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Visual golf shot alignment


Title: Visual golf shot alignment.
Abstract: Provided are, among other things, systems, methods and techniques for setting up a golf shot. According to one embodiment, a visual-alignment tool is placed at an identified position that is along a line between (i) a first location corresponding to at least one of a position of a golf ball to be hit and a position from which a golfer is to hit the golf ball and (ii) a target location. The visual-alignment tool also is aligned with the line between the first location and the target location. After sighting with the visual-alignment tool from the position from which the golfer is to hit the golf ball, the golf ball is hit. According to this embodiment, the identified position of the visual-alignment tool is at least 4 feet from the first location. ...




USPTO Applicaton #: #20100273584 - Class: 473409 (USPTO) - 10/28/10 - Class 473 
Inventors: Wen Sun Hou

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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20100273584, Visual golf shot alignment.

This application is a continuation in part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/428,379, filed on Apr. 22, 2009, and titled “Audio Alignment of a Golf Shot”, which application is incorporated by reference herein as though set forth herein in full.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

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The present invention pertains to the sport of golf and, more particularly, concerns systems, methods, apparatuses and techniques for lining up a golf shot through the use of a visual-alignment tool located an appropriate distance away from the golfer.

BACKGROUND

Golf is a very challenging sport, partly because even slight variations in technique, body alignment and club speed become magnified over the distances typically involved, making it extremely difficult to consistently hit a golf ball to a desired location, or even reasonably close to the desired location. With respect to the body alignment problem, during practice golfers sometimes lay down a marker on the ground indicating the direction to the desired target and then align their bodies relative to the marker in order to achieve better accuracy during their swings.

SUMMARY

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OF THE INVENTION

The present inventor has discovered that when playing or practicing golf, the conventional use of visual markers placed on the ground to allow a golfer to align his or her body to the direction of a desired target often does not result in sufficiently accurate alignment. In certain embodiments of the present invention, this problem is addressed by sighting through a visual alignment tool that is located several feet (or more) away from the golfer.

Thus, according to one specific embodiment of the invention, a golf shot is set up as follows. A visual-alignment tool is placed at an identified position that is along a line between (i) a first location corresponding to at least one of a position of a golf ball to be hit and a position from which a golfer is to hit the golf ball and (ii) a target location. The visual-alignment tool also is aligned with the line between the first location and the target location. After sighting with the visual-alignment tool from the position from which the golfer is to hit the golf ball, the golf ball is hit. According to this embodiment, the identified position of the visual-alignment tool is at least 4 feet from the first location.

The foregoing summary is intended merely to provide a brief description of certain aspects of the invention. A more complete understanding of the invention can be obtained by referring to the claims and the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments in connection with the accompanying figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

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In the following disclosure, the invention is described with reference to the attached drawings. However, it should be understood that the drawings merely depict certain representative and/or exemplary embodiments and features of the present invention and are not intended to limit the scope of the invention in any manner. The following is a brief description of each of the attached drawings.

FIG. 1A is a flow diagram illustrating a method of using an audio cue to line up a golf shot according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 1B is a flow diagram illustrating a method of placing and aligning an audio-emitting device for the purpose of lining up a golf shot.

FIG. 2 is a conceptual perspective view of the use of an audio-emitting device during a golf shot.

FIG. 3 is a conceptual side view of the use of an audio-emitting device during a golf shot.

FIGS. 4A and 4B illustrate examples of audio patterns that are emitted by an audio-emitting device according to representative embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a conceptual side view illustrating the use of a pair of alignment markers to align an audio-emitting device platform according to a representative embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a conceptual top plan view illustrating the lateral adjustment mechanism of the stand for an audio-emitting device according to a representative embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a conceptual side view illustrating the preparation of an audio-emitting device assembly for operational use according to a representative embodiment of the present invention.

FIGS. 8A-C are top plan views illustrating an initial placement and verification of an audio-emitting device assembly.

FIGS. 9A-C are top plan views illustrating a final placement and verification of an audio-emitting device assembly.

FIG. 10 is a conceptual perspective view of the use of a visual-alignment tool during a golf shot.

