inside the tube 20 to drain through the apertures 58. This may occur, for example, when a golfer's clubs get wet as a result of rain, golf course irrigation, or water obstacles. This may also provide the additional advantage of allowing greater airflow around a stored golf club, which may, for example, allow a stored golf club which has become slick with moisture from use on a golf course to dry more quickly, allowing a golfer to have a more secure grip on their club.

The device of the currently described embodiment having a resiliently flexible housing 48 may be used by the insertion of a golf club shaft 30 through the housing opening portion 50. The golf club shaft may then be inserted into the upper end portion 22 of the tube 20, and through the tube opening 26 until the golf club shaft 30 is fully or near-fully disposed within the tube 20. At this point, the golf club head 32, and particularly the crown 36, may be disposed proximal to the resiliently flexible housing 48. The golf club head 32 may then be rotated to align with the resiliently flexible housing 48 and pressed into the resiliently flexible housing 48, causing the resiliently flexible housing 48 to flex to receive the golf club head 32, and then bias to the original unflexed configuration, substantially circumnavigating and frictionally engaging the golf club head 32. In one embodiment, the head opening portion 52 of the resiliently flexible housing 48 may be the portion of the resiliently flexible housing 48 which flexes and biases. In a more particular embodiment, opposed flanges 54 defining a portion of the head opening portion 52 may flex and bias to substantially circumnavigate and frictionally engage the golf club head 32. In such a way, the golf club may have its transverse and rotational motion independent of the device restrained.

Referring now specifically to FIG. 7, there is shown a second embodiment of the golf club restraining element 128 which includes a resiliently flexible body 60 and a magnet 62. The magnet 62 is disposed in a magnet housing 64 and is operatively coupled to a magnet release mechanism 66. The magnet 62 is positionable proximally to the upper end portion 22 of the tube 20 and is operatively connected to the resiliently flexible body 60.

The resiliently flexible body 60 may be, for example, a membranous layer portion 68 disposed in a plane transverse to an axis substantially parallel to the tube opening 26. The resiliently flexible body 60 may also have a collar portion 70 for attachment to the upper end portion 22. The membranous layer portion 68 may be configured to receive a golf club shaft 30 through a shaft portion 72. The shaft portion 72 may be positioned at or near the center of the membranous layer portion 68, and may be configured to accept the passage of a golf club shaft 30 therethrough until the hosel 42 is substantially surrounded by the material defining the perimeter of shaft portion 72. The resiliently flexible body 60 may partially retain the golf club and at least partially prevent substantial motion when the hosel 42 is surrounded in such a fashion. It is also contemplated that membranous layer portion 68 may also have a hosel portion 74 for subsequent placement of a golf club hosel 42 following insertion of a golf club shaft 30 through a shaft portion 72. The hosel portion 74 may have a smaller dimension than the shaft portion 72, or a larger dimension. The hosel portion 74 may be positioned proximal to the external perimeter of the membranous layer portion 68. The hosel portion 74 may be interconnected with the shaft portion 72 so that an inserted golf club may be shifted from a shaft portion 72 to a hosel portion 74 to permit restraining of the golf club. The shaft portion 72 may have one or more slits 76 externally radiating outward from the shaft portion 72 and defining openings in the membranous layer portion 68 to allow for greater flexibility of the shaft portion 72, to permit the insertion of golf club shafts 30 having variable sizes and dimensions therethrough. An interconnection of the shaft portion 72 to the hosel portion 74 may be defined by one such slit 76. In such a way, it may be seen that an inserted golf club may be grasped by the user and transitioned from a shaft portion 72 to a hosel portion 74 by traversing through a slit 76 which is interconnected with both the shaft portion 72 and a hosel portion 74. This may have the additional advantage of, in some embodiments, allowing multiple golf clubs to be at least partially retained by one resiliently flexible body 60 through the employment of multiple interconnected hosel portions 74.

