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 numberUS20070270237 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/437,831
Publication dateNov 22, 2007
Filing dateMay 22, 2006
Priority dateMay 22, 2006
Also published asCA2649343A1, CN101448553A, EP2024039A2, WO2007139634A2, WO2007139634A3
Publication number11437831, 437831, US 2007/0270237 A1, US 2007/270237 A1, US 20070270237 A1, US 20070270237A1, US 2007270237 A1, US 2007270237A1, US-A1-20070270237, US-A1-2007270237, US2007/0270237A1, US2007/270237A1, US20070270237 A1, US20070270237A1, US2007270237 A1, US2007270237A1
InventorsGary Tavares, Robert Boyd, Mark Perry
Original AssigneeNike, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Golf clubs prepared with basalt fiber
US 20070270237 A1
Abstract
Golf club products include a shaft member and a club head body member engaged with the shaft member. At least some portion of this club head product is made from a basalt material. As some more specific examples, the basalt material may be used in one or more of: one or more layers of the shaft member structure; the entire shaft structure; a grip member; a hosel member; one or more parts of the club head body member, including any of: a crown member, a sole plate or member, a body member, a ribbon member (forming a portion of the body member), a face member, a ball striking face member, a weight member, etc.
Images(5)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(49)
1. A golf club comprising a shaft member and a head member wherein at least one of the shaft member and the head member comprises a basalt material.
2. A golf club of claim 1 wherein the basalt material comprises at least basalt fiber.
3. A golf club of claim 1 wherein the basalt material comprises at least one of a grid, mesh, woven member, braided member, or lattice network member.
4. A golf club of claim 1 wherein the basalt material is present in a resin matrix.
5. A golf club of claim 4 wherein the resin includes a thermosetting resin.
6. A golf club of claim 5 wherein the thermosetting resin is at least one selected from epoxy resin, phenol resin, polyurethane resin, polyester resin, and vinyl ester resin.
7. A golf club of claim 4 wherein the resin includes a thermoplastic resin.
8. A golf club of claim 7 wherein the thermoplastic resin is at least one selected from polypropylene resin, polyether ether ketone resin, acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene resin, and nylon resin.
9. A golf club of claim 4 wherein the ratio by volume of resin to basalt is 1:1 or less.
10. A golf club shaft comprising an elongate tube member wherein the elongate tube member comprises a basalt material.
11. A golf club shaft of claim 10 wherein the elongate tube member comprises a core and a first layer surrounding at least a portion of the core, wherein at least one of the core and the first layer comprises the basalt material.
12. A golf club shaft of claim 11 wherein the first layer comprises the basalt material.
13. A golf club shaft of claim 10 wherein the elongate tube member comprises a core, a first layer surrounding at least a portion of the core, and a second layer surrounding at least a portion of the core, the first layer, or both, wherein at least one of the core, the first layer, and the second layer comprises the basalt material.
14. A golf club head comprising a club head body member, the club head body member comprising a basalt material.
15. A golf club head according to claim 14 wherein the basalt material forms a major portion of the club head body member.
16. A golf club head according to claim 14 wherein the club head body member forms a putter head structure.
17. A golf club head according to claim 14 wherein the club head body member forms an iron golf club head structure.
18. A golf club head according to claim 14 wherein the club head body member forms a wood golf club head structure.
19. A golf club head according to claim 14 further comprising a ball striking face engaged with the club head body member.
20. A golf club head according to claim 19 wherein the ball striking face is integrally formed with the basalt material of the club head body member.
21. A golf club head according to claim 14 wherein the club head body member includes at least a first body member including the basalt material and a second body member engaged with the first body member.
22. A golf club, comprising:
a club head body member constructed, at least in part, from a basalt material; and
a shaft member engaged with the club head body member.
23. A golf club according to claim 22 further comprising a ball striking face integrally formed with the club head body member.
24. A golf club according to claim 22 further comprising:
a grip member engaged with the shaft member.
25. A golf club according to claim 22 wherein the basalt material forms a major portion of the club head body member.
26. A golf club according to claim 22 wherein the club head body member forms a putter head structure.
27. A golf club according to claim 22 wherein the club head body member forms an iron golf club structure.
28. A golf club according to claim 22 wherein the club head body member forms a wood golf club head structure.
29. A golf club according to claim 22 further comprising:
a ball striking face including a metal face member engaged with the club head body member.
30. A golf club according to claim 22 wherein the club head body member includes at least a first body member including the basalt material and a second body member engaged with the first body member.
31. A method of forming a golf club head, comprising: forming a club head body member, at least in part, from a basalt material; and providing a ball striking face on the club head body member.
32. A method according to claim 31 wherein the club head body member is formed as a putter head structure.
33. A method according to claim 31 wherein the club head body member is formed as an iron golf club head structure.
34. A method according to claim 31 wherein the club head body member is formed such that a major portion of the club head body member is constructed from the basalt material.
35. A method according to claim 31 wherein the club head body member is formed as a wood golf club head structure.
36. A method according to claim 31 wherein the ball striking face is provided as a metal face member engaged with the club head body member.
37. A method according to claim 31 wherein the ball striking face is integrally formed with the club head body member.
38. A method according to claim 31 wherein the club head body member is formed to include at least a first body member including the basalt material and a second body member engaged with the first body member.
39. A method of forming a golf club, comprising: forming a club head body member, at least in part, from a basalt material; and engaging a shaft member with the club head body member.
40. A method according to claim 39 wherein the club head body member is formed to include a ball striking face integrally formed with the club head body member.
41. A method according to claim 39 wherein the club head body member is formed as a putter head structure.
42. A method according to claim 39 wherein the club head body member is formed as an iron golf club structure.
43. A method according to claim 39 wherein the club head body member is formed as a wood golf club head structure.
44. A method according to claim 39 further comprising:
engaging a ball striking face with the club head body member.
45. A method according to claim 39 wherein the club head body member is formed so as to include at least a first body member including the basalt material and a second body member engaged with the first body member.
46. A method of forming a golf club, comprising:
forming a shaft member, at least in part, from a basalt material; and
engaging a club head body member with the shaft member.
47. A method according to claim 46 wherein the shaft comprises an elongate tube formed from at least two layers, at least one layer comprising the basalt material.
48. A method according to claim 46 wherein the shaft is formed from a hollow tube.
49. A method according to claim 46 wherein the shaft is formed from a solid tube.
Description
BACKGROUND

