US 20050197201 A1
A system and method is presented for a putter grip having a lower section that is free to both rotate and axially slide along the putter shaft. In the preferred embodiment, this lower grip section slides and rotates over a core upon which is mounted an upper grip section that does not move relative to the putter shaft. The lower grip section is restrained in its axial movement to a portion of the putter shaft through the use of movement stops.
1. A golf club as specified by the United States Golf Association definitions and key design characteristic regarding clubs in general and more specifically putters and putters with two grips. (ref. www.usga.org “The rules of Golf”) Appendix II.
2. The golf club as defined in
3. A method of putting a ball using a pendulum characteristic swing that has a club head velocity in both the back swing and forward swing directions according to the acceleration and velocity of the lower grip slide-link mechanism.
4. Further the slide-link method of putting allows for better distance control because the putter head velocity at impact or force imparted to the ball is the result of two velocity vectors of the lower grip, one being the velocity of the slide-link along the club shaft and the second being the velocity of the slide-link in the fore-aft swing direction.
5. Further the slide-link method creates smooth ball roll every time because the relationship of the putter shaft is always at the optimum vertical position at ball strike since the upper grip is held in a fixed location throughout the swing for all putts regardless of the distance or length of putt.
6. Further the slide-link method of putting eliminates many of the variables present with the conventional putting stroke, i.e. the confounding of both target line and distance along with the body motion—shoulder roll, the inter actions of left and right arms as well as the hands.
This invention relates to the field of golf clubs. More specifically, the present invention relates to a putter grip that allows both rotational and axial movement of the grip along the shaft of the putter.
The ideal putter grip is one that most effectively assists the golfer in achieving the two basic elements of putting: establishing the initial course or direction of the ball, and establishing the initial speed of the ball. These two factors alone determine the path that the golf ball will travel. Of course, there are a number of variables that a golfer must analyze in order to correctly select the direction and speed for the putt, including the breaks and contours of the putting green, the grain or standing grass direction of the green, and the speed or rolling resistance of the surface.
Even if a golfer has successfully evaluated the appropriate direction and speed for a putt, a golfer still needs a great deal of skill to translate this evaluation into the proper putting stroke. Golfers spend many hours practicing their putting stroke to be able to control the ball's direction and speed consistently. Most golf instructors believe that three elements are crucial when a golfer is working on their putting stroke: the hand grip, the body position, and the putting stroke. Most teaching authorities believe the golfer should hold the putter in the palms of the hands with a light grip pressure. The general consensus for body position has the feet spread apart, but within the shoulder width, the knees slightly bent, and the back straight but tilted so as to position the eyes over the ball. The golfer ideally has shoulders and toes square to the intended putt line, with arms relaxed and hanging naturally with a slight bend at elbows. The ball should be in at the midpoint between the feet. As for the putting stroke, the golfer's arms and hands should move as one unit with the putter in a pendulum motion to release the putter head along the intended target line.
The goal of achieving a proper grip, stance, and stroke is not unique to putting, as the proper performance of all other golf strokes requires mastery of these same three elements. Unfortunately, while it is relatively straightforward to teach a golfer the proper grip of a club and the proper body position, it requires a great deal of effort and practice to obtain a proper stroke. For much of the last century, inventors have worked on improving the golf club to make it easier for golfers to achieve a better golfing stroke. One common approach has been to improve golf clubs by using a rotating grip, as is seen in Suesman (U.S. Pat. No. 1,305,952); De Bus (U.S. Pat. No. 1,544,226); Moore (U.S. Pat. No. 2,225,839); Hrivnak (U.S. Pat. No. 3,804,413); Smolinski (U.S. Pat. No. 3,834,714); Martin (U.S. Pat. No. 5,413,339); and Madelle (U.S. Published Patent No. US2001/0041626. All of these references describe golf clubs having a grip that moves rotationally with respect to the golf club shaft during the hitting stroke.
Unfortunately, a simple rotational club handle does not successfully meet the specific needs for an improved grip on a golf club used for putting. The need still exists for a grip on a putter that more properly assists a golfer in obtaining a preferred putting stroke.
The present invention overcomes the limitations in the prior art by providing a putter grip with an upper grip section that is fixed to the putter shaft, and a lower grip section that is free to both rotate and axially slide along the putter shaft. In one embodiment, this lower grip section actually slides and rotates over a core that is also used by the upper grip section. Slide stops on this core then restrain the axial motion of the lower section to a limited portion of the putter shaft.
