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Publication numberUS20080146362 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/638,234
Publication dateJun 19, 2008
Filing dateDec 14, 2006
Priority dateDec 14, 2006
Publication number11638234, 638234, US 2008/0146362 A1, US 2008/146362 A1, US 20080146362 A1, US 20080146362A1, US 2008146362 A1, US 2008146362A1, US-A1-20080146362, US-A1-2008146362, US2008/0146362A1, US2008/146362A1, US20080146362 A1, US20080146362A1, US2008146362 A1, US2008146362A1
InventorsJohn Xianzhong Cui
Original AssigneeJohn Xianzhong Cui
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Apparatus and method for golf practice and simulation
US 20080146362 A1
Abstract
An embodiment of an apparatus and method for training of golf playing and/or simulate a golf game is disclosed. The apparatus mainly comprises a standing platform, a ball supporting assembly, a retainer, a motor driven assembly, and a controller. As part of the ball supporting assembly, a golf ball is raised above the standing platform, where a player stands; ready to be hit by a player. After the golf ball being hit, the retainer restrains the golf ball supporting assembly and the motor driven assembly restores the golf ball supporting assembly back to its original position ready for next hit. A sensor is used to measure the impact exerted on the golf ball. The method to operate the apparatus mainly comprises a program to processes the sensor signals and a program to display the projected trajectory of the golf ball with a user selected scenery background.
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Claims(21)
1. A golf practice and simulation apparatus comprising:
(a). a standing platform where a golf player stands thereon and hits a golf ball using a golf club;
(b). a ball supporting assembly which supports a golf ball raising on top of said standing platform for a golf player to hit; and
(c). a device mounting assembly for mounting said ball supporting assembly and other devices therein.
2. The golf practice and simulation apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said standing platform is defined by a cover, which has an open slot near to one of its edges, adjoined with four side walls to form an open-end at bottom.
3. The golf practice and simulation apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said ball supporting assembly further comprising:
(a). a vertical arm;
(b). a horizontal arm;
(c). a fixing means for mounting said ball supporting assembly in said device mounting assembly;
(d). a golf ball secured on top of said vertical arm for a player to hit; and
(e). an impact sensor for measuring the impact exerted on said golf ball in terms of force, acceleration, velocity, and/or any combination thereof.
4. The golf practice and simulation apparatus according to claim 3, wherein said vertical arm has said impact sensor being mounted thereon, said golf ball is secured on top of one end of said vertical arm, and said horizontal arm is joined at the other end of said vertical arm such that both said vertical arm and said horizontal arm are rotatable about the axis of the joint
5. The golf practice and simulation apparatus according to claim 3, wherein said horizontal arm has its one end being joined with said vertical arm such that both said vertical arm and horizontal arm are rotatable about the axis of the joint, and its other end being joined with said fixing means such that said horizontal arm is rotatable about the axis of the joint.
6. The golf practice and simulation apparatus according to claim 3, wherein said fixing means is joined with said horizontal arm such that said horizontal arm is rotatable about the axis of the joint and is secured in said device mounting assembly.
7. The golf practice and simulation apparatus according to claim 3, wherein said golf ball is an ordinary golf ball with a hole penetrates through its center, and is secured on top of said vertical arm via a means of bolt and nut, along with two bowl-shape washers covering the top and the bottom of said golf ball, and a sleeve inserted therein through the hole on said golf ball.
8. The golf practice and simulation apparatus according to claim 3, wherein said impact sensor is an MEMS-type (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) sensor or similar device thereof known in the art.
9. The golf practice and simulation apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said device mounting assembly further comprising:
(a). a micro switch for detecting the position of said vertical arm, and for supporting said vertical arm at its vertical position ready to be hit by a player;
(b). a supporting rack means for installing said micro switch thereon;
(c). a retainer means for constraining said vertical arm as it falls and for absorbing force exerted on said vertical arm when said golf ball is hit by a player;
(d). a motor driven assembly to push said vertical arm upward back to its vertical position after said golf ball being hit by a player so that said golf ball is ready to be hit again;
(e). a control unit for processing the signals received from said impact sensor and said micro switch, and controlling said motor drive assembly; and
(f). a container for said ball supporting assembly, said micro switch, said supporting rack means, said retainer means, said motor driven assembly, and said control unit being installed therein.
10. The golf practice and simulation apparatus according to claim 9, wherein said container is defined by a bottom cover adjoined with four side walls and an open-end at its top, and is mounted on said top cover of said standing platform inside said standing platform with means of screws or any other suitable measures.
11. The golf practice and simulation apparatus according to claim 9, wherein said micro switch is a miniature snap action switch or a similar device thereof known in the art.
12. The golf practice and simulation apparatus according to claim 9, said supporting rack means is secured inside said container such that said micro switch installed thereon is activated when said vertical arm at its vertical position, touched and leaned on said micro switch and is deactivated as said vertical arm left and untouched said micro switch.
13. The golf practice and simulation apparatus according to claim 9, wherein said retainer means is a steel cable, spring strip or any other devices for this purpose thereof known in the art.
14. The golf practice and simulation apparatus according to claim 9, wherein said motor driven assembly further comprising
(a). an electrical motor with a mounting plate; and
(b). a push arm means, fixed on the driving shaft of said electrical motor with means of flat and screw or any other suitable measures, for pushing said vertical arm back to its vertical position when said electrical motor rotates in one direction and leaving away from the vertical position of said vertical arm when said electrical motor rotates in an opposite direction.