Golf is enjoyed by a wide variety of players—players of different genders and players of dramatically different ages and skill levels. Golf is somewhat unique in the sporting world in that such diverse collections of players can play together in golf events, even in direct competition with one another (e.g., using handicapped scoring, different tee boxes, in team formats, etc.), and still enjoy the golf outing or competition. These factors, together with increased availability of golf programming on television (e.g., golf tournaments, golf news, golf history, and/or other golf programming) and the rise of well known golf superstars, at least in part, have increased golf's popularity in recent years both in the United States and throughout the world. The number of individuals participating in the game and the number of golf courses have increased steadily over recent years.

Golfers at all skill levels seek to improve their performance, lower their golf scores, and reach that next performance “level.” Manufacturers of all types of golf equipment have responded to these demands, and recently, the industry has witnessed dramatic changes and improvements in golf equipment. For example, a wide range of different golf ball models now are available, with some balls designed to complement specific swing speeds and/or other player characteristics or preferences, e.g., with some balls designed to fly farther and/or straighter, some designed to provide higher or flatter trajectories, some designed to provide more spin, control, and/or feel (particularly around the greens), etc. A host of swing aids and/or teaching aids also are available on the market that promises to help lower one's golf scores.

Being the sole instruments that set golf balls in motion during play, golf clubs also have been the subject of much technological research and advancement in recent years. For example, the market has seen improvements in putter designs, golf club head designs, shafts, and grips in recent years. Additionally, other technological advancements have been made in an effort to better match the various elements and/or characteristics of the golf club and/or characteristics of a golf ball to a particular user's swing features or characteristics (e.g., club fitting technology, ball launch angle measurement technology, ball spin rate characteristics, etc.).

Conventional golf clubs have three basic parts, a grip, a shaft, and a head. As shown by the golf club 100 in FIG. 1, a grip 101 is attached to/around the upper portion of shaft 102. The shaft 102 connects the grip 101 to the head 103. The shaft 102 is held by the golfer and the head 103 is the part that actually strikes the ball.

The golfer holds grip 101 of the golf club 100. With the exception of grips for putters, the grip 101 generally is round and generally without obvious bumps, lumps, or hollows. Grips can be made of any suitable material, generally polymers, rubber or leather, and can contain small holes, grooves, ridges, cord elements, or fabric materials designed to make it easier for the golfer to hold onto the club 100 without making the grip 101 so large that it will violate the Rules of Golf. There are various sizes of grips to accommodate different hand sizes and grip styles. The material and design of the grip are generally a matter of personal preference.

The shaft 102 of the golf club 100 connects between the grip 101 and the head 103 and, like the grip, is basically round in cross section. The shaft 102 may be a straight or generally a tapered tubular member roughly, but not limited to, ½ inch in diameter (12 mm) near the grip, and generally between 18 and 48 inches (48-122 cm) (and typically between 35 to 45 inches (89-115 cm) in length.

Most modern golf club shafts typically have been made of steel or fiber-reinforced resin composites utilizing fibers such as fiberglass and carbon or graphite fiber. Carbon fiber composites are lighter than steel, but they tend to be more expensive. Some shafts utilize two or more types of material, such as a graphite composite shaft with a steel tip.

FIG. 2 shows a conventional head 103 of a golf club. The typical head 103 has several parts: the hosel 104, where the head 103 connects to the shaft 102; the face 105, which actually strikes the ball; the sole 106, which is the part closest to the ground; the back (not shown in FIG. 2), which is on the side opposite the face 105, and the top 109. The sides 110 extend between the top 109 and the sole 106 at both the heel side and the toe side of the club head 103. The face 105 may be formed to include a separate face plate, e.g., formed from metal, that is attached to a framework defined by the remainder of the club head.

The head 103 of the golf club is where all the energy of the swing is transferred to the golf ball. There are a variety of different types of golf club heads, including, for example: the heads of woods, irons, wood-type hybrid clubs, iron-type hybrid clubs, and putters.

Woods or drivers have the largest heads of any golf club. Several of these large clubs are designed to propel the ball long distances, e.g., 300 yards or more with a single swing. The large head of a driver or other woods and the materials from which they are made, such as metals (e.g., steel, titanium, aluminum, and bronze), fiberglass reinforced resin composites, or carbon fiber-reinforced resin composites, are balanced to provide stability and light weight. The driver or wood head shape, including wood-type hybrid club heads, allows the weight in the head to move to points that enhance stability. The driver or wood head shape also allows the head to glide over grass and ground rather than digging into the turf.

Irons are designed for a greater variety of shots than woods. Woods or drivers tend to be optimal for long to very long shots, whereas irons are used for shots that range from less than 300 yards down to 40 yards or less. Relatively recent developments with perimeter weighting and cavity back designs have made irons more “forgiving” and easier for the average golfer to hit.

Putters are designed to strike the golf ball with a face that is substantially perpendicular to the intended ball path with a relatively gentle swing that will cause the ball to roll along the ground until it stops or falls into a hole. Putter heads may be found in a wide array of shapes—blocks, blades, short, long, thick, thin, etc., optionally with various patterns of lines found on the faces or even smooth faces.

