Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS20020094885 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 09/886,226
Publication dateJul 18, 2002
Filing dateJun 21, 2001
Priority dateJan 18, 2001
Also published asUS20040209701
Publication number09886226, 886226, US 2002/0094885 A1, US 2002/094885 A1, US 20020094885 A1, US 20020094885A1, US 2002094885 A1, US 2002094885A1, US-A1-20020094885, US-A1-2002094885, US2002/0094885A1, US2002/094885A1, US20020094885 A1, US20020094885A1, US2002094885 A1, US2002094885A1
InventorsRobert Finkel
Original AssigneeFinkel Robert A.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Biodegradable, short-range practice golf balls
US 20020094885 A1
Abstract
A short-range golf ball made of one or more of a variety of materials in such a manner that upon exposure to natural weather conditions (such as ultraviolet solar radiation, dew, rain, wind, or dirt), the golf ball material will quickly oxidize, degrade, disintegrate, melt or otherwise decompose to leave products harmless to, or beneficial to, the natural environment. Such breakdown products should be non-toxic to animals and plants and should not contaminate water supplies, soil or other parts of the ecological system. The short-range golf ball preferably has a maximum range of less than 100 yards.
Images(7)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(49)
What I claim is:
1. A short-range golf ball comprising:
a substantially spherical and substantially biodegradable outer shell, said outer shell defining an interior cavity; and
a substantially biodegradable force-absorbing member disposed within said interior cavity, said force-absorbing member being operational to affect said performance characteristics of said golf ball so that a maximum range of said golf ball is less than approximately 75 yards.
2. The short-range golf ball of claim 1, wherein said maximum range of said golf ball is less than approximately 50 yards.
3. The short-range golf ball of claim 1, wherein said maximum range of said golf ball is less than approximately 25 yards.
4. The short-range golf ball of claim 1, wherein said maximum range of said golf ball is less than approximately 15 yards.
5. The short-range golf ball of claim 1, wherein said force-absorbing member is operational to at least partially absorb a force exerted on said golf ball by a golf club as said golf ball is struck by said golf club.
6. The short-range golf ball of claim 1, wherein said golf ball is entirely biodegradable.
7. The short-range golf ball of claim 6, wherein said golf ball is disposable.
8. The short-range golf ball of claim 7, wherein said golf ball is configured to begin dissolving upon contact with water.
9. A reduced-weight golf ball comprising:
a substantially spherical outer shell, said outer shell defining an interior cavity and having an outer diameter that is greater than about 1.40 inches and less than about 1.80 inches; and
a low-density core material disposed within said interior cavity;
wherein a combined weight of said outer shell and said core material is less than 25% of a weight of a standard golf ball.
10. The reduced-weight golf ball of claim 9, wherein said golf ball is biodegradable.
11. The reduced-weight golf ball of claim 10, wherein said core material substantially fills said cavity.
12. The reduced-weight golf ball of claim 11, wherein said core material comprises a foam portion.
13. The reduced-weight golf ball of claim 10, wherein said combined weight of said outer shell and said core material is less than 10 grams.
14. The reduced-weight golf ball of claim 10, wherein said core material comprises a material that is selected from the group consisting of: vegetable starch, corn starch and potato starch.
15. The reduced-weight golf ball of claim 10, wherein said outer diameter of said outer shell is about 1.68 inches.
16. A practice golf ball comprising:
a substantially spherical outer shell defining an interior cavity; and
a malleable core material disposed within said interior cavity,
said golf ball being configured so that, in response to said golf ball being struck by a golf club, said malleable core permanently deforms, and thereby at least partially absorbs a force exerted on said golf ball by said golf club as said golf club strikes said golf ball.
17. The practice golf ball of said claim 16, wherein:
said outer shell is malleable and configured so that, in response to said golf ball being struck by a golf club, said malleable outer shell permanently deforms, and thereby at least partially absorbs a force exerted on said golf ball by said golf club as said golf club strikes said golf ball.
18. The practice golf ball of said claim 16, wherein said malleable core material is operational to affect one or more performance characteristics of said golf ball so that a maximum range of said golf ball is less than 25 yards.
19. The practice golf ball of claim 18, wherein said outer shell and said core material both comprise biodegradable material.
20. The practice golf ball of claim 19, wherein said golf ball is disposable.
21. The practice golf ball of claim 18, wherein said outer shell and said core material both consist of biodegradable material.
22. A short-range golf ball, said golf ball comprising:
a substantially uniform, substantially solid sphere comprising energy-absorbent material,
said energy-absorbent material being biodegradable and operational to affect one or more performance characteristics of said ball so that a maximum range of said golf ball is less than 50 yards.
23. The short-range golf ball of claim 22, wherein said energy-absorbent material comprises vegetable starch.
24. The short-range golf ball of claim 22, wherein said energy-absorbent material comprises wheat starch.
25. The short-range golf ball of claim 22, wherein said golf ball is disposable.
26. A short-range golf ball comprising:
a substantially hollow sphere comprised at least partially of biodegradable, energy-absorbent material, said biodegradable, energy-absorbent material being operational to affect said performance characteristics of said golf ball so that a maximum range of said golf ball is less than 50 yards.
27. The short-range golf ball of claim 26, wherein said golf ball is entirely biodegradable.
28. The short-range golf ball of claim 27, wherein said biodegradable, energy-absorbent material defines one or more holes in an exterior portion of said substantially hollow sphere for increasing the friction between said golf ball and a gaseous medium when said golf ball is traveling through said gaseous medium.
29. The short-range golf ball of claim 26, wherein said biodegradable, energy-absorbent material comprises vegetable starch.
30. The short-range golf ball of claim 26, wherein said outer diameter of said outer shell is about 1.68 inches.
31. The short-range golf ball of claim 26, wherein a weight of said golf ball is less than or equal to about 10 grams.
32. The short-range golf ball of claim 26, wherein said golf ball is disposable.
33. A practice golf ball comprising:
a substantially spherical and substantially biodegradable outer shell, said outer shell defining an interior cavity;
liquid disposed within said interior cavity;
a liquid-impermeable barrier disposed between said biodegradable outer shell and said liquid so that, before said golf ball is struck for a first time with a golf club, said liquid-impermeable barrier separates said liquid from said biodegradable outer shell.
34. The practice golf ball of claim 33, wherein said liquid-impermeable barrier is configured so that after said golf ball is struck for a first time with a golf club, said liquid is no longer separated from said biodegradable outer shell.
35. The practice golf ball of claim 34, wherein said biodegradable outer shell is water-soluble.
36. The practice golf ball of claim 35, wherein said liquid is water.
37. The practice golf ball of claim 34, wherein said barrier is configured to tear in response to said golf ball being struck for a first time by a golf club.
38. A method of practicing a golf swing, said method comprising the steps of:
providing a biodegradable golf ball, said golf ball having a maximum range of less than 50 yards;
hitting said golf ball a first time with a golf club;
before hitting said golf ball a second time with a golf club, allowing said golf ball to biodegrade.