15. The golf practice and simulation apparatus according to claim 9, wherein said control unit comprises microprocessor(s) and electronic/electrical circuit thereof known in the art, and is capable of executing a minimum set of functions of
(a). receiving and filtering signals from said micro switch;
(b). controlling and driving said electrical motor;
(c). receiving and filtering signals from said impact sensor;
(d). calculating 3-dimensional impact exerted on said golf ball when said golf ball is hit by a player in terms of force, acceleration, velocity, and/or any combination thereof;
(e). transmitting the signals of 3-dimensional impact with a standard communication interface such as USB or wireless port;
(f). based on the signals of 3-dimensional impact, calculating projected distance that said golf ball could travel after being hit by a player; and
(g). driving the display of the projected distance that said golf ball could travel after being hit by a player.
16. The golf practice and simulation apparatus according to claim 9, wherein said ball supporting assembly is secured on one of said four side walls of said container via said fixing means of said ball supporting assembly such that
(a). when said vertical arm is at its vertical position, said vertical arm presses against and activates said micro switch; and
(b). when said vertical arm is at its vertical position, said golf ball at the top of said vertical arm is raised above the edge of said walls of said container.
17. The golf practice and simulation apparatus according to claim 9, wherein said retainer means, said control unit, and said motor driven assembly are secured in said container with means of screws or any other suitable measures such that
(a). said retainer will receive and retain said vertical arm of said ball supporting assembly after said golf ball being hit by a player,
(b). said control unit is connected to said micro switch and said impact sensor via wire harness and connectors used for electrical signals, without interference any movement of said ball supporting assembly, said retainer, and said motor driven assembly;
(c). at reset position of said electrical motor, said motor driven assembly does not block the movement of said vertical arm and said horizontal arm when said golf ball is hit by a player; and
(d). when said electrical motor is started, said push arm of said motor driven assembly pushes said vertical arm back to its vertical position.
18. The golf practice and simulation apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said device mounting assembly is installed on said cover surrounding by said four side walls of said standing platform such that said golf ball on top of said ball supporting assembly appears on the top of said standing platform through said slot in a height ready to be hit by a player using a golf club.
19. A method to operate said golf practice and simulation apparatus comprising:
(a). functions executed in said control unit; and
(b). functions executed in a computer.
20. The method according to claim 19, wherein said functions executed in said control unit further comprising the steps of:
Step 1: Filtering the signals from said micro switch to reject noise.
Step 2: Based on the filtered signal of said micro switch derived from Step 1, if said micro switch is deactivated, then start and drive said electrical motor to the direction to push said vertical arm back to its vertical position. If said micro switch is activated, then drive said electrical motor away from said vertical arm and stop at the reset position of said electrical motor.
Step 3: Filtering the signals received from said impact sensor to reject noise.
Step 4: Checking the validity of the signals received from said impact sensor. If invalid signals are received, then set the signals to a pre-selected default value.
Step 5: Based on the filtered signals of said impact sensor derived from Step 3 and 4, calculate 3-dimensional impact exerted on said golf ball, in terms of force, acceleration, velocity, and/or any combination thereof, when said golf ball is hit by a player.
Step 6: Based on the 3-dimensional impact exerted on said golf ball derived from Step 5, calculate the projected distance that said golf ball could travel due to the impact exerted thereon.
Step 7: Display the projected distance that said golf ball could travel due to the impact exerted thereon in a simple telltale device.
Step 8: Transmit the calculated signals of 3-dimensional impact exerted on said golf ball derived from Step 5 with a standard communication interface such USB or wireless port.
21. The method according to claim 19, wherein said functions executed in a computer is further comprising:
(a). a user interface program for a player to select display contents and manners that may include, but not limited to, background scenery, automatic updating of the background scenery after each time said golf ball being hit, distance to a golf hole from the current projected ball location, projected ball flying trajectory, etc.; and
(b). a display program performing the following functional steps:
Step 1: Receive the signals of 3-dimensional impact exerted on said golf ball derived from Step 8 of claim 20 through a standard communication interface, such as USB or wireless port.
Step 2: Based on the signals of 3-dimensional impact exerted on said golf ball received in Step 1 in terms of force, acceleration, velocity, and/or any combination thereof, calculate projected trajectory that said golf ball could travel due to the impact exerted thereon.
Step 3: Display the projected trajectory of said golf ball flying over a player selected scenery background and other information according to the player selected display contents and manners.
Description
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention generally relates to an apparatus and method for a golf player to practice various golf skills from a full swing strike to a slight putting and simulate the projected golf ball flying over a golf course. The present invention specifically relates to utilizing a device placing a golf ball ready for a player to hit, retaining the ball after being hit, and restoring the ball ready for next play, a sensing system to measure the impact exerted on the golf ball, and a computer program to calculate and display the trajectory as if the golf ball flying over a golf course.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Golf players usually go to golf drive ranges to hit golf balls practicing their swing and putting skills. Since the golf balls are driven in open space, an outdoor field or a large indoor space with restrain net is required. In those environments, it is hard for a golf player either to know accurate ball trajectory and landing distance or to display the golf ball trajectory for analysis.