In the embodiment shown in
In the preferred embodiment, the lower hand grip 30 is implemented as a gripping surface 32 surrounding a sleeve or hub 34. This hub 34 is preferably implemented as a second cylinder having an internal diameter slightly larger than the outer diameter of the hand grip core 50. When this hub 34 is then placed over the lower portion 56 of the hand grip core 50, the comparative sizing allows the hub 34 and the rest of the lower hand grip 30 to move both axially along the core 50 and rotationally around the core 50. The relative diameters of the hub 34 and the core 50 should be such as to allow both rotation and axial movement of the hub 34 along the core 50 while also maintaining a generally coaxial alignment of the hub 34 and core 50. To lower the friction between the interior of hub 34 and the exterior of core 50, it is possible to use a variety of techniques known in the prior art, such as conventional lubrication, ball bearings integrated into the hub 34 or core 50, or linings/coatings using low friction surfaces such as graphite or TEFLON.® It is also within the scope of this invention to use no special lubrication means, and simply rely on the relative smooth surfaces on the interior of hub 34 and the exterior of core 50 to reduce friction.
The axial movement of the lower hand grip 30 is restricted by an upper slide stop 60 and a lower slide stop 62. These stops 60, 62 are attached to core 50 at such positions so as to allow the lower hand grip 30 to slide axially (arrows 42) with respect to the core 50 and hence with respect to the golf club shaft 8. The stops 60, 62 are preferably made using a resilient ring that can be stretched to move along the core 50 to their preferred location. In an alternative embodiment, the upper slide stop 60 either abuts the upper grip 20 or is formed integral to the upper grip 20. The invention would also function appropriately if the stops 60, 62 were not movable, but were rather fixed to certain locations on the core 50 or shaft 8.
The distance between the stops 60, 62 must exceed the length 36 of the lower hand grip 30 enough so as to allow significant axial movement. Preferably, the lower hand grip 30 is allowed between five to ten inches of axial movement, although significant beneficial impact on the putting stroke of the average user can be obtained with greater or lesser movement ranges, including an axial movement of only a single inch.
In some putter configurations, such as with long and extra long shaft putters, it would be possible to separate the upper grip portion 20 from the lower grip portion 30 along the golf club shaft 8, such as shown in
As shown in
The movement of the golfer's lower hand along and around the shaft of putter 120 during the putting stroke allows the putter head to track the target with minimum body motion or shoulder roll. This also reduces the tendency for the lower hand to misdirect the club face from the intended target line. In this way, the present invention promotes a smooth pendulum swing path and proper tempo resulting in better ball roll for all putts, short or long. The lower hand becomes very passive in terms of directing the ball heading and therefore cannot misdirect the club face orientation from the desired ball heading as set by the swing path of the upper hand.
The present invention also provides a “feel and touch” feedback through the hands that continuously reinforces the proper putter swing characteristics. The free motion of the lower grip 130 provides a smoother and more natural pendulum motion in the putting stroke. This lower grip slide motion also creates the sensation that the stroke has enhanced power simply because it is so efficient. The expectation is that with less swing motion for a given putt one should have a greater success rate or accuracy.
This aspect of the present invention also promotes proper tempo and shoulder roll and release. The rear shoulder (right shoulder for a right-handed player) needs to release the putter down the line through impact and beyond ball strike. Failure to release the shoulder usually results in putts not reaching the hole. Particularly with short putts, golfers tend to baby the putt or steer the ball to the hole. The free motion of the lower grip 130 also provides feedback when a ball strike is not accomplished with proper tempo or above ball center. When this occurs, a disturbance is felt through the lower grip 130 in the form of a small shake or vibration.
The invention is not to be taken as limited to all of the details thereof as modifications and variations thereof may be made without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention. For instance, the above description describes a cylindrical inner core 50 around which the upper grip 20 is attached and the lower grip 30 is allowed to move axially and rotationally. It would be well within the scope of the present invention to separate the core 50 from the upper hand grip 30, so that the upper hand grip 30 is attached directly to the shaft 8. In addition, it would be within the scope of the present invention to utilize a specially constructed shaft 8 that provided an essentially cylindrical portion to take the place of core 50. The upper and lower slide stops 60,62 would then be mounted directly on the shaft 8. Consequently, the invention should be limited only by the following claims.