39. The short-range golf ball of claim 38, wherein an outer diameter of said golf ball is about 1.68 inches.
40. The method of claim 39, wherein a weight of said golf ball is less than or equal to 10 grams.
41. The method of claim 38, wherein said golf ball comprises vegetable starch.
42. The method of claim 38, wherein said maximum range of said golf ball is less than 20 yards.
43. A method of marketing a golf ball, said method comprising the steps of:
communicating to a customer that said golf ball has a maximum range of 50 yards or less;
communicating to said customer that said golf ball is biodegradable; and
offering to sell said golf ball to said customer.
44. The method of marketing a golf ball of claim 43, further including the step of communicating to said customer that said golf ball is configured for only one use.
45. The method of marketing a golf ball of claim 43, further including the step of communicating to said customer that said golf ball is configured for driving practice in areas other than a driving range.
46. A golf ball comprising:
a substantially-spherical central body portion having an exterior surface and configured for being supported by a top surface of a golf tee; and
a fastener disposed on said exterior surface, said fastener being configured for attaching to said top surface of said golf tee and for releasing from said top surface of said golf tee in response to said golf ball being hit by a golf club.
47. The golf ball of claim 46, wherein said fastener comprises:
a piece of film having a top surface and a bottom surface;
a first layer of adhesive disposed on said top surface of said film; and
a second layer of adhesive disposed on said bottom surface of said film.
48. The golf ball of claim 46, wherein said golf ball is configured for use with a golf tee having ball-supporting top surface and defining a peg receptacle, said peg receptacle being open to said ball-supporting top surface, and wherein said short-range golf ball further comprises a peg that is configured for insertion into said peg receptacle.
49. The golf ball of claim 48, wherein said peg is configured for attaching said golf ball to said top surface of said golf tee and for releasing from said top surface of said golf tee in response to said golf ball being hit by a golf club.
Description
    CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
  • [0001]
    This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Serial No. 60/262,481, filed Jan. 18, 2001.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • [0002]
    This invention relates to golf balls for use in practicing one's golf swing.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0003]
    Golfers often desire to practice their golf swing. One way to practice one's golf swing is to actually play a round of golf on a golf course. However, during game play, after a golfer swings and hits a golf ball, he must travel to the place where the golf ball landed before swinging and hitting the golf ball again. As a result, during a two to four hour round of golf, a golfer typically only swings and hits a golf ball 70 to 120 times (depending largely on the skill of the golfer).
  • [0004]
    Golfers may also practice their golf swing on a professional driving range. At such a driving range, golfers can rent buckets of “practice balls”, which are generally the same size and weight as standard golf balls. That is, these golf balls are typically about 1.68 inches in diameter and weigh approximately 45 grams. Golfers practice their swing by hitting the practice golf balls, in succession, into a large open field that usually contains mock golf greens, distance indicators, and targets. The balls are then collected (usually by a modified tractor) for reuse by other golfers.
  • [0005]
    Practicing golf on a driving range has several advantages. First, it allows golfers to practice swing mechanics (such as keeping one's head down and not snapping one's wrists while swinging the golf club) in a controlled environment where the golfer can focus his energy on completing several swings in succession, without having to locate and recover a golf ball between swings. In addition, because practice golf balls generally have similar performance characteristics as standard golf balls, golfers can see how far a standard golf ball would travel when hit in a certain manner. In addition, golfers can use practice golf balls to ascertain the general flight characteristics that a ball will have when hit in a certain way. For example, a golfer may determine that, when striking a ball in a certain way, the ball will rise quickly and slice to the right.
  • [0006]
    For background purposes, an average golfer generally hits a standard golf ball between 70 and 250 yards. The maximum range of a standard golf ball is generally between 250 and 350 yards.
  • [0007]
    One disadvantage of practicing a golf swing using standard practice golf balls is that these balls travel quite far when struck with a proper swing using long clubs such as woods and low irons. Thus, practicing with a standard practice golf ball generally requires a large amount of land. In addition, because standard practice balls travel such a long way when struck with a full swing, some form of machine-assisted ball retrieval (such as retrieval by a ball-retrieval tractor) is desirable to collect the balls after they have been hit. Manually retrieving the balls would be possible, but extremely time consuming.
  • [0008]
    At least one reduced-range golf ball (the “Cayman” golf ball) has been developed for use in playing golf on shortened golf courses. Such golf courses are generally located in areas, such as the Cayman Islands, were land is very scarce or expensive. Such reduced-range golf balls are designed to have essentially the same flight characteristics as a standard golf ball, but to travel approximately 50% of the distance of a standard golf ball. Thus, it is estimated that the average golfer would generally hit a reduced-range golf ball between about 40 and 150 yards. The maximum range of these reduced-range golf balls is estimated to be generally around 175 yards.
  • [0009]
    As discussed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,836,552, which is directed to a reduced-range golf ball, reduced-range golf balls are generally the same size as a standard golf ball (i.e., 1.68 inches in diameter) and have the same general flight characteristics as a standard golf ball. However, to minimize their maximum range, these golf balls are typically lighter than standard golf balls. Thus, for example, the reduced-range golf ball described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,836,552 has a diameter of approximately 1.68 inches, but weighs only between 15 and 35 grams (about 32% to 78% of the weight of a standard golf ball).
  • [0010]
    The advantage of reduced-range golf balls is that they allow a golfer to drive a golf ball using a full swing while playing relatively short holes. Because these golf balls are engineered to have the same general flight characteristics as standard golf ball (aside from range), these golf balls give a golfer essentially the same feedback regarding their swing as they would receive while playing with a regulation golf ball. That is, the golfer can estimate how far a standard golf ball would travel when hit in the same way as the practice golf ball, and the golfer can see whether a given swing would result in a hook, a slice, or a straight shot.
  • [0011]
    As noted above, although reduced-range golf balls are designed to travel shorter distances than standard golf balls, these reduced-range golf balls still have a significantly long maximum range. For example, as noted above, the reduced-range golf ball described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,836,552 is estimated to have a maximum range of about 175 yards, which is about 50% of the range of a standard golf ball. Accordingly, a plot of land of at least approximately 150 square yards would be desirable to practice hitting this golf ball with a full swing. In addition, because it would be extremely time consuming to manually retrieve a large number of golf balls over this relatively large area of land (and because reduced-range golf balls are not biodegradable and are relatively expensive) some sort of mechanical ball retrieval system (such as a modified tractor) would be desirable to retrieve the balls after a practice session.
  • [0012]
    In some settings, such as driving ranges on cruise ships, golfers practice their swing using buckets of relatively inexpensive golf balls (hereinafter referred to as “Cruise Ship” golf balls) that are designed to have the same size, weight, and flight characteristics (including maximum range) as a standard golf ball, but that are also configured to decompose after prolonged contact with water. One such golf ball is described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,356,149 to Kane.