Some golf simulation devices had been disclosed and are generally classified into two categories:

    • (1). A player hits golf balls in a confined environment such as an enclosed booth, for example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,354,063 to Curchod. After being hit, the golf ball flies and is intercepted by a net or resilient walls of the booth. A mesh of optical sensors is usually used to track the movement of the golf ball. Based on the sensed motion, the trajectory of the golf ball is calculated and displayed. In addition to that a large space is required to set up the booth; the sensors and corresponding signal processing system are expensive and need careful calibration.
    • (2). A ball-like member is part of proposed devices, and is restrained by the devices after being hit by a player using a golf club. U.S. Pat. No. 4,767,121 to Tonner presented such a device, after the ball is hit by a player; a sensor is activated when the ball moves away from its 1st position and another sensor is activated when the ball arrives its 2nd position. Then the distance of the ball could actually travel is calculated from the time between the triggers of 2 sensors. However, this device can only simulate ball movement in a plane surface but not in a 3-dimensional space. U.S. Pat. No. 4,958,836 to Onozuka and Yoshino proposed a golf simulator that has a bed plate supports a shaft, a swingable bed rotatable on the shaft, and an arm with one proximal end rotatable secured on the shaft and a ball being secured at the other end. When a player hits the ball, a ball-arm device rotates and an optical sensor is used to sense the movement of the ball-arm device. In general, when a golf ball is hit, 3-dimensional forces are actually exerted thereon. However, it is hard to simulate 3-dimensional ball movement by this device. Additionally, when a player strikes the ball, the forces exerted on the ball are used to push the swingable bed to rotate resulted that the player has a different feeling comparing to strike a ball freely.