The “number” or name associated with a club generally is related to the angle at which the face 105 slopes back from vertical when the club is held in its normal position facing the ball. A higher number for the club represents a greater degree of slope away from vertical, generally resulting in a higher, shorter shot as compared with lower numbered clubs.

The slope is important for propelling a golf ball with the desired trajectory through the air and for imparting spin. Typically, the greater the slope, the greater the spin. A rapid spin provides aerodynamic lift, causing a spinning ball to travel higher and farther than one with no spin at all. The spinning ball is also less influenced by small gusts of wind, making for a more predictable shot. Grooves in the face 105 will also help provide spin.

The grooves on the face of a golf head provide a bit of “bite” or friction for the golf ball as it slides up the face, helping it to spin more rapidly. In addition, if grass is trapped between the ball and club at impact, the water in the grass will be squeezed out by the force generated by the average swing. Similar to an automobile tire tread, the grooves on the club face give the water somewhere to go so that the ball does not skid up the club face without spinning.

Ideally, the sole of the golf club will help minimize the twisting of a poor swing. Woods and wood-type hybrid clubs have a relatively broad, flat sole with rounded edges to help the head glide over the surface of the grass without digging into the turf. Irons, on the other hand, tend to be hit so as to produce divots in the turf, so the soles of iron golf clubs (including iron-type hybrid clubs) typically are designed to slice through the turf evenly, without twisting or unexpected tugging to disrupt the golfer's shot.

It is known to use fiber-reinforced resin composites in the construction of golf club shafts. Such reinforcing fibers include carbon fiber, polyamide fiber, glass fiber, boron fiber, alumina fiber, aramid fiber, Tyranno™ fiber, and amorphous fiber. The fiber-reinforced resin composite may be used in layered structures, molded structures, and combinations thereof. Examples of the variety of uses of fibers in the construction of golf club shafts include, but are not limited to, those described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,157,181; 6,354,957; and 6,572,490; and U.S. Patent Publication No. 2005/0107182. Each of these documents is entirely incorporated herein by reference.

Carbon fiber composite materials also are known for use in golf club heads, including, for example, as part of the crown or body of a wood-type club head structure. Examples of patents illustrating such carbon composite containing club head structures include: U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,491,592 and 6,739,982. These patents also are entirely incorporated herein by reference.

Carbon fiber is particularly preferable and used in golf club heads and golf club shaft structures due to its superior strength and modulus, or stiffness. Carbon fiber, however, is expensive and may be cost prohibitive. Fiber glass is a low cost alternative to carbon fiber, but it has physical properties inferior to carbon fiber. Thus, a low cost alternative to carbon fiber would be desirable.

SUMMARY

This invention relates to golf clubs having heads and shafts, such as putters, irons (including all types of wedges), hybrid type clubs (both iron-type hybrid clubs and wood-type hybrid clubs), fairway woods, drivers, and the like. One aspect of the invention is the use of basalt material, in particular basalt fiber, in the design of composite golf club shafts and heads. Basalt fiber is superior to fiber glass, approaching the performance of carbon fiber materials, but at a much lower cost.

Golf clubs and golf club heads according to at least some example aspects of this invention may include: (a) a club shaft member constructed, at least in part, from basalt material and/or (b) a club head body member constructed, at least in part, from a basalt material. Optionally, if desired, the club shaft member and/or the club head body member may be of a multi-piece construction, and any one or more of these multiple pieces may be formed from a basalt material without departing from this invention.

Additional aspects of this invention relate to methods of making and/or using golf club shafts and/or golf club heads that include basalt material forming at least a portion of the club shaft and/or club head structure.

Another aspect of the invention relates to a light weight, optionally tapered, tubular structure that provides superior performance for a wide variety of applications, especially in golf club shafts, but also in other products such as fishing rods, ski poles, knitting needles, croquet mallets, racquets, bats, billiard cue sticks, tools, tool handles, etc.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing Summary, as well as the following Detailed Description, will be better understood when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

FIG. 1 depicts a typical golf club having a grip, shaft and head.

FIG. 2 depicts a typical golf club head.

FIG. 3 depicts a putter type golf club.

FIG. 4 depicts an iron type golf club head.

FIG. 5 depicts a wood-type golf club head.

FIGS. 6 through 6 c depict various features of an elongated tubular structure for various potential products according to the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION I. General Description of Aspects of the Invention

The following description and the accompanying figures disclose features of golf club shafts and golf club heads in accordance with the present invention (e.g., woods, irons, hybrids, putters, etc.). Various examples of the use of basalt materials in golf club head and shaft structures in accordance with aspects of the present invention will now be described. However, the invention is not limited to any particular design of the golf club shaft or heads.

Generally, in accordance with at least some example aspects of this invention, basalt material is used to replace metal in an overall club shaft or head structure to save weight (e.g., basalt fibers in a resin matrix typically are lighter than the same volume of metal, but the resulting basalt fiber-reinforced composite material remains strong). In a golf club head structure, for example, this “saved” weight can be moved to various desired locations in the club head structure, e.g., to the back and bottom sides of the club head structure, which improves the performance of the club to strike the golf ball well with improved accuracy and farther distance or helps the club's “hit-ability” (a lower and deeper center of gravity helps golfers get the ball airborne and helps prevent club head twist [increasing club head moment of inertia]); to the toe side of the club head structure (to provide a fade biased and/or hook correcting club head structure); to the heel side of the club head structure (to provide a draw biased and/or slice correcting club head structure); around the club head perimeter; etc.