  • [0013]
    “Cruise ship” practice golf balls are advantageous because, unlike standard practice balls, they do not require retrieval. Rather, they merely dissolve over time due to prolonged exposure to a large amount of water. However, as was the case with standard practice balls and reduced-range golf balls such as the “Cayman” golf ball, a significant amount of space (at least 250 square yards) is required to practice one's golf swing using these “cruise ship” practice balls.
  • [0014]
    In addition, because “cruise ship” golf balls are approximately the same size and weight as standard golf balls, they contain relatively densely-packed water-soluble material. Accordingly, a significant amount of water is apparently required to dissolve these golf balls. Also, because the golf balls are densely packed and are configured to be approximately as hard as a standard golf ball, it can be expected that these golf balls would take a significant amount of time to biodegrade after being hit into the ocean.
  • [0015]
    Because cruise ships are generally surrounded by open expanses of large amounts of water, and because it is not generally essential that these golf balls dissolve quickly after being hit into the water, “cruise ship” golf balls are ideal for use on cruise ships. However, because “cruise ship” golf balls have a maximum range that is similar to a standard golf ball, practicing with these “cruise ship” golf balls on land would require a significant amount of open land. Also, because these golf balls are relatively dense, these golf balls apparently require exposure to a significant amount of water before dissolving, and may take a long period of time to dissolve. Accordingly, if these golf balls were used in an area (such as a park or a neighborhood field) where it would be regarded as unacceptable to leave a large number of golf balls for a significant period of time, a machine-assisted ball retrieval system would be required to retrieve these golf balls after practice.
  • [0016]
    Because practicing on land-based or water-based driving ranges gives golfers the opportunity to practice driving a large number of golf balls of standard weight and standard size in a relatively short period of time, many golfers are willing to regularly travel to such driving ranges to practice their golf swing. However, golfers are often faced with a situation in which they have a sufficient amount of time to practice (for example 30 minutes), but do not have sufficient time to travel to a driving range, practice their golf swing, and then travel back home. In such situations, it is desirable for a golfer to be able to practice their golf swing close to home (and preferably in their own back yard).
  • [0017]
    As may be understood from the above discussion of prior art golf balls, standard practice golf balls, reduced-range golf balls, and “cruise ship” golf balls are simply not suitable for practicing one's full golf swing in a residential setting. More particularly, because the range of each of these golf balls far exceeds the length of a typical back yard, a golfer would need to severely limit their swing to assure that they do not hit the golf balls outside the boundary of their property and into neighboring yards, streets, or common areas. A golfer might do this by either “choking up” on the golf club (i.e. by gripping the golf club closer to its head than they normally would), or by modifying the range of their swing so that they don't raise the club as far from the ground as they normally would before swinging. Neither of these techniques allows the golfer to practice their full swing.
  • [0018]
    Also, even with a limited swing, practicing close to other homes using a standard, reduced-range, or “cruise ship” golf ball would be dangerous. This is due to the fact that, if a golfer were to mistakenly hit one of these golf balls beyond the boundaries of his yard, the golf ball could potentially injure nearby people or pets, or damage neighboring homes, cars, or landscape. In addition, because standard practice balls and reduced-range golf balls are typically expensive (and do not decompose on their own), and because “cruise ship” golf balls are relatively dense (and therefore presumably would require a substantial amount of time to dissolve under normal back-yard conditions), a golfer would need to retrieve these golf balls after a practice session. Accordingly, the golfer would either need to collect the balls manually (which could take an extensive amount of time), or invest in an automated golf ball retrieval device (such as a modified tractor). Both of these solutions would generally be undesirable.
  • [0019]
    Some golfers practice their golf swing in small areas using plastic “wiffle” golf balls. These wiffle golf balls are hollow plastic golf balls that include several relatively large holes in the exterior portion of the golf ball. These golf balls are typically about the same size as a standard golf ball and, due to the fact that they consist entirely of a lightweight, thin spherical shell, these golf balls are generally much lighter than standard golf balls. Because wiffle balls are very light, their flight trajectory is determined in large part by the aerodynamic qualities of the ball. Thus, any wind acting on a wiffle ball will have a dramatic effect on the ball's trajectory. This effect is further enhanced by the holes in the outer portion of the ball, which increase the wind resistance of the ball and, thus, limit the maximum distance of the ball.
  • [0020]
    Wiffle golf balls are somewhat advantageous (especially for indoor use) because, due to their extremely reduced weight, they can strike windows, furniture, cars and other fragile objects without damaging these objects. In addition, these wiffle balls pose a reduced risk to adults, children, and pets.
  • [0021]
    However, there are also several disadvantages to using wiffle balls to practice one's full golf swing outdoors. First, as noted above, wind can dramatically influence the flight characteristics of wiffle balls. Thus, it is often difficult for a golfer to obtain reasonable feedback on the golfer's swing when using these golf balls to practice under even slightly windy conditions. For example, a moderate wind blowing against the golfer's back may cause each wiffle ball to automatically slice when hit, even though a standard golf ball, when hit with the same stroke, would not have a tendency to slice.
  • [0022]
    A second disadvantage of using wiffle golf balls to practice outdoors is that these golf balls have a tendency to travel relatively far when driven under certain conditions. For example, a golfer hitting a wiffle ball in the presence of a reasonably strong back wind may easily be able to hit the ball 30 yards or more. Under such conditions, wiffle golf balls suffer from many of the same disadvantages that are associated with standard practice balls, reduced-range golf balls, and “cruise ship” golf balls. For example, when driven with the golfer's full swing, these golf balls may undesirably travel into neighboring yards, streets or common areas. Also, because these wiffle golf balls are made of non-biodegradable hard plastic, golfers must retrieve these balls after using the balls in a practice session. Accordingly, a golfer must either collect the balls manually (which could take an extensive amount of time), or invest in an automated golf ball retrieval device (such as a modified tractor) to mechanically retrieve the balls. As noted above, both of these solutions are undesirable.
  • [0023]
    Accordingly, there is a need for a golf ball that would allow a golfer to repeatedly practice the golfer's golf swing in a small area without having to collect a large number of balls after the practice is complete.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0024]
    The present invention seeks to provide a golf ball that would allow a golfer to repeatedly practice the golfer's golf swing in a small area without having to collect a large number of balls after the practice is complete. The present invention accomplishes this by providing a short-range golf ball comprising: (1) a substantially spherical and substantially biodegradable outer shell having an interior cavity, and (2) a substantially biodegradable force-absorbing member disposed within the interior cavity. This force-absorbing member is operational to affect the performance characteristics of the golf ball so that the maximum range of the golf ball is less than 75 yards. In various embodiments of the invention, the maximum range of the golf ball is less than 50 yards, less than 25 yards, and less than 15 yards, respectively.
