US 20010027136 A1
A golf club alignment device includes a bracket and a housing which contains two light sources which emit narrow visible beams of light to illuminate spots on a target line extending perpendicularly from a golf club face. The housing is releasably attached to the bracket by means of a tongue and groove structure. Preferably, the tongue is rotatably mounted to the bracket so that an initial precise alignment of the light beams may be made. Once aligned, the housing may be removed from the bracket and reattached while preserving the initial alignment.
1. A golf club alignment device comprising:
(a) a bracket adapted to be securely attached to a golf club shaft;
(b) a housing having at least one opening;
(c) alignment and engagement means for releasably engaging the housing to the bracket such that when the housing engages the bracket, it is always aligned in the same orientation; and
(d) at least one light source fixed within the housing for emitting a light beam through the opening.
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 The present invention relates to a novel golf club alignment device and method to be used by golfers to improve their swing.
 To hit a golf ball accurately, it is important to align the golf club to face the intended target. This is particularly important when putting. Accurate putting may be achieved by developing a consistent pendulum stroke where the club travels in a straight path perpendicular to the face of the golf club and in line with the desired ball path direction. There are a number of light emitting devices which can be fixed to a golf club to provide feedback about golf club alignment. Unfortunately, such aids are restricted to practice as they are illegal during regulation play of golf. Therefore, it is necessary to be able to remove the device conveniently. Typical prior art devices utilize a variety of clamps and brackets to mount the golf aid to the club however, a large number of them require complete removal from the club after use and accordingly this results in the golfer expending time and effort to realign the aid the next time it is used. Other aids can be removed leaving just the clamp or bracket on the club but such aids have clamps or brackets that are large and protruding which have the undesired affects of impeding or influencing the golfers swing, making club removal and replacement in a golf bag difficult and being prone to damage. Further, many of the removable aids require realignment prior to subsequent use after detachment even if the clamp or bracket has been left on the club.
 Therefore, there is a need in the art for a light emitting golf aid device that can be releasably mounted to a club but which has a clamp or bracket which is compact and light enough that it that can be left on after use of the aid device without any of the aforementioned undesired ramifications. Further, there is a need for golf aid device that is releasably mountable that can be initially aligned to correspond with the club it is attached to, but which does not require subsequent realignment each time it is used.
 The present invention is directed to a novel golf club alignment device.
 Accordingly, in one aspect of the invention, the invention comprises an apparatus comprising
 (a) a bracket adapted to be securely attached to a golf club shaft;
 (b) a housing having at least one opening;
 (c) alignment and engagement means for releasably engaging the housing to the bracket such that when the housing engages the bracket, it is always aligned in the same orientation; and
 (d) at least one light source fixed within the housing for emitting a light beam through the opening.
 In one embodiment, the bracket comprises an elongate U-shaped member and an elongate retainer which fit together to form a channel through which a golf club shaft may pass. The bracket preferably conforms closely to the shape of the shaft so as to be unobtrusive.
 The means for engaging and aligning the housing to the bracket may comprise a tongue and groove mechanism where one of the bracket or the housing defines a groove and the other element defines a tongue which mates with the groove. In other embodiments, alternative engagement means may include a plurality of ball and sockets, or other projections and receptacles, disposed on the housing and the bracket. Alternatively, a hook and loop fabric fastener such as Velcro™ may be used in conjunction with an alignment guide such as a rail.
 The bracket is preferably compact and light enough that it can be left on the club between uses of the device without affecting the golfer's swing or affecting the golfer's ability to place the club in a golf bag and without being prone to physical damage.
 On initial use, the bracket can be mounted to the club shaft and the angle of the housing can be adjusted using the rotatably adjustable tongue until a position is obtained where the light beam or beams are aimed at points on a line perpendicular to the club face. The tongue can then be secured in the desired position using a fastener resulting in the housing being correctly aligned each time it is mounted on the bracket. The invention may be used on any golf club but is particularly useful when used on a putter.
 The invention will now be described by way of an exemplary embodiment with reference to the accompanying simplified, diagrammatic, not-to-scale drawings. In the drawings:
FIG. 1 is a schematic depiction of an embodiment of the invention.
FIG. 2 is a schematic depiction of an embodiment of the bracket and tongue.
FIG. 3 is a top view of of an embodiment of the invention.
FIG. 4 is a side view, in section, of an embodiment of the invention.
FIG. 5 is an exploded side view, in section, of an embodiment of the invention.
FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a golfer using the invention.