In general, the basalt material can be used in a wide variety of locations in a club structure (e.g., as a basalt fiber-reinforced composite material). For example, in accordance with at least some examples of this invention, basalt fibers will be used to form at least a portion of the club head body (e.g., often engaged with a steel, aluminum, magnesium, or titanium alloy used as the face member). The basalt material can be used, for example, as at least a portion of one or more of a crown member, a sole member, and/or a skirt or ribbon portion of the club head. In many instances, the entire rear portion of the club head (e.g., its “aft body” rearward from a face member) will be made from the basalt material (e.g., attached to a metal [e.g., a steel, aluminum, magnesium, or titanium metal or alloy material] face cup including the ball striking surface). Club heads also could have a basalt material face plate member (e.g,, as the ball striking face, as a frame member for holding a separate ball striking face, etc.). In one particular aspect of the invention, the basalt material may be used in a wood or hybrid type golf club structure, such as in a driver, fairway wood, and/or wood-type hybrid club head structure.

Alternatively, if desired, the entire club head may be made of basalt material, e.g., in the form of a basalt fiber reinforced resin composite, which may be formed into the proper configuration by any desired method, including by conventional fiber-reinforced material production techniques that are known and used in the art (e.g compression molding, resin transfer molding RTM, vacuum assisted resin transfer molding VARTM, prepreg lay up, etc.). A metal cover or ball striking plate may cover the face or fit into an opening provided in the face, if desired.

Various examples of the production of golf clubs and other structures, including structures according to the present invention and results obtained using such structures, are provided below. Those skilled in the art will recognize, however, that the scope of the present invention is in no way limited to these examples or the results achieved thereby.

II. Detailed Description of Example Golf Club Heads and Other Structures According to the Invention

A. Basalt—Basalt Fibers—Reinforced Resins

Generally, basalt is a hard, dense, dark volcanic rock composed chiefly of plagioclase, pyroxene, and olivine, and often has a glassy appearance. Basalt has been mainly used as a crushed rock in construction, industrial and highway engineering. Basalt also can be made into fine, superfine, and ultra fme fibers. Techniques for making or spinning basalt into fibers are known in the art.

Basalt fibers are superior to many other fibers in terms of thermal stability, heat and sound insulation properties, vibration resistance, and durability. Basalt fiber products, for example, can provide very low thermal conductivity and can withstand working temperatures in excess of 816° C. Moreover, products made with basalt fibers have no toxic reaction with air or water, are non-combustible, explosion proof, and have a long service life. When in contact with other chemicals, basalt fibers produce no chemical reactions that may damage health, the environment, or the general structural integrity of the construction into which the basalt fiber is built. Basalt is both alkali and acid resistant.

Basalt fibers also provide good tensile strength in products. For example, basalt reinforcement rods made of a unidirectional composite of basalt fibers, used to replace steel rebar, can have a tensile strength of 1200 MPa.

Basalt may be in the form of continuous or discontinuous fibers, particles, flakes, whiskers, filaments, ribbons, and rods. Basalt fibers, for example, generally can have diameters from approximately 9 μm to 23 μm. Discontinuous or chopped basalt fibers, for example, generally can have a length of 1 cm to 5 cm.

Basalt material may also be produced in the form of sheets, mats, felts, grids, meshes, woven members, braided members, lattice network members, textiles, or mixtures thereof prepared from, for example, continuous or discontinuous fibers, particles, flakes, whiskers, filaments, ribbons, rods and combinations thereof.

The invention will be generally described in terms of use of “basalt material,” which is intended to refer to any suitable form of basalt, including, but not limited to: basalt fibers: basalt fiber-reinforced materials (such as polymers, metals, composite materials, and the like): structures containing basalt in the form of sheets, mats, felts, grids, meshes, woven members, braided members, lattice network members, textiles, or mixtures thereof; and the like.

In a particular aspect of the invention, the basalt material is combined with a suitable polymer matrix to form a basalt reinforced polymer composite. As a more specific example, the basalt is used in the form of fibers to produce a basalt fiber-reinforced product by incorporating basalt fibers into a suitable polymer matrix.

Any desired polymer matrix or base material may be used and reinforced with basalt materials, including basalt fibers, without departing from this invention. For example, the polymer matrix may comprise: thermosetting resins, such as epoxy resins, phenol or urea formaldehyde resins, polyurethane resins, polyester resins, vinyl ester resins and the like; and thermoplastic resins, such as polypropylene resins, polyether ether ketone resins, acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene resins, nylon resins, etc. Other examples include, but are not limited to, polyphenylene sulfide, polysulfone, polyethylene terephthalate, and polycarbonate resins.

Prior to mixing with the polymer matrix, the basalt fibers can be treated or coated with a chemical sizing or treated to modify surface energy, e.g., to make them more compatible with the polymer matrix. The sizing treatment may include, for example, coating with epoxy or phenolic resins, treating with acid, atmospheric plasma, corona discharge, or the like.

The invention will be generally described in terms of a resin, but any suitable polymer matrix may be used. Basalt fibers, for example, are mixed with the resin so as to form a basalt fiber-reinforced resin composition. Generally the reinforcement composition in the resin matrix may range from 5 wt % to 70 wt % reinforcement or approximately 2 vol % to 50 vol % reinforcement. Generally more preferred the reinforcement composition in the resin matrix may range from 30 wt % to 50 wt % reinforcement or approximately 13 vol % to 27 vol % reinforcement, depending on the performance requirements of the application and the form of the basalt material including, for example, sheets, mats, felts, grids, meshes, woven members, braided members, lattice network members, textiles, or mixtures thereof prepared from, for example, continuous or discontinuous fibers, particles, flakes, whiskers, filaments, ribbons, rods and combinations thereof

Carbon Carbon
Property Units Basalt E-Glass low cost high modulus
Density (g/cm3) 2.75 2.6 1.8 1.9
Tensile strength (MPa) 4840 3450 2890 2750
Elastic modulus (GPa) 89 77 230 390

The basalt fiber-reinforced resin composition may then be formed into the head of a golf club, the shaft of a golf club, or into a tubular member. The basalt fiber-reinforced composite may form all or part of the shaft, head, and/or other member, as known in the art for use of other fiber-reinforced resin composites, such carbon fiber- and fiberglass-reinforced composites.