  • [0025]
    In this embodiment of the invention, the force-absorbing member is preferably operational to at least partially absorb a force exerted on the golf ball by a golf club as the golf ball is struck by the golf club, and the golf ball is preferably disposable and entirely biodegradable. Furthermore, the golf ball is preferably configured to begin dissolving upon contact with water.
  • [0026]
    In a further embodiment of the invention, the golf ball comprises: (1) a substantially spherical outer shell that defines an interior cavity and that has an outer diameter that is greater than about 1.40 inches and less than about 1.80 inches, and (2) a low-density core material disposed within the interior cavity. In this embodiment of the invention, the combined weight of the outer shell and the core material is less than about 25% of a weight of a standard golf ball.
  • [0027]
    A golf ball according to this embodiment of the invention is preferably biodegradable, and the core material preferably substantially fills the cavity. Furthermore, the core material preferably comprises a foam portion. In addition, the combined weight of the outer shell and the core material is preferably less than 10 grams, and the core material preferably comprises a vegetable starch (such as corn or potato starch), or a grain starch (such as wheat starch). In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the outer diameter of the golf ball's outer shell is about 1.68 inches.
  • [0028]
    In yet another embodiment of the invention, the golf ball comprises: (1) a substantially spherical outer shell that defines an interior cavity, and (2) a malleable core disposed within the interior cavity. In this embodiment of the invention, the golf ball is configured so that, in response to the golf ball being struck by a golf club, the malleable core permanently deforms, and thereby at least partially absorbs a force exerted on the golf ball by the golf club as the golf club strikes the golf ball. In this embodiment of the invention, the outer shell is preferably also malleable and configured so that, in response to the golf ball being struck by a golf club, the malleable outer shell permanently deforms, and thereby also at least partially absorbs a force exerted on the golf ball by the golf club.
  • [0029]
    In this embodiment of the invention, the malleable core material is preferably operational to affect one or more performance characteristics of the golf ball so that a maximum range of the golf ball is less than 25 yards. Furthermore, the outer shell and the core material both preferably comprise biodegradable material, and the golf ball is preferably disposable.
  • [0030]
    Yet another embodiment of the invention comprises a substantially uniform, substantially solid sphere comprising energy-absorbent material that is biodegradable and that is operational to affect the performance characteristics of the ball so that a maximum range of the golf ball is less than 30 yards. In this embodiment of the invention, the energy-absorbent material preferably comprises vegetable starch or wheat starch, and the golf ball is preferably disposable.
  • [0031]
    A further embodiment of the invention comprises a substantially hollow sphere that is comprised at least partially of biodegradable, energy-absorbent material. In this embodiment of the invention, the biodegradable, energy-absorbent material is operational to affect the performance characteristics of the golf ball so that a maximum range of the golf ball is less than 50 yards. In this embodiment of the invention, the golf ball is preferably entirely biodegradable, and the golf ball's biodegradable, energy-absorbent material preferably defines one or more holes in an exterior portion of the substantially hollow sphere for increasing the friction between the golf ball and a gaseous medium when the golf ball is traveling through the gaseous medium.
  • [0032]
    In this embodiment of the invention, the biodegradable, energy-absorbent material preferably comprises vegetable starch, the outer diameter of the outer shell is preferably about 1.68 inches, and the golf ball preferably weighs less than or equal to 10 grams. In addition, the golf ball is preferably disposable.
  • [0033]
    In yet another embodiment of the invention, the golf ball comprises: (1) a substantially spherical and substantially biodegradable outer shell that defines an interior cavity; (2) liquid disposed within the interior cavity; and (3) a liquid-impermeable barrier disposed between the biodegradable outer shell and the liquid so that, before the golf ball is struck for a first time with a golf club, the liquid-impermeable barrier separates the liquid from the biodegradable outer shell. In this embodiment of the invention, the liquid-impermeable barrier is preferably configured so that after the golf ball is struck for a first time with a golf club, the liquid is no longer separated from the biodegradable outer shell.
  • [0034]
    In this embodiment of the invention, the biodegradable outer shell is preferably water-soluble, and the liquid is preferably water. Furthermore, the barrier is preferably configured to tear or shatter in response to the golf ball being struck for a first time by a golf club.
  • [0035]
    In an additional embodiment of the invention, the golf ball comprises: (1) a substantially-spherical central body portion that has an exterior surface and that is configured for being supported by a top surface of a golf tee; and (2) a fastener disposed on the exterior surface of the golf ball, the fastener being configured for attaching the golf ball to the top surface of the golf tee and for releasing from the top surface of the golf tee in response to the golf ball being hit by a golf club. In this embodiment of the invention, the fastener preferably comprises: (1) a piece of film having a top surface and a bottom surface; (2) a first layer of adhesive disposed on the top surface of the film; and (3) a second layer of adhesive disposed on the bottom surface of the film.
  • [0036]
    In this embodiment of the invention, the golf ball may alternatively be configured for use with a golf tee having a ball-supporting top surface and defining a peg receptacle, the peg receptacle being open to the ball-supporting top surface. In this embodiment of the invention, the golf ball preferably comprises a peg that is configured for insertion into the peg receptacle. Also, the peg is preferably configured for attaching the golf ball to the top surface of the golf tee and for releasing from the top surface of the golf tee in response to the golf ball being hit by a golf club.
  • [0037]
    A further embodiment of the invention comprises a method of practicing a golf swing, the method comprising the steps of: (1) providing a biodegradable golf ball, the golf ball having a maximum range of less than 50 yards; (2) hitting the golf ball a first time with a golf club; (3) before hitting the golf ball a second time with a golf club, allowing the golf ball to biodegrade. In this embodiment of the invention, the outer diameter of the golf ball is preferably about 1.68 inches, and the golf ball preferably weighs less than about 10 grams. Furthermore, the maximum range of the golf ball is preferably less than 20 yards, and the golf ball preferably comprises vegetable starch.
  • [0038]
    A further embodiment of the invention comprises a method of marketing a golf ball, the method comprising the steps of: (1) communicating to a customer that the golf ball has a maximum range of 50 yards or less; (2) communicating to the customer that the golf ball is biodegradable; and (3) offering to sell the golf ball to the customer. This embodiment of the invention preferably also includes one or more of the following additional steps: (1) communicating to the customer that the golf ball is configured for only one use; and (2) communicating to the customer that the golf ball is configured for driving practice in areas other than a driving range.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0039]
    [0039]FIG. 1A is a front view of a solid golf ball according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0040]
    [0040]FIG. 1B is a sectional view of the interior of the golf ball of FIG. 1A taken substantially along Line 1-1 of FIG. 1A in the direction indicated by the arrows of Line 1-1.
  • [0041]
    [0041]FIG. 2A is a front view of a layered golf ball according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0042]
    [0042]FIG. 2B is a sectional view of the interior of the golf ball of FIG. 2A taken substantially along Line 2-2 of FIG. 2A in the direction indicated by the arrows of Line 2-2.