The resiliently flexible body 60 may be formed of a resiliently flexible material, including but not limited to, rubber, a plastic such as polyvinyl chloride, polyurethane, polyethylene or polypropylene, or a metal such as aluminum, steel or titanium. It may also be appreciated that the resiliently flexible nature of resiliently flexible body 60 may not be a result of being formed of a resiliently flexible material, but rather may be a result of components or combinations of components allowing the resiliently flexible body 60 to resiliently flex, such as but not limited to hinges, springs or elastics.

The magnet 62 may be any material or component capable of magnetically attracting a golf club or being magnetically coupled to a golf club. Such a material or component may include, for example but without limitation, a ferrous magnet, a rare earth magnet, or an electromagnet operatively connected to a power source.

The magnet housing 64 may be formed of any material configured to house a magnet 62. Preferably, the magnet housing 64 may be formed of a material configured and dimensioned to interpose between the magnet 62 and a magnetically attracted golf club head 32, and to mitigate cosmetic or performance-affecting damage to the golf club which may result from magnetic attraction to the magnet 62 and a collision resulting therefrom. The magnet housing 64 may be formed of, for example but without limitation, rubber or plastic, and may encapsulate the magnet 62.

The magnet 62 may be operatively connected to the resiliently flexible body 60 through a ball and socket joint. Such an operative connection may permit the magnet 62 to reposition or be repositioned to interface with a golf club head 32 having a variety of angles, sizes, and surface features. For example, a putter may have a substantially linear and flat head, whereas a driver may have a very rounded head. A ball and socket joint may allow the magnet 62 to magnetically attract and interface effectively with both types of clubs, as well as many others.

As shown in FIG. 8, the golf club restraining element 28 may be independent of the tube 20 and still act to restrain a stored golf club. For example, a restraining element 28 of the resilient body and magnet type may perform this function. It is contemplated that such a golf club restraining element 28 may be positioned with an existing golf club storage device to provide additional restraining ability for a stored golf club. For example, a golf club restraining element 28 may be positioned and fixed with a golf club bag 44 to restrain a golf club without requiring the presence of a tube 20.

As shown in FIG. 9, the slits 76 in the membranous layer portion 68 of the resiliently flexible body 60 may be arranged such that each slit 76 is at a ninety degree angle from two other slits, and any one slit 76 may be in an axial relation to another slit 76. For example, slit 76(a) in FIG. 9 may be seen to be in an axial relationship to slit 76(d), and may be seen to be at ninety degree angles to slits 76(b) and 76(c).

As shown in FIG. 10, slits 76 in the membranous layer portion 68 of the resiliently flexible body 60 may also be arranged in such a way that that each slit 76 is at a ninety degree angle from two other slits, but no slit is in an axial relation with to another slit. For example, slit 76(e) in FIG. 10 may be seen to not be axial to any other slit, and may be seen to be at a ninety degree angle to slits 76(g) and 76(f).

As shown in FIG. 11, the magnet 62 may be operatively connected to a magnet release mechanism 66, which may be actuated by a user to aid in removing an attached golf club. In one embodiment, the magnet release mechanism 66 may have a lever 78 and pivot point 80 disposed between the magnet 62 and the lever 78. It may thus be seen that when a user applies force to the lever 78 along the arrow 82, the magnet 62 may be caused to pivot about the pivot point 80 and may then consequently disengage from its magnetic engagement with the attached golf club head 32. In other embodiments, the pivot point 80 may be on an opposite side of the magnet 62 to the lever 78, and the actuation of the magnet release mechanism 66 may be accomplished by pulling on the lever 78. It is contemplated, however, that the magnet release mechanism 66 may be any mechanism suitable for releasing an attached magnet 62 from a golf club head 32.

As shown in FIG. 12, the operation of a magnet release mechanism 66 according to an embodiment of the present invention may be performed by a user. When the magnet 62 is magnetically attached to the golf club head 32, with pivot point 80 placed in contact with the golf club head 32, preferably adjacent the face of the golf club head 32, the application of force along arrow 82 to the lever 78 may cause the lever 78 to depress and result in a pivoting action about the pivot point 80 braced against golf club head 32. The pivoting action may transmit force to the magnet 62 in a direction at least partially opposing the direction of magnetic force attaching the magnet 62 to the golf club head 32. Such an application of an opposing force may cause the magnet 62 to disengage from the golf club head 32, at least partially releasing the golf club from its restrained state. A golf club no longer retained by a magnet but still retained by a membranous layer portion 68 may be then removed by grasping of the golf club and pulling the club out through a shaft portion 72 of the membranous layer portion 68 in a direction substantially opposite the direction in which the golf club had been previously inserted.