In view of the above description of basalt materials, more specific examples of golf club structures and other structures according to the invention incorporating such composites are provided below.

B. Example Head Structures

Golf club heads according to at least some example aspects of this invention may include a club head body member constructed, at least in part, from basalt material. Generally, in accordance with at least some examples of this invention, at least a portion of the club head may be made from basalt material. For example, the head may be formed entirely or partially from a basalt material. Any or part of one or more of the hosel, face, sole, back, crown, top, and sides of the club head, including the ball striking face and/or a frame for holding the ball striking face, may be formed entirely or partially of a basalt material. Such heads may be constructed in any suitable manner, including, for example, in conventional manners known and used in the art for forming club heads or portions thereof from prior art fiber-reinforced composites (such as carbon-fiber reinforced materials). As some more specific examples, if desired, the club head may be formed to include one or more of a crown member, a skirt member, a ribbon member, an aft body member, a face cup or other face member, a hosel member, a sole plate member, a ball-striking member, etc. from a basalt material (e.g., a basalt fiber-reinforced material). The parts of the head may be manufactured by integrally forming one or more of these parts as a unitary, one-piece construction; by forming multiple, separate parts and joining them together, e.g., using an adhesive, cement, mechanical connectors, fusing techniques, etc.; or the like.

1. Putter Structures

One example aspect of this invention relates to putter structures that include one or more parts made, at least in part, from basalt material.

FIG. 3 illustrates an example of parts for a putter structure 300 that may be made from basalt material in accordance with at least some examples of this invention. The head member 302, as illustrated in FIG. 3, includes a face member 304 that faces a golf ball (or other ball) when the club head is used. The body member 302 in this illustrated example essentially is rectangular cubic shaped such that a back member 306 is located opposite the face 304. Of course, a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and orientations of body member 302 and/or other putter head designs may be used without departing from the invention, including, for example, mallet type putter heads, blade type butter heads, etc.

Basalt material may be used for part of or the entirety of the head. For example, basalt material may be used in face member 304, back member 306, and/or shaft mounting member (hosel member) 312. The body member 302 may be made of basalt material and a faceplate, e.g., a metal or polymeric ball striking face piece, may be attached to the face member 304.

If desired, in accordance with at least some examples of the invention, the club head 302 may include weighted regions, e.g., located in the rear and/or toward the heel and toe regions of the club head 302. Weighted regions of this type can assist in increasing the club head's moment of inertia, thereby reducing club head twist during a swing. Of course, the weighted regions may be provided in any desired manner without departing from the invention, e.g., by attaching one or more separate weight elements to the club head structure (e.g., in weight receiving receptacles), by integrally forming the weighted region into the remainder of the club head structure, by applying lead tape or other weighted adhesive material, by plasma spraying, etc.

Also, the weighted regions may be provided in either or both of the club head's interior or exterior structure without departing from this invention.

Any desired type of shaft member 310 may be used in the putter structure 300 without departing from the invention, including shaft members 310 of conventional design and made of conventional materials as are known and used in the art, including, for example, steel, titanium, aluminum, nickel, tungsten, magnesium, graphite, polymers, or composites, or combinations thereof (including alloys of the various metals noted above). Alternatively, if desired, either or both of the hosel or other shaft mounting member 312 and/or the shaft member 310 may be made, at least in part, from a basalt material.

A grip element 314 may be positioned on the shaft 310 to provide a golfer with a slip resistant surface with which to grasp golf club shaft 310. The grip element may be attached to the shaft member 310 in any desired manner, including in conventional manners known and used in the art (e.g., via adhesives or cements, mechanical connectors, etc.).

As noted above, basalt materials, including basalt fiber-reinforced materials may be used in any type of putter structure, including, for example, one or more of the various parts of the example putters illustrated in U.S. Published Patent Appln. No. 2006/0052178, which document is entirely incorporated herein by reference.

2. Example Iron Type Golf Club Structures

Putters are not the only types of golf clubs that can take advantage of the weight saving and other favorable properties of basalt materials. These materials also can be used, for example, in iron type golf club structures. Referring to FIG. 4, a golf club 400 in accordance with at least some examples of this invention is illustrated. This example golf club 400 includes a shaft member 410 and a golf club head member 402.

The golf club head member 402 of FIG. 4 may be representative of any iron or hybrid type golf club head, including, for example, 0 through 10 irons, pitching wedges, lob wedges, gap wedges, sand wedges, iron-type hybrid clubs, etc..

The shaft member 410 of golf club 400 may be made of various materials, such as one or more of steel, titanium, graphite, or composite materials, as well as combinations thereof, including materials that are conventionally known and used in the art. As another example, if desired, the shaft member 410 may be made, at least in part, from a basalt material. Additionally, the shaft member 410 may be attached to the club head 402 in any desired manner, including in conventional manners known and used in the art (e.g., via adhesives or cements at a hosel element 412 (which itself may be made, at least in part, from a basalt material), via threads or other mechanical connectors, etc.).

A grip element (not shown but similar to the grip shown in FIG. 3) may be positioned on the shaft member 410 to provide a golfer with a slip resistant surface with which to grasp golf club shaft member 410. The grip element may be attached to the shaft member 410 in any desired manner, including in conventional manners known and used in the art (e.g., via adhesives or cements, mechanical connectors, etc.).