It would be most desirable to have an apparatus and method for golf practice and simulation capable for the followings:

    • (1). allow a golf player to hit a golf ball with any golf club from a stroke of full swing drive to a very light putting in order to practice all golf skills;
    • (2). restrain the golf ball after being hit in order to play in a small space without an enclosure booth or interception net;
    • (3). restore the golf ball to its position automatically ready for next play;
    • (4). measure 3-dimensional impact exerted on the golf ball as it is hit;
    • (5). calculate the projected trajectory of the golf ball after being hit; and
    • (6). display the projected trajectory of the golf ball to simulate its flying over a golf course.

This invention discloses such an apparatus and method to satisfy all those desired functions.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is an apparatus and method for a golf player to practice various golf skills from a full swing strike to a slight putting and to simulate a real golf game by measuring the impact exerted on the golf ball, calculating the golf ball trajectory based on the measured impact, displaying the trajectory as the golf ball flying over a golf course, restraining the golf ball after being hit, and restoring the golf ball automatically back to its original position ready for next play after being hit.

While the scope of the present invention covered herein can only be determined with reference to the claims appended hereto, certain features, which are characteristic of the embodiments disclosed herein, are described briefly as follows.

A first aspect of the invention provides a ball supporting assembly. It raises a golf ball above ground level in a position for a golf player to hit with any golf club.

A second aspect of the invention provides an impact absorber to restrain the ball support assembly after the golf ball being hit.

A third aspect of the invention provides a motor driven assembly to automatically restore the golf ball, after being hit, to its original position ready for next play.

A fourth aspect of the invention provides a sensing device to measure the impact exerted on the golf ball when it is hit and a control device to process the signal of measured impact

A fifth aspect of the invention provides a computer program to process data of measured impact and display a projected ball trajectory flying over a golf course.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of an embodiment according to the present invention.

FIG. 2 illustrates the arrangement of disassembled components of the ball supporting assembly of an embodiment according to the present invention.

FIG. 3 illustrates a perspective partial cut-away view of the stand platform of an embodiment according to the present invention.

FIG. 4 illustrates a front partial cut-away view of the device mounting assembly and devices installed therein of an embodiment according to the present invention.

FIG. 5 illustrates a perspective view of an embodiment of the motor driven assembly of an embodiment according to the present invention.

FIG. 6 illustrates a simplified control function blocks, performed in the control unit, of an embodiment according to the present invention.

FIG. 7 illustrates a simplified function blocks of a program, executed on a computer which receives the signals from the control unit, of an embodiment according to the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PRESENTLY PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring to FIG. 1, an overview of one embodiment of an apparatus of the present invention is generally shown at numeral 10. It generally comprises stand 30 on where a golf player stands. As part of ball supporting assembly 20 (see FIG. 2), a golf ball is secured on top of ball supporting assembly 20. The golf player is allowed to hit the golf ball using any golf club for any stroke from a full swing drive to a slight putting.