FIG. 11 is a lateral cross-sectional view of a visual-alignment tool according to a representative embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 12 is a lateral cross-sectional view of a visual-alignment tool according to an alternate representative embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 13 is a dead-on front perspective view of a hollow cylinder-shaped visual-alignment tool.

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of a hollow cylinder-shaped visual-alignment tool from a position just below and to the right of dead-on center.

FIG. 15 is a flow diagram illustrating a process for using a visual-alignment tool according to a representative embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 16 is a side elevational view of a removable assembly that includes visual-alignment tool.

FIG. 17 is a side elevational view of a removable assembly that includes both a visual-alignment tool and an audio-emitting device.

FIG. 18 is a side elevational view of a visual-alignment tool assembly.

FIG. 19 is a side elevational view of a visual-alignment tool assembly according to an alternate embodiment of the present invention with the visual-alignment tool oriented horizontally.

FIG. 20 is a side elevational view of a visual-alignment tool assembly with the visual-alignment tool rotated upwardly.

FIG. 21 is a top plan view of a visual-alignment tool assembly with the visual-alignment tool oriented in a first direction within the horizontal plane.

FIG. 22 is a top plan view of a visual-alignment tool assembly with the visual-alignment tool oriented in a second direction within the horizontal plane.

FIG. 23 is a front elevational view of an audio/visual-alignment tool assembly in an initial configuration.

FIG. 24 is a front elevational view of an audio/visual-alignment tool assembly after positioning the audio/visual-alignment tool to line up with a phantom target.

FIG. 25 is a front elevational view of an audio/visual-alignment tool assembly after rotating the audio/visual-alignment tool to line up with a phantom target.

FIG. 26 is a front elevational view of an audio/visual-alignment tool assembly after tilting the audio-emitting device downwardly toward the golfer's ear.

FIG. 27 is a side elevational view of a stand for use as part of an audio/visual-alignment tool assembly.

FIG. 28 is a front elevational view of an audio/visual-alignment tool assembly having two alignment assemblies, one positioned for lining up during practice swings and the other positioned for lining up during an actual golf swing.

FIG. 29 is a perspective view showing the use of an audio/visual-alignment tool assembly having two alignment assemblies.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT(S)

The present disclosure is divided into sections, with the first section describing audio alignment of a golf shot, the second section describing visual and combined audio/visual alignment of a golf shot. Subsequent sections provide additional information, as indicated by their headings.

Audio Alignment of a Golf Shot.

FIG. 1A is a flow diagram illustrating a method 10 of using an audio cue to line up a golf shot according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention. In the following discussion, method 10 is described with reference to FIGS. 2 and 3, which illustrate method 10 in use.

Initially, in step 12 an audio-emitting device 50 is positioned and/or aligned. Although audio-emitting device 50 can be any device that emits sound, as discussed in more detail below, in certain embodiments audio-emitting device 50 produces a sound that assists the golfer 52 in making his or her swing and/or that is more effective in providing the appropriate directional information to the golfer 52. In any event, audio-emitting device 50 preferably is a small battery-powered electronic device (shown oversized in FIG. 3 and some of the other drawings for emphasis).

In the preferred embodiments, audio-emitting device 50 is positioned along a line 54 between a first location, generally corresponding to the position 56 of the ball to be hit and/or the golfer 52, and a target location, generally corresponding to a position within the vicinity of the hole 57 into which the ball is desired to be hit. More preferably, the first location is (or corresponds to) the position 51 of the golfer's ear at the point that the golfer is ready to begin his or her swing (as shown in FIG. 3), and the target location is (or corresponds to) a position 59 approximately 3 feet to the left of the hole at a height above the ground approximately equal to the height of the golfer's ear above the ground (e.g., approximately where the golfer's ear would be if the golfer 52 were addressing a ball located right on top of the hole, as shown on a phantom flag in FIG. 2). However, in alternate embodiments the second position could be the hole 57 itself or, e.g., any location within a 4-foot radius of the hole 57.

As a result, from the golfer's perspective, the sound produced by the audio-emitting device 50 will be coming from the same direction as the target location. For best results, it currently is preferred to position the audio-emitting device 50 at a distance of 4-30 feet (more preferably, 10-15 feet) from the first location. In the preferred embodiments, the height of audio-emitting device 50 is the height of the line 54 at that location. However, in alternate embodiments audio-emitting device 50 is set at a fixed height (e.g., the height of the golfer's ears 51) irrespective of the difference in elevation between the golf ball 56 and the hole 57.