  • [0043]
    [0043]FIG. 3A is a front view of a golf ball according to an embodiment of the present invention having an outer shell and an inner core.
  • [0044]
    [0044]FIG. 3B is a sectional view of the interior of the golf ball of FIG. 3A taken substantially along Line 3-3 of FIG. 3A in the direction indicated by the arrows of Line 3-3.
  • [0045]
    [0045]FIG. 4A is a front view of a golf ball according to an embodiment of the present invention that comprises a liquid-soluble outer shell, a water core, and a liquid-impermeable membrane disposed between the outer shell and the liquid core.
  • [0046]
    [0046]FIG. 4B is a sectional view of the interior of the golf ball of FIG. 4A taken substantially along Line 4-4 of FIG. 4A in the direction indicated by the arrows of Line 4-4.
  • [0047]
    [0047]FIG. 5A is a front view of a golf ball according to an embodiment of the present invention that comprises a hollow outer shell.
  • [0048]
    [0048]FIG. 5B is a sectional view of the interior of the golf ball of FIG. 5A taken substantially along Line 5-5 of FIG. 5A in the direction indicated by the arrows of Line 5-5.
  • [0049]
    [0049]FIG. 6 is a front view of a golf ball according to an embodiment of the present invention that includes a fastener for releasably attaching the golf ball to the top surface of a golf tee.
  • [0050]
    [0050]FIG. 7 is a front view of a golf ball according to an embodiment of the present invention that includes a peg for releasably attaching the golf ball to the top surface of a golf tee.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
  • [0051]
    The present invention now will be described more fully hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which several preferred embodiments of the invention are shown. This invention may, however, be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth herein. Rather, these embodiments are provided so that this disclosure will be thorough and complete, and will fully convey the scope of the invention to those skilled in the art. Like numbers refer to like elements throughout.
  • General Description of the Golf Ball
  • [0052]
    A golf ball according to an embodiment of the present invention is preferably the same size and shape as a standard golf ball, but is configured to travel a significantly shorter distance than a standard golf ball. More particularly, the outer diameter of the golf ball is preferably greater than 1.40 inches and less than 1.80 inches. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the outer diameter of the golf ball is 1.68 inches.
  • [0053]
    Although the weight of a golf ball according to the present invention may be more than, less than, or the same as that of a standard golf ball (standard golf balls typically weigh approximately 45 grams), a golf ball according the present invention preferably weighs less than 25% of the weight of a standard golf ball. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the golf ball weighs less than 10 grams.
  • [0054]
    As noted above, the maximum range of a golf ball according to the invention is significantly shorter than the maximum range of a standard golf ball. More particularly, the maximum range of a golf ball according to an embodiment of the invention is preferably less than 100 yards. In a further embodiment of the invention, the maximum range of the golf ball is less than 75 yards. In yet another embodiment of the invention, the maximum range of the golf ball is less than 50 yards. In a further embodiment of the invention, the maximum range of the golf ball is less than 25 yards. In yet another embodiment of the invention, the maximum range of the golf ball is less than 15 yards.
  • [0055]
    Preferably, at least a portion of the golf ball is biodegradable (i.e., capable of decomposing by natural biological processes). In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the entire golf ball is biodegradable. Preferably, part or all of the golf ball is configured to decompose quickly upon exposure to water, sunlight, or air. For example, in one embodiment of the invention, the golf ball is configured to completely dissolve after being exposed to air, water, or sunlight (or any combination thereof) for a period of time that is three days or less. After reading the description below, one skilled in the art will understand that a golf ball according to the present invention may be designed to have one of many different alternative sets of biodegradable properties. For example, the golf ball may be designed so that it completely dissolves after being exposed to both water and sunlight for a period of time that is three days or less.
  • [0056]
    A golf ball according to a preferred embodiment of the invention is also preferably disposable (i.e., configured to be used as a practice golf ball only one time). For example, as is discussed in more detail below, the golf ball may be configured so that: (1) the shell of the golf ball permanently deforms in response to being struck with a golf club; (2) the core of the golf ball permanently deforms in response to being struck with a golf club; or (3) the golf ball includes a water soluble shell and a water core that are initially separated, but that are brought into contact when the ball is struck, causing the ball to quickly decompose.
  • Construction of the Golf Ball
  • [0057]
    A short-range golf ball according to the present invention may be constructed in many different ways. For example, the golf ball may be constructed as a solid ball, a layered-ball, an outer shell with an inert inner core, an outer shell with a reactive inner core, or a hollow shell. Each of these exemplary embodiments is discussed in more detail below.
  • Solid Ball Construction
  • [0058]
    A golf ball 10 according to a first embodiment of the invention is shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B. As may be understood from these figures, this golf ball 10 is a solid ball that comprises or consists of a single material or a single mixture of materials. This material is preferably selected to partially absorb a force exerted on the golf ball 10 when the golf ball 10 is hit by a golf club, and thereby reduce the range of the golf ball 10. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the golf ball 10 is made from one or more of the following materials: (1) biodegradable resin; (2) gelatin; (3) polyester; (4) cellulose; (5) modified cellulose; (6) starch; (7) modified starch; (8) gelatin; (9) Casein; or (10) biodegradable plastic. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the golf ball is made of vegetable starch (such as corn or potato starch), or grain starch (such as wheat starch).
  • [0059]
    In a further embodiment of the invention, the golf ball is comprised of one or more of the materials listed above, and also includes filler particles dispersed (either evenly or unevenly) throughout the golf ball 10. These filler particles are preferably biodegradable and may be, for example, peat moss, vermiculite, or fertilizer. Many other types of biodegradable materials may be used as filler particles. Such filler particles are preferably either beneficial to the environment (e.g., promote the growth of grass or inhibit the growth of weeds), or at least do not harm the environment.
  • [0060]
    Just as the golf ball may be constructed using a variety of different materials, the density and form of these materials may also be varied. For example, the golf ball may be manufactured to have a relatively dense solid consistency (for example, the ball may consist of relatively dense plastic resin or gelatin). Alternatively, the ball may be manufactured to have a relatively low-density consistency. For example, the ball may consist of a foam material such as a foam resin or starch. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the golf ball is made of a vegetable starch foam, such corn starch foam.
  • [0061]
    Using a less-dense material is advantageous for two reasons. First, using a less-dense material within a standard-size golf ball reduces the weight of the ball. This, in turn, generally reduces the maximum range of the golf ball. In addition, generally speaking, the less dense the ball material is, the faster it will decompose. This is because, generally speaking, the less dense a material is, the less total material needs to be broken down before the material fully decomposes. Thus, in a preferred embodiment of the invention, a material is selected so that the total weight the golf ball (which is preferably approximately 1.68 inches in diameter) is less than 10 grams.