Referring to FIG. 2, the arrangement of the disassembled components of the ball supporting assembly of one embodiment of an apparatus of the present invention is generally shown at numeral 20. The main components of ball supporting assembly 20 are vertical arm 200 and horizontal arm 202, joined via a means of clevis pin 212 and cotter pin 214. Horizontal arm 202 is mounted to fixing bracket 204 and 206 via a means of levis 208 and cotter pin 210. Fixing bracket 204 and 206 are mechanically secured to container 400 (see FIG. 4). Golf ball 216 has a hole penetrated through its center. Golf ball 216 is mounted on top of vertical arm 200 by means of bolt 224 and nut 226, a sleeve 222, and bowl-shaped washers 220 and 218. Sleeve 222 has an outer diameter smaller than the diameter of the hole on golf ball 216, an inner diameter greater than the diameter of bolt 224, and a length slightly longer than the diameter of golf ball 216. By this arrangement, ball supporting assembly 20 provides 3-degree freedom of movement. In detail, the joint at horizontal arm 202 and fixing bracket 204 and 206 provides freedom at Z-axis direction, the joint at vertical arm 200 and horizontal arm 202 provides the freedom at X-axis. Note that, when golf ball 216 is hit by a golf club, the major forces exerted on golf ball 216 are in Z-axis and X-axis to drive golf ball 216 upward and forward. The force exerted on Y-axis is small and causes golf ball 216 to spin. Therefore, the freedom of movement in Y-axis is small and is provide by the small movement of vertical arm 200 along clevis pin 214 and/or the small movement of horizontal arm 202 in between of fixing bracket 204 and 206. Impact sensor 228 is mounted on vertical arm 200 to measure the 3-dimentional impact exerted on golf ball 216 when it is hit by a golf club in term of force, acceleration, velocity, and/or any combination thereof. The signal from impact sensor 228 is sent to control unit 60 (see FIGS. 4 and 6) via wire harness and connector 230.

Referring to FIG. 3, a perspective partial cut-away view of the stand of one embodiment of an apparatus of the present invention is generally shown at numeral 30. The stand comprises standing platform 300 on which a golf player stands and hits golf ball 216. Standing platform 300 consists of top cover 302 adjoined with four side walls forming an open-end at its bottom. Top cover 302 has a slot 304 close to its one end. Ball supporting assembly 20 and other devices are installed in device mounting assembly 40 (see FIG. 4). Device mounting assembly 40 is mounted inside standing platform 300 such that golf ball 216 in ball supporting assembly 20 installed therein appears on top of standing platform 300 through slot 304 on top cover 302.

Referring to FIG. 4, a partial front cut-away view of the device mounting assembly and devices installed therein of one embodiment of an apparatus of the present invention is generally shown at numeral 40. Device mounting assembly 40 comprises container 400 and all devices installed therein. The device mounting assembly is mechanically secured to standing platform 300 (see FIG. 3) via flat edges 408 on container 400 with means of a fastener, such as, screws or any other suitable measures (not shown). Ball supporting assembly 20 is mounted in container 400 by fixing bracket 204 and 206 on a wall of container 400. Micro switch 404 is secured on supporting rack 402 which is mechanically secured on the walls of container 400 with means a fastener, such as, screws or any other suitable measures (not shown). When vertical arm 200 is in it vertical position, the upper portion of vertical arm 200 presses against and activates micro switch 404, and micro switch 404 supports vertical arm 200 in vertical position ready to be hit by a player using a golf club. When golf ball 216 is hit by a golf club,

    • 1. golf ball 216 moves forward (X-axis direction) and/or upward (Z-axis direction), and slight moves in sideway (Y-axis direction);
    • 2. vertical arm 200 falls into container 400 and is finally stopped by retainer 406;
    • 3. vertical arm 200 releases micro switch 404 and micro switch 404 is deactivated;
    • 4. impact sensor 228 measures the 3-dimensional impact exerted on golf ball 216 in terms of force, acceleration, velocity, and/or any combination thereof;
    • 5. micro switch 404 and impact sensor 228 transmit their signals to control unit 60 via wire harness and connectors 230 (not shown in FIG. 4).

To absorb the force when golf ball 216 is hit by a golf club and to restrain ball supporting assembly 20, retainer 406 is a means of steel cable, spring strip or any other devices for this purpose thereof known in the art. Retainer 406 is mechanically secured on the walls of container 400. Control unit 60 (see FIG. 6) controls motor driven assembly 50 (see FIG. 5) which pushes vertical arm 200 upward back to its vertical position to activate micro switch 404, and then controls motor driven assembly 50 returning to its original position ready to push vertical arm 200 after golf ball 216 is hit in next play.