 The apparatus (10) shown in the Figures comprises a bracket (17) that is securely fastened to the golf club shaft (46). In one embodiment the bracket (17) is comprised of first bracket member (16) and second bracket member (20) which are positioned on the shaft (46) in a parallel manner and which are fastened together by at least one bracket fastener (48) as shown in FIG. 4. The first bracket member (16) may be elongated with a semicircular groove and mounting flanges (16a) with the second bracket member (20) being substantially flat. In one embodiment, the inner surface of the second bracket member (20) may form a shallow groove to accommodate the golf club shaft. The two members form a channel (18) for the club shaft (48) when fastened together as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. The bracket (17) can be fastened at varying heights on the shaft (48) to the preference of the user. It may be preferable to mount the bracket closer to the grip of the golf club to minimize the effect of the device on the balance of the club. In one embodiment, the inner surfaces of the bracket may be covered with a material such as rubber to cushion the shaft and prevent rotation of the bracket on the shaft.
 The bracket (17) is relaseably engaged by the housing (11). In one embodiment the means for engaging the bracket (17) and the housing (11) is a tongue (30) and groove (40) mechanism. The tongue (30) may be integrally formed on the first bracket member (16) but is preferably a separate piece as shown in the Figures. Of course, the tongue may be formed or attached to the housing (11) and the groove formed in the bracket (17).
 Initial alignment of the device (10) may be facilitated by making the orientation of the tongue (30) adjustable. In one embodiment, the tongue may rotate about a central pin (32) as shown in FIG. 2, the motion depicted by A, and may have at least one arc-shaped slit (31) through which a fastener (34) may be used to secure the tongue (30) to the bracket.
 The tongue (30) may have two flexible arms which end in projections (33) which mate with notches (42) formed in the groove as shown in FIGS. 2 and 4. As will be appreciated, the arms flex inward as the housing (11) is slid onto the bracket (17) until the projections (33) are aligned with and mate with the notches.
 Alternative means to the tongue and groove for releasably fastening and aligning the housing (11) to the bracket (17) that may be chosen by one skilled in the art might include a plurality of ball and sockets or other projection/receptacle arrangements or a Velcro™ fastener combined with an alignment rail or such other fastening arrangements as are well known in the art. What is necessary is that the housing (11) be quickly and conveniently attachable to and removable from the bracket (17) such that when attached it is aligned in the same position every time. It is not intended to limit the invention to the means illustrated or disclosed herein.
 The housing (11) may be comprised of a first housing member (12) and a second housing member (14) that are separable to facilitate access to the power source (42). A switch (45) may be provided to allow the light source(s) (44) to be turned on and off.
 The bracket (17) and housing (11) are preferably constructed from durable plastic but it will be appreciated that other materials such as metal could be employed to construct the apparatus (10). It is preferable to make the apparatus (10) as light as possible so as to avoid altering the balance and swing weight of the golf club.
 The housing (11) contains at least one light source (44) and also contains a power source (42) such as a battery. In one embodiment as shown in the Figures, two light sources (44) are fixed within the housing and emit beams of light (22). The light sources are preferably small laser diodes which emit a narrow beam of visible light. Suitable laser diodes are well-known in the art and are commercially available. The two light sources (44) are angled in such a position that the light beams (22) target separate spots along a target line perpendicular to the club face as shown in FIG. 5. The mounting angle of the light sources within the housing is such that a line (A) intersecting both light beams and perpendicular to the shaft axis (B) is always parallel to an alignment axis (C) which is perpendicular to the shaft axis (B) and symmetrically bisects the apparatus, as shown in FIG. 3. Thus when the bracket is fixed to the shaft of the club with the alignment axis (C) parallel to the target line, line (A) will always be parallel to the target line throughout the range of motion of the tongue (30).
 A preferred method of operation of the apparatus (10) will now be described having reference to FIGS. 1, 2 and 5. When the golfer initially desires to install the apparatus on the club of choice, the bracket (17) should be securely attached to the club shaft (46) with the first bracket (17) on the right hand side (for a right-handed golfer) of the shaft and the second bracket (20) on the left hand or target side of the shaft. This done by placing the shaft (46) in the channel (18) formed by the first (16) and second (20) bracket members and by fastening said bracket members together using fasteners (48) such as screws. The housing (11) may then be mounted on the bracket (17) by means of the tongue (30) and groove (40) mechanism. The tongue fastener (34) should be loosened to permit rotation of the tongue (30). The housing (11) and tongue may then be manually rotated about the center pin (32) of the tongue (30) until a position is reached where the light beams (22) are aimed at points in front of the club face. The housing (11) can then removed and the tongue fastener (34) should be tightened to preserve the desired angular positioning of the housing (11). If it is found that the light beams shine points which are not parallel to the intended target line, the bracket (17) may loosened and rotated about the shaft until the desired position and then retightened. Once the intial alignment is done, the housing may be removed from the bracket and reattached when desired and the light beams will always be properly aligned.
 As will be apparent to those skilled in the art, various modifications, adaptations and variations of the foregoing specific disclosure can be made without departing from the scope of the invention claimed herein.