US 20070191128 A1
A golf training apparatus for practicing golf strokes using either irons or woods and from both even and uneven lies with training apparatus including a base coupled to a selectively tiltable platform having a standing section adjacent a striking section covered with a replaceable striking mat defining an uppermost and further including a tee with a neck projecting at least partially through the mat and terminating in an uppermost incline rim operable to releasably hold a golf ball in a pre-strike position with the platform in a tilted orientation.
1. A golf swing training apparatus comprising:
a platform including a striking section and a standing section operable to support a golfer;
at least one platform tilt adjusting element coupled to said base and said platform and selectively operable to tilt the angle of said platform relative to said base;
a striking mat overlying at least a portion of said striking section and defining an uppermost grass line; and
a tee including a neck region projecting at least partially through said striking mat and terminating in an uppermost inclined rim operable to releasably retain a golf ball in a pre-strike position with said platform adjusted to a tilted orientation whereby a user may adjust said platform to a desired tilt angle and strike a golf ball releasably retained on said inclined rim from said standing section.
2. The apparatus as set forth in
said rim of said tee includes a high point and a low point with said high point being positioned below said uppermost grass line of said striking mat.
3. The apparatus as set forth in
said platform is rectangular; and
said adjusting element includes a set of four hydraulic pistons in fluid communication with a hydraulic pump, each of said pistons being coupled to a corner of said platform.
4. The apparatus as set forth in
an electric motor coupled to said hydraulic pump; and
a controller in communication with said electric motor and operable to selectively actuate said motor to adjust said adjusting element to tilt said platform.
5. The apparatus as set forth in
said tee includes an enlarged flange positioned against an undersurface of said striking mat and said neck tapers outwardly from said enlarged flange to said inclined rim.
6. The apparatus as set forth in
said inclined rim of said tee is inclined at an angle of 20 to 45 degrees relative to a plane passing through said high point of said inclined rim and parallel to a plane passing through said enlarged flange of said tee.
7. The apparatus as set forth in
said rim of said tee includes a high point and a low point with said low point being positioned below said uppermost grass line of said striking mat.
8. The apparatus as set forth in
said striking section and said standing section are removably retained on said platform and interchangeable.
9. The apparatus as set forth in
said replaceable striking mat is an artificial turf with a fairway simulated grassline.
10. The apparatus as set forth in
said replaceable striking mat is an artificial turf with a rough simulated grassline.
11. The apparatus as set forth in
said standing section is covered with an artificial turf surface.
12. The apparatus as set forth in
said replaceable striking mat is covered with an artificial turf surface of a different height than said artificial turf surface of said standing section.
13. The apparatus as set forth in
said platform may be selectively actuated to position a golf ball on said tee in an uneven lie.
14. The apparatus as set forth in
said adjusting element includes a pair of pistons beneath said striking section and a second pair of pistons beneath said standing section with said pistons in each pair crossing one another.
15. The apparatus as set forth in
said adjusting element includes a set of four pistons with each piston including a universal joint joining said piston to said platform.
16. The apparatus as set forth in
said tee is constructed of an elastomeric material constructed to hold the weight of a golf ball in compression and flex in a shear direction.
17. The apparatus as set forth in
said adjusting element includes a hydraulic pump in fluid communication with a directional valve which is turn in fluid communication with at least two pistons coupled to said base and said platform whereby said directional valve may be selectively actuated to transfer hydraulic fluid to and from one or both pistons.
18. The apparatus as set forth in
said adjusting element includes a central universal joint disposed beneath said platform and coupled between said platform and said base.
19. A golf ball tee for use in conjunction with a golf swing training apparatus operable to simulate an uneven lie, said tee comprising:
an enlarged base flange;
an elongated neck projecting from said base flange and terminating in an uppermost golf ball supporting rim with said rim being inclined to said base flange, said neck being formed of an elastomeric material constructed to support a golf ball in compression and flex in a shear direction.
20. A golf swing training apparatus comprising:
a base frame having a lower surface positionable on a relatively flat ground surface, said base frame including a pair of opposing anchor plates;
a four-cornered platform frame;
a standing deck placed over a portion of said platform frame and operable to support a golfer throughout a golf club swinging motion, said standing deck being covered with a first artificial grass surface;
a striking section having an underside and placed over a complementary portion of said platform frame adjacent said standing deck, said striking section being covered by a replaceable striking mat constructed of a second artificial grass surface and defining an uppermost grassline;
a platform tilt adjusting element including a hydraulic pump and an electric motor coupled to a plurality of telescoping cylinders with each of said cylinders being coupled to at least one of said anchor plates of said base and to a corresponding number of corners of said platform;
a controller coupled to said electric motor and selectively operable to actuate said motor to drive said pump to actuate at least one of said cylinders to tilt said platform relative to said base to orient said platform in an uneven lie; and
a tee including an enlarged flange abutting said underside of said striking mat and a tapered neck region projecting at least partially through said striking mat and terminating in an uppermost inclined rim with a highest point of said rim being positioned at a height equal to or below said uppermost grassline, said inclined rim being operable to releasably hold a golf ball in a pre-strike position with said highest point of said rim being positioned on a downhill side of said golf ball with said platform in an uneven lie orientation.