  • [0062]
    While the density of a solid-construction golf ball according to one embodiment of the present invention is uniform throughout the golf ball, it should be understood that, in alternative embodiments of the invention, different parts of the golf ball may have different densities. For example, in a preferred embodiment of the invention, the golf ball comprises or consists of a single type of foam that is relatively dense at the exterior portions of the ball, and that is less dense in the interior portions of the ball. This configuration is advantageous because it provides the ball with a relatively hard exterior surface (which may preferably be similar to the hard exterior surface of a standard golf ball), and a relatively soft, low-density interior material. The soft, low-density characteristics of the interior material serve to reduce the overall weight of the ball and to cause the material to be more prone to contract or deform (and therefore absorb energy) when the ball is struck with a golf club. Both of these features of this embodiment are advantageous because they serve to reduce the maximum range of the golf ball.
  • [0063]
    The maximum range of the golf ball may also be reduced by providing dimples or holes in the exterior portion of the golf ball. For example, the golf ball may define a series of holes that are dispersed uniformly over the exterior surface of the golf ball. These holes serve to increase the friction between the golf ball and a gaseous medium (such as air) when the golf ball is traveling through the gaseous medium. This, in turn, generally reduces the maximum range of the golf ball.
  • Layered Construction
  • [0064]
    A golf ball 20 according to a second embodiment of the invention is shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B. As may be understood from these figures, the golf ball 20 includes a plurality of distinct layers of material. More specifically, the golf ball 20 shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B has three distinct layers of material 24, 26, 28. These layers include a substantially spherical inner core layer 28, a substantially spherical middle layer 26 surrounding the inner core layer 28, and a substantially spherical outer layer 24 surrounding the middle layer 26. The inner core layer 28 and the middle layer 26 are preferably dimensioned so that the outer portion of the inner core layer 28 engages the inner portion of the middle layer 26. Similarly, middle layer 26 and the outer layer 24 are preferably dimensioned so that the outer portion of the middle layer 26 engages the inner portion of the outer layer 24. In one embodiment of the invention, the various layers 24, 26, 28 are attached together using an adhesive substance, such as glue.
  • [0065]
    While the golf ball 20 of FIGS. 2A and 2B show three distinct layers, a layered golf ball according to the present invention may include more or less than three layers. For example, the golf ball may include 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, or more individual layers of material.
  • [0066]
    Each of the various layers of the golf ball 20 is preferably comprised of a single material, or a single mixture of materials. Each of these materials is preferably selected to partially absorb a force exerted on the golf ball 20 when the golf ball 20 is hit by a golf club, and to thereby reduce the range of the golf ball 20. (Thus, because, in a preferred embodiment of the invention, the various layers of the golf ball 20 are designed to absorb a force exerted on the golf ball 20 when the golf ball 20 is hit with a golf club, the layers may be referred to as force absorbing members.) In addition, the outermost layer 24 of the golf ball 20 is preferably more dense (and harder) than the golf ball's various inner layers. This gives the golf ball 20 exterior characteristics that are similar to those of a standard golf ball.
  • [0067]
    In a preferred embodiment of the invention, each layer of the golf ball 20 is made from one or more of the following materials: (1) a biodegradable resin; (2) gelatin; (3) a polyester; (4) cellulose; (5) modified cellulose; (6) a starch; (7) a modified starches; (8) gelatins; (9) casein; or (10) a biodegradable plastic. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, at least one of the golf ball's inner layers 28, 26 is made of vegetable starch (such as corn or potato starch), or grain starch (such as wheat starch).
  • [0068]
    In a further embodiment of the invention, at least one of the golf ball's various layers 24, 26, 28 is comprised of one or more of the materials listed above, and also includes filler particles dispersed (either uniformly or non-uniformly) throughout the layer. These filler particles are preferably biodegradable and may be, for example, peat moss, vermiculite, or fertilizer. Many other types of biodegradable materials may be used as filler particles. However, such filler particles are preferably either beneficial to the environment (e.g., promote the growth of grass, or inhibit the growth of weeds), or at least do not harm the environment.
  • [0069]
    Just as the golf ball's various layers may be constructed using a variety of different materials, the density and form of these layers may also be varied. For example, one or more of the golf ball's various layers may be manufactured to have a relatively dense solid consistency (for example, one or more layers may consist of relatively dense plastic resin or gelatin). Similarly, the golf ball's various layers may be manufactured to have a relatively low-density consistency. For example, one or more of the golf ball's layers may include a foam material such as a foam resin or starch. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the ball is made of a vegetable starch foam, such a corn starch foam. In a further preferred embodiment of the invention, the golf ball's various layers are designed so that the total weight the golf ball (which is preferably approximately 1.68 inches in diameter) is less than 10 grams.
  • [0070]
    Like the density of a solid construction golf ball, the various layers of a layered construction golf ball may either have a uniform density or a non-uniform density. For example, in a preferred embodiment of the invention, the outermost layer 24 of the golf ball 20 comprises a single type of foam that is relatively dense at the exterior portions of the layer 24, and that is less dense in the interior portions of the layer 24. This configuration is advantageous because it provides the ball with a relatively hard exterior surface (which is preferably similar to the exterior surface of a golf ball), and a relatively soft, low-density interior portion of the exterior layer. The soft, low-density characteristics of the interior portion of the outer layer 24 of material serve to reduce the overall weight of the golf ball 20 and to cause the outer layer 24 to be more prone to contract or deform (and therefore absorb energy) when the golf ball 20 is struck with a golf club. Both of these features are advantageous because they generally serve to reduce the maximum range of the golf ball 20.
  • [0071]
    In a preferred embodiment of the invention (referred to as the “Outer Shell with Inner Core Embodiment”) shown in FIGS. 3A and 3b, the golf ball 30 includes two layers—an interior core layer 36, and an exterior shell layer 34. As may be understood from FIG. 3B, the exterior shell layer 34 is a relatively thin, substantially spherical layer that defines an inner cavity 35, and the interior core layer 36 is disposed within this inner cavity 35. To make the golf ball's exterior surface similar to a standard golf ball, the exterior shell layer 34 is preferably relatively hard and dense. More particularly, in a preferred embodiment of the invention, this exterior shell layer 34 is made up of a relatively dense, biodegradable resin.
  • [0072]
    As noted above, the exterior shell layer 34 is preferably hard and relatively thin. This is advantageous because it provides the golf ball 30 with a hard outer layer that is similar to a standard golf ball, while minimizing the amount of dense material within the ball. This, in turn, reduces the weight of the golf ball (which generally minimizes the golf ball's maximum range) and generally causes the golf ball to biodegrade faster than it would if it were made entirely of dense material.
  • [0073]
    In addition to being thin, the exterior shell 34 may be dimpled or otherwise shaped to affect the flight characteristics of the golf ball 30. For example, in one embodiment of the invention, the golf ball's exterior shell layer 34 defines a series of holes (such as the holes 52 of the embodiment of the invention shown in FIG. 5) that are dispersed uniformly throughout the golf ball's exterior shell layer 34. These holes serve to increase the friction between the golf ball 30 and a gaseous medium (such as air) when the golf ball 30 is traveling through the gaseous medium. This, in turn, generally reduces the maximum range of the golf ball 30.