Referring now FIGS. 13-15, there is shown yet another embodiment of a club restraining device 100 configured to restrain a golf club 25 therein. The device 100 generally includes a shaft restraining member 102 configured to retraining a shaft 30 of a golf club 25, and a club head restraining member 104 coupled to the shaft restraining member 102 and configured to be selectively engageable with a club head 32 of a golf club 25.

The shaft restraining member 102 includes a sleeve 106 defining an upper end portion 108 and an opposing lower end portion 110, and includes a sleeve wall 112 disposed about a central sleeve axis 114 to define an axial sleeve opening 116 extending through the sleeve 102 between the upper and lower end portions 108, 110. The sleeve opening 116 is specifically sized and configured to receive the shaft 30 of a golf club 25. In this regard, the sleeve opening 116 preferably defines a diameter that is large enough to allow the handle portion of the shaft 30 to be inserted into, and advanced through the sleeve 106, yet is small enough to prevent the club head 32 from being advanced through the sleeve 106. The length ā€œLā€ of the sleeve 106 may vary, and may be substantially as long as the shaft 30, or significantly shorter than the shaft 30.

The club head restraining member 104 is coupled to the shaft restraining member 102 and is configured to as to allow at least a portion of the club head restraining member 104 to rotate relative to the shaft restraining member 102. In the exemplary embodiment, the club head restraining member 104 includes an attachment plate 118 fixedly connected to the shaft restraining member 102 and an engagement plate 120 rotatably coupled to the attachment plate 118. Along these lines, the shaft restraining member 102 includes an attachment tab 122 connected to the sleeve wall 112 at the upper end portion 108, and angled toward the sleeve opening 116. The attachment plate 118 is fixedly connected to the attachment tab 122 via any mechanical fastener known in the art. In the exemplary embodiment, the attachment tab 112 and attachment plate 118 each include respective openings which are co-axially aligned with each other to allow for attachment via a screw, nail, rivet, or the like.

The engagement plate 120 includes a first face 124, an opposing second face 126 and an arcuate wall 128 extending into the engagement plate 120 from the first face 124 toward the second face 126 to define an arcuate cavity complimentary to the outer periphery of the engagement plate 120. The complimentary configuration of the arcuate wall 128 and the outer periphery of the engagement plate 120 allows the engagement plate 120 to rotate about the engagement plate 120.

The engagement plate 120 includes a plurality of openings 130a-c formed therein and extending between the first face 124 and the second face 126. A plurality of magnets 132a-c are disposed in respective ones of the openings 130a-c, with the magnets 132a-c being configured to magnetically urge the club head 32 toward the magnets 132a-c and into engagement with the second face 126 when the club head 32 is positioned in proximity to the engagement plate 120. The openings 130a-c and the respective magnets 132a-c are configured to create a press-fit engagement between the magnets 132a-c and the engagement plate 120 when the magnets are disposed within the corresponding openings 130a-c. In this regard, the diameter/peripheral dimension of the openings 130a-c is substantially equal to the diameter/peripheral dimension of the corresponding magnets 132a-c. It is understood that the size of the magnets 132a-c may differ, and thus, the size of the corresponding openings 130a-c may also differ. For instance, in the exemplary embodiment, the magnet 132c and corresponding opening 130c is smaller than the magnets 132a-b and the corresponding openings 130a-b. Furthermore, the location and number of openings and corresponding magnets may vary in different embodiments. In particular, although the exemplary embodiment includes three magnets 132a-c and three openings 130a-c, it is understood that other embodiments may include less than three magnets and openings, or more than three magnets and openings.