In order to achieve the desired positioning, audio-emitting device 50 preferably is disposed on a stand 60 that is located at a fixed position on the golf course or practice range. For this purpose, stand 60 preferably is provided with a wide and/or heavy (and thus stable) base 62 (illustrated in FIG. 3 as a solid base, but instead could be a tripod or other multi-leg base). In alternate embodiments, stand 60 is provided with a pointed bottom end, for inserting into the ground; however, such an embodiment tends to cause damage to the course and therefore is not preferred in most cases.

The desired height of audio-emitting device 50 preferably is achieved through the use of an adjustable-height stand 60. Thus, in the embodiment shown in FIG. 3, stand 60 includes an upper member 64 and a lower member 65, with the upper member 64 telescoping into the lower member 65 in order to adjust the height of stand 60. However, it should be noted that any other number of telescoping members or, for that matter, any other height-adjustment mechanism instead may be used.

In the present embodiment, the audio-emitting device assembly 70 (which includes audio-emitting device 50 and stand 60) also includes several other features. Specifically, in the present embodiment audio-emitting device 50 detachably attaches to a mounting post 72 which, in turn, is attached to a rotatable platform 74. In the present embodiment, a knob 75 rotates platform 74 through a gear linkage (not shown), providing fine adjustment of the rotational orientation of platform 74. In certain embodiments, another knob is provided, and/or platform 74 itself can be manually rotated, in order to provide gross adjustment of the rotational orientation of platform 74. As discussed in more detail below, in the present embodiment the ability to rotate platform 74 assists in more accurately positioning stand 60 along the desired line 54.

Preferably, rotatable platform 74 is disposed on top of a lateral member 78 and includes an adjustment mechanism (such as a knob) 79 that can be used to alter the lateral position of the platform 74. In other words, the platform 74 preferably is both rotationally and laterally adjustable. These features are discussed in more detail below.

Finally, a cage 80 (e.g. a wire mesh cage as shown in FIG. 7) preferably also detachably attaches to platform 74 and, when installed, serves to protect audio-emitting device 50 from damage in the event that audio-emitting device assembly 70 is struck by a golf ball.

A more detailed method for positioning and/or aligning audio-emitting device 50 in this step 12 is described below in connection with FIG. 1B. Returning to FIG. 1A, in step 13, after the audio-emitting device assembly 70 has been placed in the desired position, the audio-emitting device 50 is activated, causing it to begin the process of emitting an audio signal.

Such an audio signal can be in the form of a continuous sound, such as a tone, hum or buzz. Alternatively, it can be provided as a sequence of sounds (typically, each of the same type, but potentially having some variation, such as in pitch, volume or character). When a sequence of sounds is used, each individual sound can immediately follow the previous one or, more preferably, can be separated by an interval of silence. Still further, the audio signal can be any arbitrary sound. In certain embodiments, the audio-emitting device 50: is programmable so that the user can custom-design the audio signal, includes a standard audio player so that the user can upload any desired audio file to be used as the audio signal, and/or has recording capability so that the user can record sound to be used as the audio signal. For these purposes, the audio-emitting device 50 can include memory, an audio signal processor, an amplifier, a loudspeaker and/or a port (e.g., USB) for connecting to a general-purpose computer.

Examples of audio sequences that can be produced by audio-emitting device 50 are shown in FIGS. 4A and 4B. The sequence 90 shown in FIG. 4A includes three relatively short tones (or other sounds) 91-93, followed by a longer tone (or other sound) 94, with a short silent interval of uniform duration immediately following sounds 91-93. The sequence 95 shown in FIG. 4B includes three relatively short tones (or other sounds) 96-98, followed by a relatively long silent period 99, with a short silent interval of uniform duration immediately following sounds 96 and 97, again with a long silent period 99 immediately following sound 98.