  • [0074]
    In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the exterior shell layer 34 of the golf ball 30 is malleable and is configured to permanently deform upon being hit with a golf club. This causes the exterior shell layer 34 to at least partially absorb a force exerted on the golf ball 30 when the golf ball 30 is struck by a golf club. This advantageously generally reduces the distance that the golf ball 30 will travel in response to being hit by a golf club.
  • [0075]
    Similarly, in a particular embodiment of the invention (an example of which is shown in FIG. 3), the golf ball's interior core layer 36 is malleable and is also configured to permanently deform in response to the golf ball being hit by a golf club. This causes the inner core layer 36 to at least partially absorb a force exerted on the golf ball 30 when the golf ball 30 is struck by a golf club. This advantageously reduces the distance that the golf ball 30 will travel in response to being hit by a golf club.
  • [0076]
    In one embodiment of the invention, the exterior shell layer 34 is malleable and is configured to permanently deform in response to the golf ball 30 being hit by a golf club, and the interior core layer 36 is not. In another embodiment of the invention, the interior core layer 36 is malleable and is configured to permanently deform in response to the golf ball 30 being hit by a golf club, and the exterior shell layer 34 is not. In a further embodiment of the invention, both the interior core layer 36 and the exterior shell layer 34 are malleable and are configured to permanently deform in response to the golf ball 30 being hit by a golf club.
  • [0077]
    Preferably, a golf ball according to the “outer shell with inner core” embodiment of the invention is constructed so that the outer surface of the interior core layer 36 engages the inner surface of the exterior shell layer 34, and so that neither the exterior shell layer 34 nor the interior core layer 36 decompose in response to being in contact with each other. Alternatively, in an embodiment of the golf ball such as the embodiment shown in FIGS. 4A and 4B, the exterior shell layer 44 and the interior core layer 46 may be comprised of materials that are selected so that either the exterior shell layer 44 or the interior core layer 46 (or both the exterior shell layer 44 and the interior core layer 46) dissolve in response to the interior core layer 46 and the exterior shell layer 44 coming into contact with one another. In this embodiment of the invention, the exterior shell layer 44 and the interior core layer 46 are initially separated by a preferably spherical membrane 45 that is preferably impermeable to either: (1) the material of which the shell layer 44 is comprised; (2) the material of which the core layer 46 is comprised; or (3) both the material of which the shell layer 44 is comprised, and the material of which the core layer 46 is comprised. The membrane 45 is preferably configured so that, in response to the golf ball being struck for a first time with a golf club, the core layer 46 (which may be, for example, a solid, a liquid, a gel, a powder, or a reactive gas) is no longer separated from the shell layer 44. As a result, either the shell layer 44, the core layer 46, or both the shell layer 44 and the core layer 46 begin to decompose in response to the golf ball 40 being struck with a golf club. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the membrane 45 is configured to tear or fracture in response to the golf ball 40 being struck by a golf club.
  • [0078]
    For example, a golf ball 40 according to a preferred embodiment of the invention includes a water-soluble shell layer 44 and has a core layer 46 that comprises water. The water core layer 44 is initially separated from the shell layer 44 by a water-impermeable membrane 45 that is configured to shatter or tear when the golf ball 40 is struck with a golf club. Thus, when the golf ball 40 is struck with a golf club, the water-impermeable membrane 45 tears or shatters and, thus, allows water from the ball's interior core layer 46 to come into contact with the water-soluble exterior shell layer 44. As a result, the exterior shell layer 44 immediately begins to decompose in response to the golf ball 45 being hit with a golf club.
  • [0079]
    In an additional embodiment of the invention, an example of which is shown in FIGS. 5A and 5B, the golf ball 50 comprises a single, hollow, spherical shell layer 54 that defines an interior cavity 56. This shell layer 54 is preferably relatively thin, hard, and entirely biodegradable. The exterior surface 55 of the shell layer 54 may be dimpled, or contain holes that extend either partially or entirely through the shell layer 54 and that serve to alter the aerodynamic properties of the golf ball 50. For example, in the embodiment of the invention shown in FIG. 6, the outer shell layer 54 of the golf ball 50 defines a plurality of holes 52 that are positioned relatively uniformly over the surface of the golf ball 50.
  • Fabrication Techniques
  • [0080]
    As will be understood by one skilled in the relevant art, golf balls according to the various embodiments of the present invention described above may be fabricated using a variety of manufacturing techniques, such as foam injection molding and reactive injection molding. For example, a solid golf ball according to the present invention could be made by injecting a biodegradable material into a desired mold to form a solid golf ball.
  • [0081]
    As will be understood by one skilled in the art, when the golf ball is comprised of a foam resin, the density of the foam may be varied by changing the amount of air mixed into the resin during fabrication. That is, the foam density is dependent upon the resin-to-air ratio used during mixing and injection. This density can be varied to manipulate the final decomposition rate of the golf ball. Generally speaking, the higher the resin-to-air ratio of a particular foam, the greater the density of the foam will be, and the slower the foam will biodegrade. Similarly, the lower the resin-to-air ratio for a particular foam, the more quickly the foam will biodegrade.
  • [0082]
    The density of a golf ball comprised of a resin foam may also be varied (as described above) to determine the final weight and hardness of the golf ball. Generally speaking, the greater the resin-to-air ratio of a particular foam, the greater the weight and hardness of the golf ball will be, and the farther the ball will travel when hit. If the resin-to-air ratio is lowered, the foam will be less dense, and the ball will be lighter and softer and will generally travel a shorter distance when hit.
  • Color of the Golf Ball
  • [0083]
    A golf ball according to the present invention may be manufactured to have an exterior color that provides the golf ball with particular advantageous visual properties. This may be accomplished, for example, by manufacturing the golf ball with exterior materials of a desired color, or by dying or painting the exterior of the ball the desired color. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the golf ball is painted green so that the ball is difficult to see when hit into a grassy area. Additional embodiments of the ball are, respectively, orange (for making the ball easy to see when hit onto grass, snow or mud), and snow white (for allowing the ball to blend into snow when hit into a snowy area). The golf ball may be manufactured of other colors to provide other additional advantageous features.
  • Golf Ball with Fastener
  • [0084]
    Because a golf ball according to the present invention will typically be much lighter than a standard golf ball, these golf balls may have the tendency to be blown off of a golf tee by slight gusts of wind or by air currents caused by the movements of a golfer or a golf club. In addition, some embodiments of the golf ball may be constructed to lower physical tolerances than a standard golf ball and the resulting (possibly uneven) surface curvature and features of the golf ball could cause the ball to sit unevenly on a golf tee. Such instability may cause golf balls according to the present invention to easily fall off the tee.