It is understood that it may be desirable to configure the device 100 such that the magnets 132a-c are spaced from the club head 32 when the club head 132 is engaged with the device 100. To that end, one embodiment of the device 100 includes shoulders 134a-c extending into each opening 130a-c at the second face 126 to space the respective magnets 132a-c from the second face 126. The shoulders 134a-c create an opening 130a-c that has a variable diameter/dimension. In this regard, a first portion of each opening 130a-c is large enough to accommodate the respective magnet 132a-c, while the shoulder creates a second portion of each opening 132a-c, which is smaller than the respective magnet 132a-c so as to maintain the magnets 132a-c in spaced relation to the second face 126.

According to one embodiment, the shoulders 134a-c are integrally formed with the engagement plate 120 and are flush with the second face 126. It is also understood that the shoulders 134a-c may be set inside the openings 130a-c, and thus, spaced from the second face 126 without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. Furthermore, although the exemplary embodiment shows the openings 130a-c extending completely through the engagement plate 120 between the first and second faces 124, 126, and thus, through the shoulders 134a-c, it is also contemplated that other embodiments may include openings 130a-c which extend only partially between the first and second faces 124, 126, and may not extend through the shoulders 134a-c.

The sleeve 106 and engagement plate 120 may be formed from a wide range of materials, including but not limited to, rubber, plastic or other materials known in the art. Furthermore, the second face 126 of the engagement plate 120 may be coated with a soft material to prevent damage to the club head 32 when the club head is engaged with the engagement plate 120.

The device 100 may further include indicia 136 formed thereon for associating the device 100 with a particular golf club. For instance, the exemplary embodiment include a ā€œ5ā€ stamped into the second face 126 of the engagement plate 120 to associate that particular club restraining device 100 with a 5-iron. The indicia 136 may be stamped, engraved, or otherwise formed anywhere on the device 100. The indicia 136 may also include a sticker, decal or other identifying element placed on the device 100.

With the basic structural elements of the device 100 described above, the following will describe a contemplated use of the device 100. After using a golf club 25, the user inserts the handle end portion of the club shaft 30 through the sleeve 106. When the club shaft 30 is placed in the sleeve 106, movement of the club shaft 30 in a direction perpendicular to the shaft is bounded by the sleeve 106.

As the club shaft 30 is advanced through the sleeve 106, the club head 32 approaches the engagement plate 120. The engagement plate 120 is oriented such that the second face 126 of the engagement plate 120 is facing the club face of the club head 32. The engagement plate 120 may be rotated to properly orient the engagement plate 120 relative to the club face.

When the club head 32 is brought into close proximity to the engagement plate 120, the magnets 132a-c urge the club head 32 toward the second face 126 of the engagement plate 120. The magnetic force created by the magnets 132a-c is strong enough to maintain the club head 32 in magnetic engagement with the magnets 132a-c so as to effectively couple the club head 32 to the engagement plate 120. At this point, the golf club 25 is stowed within the golf bag, and slight movement of the club 25 relative to the bag is prevented by the magnetic connection.

When the user wants to use the club 25, the user simply moves the club out of magnetic engagement with the magnets 132a-c. This may be accomplished simply by pulling the club 25 upwardly away from the engagement plate 120 and out of the sleeve 106.

Referring now to FIGS. 16-18, there is shown another embodiment of a club restraining device 150 for securing a golf club 25 in a golf bag. The club restraining device 150 generally includes a shaft restraining member 152, and a rotatable club head restraining member 154. The shaft restraining member 152 includes a sleeve 156 including a cylindrical wall disposed about a central axis 166 to define an elongate opening 168. The elongate opening 168 is sized to receive the shaft 30 of the golf club 25.

The sleeve 156 includes an upper section 158, an intermediate section 160 and a lower section 162. The upper section 158 is designed to at least partially protrude out of the top of a golf bag when the sleeve 156 is placed in the golf bag. The intermediate section 160 includes a textured outer surface, such as a knurled outer surface, to grip or frictionally engage a divider 164 located within the golf bag. The lower section 162 extends below the intermediate section 160 and toward the bottom of the golf bag when the sleeve 156 is inserted therein. The lower section 162 may be configured to extend all the way to the bottom of the golf bag, or alternatively, only partially toward the bottom of the golf bag.