Referring to FIG. 5, an overview of motor driven assembly of one embodiment of an apparatus of the present invention is generally shown at numeral 50. Motor driven assembly 50 comprises electrical motor 504 with mounting plate 506 through which to mechanically secure motor driven assembly 50 in container 400 (see FIG. 4). Push arm 500 is fixed on motor driving shaft 502 with means of flat and screw or any other suitable measures (not shown) for this purpose.

Referring to FIG. 6, a function block diagram of the control unit of one embodiment of an apparatus of the present invention is generally shown as numeral 60. Input signal processing function block 600 receives the signals from impact sensor 228 and signal from micro switch 404. Input signal processing function block 600 performs signal filtering and diagnostics. The first output of input signal processing function block 600 is the filtered signal from impact sensor 228 and is the inputs to 3-dimensional impact calculation function block 602. Based on this signal, 3-dimensional impact calculation function block 602 derives 3-dimensional impact exerted on golf ball 216 in terms of force, acceleration, velocity, and/or any combination thereof. The output of 3-dimensional impact calculation function block 602 is sent to output interface driver function block 604 which transmits the signal to program executed in a computer 70 (see FIG. 7) via a standard communication interface such as USB or wireless port. As an alternative of full golf ball trajectory display via program executed in a computer 70, the output of 3-dimensional impact calculation function block 602 is also sent to ball distance calculation block 606 which derives the projected distance that golf ball 216 could travel under the impact of exerted thereon. Receiving the projected ball distance from ball distance calculation block 606, ball distance display driver function block 608 drives a simply telltale device (not shown), such as a LED digit array, to inform the player the projected distance the golf ball traveling after being hit. The second output of input signal processing function block 600, filtered activation status of the micro switch 404, is sent to motor control logic function block 610 which determines when to start/stop electrical motor 504 and its rotation direction (clockwise or count clockwise). The output of motor control logic function block 610 is the input to motor driving control block 612 which provides required voltage and current to drive electrical motor 504.

Referring to FIG. 7, executed in a computer, a function block diagram of the program of one embodiment of an apparatus of the present invention is generally shown as numeral 70. Through a standard communication interface, such as USB or wireless port, the computer receives the pre-processed signals of the 3-dimensional impact exerted on golf ball 216 (see FIG. 6) in terms of force, acceleration, velocity, and/or any combination thereof. Based on those signals, ball trajectory calculation function block 700 calculates the trajectory of a golf ball due to the impact exerted thereon. Player command processing function block 702 is a user interface allowing a player to select the content and manner of display. The selectable display content and manner may include, but not limited to, background scenery, automatic updating of the background scenery after each hitting, distance to the hole from the current golf ball location, golf ball flying trajectory, etc. Function block 704 displays the golf ball flying trajectory overlap on a player selected scenery background and other player selected display contents.

While the embodiments of the present invention disclosed herein are presently considered to be preferred, various changes and modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. The scope of the present invention is indicated in the appended claims, and all changes that come within the meaning and range of equivalents are intended to be embraced therein.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8118685 *Jul 16, 2009Feb 21, 2012Claudio MongeGolf swing practice device
US8808101 *May 17, 2012Aug 19, 2014Garry PetersSystem and apparatus for measuring parameter data on impact of a golf club face with a target surface
US20120295725 *May 17, 2012Nov 22, 2012Garry PetersSystem and apparatus for measuring parameter data on impact of a golf club face with a target surface
EP2388050A1 *May 19, 2010Nov 23, 2011Francis Chung Hwa PanBall game training apparatus
WO2012093263A1 *Jan 6, 2012Jul 12, 2012Escapetech LtdGame device
WO2012158863A2 *May 17, 2012Nov 22, 2012Charter Ip LlcSystem and apparatus for measuring parameter data on impact of a golf club face with a target surface
Classifications
U.S. Classification473/139, 473/200
International ClassificationA63B69/36
Cooperative ClassificationA63B2220/53, A63B69/3658, A63B69/3655, A63B2225/50, A63B2220/801, A63B2024/0031, A63B69/0091, A63B24/0021
European ClassificationA63B69/36E, A63B69/00T3, A63B69/36D8, A63B24/00E