As shown in FIG. 4, the golf club head 402 includes a heel portion 408 and a toe portion 404. The heel portion 408 is attached to and/or extends from a hosel 412 (e.g., as a unitary or integral one-piece construction) for connecting the shaft member 410 to the golf club head 402. The golf club head 402 also includes a top portion 414 and a sole portion 416. A striking face 418 is provided between the top portion 414 and the sole portion 416, and between the toe portion 404 and the heel portion 408.

The striking face 418 provides a contact area for engaging and propelling a golf ball in an intended direction. The striking face 418 may include grooves 420 (e.g., generally horizontal grooves 420 extending across the face 418 in the illustrated example) for the removal of water and grass from the striking face 418 during a ball strike. Of course, any number of grooves and desired groove pattern may be provided (or even no groove pattern, if desired), without departing from this invention.

The golf club head 402 may be constructed from a wide variety of different materials, including materials known and used in the art, such as steel, titanium, aluminum, nickel, tungsten, magnesium, graphite, polymers, or composites, or combinations thereof (including alloys of the various metals noted above). Advantageously, in accordance with at least some examples of this invention, at least some portion of the club head structure (e.g., a major body portion thereof) will be formed from a basalt material. Also, the club head 402 may be made from any number of independent pieces and/or by any construction technique, including, for example, casting, forging, and/or other methods known and used in the art.

The striking face 418 may be formed from a separate face plate attached to the club head 402 as is known in the art by any desired manner, e.g., fabricated as a one piece construction; welded, brazed, or soldered thereto; bonded thereto with cements or adhesives, etc.; coated or filled therein (e.g., as a molten metal or polymer coating or filling, etc.); etc. Also, the face plate may be made from the same or a different material as compared with the materials used for other parts of the club head 402. In at least some examples of this invention, the face plate 418 and/or a frame member to which it is attached (e.g., forming at least a portion of the club head body 402) may be formed from a basalt material, such as a basalt fiber-reinforced material.

The use of basalt materials for at least some portions of the golf club head 402 or other portions of the golf club structure (such as hosel 412 or shaft member 410) can assist in club design by enabling club designers and manufacturers to selectively place weight and move the center of gravity to positions so as to better affect the ball flight. For example, positioning the center of gravity of the club head 402 away from the striking face 418 and toward the rear of the golf club head 404 may better conform to the play characteristics, style, and preferences of many golfers.

If desired, in accordance with at least some examples of this invention, weighted regions may be provided at one or more locations in the overall club head structure, e.g., around the club head perimeter, at a low, rearward position, in the club toe area 404, in the club heel area 408, along the club sole 416, etc. Weighting of this type can help increase the club head's moment of inertia characteristics and/or help modify the ball flight, e.g., in the various manners described above and in the manners known in the art. Of course, the weighted regions may be provided in any desired manner without departing from the invention, e.g., by attaching one or more separate weight elements to some portion of the club head structure (e.g., in weight receiving receptacles), by integrally forming the weighted region into the remainder of the club head structure, by applying lead tape or other weighted adhesive material, by plasma spraying, by providing a rear “bridge member” as used in commercially available SLINGSHOT® iron products available from NIKE, Inc., of Beaverton, Oreg., by including one or more weights on a bridge member, etc. Also, the weighted regions may be provided in either or both of the club head's interior or exterior structure without departing from this invention.

Again, as noted above, basalt materials, including basalt fiber-reinforced materials, may be used in any desired iron golf club structure, including cavity back clubs, perimeter weighted clubs, muscle back clubs, blade-type clubs, and the like. As some more specific and non-limiting examples, basalt materials may be used as one or more parts of the club head structures illustrated, for example, in U.S. Pat. No. 6,918,840; U.S. Pat. No. 6,981,924; and U.S. Patent Publication No. 2005-0137024. Each of these documents is entirely incorporated herein by reference.

3. Example Wood Type Golf Club Structures

Aspects of this invention are not limited to use with putters, irons, and/or hybrid iron type golf clubs and golf club heads. FIG. 5 illustrates an example of a golf club 500 in accordance with at least some examples of this invention. Notably, the overall golf club structure 500 of this example includes a golf club head 502, a hosel region 512, a shaft member 510 received in and/or inserted into and/or through the hosel region 512, and a grip or handle member (not shown) attached to the shaft member 510. Optionally, if desired, the hosel region 512 may be eliminated and the shaft member 510 may be directly inserted into and/or otherwise attached to the head member 502 (e.g., through an opening provided in the top and optionally bottom of the club head 502). Optionally, if desired, the hosel member may be located internal to the club head structure 502.

The shaft member 510 may be received in, engaged with, and/or attached to the club head 502 in any suitable or desired manner, including in conventional manners known and used in the art, without departing from the invention. As more specific examples, the shaft member 510 may be engaged with the club head 502 via the hosel member 512 or directly with the club head structure 502, e.g., via adhesives, cements, welding, soldering, mechanical connectors (such as threads, retaining elements, or the like), through a shaft-receiving sleeve or element extending into and/or within the club head body 502, etc. The shaft member 510 also may be made from any suitable or desired materials, including conventional materials known and used in the art, such as graphite based materials, composite materials, steel materials (including stainless steel), aluminum materials, titanium materials, magnesium materials, other metal or metal alloy materials, polymeric materials, combinations of various materials, and the like. If desired, either or both of the shaft member 510 and the hosel member 512 (when present) may be made from a basalt material.