The club head restraining member 154 is rotatably coupled to the shaft restraining member 152 and includes an engagement plate 170 rotatably coupled to the sleeve 156. The engagement plate 170 includes a first face 172 and an opposing second face 174. An opening 176 extends into the engagement plate 170 from the second face 174 toward the first face 172 and is sized to receive a magnet 178 within the opening 176. The magnet 178 is configured to urge the club head 32 toward the engagement plate 170 when the club head 32 is placed in proximity to the engagement plate 170.

The magnet 178 and opening 176 may be configured to be complimentary to each other so as to enable a press-fit engagement therebetween. Of course, other mechanical fastening means may be used to secure the magnet 178 to the engagement plate 170, such as an adhesive, without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention.

The engagement plate 170 is rotatablely coupled to the shaft restraining member 152 to enable the engagement plate 170 to rotate about a rotation axis 180. The rotation of the engagement plate 170 facilitates alignment of the club face with the engagement plate 170 when placing the club 25 into engagement with the club restraining device 150, and also allows for easy withdrawal of the club 25 from the club restraining device 150, as will be described in more detail below. In this regard, the engagement plate 170 can preferably rotate 360 degrees about the rotation axis 180, which allows the club restraining device 150 to be used universally with both left-handed and right-handed clubs.

A pair of peripheral club support elements or lugs 182 are integrally formed with the engagement plate 170 in opposed spaced relation to each other and are sized and configured to engage with peripheral portions of the club head 32 for securing club head restriction member 154 to the club head 32. Each peripheral club support element 182 includes a guide wall 184 extending between a pair of opposed end walls 186. The guide walls 184 are connected to the engagement plate 170, with at least one end wall 186 being spaced from the engagement plate 170. Each support element 182 further includes a forward end portion 188 and a rear end portion 190. The rear end portions 190 of the support elements 182 are angled toward each other, while the forward end portions 188 are angled away from each other. The angled disposition of the support elements 182 is similar to the angled disposition of the club head crown 36 relative to the club head sole 40.

The club head restraining member 154 includes a first attachment element 192 and the shaft restraining member 152 includes a corresponding second attachment element 194 for securing the club head restraining member 154 to the shaft restraining member 152. A mechanical fastener 196 may be used to secure the first and second attachment elements 192, 194 to each other. In the exemplary embodiment, the first and second attachment elements 192, 194 include respective apertures which are coaxially aligned with one another to receive a screw 196, nail, rivet or the like, for securing the attachment elements 192, 194 to each other.

When a golfer wants to release a club 25 out of engagement with the club restraining member 150, the user may pull the club 25 with one hand, while pressing against one of the lugs 182 with the thumb of the other hand. In this respect, the lugs 182 allow the user to apply a torque to the club head restraining member 154 to quickly and easily remove the club head 32 out of magnetic engagement with the club head restraining member 154. Once the club head 32 is magnetically disengaged from the club head restraining member 154, the club 25 may be removed from the club restraining device 150.

After the golfer has used the club 25 and wants to return the club 25 back to the club restraining member 150, the shaft 30 of the club 25 is inserted into the shaft restraining member 152 and the club head 32 is moved toward the club head restraining member 154, with the club face facing the second face 174 of the engagement plate 170. When the club head 32 is proximate the engagement plate 170, the heel 38 of the club is pressed through the support elements 182, such that the sole 40 of the club head becomes engaged with one support element 182 and the crown 36 of the club head becomes engaged with the other support element 182. Furthermore, the club head 32 is also magnetically engaged with the magnet 178. In this regard, the club head 32 is restrained by the frictional forces between the club head and the support elements 182, as well as the magnetic engagement between the club head 32 and the magnet 178.

The above description is given by way of example, and not limitation. Given the above disclosure, one skilled in the art could devise variations that are within the scope and spirit of the invention disclosed herein, including various ways of sizing or configuring the golf club restraining element 28. Further, the various features of the embodiments disclosed herein can be used alone, or in varying combinations with each other and are not intended to be limited to the specific combination described herein. Thus, the scope of the claims is not to be limited by the illustrated embodiments.