1. Field of the Invention:
The present invention relates to an apparatus for practicing golf strokes and more specifically to an apparatus for supporting a golfer during the striking of a golf ball from a variety of lies.
2. General Background and State of the Art:
The game of golf is enjoyed around the world, both leisurely and as a serious competitive sport. Both dedication and practice are necessary to obtain consistency and improve one's score. To gain an edge, many golfers seek the assistance of a golf professional or instructor. A typical practice session involves striking a large quantity of golf balls one at a time directly off of a level practice mat constructed of a rubber pad covered by an artificial turf material or off of a tee projecting through the mat at a driving range. The tee typically includes an enlarged circular base flange and a cylindrical neck that terminates at its height in a level rim parallel with the base flange. The practice mat includes a hole through which the neck of the tee is inserted and the base flange is placed underneath the mat. The base flange prevents the tee from being ejected out of the mat when struck. The tee is typically constructed of a rubber material rigid enough to support a golf ball under compressive forces but flexible enough in the shear direction to minimize its impediment to a golf club head during contact with the ball and tee during the golfer's swing. At some ranges, golf balls may be struck off real grass instead of a mat and a conventional wooden tee may be used to practice tee shots.
During the practice session, the professional watches the golfer strike golf balls and provides tips to improve the golfer's swing and striking motions. While such practice sessions may help considerably, many on course scenarios are omitted from such a training session. For instance, while a typical initial drive from the tee box occurs with the ball placed at a particular height above the ground on a tee or on a flat patch of short cut grass, most of the shots occurring during a round after the tee shot require the golfer to strike the ball from an uphill, downhill, or sidehill lie, such lies being commonly referred to as an uneven lie. Even more difficult uneven lies resulting from a combination of an uphill/sidehill lie or a downhill/sidehill lie are also frequently encountered during play. However, the conventional practice mat only allows the golfer to practice shots from an even lie or tee shots and does not allow the golfer to simulate difficult shots from an uneven lie. To address these more difficult but commonly occurring scenarios, a number of golf training devices have been developed.
Examples of tilting platforms used for practicing golf strokes from difficult uneven lies may be found in U.S. Pat. No. 6,663,498 to Stipan; U.S. Pat. No. 6,659,881 to. Lee; U.S. Pat. No. 6,033, 317 to Beam; U.S. Pat. No. 5,944,615 to Lee; U.S. Pat. No. 5,820,478 to Wood et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 5,549,522 to Chang; U.S. Pat. No. 5,527,042 to Spriddle; U.S. Pat. No. 5,470,074 to Hotchkiss et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 5,460,379 to Cleland; U.S. Pat. No. 5,358,251 to Ashton; U.S. Pat. No. 5,240,111 to Froelich; U.S. Pat. No. 5,005,837 to Urra Martinez; U.S. Pat. No. 4,875,684 to Benilan; U.S. Pat. No. 3,633,918 to Smiley; and U.S. Patent Application Publication No. US 2002/0128084 to Lee et al. The tilting platforms are typically covered with an artificial turf material. While the mechanisms for tilting the platforms are generally the focus of each patent and vary somewhat from patent to patent, in general, the golfer may alter the slope of the hitting surface by either shifting his or her own weight while standing on the platform, manually lifting or sliding the platform to the desired tilt and locking it into place, or using a hydraulic or pneumatic lift actuated by a control panel or foot switch. The golfer then will stand upon the tilted surface to strike the golf ball from an uneven lie. Of course, the respective platforms may be leveled so as to strike the ball from a flat or even lie as well and thus provide the same functionality as the conventional practice mat.
As for the mechanism for holding the golf ball after the platform is tilted or as the platform is tilted, this varies from patent to patent as well, that is, when such feature is even addressed. For example, as shown in
Another method of holding a golf ball in place on a tiltable platform is shown in
Others of these patents simply rely on the mat itself to purportedly hold the ball in place when the platform is tilted. Examples of such mats are described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,460,379; 5,340,111; and 4,875,684. However, from a review of these constructions, it is apparent that if the simulated grass or artificial turf is short as for simulating a fairway shot, the golf ball will roll off the mat when the platform is tilted. It is telling in U.S. Pat. No. 5,460,379 that a retaining ledge is used to prevent the ball from rolling completely off the tilted platform. In U.S. Pat. No. 5,820,478 to Wood, a deep pipe fiber matting is used to purportedly hold the golf ball in place. However, this precludes a true simulation of short fairway grass and also remains susceptible to releasing the ball when the platform is tilted severely as when simulating a steep uneven lie. Some of the patents listed above do not even address how the ball is maintained in place on the tilted platform. As discussed above, merely placing a golf ball directly on a practice mat has drawbacks.