The grip or handle member (not shown) may be attached to, engaged with, and/or extend from the shaft member 510 in any suitable or desired manner, including in conventional manners known and used in the art, e.g., using adhesives or cements; via welding, soldering, adhesives, or the like; via mechanical connectors (such as threads, retaining elements, etc.); and/or in any other desired manner. As another example, if desired, the grip or handle member may be integrally formed as a unitary, one-piece construction with the shaft member 510. Additionally, any desired grip or handle member materials may be used without departing from this invention, including rubber materials, leather materials, rubber or other materials including cord or other fabric material embedded therein, polymeric materials, metal materials, and the like. The grip or handle member also may be made, at least in part, from a basalt material.

The club head 500 may be constructed in any suitable or desired manner and/or from any suitable or desired materials without departing from this invention, including in conventional manners and/or from conventional materials known and used in the art. For example, in the example structure shown in FIG. 5, the club head 502 includes a sole member 507, a face member 508, at least one body member 509, and a crown member 511. The body member(s) 509 may be formed, for example, as bands or ribbons of material (e.g., optionally generally U-shaped bands or ribbons) that extend around from one side of the face member 508 to its other side and form at least a portion of the perimeter of the middle of the golf club head body 502 (e.g., such that the overall club head structure 502 defines an at least partially hollow interior chamber (e.g., into which the shaft member 510 may be inserted and/or secured)). Any of the individual portions of the club head structure 502 described above may be made from multiple independent pieces, and/or two or more of these individual portions may be integrally formed together, e.g., as unitary, one-piece constructions, without departing from this invention (e.g., the sole and/or crown members additionally may form at least some portions of the club head body and/or face members, etc). As other options, if desired, the overall club head structure 502 may be comprised of a single, one-piece construction (optionally hollowed out) or the face member 508 may attach to a one or more piece club head “aft” body, etc.

The various individual parts that make up a club head structure 502, if made from multiple pieces, may be engaged and/or held together in any suitable or desired manner, including in conventional manners known and used in the art. For example, the various parts of the club head structure 502 may be joined and/or fixed together (directly or indirectly through intermediate members) by adhesives, cements, welding, soldering, or other bonding or fusing techniques; by mechanical connectors (such as threads, screws, nuts, bolts, or other connectors); and the like. If desired, the side edges of various parts of the club head structure 502 (e.g., the edges where sole member 507, face member 508, body members 509, and/or crown member 511 contact and join to one another) may include one or more raised ribs, tabs, ledges, or other engagement elements that fit into or onto corresponding grooves, slots, surfaces, ledges, or openings provided in or on the facing side edges to which they are joined. Cements, adhesives, mechanical connectors, or the like may be used in combination with the raised rib/groove or other connecting structures described above to further help secure the various parts of the club head structure 502 to one another.

In at least some examples of the invention, the materials making up at least some of the various portions of the club structure 500 (e.g., at least some potion(s) of the sole 507, the face plate 508, the body member(s) 509, the crown 511, the hosel 512, the shaft 510, etc.) may be formed from a basalt material, e.g., like the various materials described above. If desired, two or more of these parts may be integrally formed as a one-piece construction (e.g., if desired, the sole 507, the body member 509, and/or the crown 511 may be integrally formed as one piece with a separate face plate member engaged therewith). Also, any desired materials may be used for various portions of the club head body 502 without departing from the invention, including, for example, aluminum, nickel, titanium, steel, polymers, glasses, ceramics, rubbers, and/or combinations thereof. When at least some portion of the club head structure 502 is formed from a basalt material, if desired, the shell wall thickness may be made somewhat larger than the shell members of many conventional club heads, such as metallic shell walls.

The use of basalt materials for at least some portions of the golf club head 502 or other portions of the golf club structure (such as hosel 512 or shaft member 510) can assist in club design by enabling club designers and manufacturers to selectively place weight and move the center of gravity to positions so as to better affect the ball flight. For example, positioning the center of gravity of the club head 502 away from the striking face 508 and toward the rear and lower portions of the golf club head 502 may better conform to the play characteristics, style, and preferences of many golfers.

If desired, in accordance with at least some examples of this invention, weighted regions may be provided at one or more locations in the overall club head structure 502, e.g., around the club head perimeter, at a low, rearward position, in the club toe area, in the club heel area, along the club sole 507, along the club body member 509, etc. Weighting of this type can help increase the club head's moment of inertia characteristics and/or help modify the ball flight, e.g., in the various manners described above and in the manners known in the art. Of course, the weighted regions may be provided in any desired manner without departing from the invention, e.g., by attaching one or more separate weight elements to some portion of the club head structure (e.g., in weight receiving receptacles), by integrally forming the weighted region into the remainder of the club head structure, by applying lead tape or other weighted adhesive material, by plasma spraying, by providing movable and/or removable weights, etc. Also, the weighted regions may be provided in either or both of the club head's interior or exterior structure without departing from this invention.

The dimensions and/or other characteristics of a wood-type golf club head structure according to examples of the invention may vary significantly without departing from the invention. Moreover, any desired type of wood-type golf club head structure may be provided, such as drivers, fairway woods, wood-type hybrid clubs, chipping clubs, and the like. Any desired loft angles, head weights, lie angles, etc., also may be used without departing from the invention, e.g., if the club is designed as a 2-wood, 3-wood, 4-wood, 5-wood, 7-wood, 9-wood, 11-wood, etc.; to suit a user's preferences and/or swing characteristics; to provide the desired launch angle, carry distance, and/or other characteristics for the club; etc. Additionally, various different shaft characteristics (such as stiffness, flex point, kick point, etc.) may be used to further allow change and control over the club's and the club head's feel and characteristics.