  • [0085]
    Accordingly, in one embodiment of the invention shown in FIG. 6, the golf ball 60 is provided with a preferably biodegradable fastener 64 that is disposed on, and attached to, an exterior surface of the golf ball 60. This fastener 64 is configured to hold the golf ball 60 on the tee 66 before the golf ball 60 is hit by a golf club and to quickly release from the golf tee 66 when the golf ball 60 is hit by the golf club. In this way, the fastener 64 holds the golf ball 60 on the tee 66 before the golf ball 60 is hit and also prevents the tee 66 from interfering with the flight of the golf ball 60 after the golfer hits the golf ball 60.
  • [0086]
    In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the fastener 64 is in the form of a circle and has a diameter that is approximately the same as a diameter of the top of a standard golf tee. In this preferred embodiment of the invention, the fastener 64 is a thin peace of adhesive film having adhesive on both a top surface and a bottom surface of the film. A first surface of this adhesive film is preferably attached to the exterior of the golf ball 60 during the manufacturing process, and an opposite second adhesive surface of the adhesive film is covered with a protective layer that covers the second adhesive surface of the film until the golf ball 60 is to be used. To use the golf ball 60, a golfer removes the protective layer to expose the second adhesive surface of the adhesive film, places the golf ball 60 on a golf tee 66 so that the exposed adhesive surface of the adhesive film sticks to the top surface of the golf tee, and hits the ball 60. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the adhesive film is biodegradable.
  • [0087]
    In alternative embodiments of the invention, the fastener may be, for example: (1) water-soluble glue; (2) gelatin foam with adhesive on both sides; (3) a gelatin matrix with adhesive dispensed throughout the gelatin matrix; (4) adhesive putty; or (5) adhesive gel. In one embodiment of the invention, the fasteners are packaged separately from the golf ball (in, for example, rolls, sheets, bottles, or cans) and are configured to be manually attached to the ball by a golfer.
  • [0088]
    In a further preferred embodiment of the invention, the fastener is an elongate peg 72 that protrudes from the exterior surface of the golf ball 70 as shown in FIG. 7. This elongate peg 72 is preferably positioned to extend along a line that extends through the center of the golf ball 70. As is shown in FIG. 7, this golf ball 70 is configured for use with a modified golf tee 76 that is preferably the same general size and shape of a standard golf tee, but that includes a peg receptacle 74 that is open to the ball-supporting top surface 75 of the golf tee 76 to receive the elongate peg 72 prior to use. The tee 76 is preferably dimensioned so that the peg receptacle 74 is open to the top surface of the tee 76 near the center of the tee's top surface 75. The peg receptacle 74 is preferably approximately the same size and shape as the exterior surface of the elongate peg 72.
  • [0089]
    To use this preferred embodiment of the invention, the user places the golf ball 70 on the tee 76 so that the peg 72 extends into the peg receptacle 74 and is held in place within peg receptacle 74 by the friction between the peg 72 and the portion of the golf tee 76 that defines the peg receptacle 74. This tends to hold the golf ball 70 in place on the golf tee 76 until the golfer hits the golf ball 70. The peg 72 preferably becomes dislodged from the peg receptacle 74 when the golf ball 70 is struck with a golf club. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the peg 72 is made of a biodegradable material, such as wood.
  • Method of Marketing the Golf Ball
  • [0090]
    The present invention also includes a unique method of marketing a golf ball. This method of marketing includes the steps of: (1) communicating to a customer that the golf ball has a maximum range of 50 yards or less; (2) communicating to the customer that the golf ball is biodegradable; and (3) offering to sell the golf ball to the customer. This method preferably includes the additional steps of communicating to the customer that the golf ball is configured for only one use, and communicating to the customer that the golf ball is configured for driving practice in areas other than a driving range.
  • Conclusion
  • [0091]
    Many modifications and other embodiments of the invention will come to mind to one skilled in the art to which this invention pertains having the benefit of the teachings presented in the foregoing descriptions and the associated drawings. For example, the concepts above could be applied to other types of practice balls, such as practice baseballs. Therefore, it is to be understood that the invention is not to be limited to the specific embodiments disclosed and that modifications and other embodiments are intended to be included within the scope of the appended claims. Although specific terms are employed herein, they are used in a generic and descriptive sense only and not for purposes of limitation.
Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3325168 *Jan 2, 1964Jun 13, 1967Fyanes Robert VGolf swing training apparatus
US4418909 *Jun 28, 1982Dec 6, 1983Anthony MessanaGolf tee
US5505444 *Apr 5, 1995Apr 9, 1996Bouclin, Jr.; Edward W.Golf tee
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7056230Dec 18, 2001Jun 6, 2006Emalfarb Bradley SGolf ball with changeable characteristics
US7244193Mar 23, 2004Jul 17, 2007Bradley EmalfarbMethod of playing golf
US7967702 *Apr 9, 2004Jun 28, 2011Performance Indicator, LlcGolf ball with water immersion indicator
US8251837Aug 11, 2010Aug 28, 2012Nike, Inc.Floating golf ball
US8905860 *Feb 27, 2012Dec 9, 2014Nike, Inc.Ball incorporating cover separation element
US20030114254 *Dec 18, 2001Jun 19, 2003Emalfarb Bradley S.Golf ball with changeable characteristics
US20040242345 *Mar 23, 2004Dec 2, 2004Bradley EmalfarbMethod of playing golf
US20050227789 *Apr 9, 2004Oct 13, 2005Performance Indicator, LlcGolf ball with water immersion indicator
US20100069528 *Sep 12, 2008Mar 18, 2010Gregory TrimarcheBiodegradable toys
US20130225322 *Feb 27, 2012Aug 29, 2013Nike, Inc.Ball Incorporating Cover Separation Element
US20130334737 *Jun 18, 2013Dec 19, 2013Wiegmans Beheer B.V.Method for manufacturing a golf ball
US20140066541 *Nov 5, 2013Mar 6, 2014Nike, Inc.Methods and systems for customizing a golf ball
US20140194222 *Jan 9, 2013Jul 10, 2014Acushnet CompanyGolf ball having a hollow center
US20140194223 *Jan 9, 2013Jul 10, 2014Acushnet CompanyGolf ball having a hollow center
US20140194224 *Jan 9, 2013Jul 10, 2014Acushnet CompanyGolf ball having a hollow center
US20140194225 *Jan 9, 2013Jul 10, 2014Acushnet CompanyGolf ball having a hollow center
WO2010020002A1 *Aug 19, 2009Feb 25, 2010Ziltek Pty LtdAeration device for use in a biopele
Classifications
U.S. Classification473/351, 473/354
International ClassificationA63B37/00, A63B43/00, A63B69/36
Cooperative ClassificationA63B37/0066, A63B37/0003, A63B37/0074, A63B37/0055, A63B37/0082, A63B2043/001, A63B37/0075, A63B69/3655, A63B37/0056, A63B43/00, A63B37/0052, A63B2208/12
European ClassificationA63B37/00G, A63B43/00