In Patent Application Publication No. US2002/0128084, a variable height tee is described to allow the user to practice both tee shots and iron shots and putting from an angled platform. However, it has been found that a standard rubber tee with a level upper rim is inadequate to inhibit a golf ball from rolling off a practice mat as the underlying platform is tilted through a wide range of angles. Thus, the use of such a standard tee reduces the range of shots the golfer can practice.
Thus, there exists a need for a platform capable of simulating a wide variety of golf shots commonly encountered during play for both woods and irons in conjunction with a holding device for maintaining a golf ball on an uneven lie while imparting no adverse effects on the flight of the ball.
In accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, a golf swing training apparatus has a base coupled to a platform by a selectively operable angle adjusting element with the platform including a standing section operable to support a golfer and a striking section for positioning a golf ball and at least partially covered by a replaceable striking mat that defines an uppermost grass line and further includes a tee having a neck projecting at least partially through the mat and terminating in an uppermost inclined rim operable to releasably hold a golf ball in a pre-strike position. With such training apparatus, a user may stand on the platform within the standing section, place a golf ball on the inclined rim and selectively actuate the adjusting element to tilt the platform through a range of slopes and then strike the golf ball once a desired tilt angle is set without the golf ball inadvertently falling off the tee prematurely.
Another feature of the present invention is that the striking section and standing section are interchangeable to accommodate both left handed and right handed golfers.
Yet another feature of the present invention is that the adjusting element is selectively operable to tilt the platform into an uneven lie orientation including an uphill lie, downhill lie, sidehill lie, or a combination of a downhill/sidehill lie or an uphill/sidehill lie.
Another aspect of the present invention is that the adjusting element comprises a hydraulic pump and electric motor coupled to a set of telescoping cylinders to control the angle of the platform.
Other aspects of the present invention will become apparent with further reference to the following drawings and detailed description.
Referring now to
While simplified representations of the base 30 and platform 32 are shown in
Referring now to
As viewed in
With continued reference to
The base and striking platform frames 30 and 32, respectively, are preferably constructed of a metal material such as steel or aluminum or an alloy thereof. Other suitable materials such as wood will also occur to one of ordinary skill in the art. Should a metal framework be used, the anchor plates 70, 72 and support plate 76 may be welded to the base section. The overall dimensions of the base section 30 and the striking platform unit 32 are a length of 5.5 feet, a width of 3 feet, and an overall height of ten inches when the striking platform is in a level orientation abutting the base section. The striking platform may have a recess opposite the pump and motor assembly described below to maintain a lower overall profile. Alternatively, it will be appreciated the overall height may be reduced to approximately 4 inches by moving the pump and motor assembly completely outside the base section 30.
Connecting the base section 30 to the striking platform 32 is a tilt adjusting element, generally designated 34, for altering the tilt, angle, or slope of the platform in relation to the base section 30 to simulate uneven lies. With continued reference to
The pistons are preferably hydraulic and a suitable piston. The pistons are approximately 12.5 inches to 13 inches long in a retracted state and capable of extending an additional four inches approximately. A suitable piston may be purchased from Hypower Hydraulics of Turlock, Calif. However, it will be appreciated that a pneumatic or electro-mechanical piston system may be used alternatively.
With the front side pistons 110 a, 110 b fully extended and back side cylinders 112 a, 112 b fully retracted, the striking platform 32 may be placed at a forty-five degree angle relative to the base section 32 and provide an uphill/sidehill lie as shown in
Using such pistons 110 a, 110 b, 112 a, and 112 b, the platform 32 may be mechanically adjusted by the golfer by shifting his or her own weight on the platform and using a mechanical lock (not shown) to lock the platform at the desired angle. However, it is preferable to actuate and control the pistons using the hydraulic pump and motor system. Referring now to
With continued reference to
In a similar manner, the striking section 36 of the platform is covered by the second mat that is a replaceable striking mat 40 that measures approximately 1 foot by 3 feet and complements the standing section mat 39 in covering the upper surface of the striking platform 32. The striking mat includes a striking board 138 or rubber base covered by an artificial turf 140 as shown in
Both mat sections 36 and 38 covering the platform include a rubber base and are preferably covered with an artificial turf surface. The artificial turf 140 covering the striking board 138 and the turf 37 of the standing section mat 36 may be the same or of different lengths and thicknesses to simulate standing in varying course conditions such as, for example, standing in the rough while striking a ball on the fairway or fringe of the green for example. The standing section portion of the mat may omit the artificial turf surface altogether. Both mats 36 and 38 are readily removable so that different turf facades may be selected and to replace the sections due to wear and tear. Also, both mats may simply be placed on the platform 32 with the weight of the mats inhibiting their shifting movement on the platform. The upper side of the platform may include a raised border as well with the mats nesting inside the border. If desired, the mats may be removably secured to the top surface of the platform. The mats 36 and 38 may also be reversed to accommodate both left and right handed golfers. Alternatively, one or both mats could be formed as trays and include sand instead of turf from which to strike balls or stand in.