As noted above, basalt materials, including basalt fiber-reinforced materials, may be used in any desired wood type golf club structure, including drivers, fairway woods, wood-type hybrid clubs, chipping clubs, and the like. As some more specific and non-limiting examples, basalt materials may be used akin to the use of carbon-fiber materials as one or more parts of the club head structures described, for example, in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,406,381; 6,739,983; 6,758,763; and 6,881,159 and U.S. Published Patent Appln. No. 2004/0034986. Each of these patent documents is entirely incorporated herein by reference.

C. Example Shaft or Other Elongated Tubular Structures

Another example aspect of this invention relates to golf club shaft members (or other tubular members, optionally tapered tubular members). Such members may be constructed in any suitable manner without departing from this invention, including in manners that utilize, for example, prior art fiber-reinforced resin and composite production techniques. For example, the shaft may be prepared as a solid or hollow elongate tube wherein at least a portion of the elongate tube comprises basalt material.

In one aspect, as shown in FIG. 6, a golf club shaft 600 may be constructed as an elongate tube member 602, optionally having a grip element 604 engaged therewith. As shown in FIG. 6A, the elongate tube member 602 may have a core layer 606 and at least a first layer 608 about the core layer 606. At least one of the core layer 606 and the first layer 608 in this example structure contains basalt material. As a more specific example, the first layer 608 in this structure 602 contains a basalt material.

As shown in FIG. 6 b, several layers of material may be used to form the elongate tube member 602. The elongate tube 602 may have a core layer 610, a first layer 612 about at least a portion of the core layer 610, and a second layer 614 about at least a portion of the core layer 610 or the first layer 612. At least one of the core layer 610, first layer 612, and second layer 614 in this example structure contains basalt fiber.

As still another example, as shown in FIG. 6 c, the elongate tube member 602 may be a single solid elongate tube containing basalt fibers. Alternatively, if desired, the tube member 602 of FIG. 6 c may be a hollow tube constructed of a basalt fiber containing material.

The basalt material may be provided used in any suitable or desired form. For example, basalt material may be formed into fibers, meshes, sheets, webs, fabrics, weaves, textiles, tapes, rovings, prepregs, and the like and then rolled to form the solid or hollow tapered tubular structure, like those shown in FIGS. 6 through 6 c. Alternatively, layers of basalt material may be applied by coating a core or previous layer (e.g., a steel, aluminum, titanium, or other metal containing material tube) with a basalt material.

Each layer may be the same or different without departing from the invention. For example, the amount of basalt material used, the type of resin used, or the type of layer structure (e.g., fibers, mesh, sheet, web, fabrics, weaves, textiles, tapes, rovings, prepregs and the like) used may be the same or different in each layer. Also, different materials may be used in the different layers (e.g., one or more metal layers with one or more basalt material layers, etc.). The layers may comprise the entire length of the tubular structure or a portion thereof.

The fibers may be positioned unidirectional or multidirectional. Generally, when unidirectional, the fibers are aligned along the length of the tube or slanted along the length, although other arrangements are possible without departing from this invention.

The shaft may further contain an outer cover layer containing, for example, at least one of titanium, steel, stainless steel, aluminum, tungsten, nickel, copper, zinc, chromium, brass, bronze, magnesium, tin, gold, silver, alloys thereof, or metallic matrix composites. Such outer coatings are known in the art.

III. Conclusion

Golf club heads and shafts in accordance with examples of the present invention may be incorporated into a set, e.g., sets including one or more of woods, irons, hybrid type golf clubs, and/or putters. As a more specific example, aspects of the present invention may be used to provide a club set with increasing numbered woods and/or iron golf clubs, such as a driver and/or two or more of fairway woods, hybrid type clubs, a zero iron, a one iron, a two iron, a three iron, a four iron, a five iron, a six iron, a seven iron, an eight iron, a nine iron, a ten iron, a pitching wedge, a lob wedge, a gap wedge, a sand wedge, putters, etc. With at least some examples of the present invention, a golfer, a club designer, and/or a club fitter may select and/or modify the position of the center of gravity for each golf club to meet the player's unique requirements, skill, or playing style.

As is readily apparent from the above description, this invention may be used to include basalt materials, having a wide variety of potential properties, in a wide variety of different locations, in a golf club structure (e.g., as part of the head, striking face, hosel, shaft, grip, etc.). The basalt material may be used on the club head exterior, on the interior, on both, and the basalt material may be visible, partially visible, filled, partially filled, hidden, partially hidden, etc.

Aspects of the invention also include the use of basalt in various other items requiring high tensile strength and which should not be brittle. Examples include such items as fishing rods, ski poles, knitting needles, croquet mallets, racquets, baseball bats, billiard cues, tool handles, etc., and the like.

While the invention has been described with respect to specific examples including presently preferred modes of carrying out the invention, those skilled in the art will appreciate that there are numerous variations and permutations of the above described systems and methods. Thus, the spirit and scope of the invention should be construed broadly as set forth in the appended claims.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8105522 *Oct 29, 2008Jan 31, 2012Eaton CorporationCompression mold and molding process
US20110064517 *Mar 25, 2010Mar 17, 2011Jon Dennis SaderReinforced pervious concrete
WO2010063255A1 *Nov 19, 2009Jun 10, 2010Franz-Josef HelfrichTraining device, in particular for golfing
Classifications
U.S. Classification473/349, 473/316
International ClassificationA63B53/12, A63B53/00
Cooperative ClassificationA63B2209/023, A63B53/0487, A63B2209/02, A63B2053/0416, A63B53/04, A63B2053/0491, A63B53/10
European ClassificationA63B53/04, A63B53/10
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jul 31, 2006ASAssignment
Owner name: NIKE, INC., OREGON
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:TAVARES, GARY G.;BOYD, ROBERT;PERRY, MARK J.;REEL/FRAME:018139/0512;SIGNING DATES FROM 20060711 TO 20060713