Referring now to
With reference to
The golf tee 44 is preferably made from a flexible rubber material that is sufficiently rigid to hold a golf ball 22 under compression without collapsing but offer little resistance to the head of a golf club head 26 striking through it in the shear direction. The rubber tee will not mar the head of the golf club head and has a useable life of approximately 100 shots before requiring replacement. The material is the same as that used for conventional rubber tees used at driving ranges.
Referring now to
With a particular shot to be practiced in mind, the golfer 24 grasps the neck 46 of tee 44 about the rim 48 and twists the tee within the aperture 142 to align the uppermost point 150 of the inclined rim 48 with the bottom of the anticipated slope of the platform 32. With the tee positioned properly, the golfer uses the controller 126 (
Continuing with this exemplary process, if an uphill lie is desired, the golfer 24, using the controller 126, selectively actuates the cylinder pair 110 a, 112 a connected to the leading edge of the platform section 38 to extend an equal length. This causes the leading edge of the platform to rise (
With the desired platform slope set, the golfer 24 may then step on to the platform 32 and place the golf ball 22 on the inclined rim 48 of the tee 44. As a central lower portion 158 of the golf ball 22 will nest within the hollow open end of tee, the surrounding portions 160 of the ball adjacent the nested portion 158 will rest on the artificial turf 140 particularly on the back side of the ball (
To avoid a “teed up” placement wherein the golf ball 22 is elevated completely off the artificial turf 140, at least the low point 152 of the golf ball supporting surface 48 is preferably recessed beneath the uppermost extent or grass line 42 of the artificial turf (
With the golf ball 22 placed on the tee 44 , the golfer 24 addresses the ball, and upon establishing the proper foot position, the golfer may then strike the golf ball 22 of the striking mat 40 from the angle set by the controller 126. This may be repeated with additional golf balls. With repeated practice, the golfer gains experience at striking a golf ball from the angle selected and using different stances if desired. Other platform angles may be selected as desired throughout the practice session. It will be appreciated that the use of the flexible, soft rubber tee 44 and the inclined rim construction creates minimal, if any, impact to the flight path or spin of the golf ball 22 other than that purposefully imparted by the golfer. Moreover, the golfer may practice striking down through the ball as both the tee and practice mat 38 give way to the downward and forward motion of the club head 26. The recessed tee enables golfers to practice iron shots from the angled upper platform 32. Even at severe platform angles, the golf ball is maintained in a pre-strike position by the inclined tee 44. Should conventional tee shots be desired, the golfer may merely substitute the tee 44 for a standard rubber driving range tee and set the platform at an even lie. Likewise, if the golfer wishes to strike even lie golf balls directly off the mat, no tee is needed. It will be appreciated that the terms even or flat lie and uneven lie as well the terms uphill, downhill, sidehill, uphill/sidehill, downhill/sidehill as referring to the lie of the ball respective to the golfer's position are terms well known in the art.
In an alternative embodiment of the golf swing training apparatus 220 as shown in
With continued reference to
While the present invention has been described herein in terms of a number of preferred embodiments, it will be appreciated that various changes and improvements may also be made to the invention without departing from the scope and spirit thereof. For example, the platform 32 may include a single integral mat covering both the standing section 36 and the striking section 38. Furthermore, one or mats could be used to cover the platform and include a striking section at either end with a central standing section and an inclined tee 44 at each end to accommodate both right handed and left handed golfers hitting the ball in the same direction. In addition, the striking mat may include more than one aperture for receiving multiple inclined tees. For example, one aperture could receive a tee having a first incline angle while another aperture receives a tee with a different incline angle. This may reduce the golfers' time ordinarily spent in switching tees. It will further be appreciated that golf swing training apparatus 20, 220 may be placed at a hitting position at an outdoor or indoor golf range or may be used in conjunction with a golf net.