In any event, the audio signal (e.g., pattern 90 or 95, or even a continuous sound, if used) preferably is provided within a discrete time segment (e.g., 4-10 seconds long. Such a segment can be played just a single time, after which the audio-emitting device 50 must be activated again in order to cause the audio signal to be played again. In order to provide the golfer 52 with an opportunity to set up, a relatively long silent period can be provided following activation but before the actual playing of the audio signal (e.g., sequence 90 or 95). Alternatively, such a segment can be repeated multiple times, with a relatively long silent period between repetitions during which the golfer 52 has an opportunity to place another golf ball down and prepare for another swing.

Depending upon the particular embodiment, audio-emitting device 50 can be activated using a pushbutton or other switch on the device itself or can be activated using a remote-control device, such as wireless remote-control device 105 attached to the golfer\'s belt in FIG. 3. With respect to the latter, for example, the golfer 52 might press a start button to play a single iteration of sequence 90 or 95 (or other audio segment), or might press the start button to begin a continuous repetition of sequence 90 or 95 (or other audio segment) and then press a stop button to deactivate audio-emitting device 50.

Finally, returning again to FIG. 1A, in step 15 the golfer 52 executes the golf swing, resulting in the ball traveling along a path 58 (as shown in FIG. 2). With respect to the audio sequences 90 and 95, the initial tone 91 or 96 can be used to indicate to the golfer 52 that he or she should start the takeaway, the second tone 92 or 97 can coincide with the golfer\'s backswing, the third tone 93 or 98 can coincide to a pause at the top of the backswing, and the final tone 94 or silent interval 99 can coincide with the golfer\'s downswing, through the impact. In this manner, the audio signal provided by audio-emitting device 50 can be used, not just for indicating the direction of the hole 57, but also for helping to time the golfer\'s rhythm. For this purpose, audio-emitting device 50 preferably includes controls to permit the duration and timing of the individual tones to be set by the golfer 52. In any event, the audio signal preferably is played during at least some portion of the golfer\'s shot, e.g., including any or all of the golfer\'s setup, backswing, downswing, through the impact, and follow-through, thus providing the golfer with periodic or continuous audio information indicating the direction of the target location.

FIG. 1B is a flow diagram illustrating one embodiment of a method of implementing step 12 (discussed above), i.e., for placing and/or aligning an audio-emitting device 50 for the purpose of lining up a golf shot. The method according to this embodiment contemplates that the audio-emitting device assembly 70 will include certain components and is described with reference to FIGS. 5-7.

In step 21, the stand 60 is placed or positioned on the golf course or practice range. In the initial performance of this step 21, an appropriate position preferably is selected by simply estimating a point on the line 54 that is approximately 10-15 feet back from the location 51 of the golfer 52.

Next, in step 22 the platform 74 is rotationally aligned to the target location. For this purpose, platform 74 preferably has installed on it a pair of alignment markers, which in the present embodiment are configured as thin vertical lines 110 and 112. More preferably, the alignment markers 110 and 112 are detachably attached to platform 74, so that they can be attached for purposes of the alignment and then removed when desired. Markers 110 and 112 can be implemented as thin bars that are inserted into corresponding openings in platform 74. However, for purposes of structural integrity, each of markers 110 and 112 can be part of a larger structure (e.g., having tabs that insert into corresponding slots within platform 74) that is visually transparent (or otherwise see-through) except for lines 110 and 112.

Accordingly, step 22 preferably involves rotating platform 74 (e.g., using knob 75) until lines 110 and 112 visually align with the location 57 of the target location (e.g., position 59). This step can be accomplished, e.g., by lining up markers 110 and 112 with the target location (or an approximation of where the target location is likely to be) while looking in the direction 115 (shown in FIG. 5).

Next, in step 24 a determination is made as to whether the lines 110 and 112 also line up with the first location (e.g., position 51 of golfer\'s ears), i.e., by looking in the direction 117 (shown in FIG. 5) with the same rotational orientation for platform 74 that was set in step 22. If so, the positioning is complete and the process simply proceeds to step 25. On the other hand, if the lines 110 and 112 do not line up with the location 51, the process proceeds to step 26.

In step 26, the point at which the audio-emitting device 50 is to be located is moved laterally to a new position. While it is possible to move the entire stand 60 to accomplish this result, the entire stand 60 preferably is moved only when the current placement of stand 60 (e.g., as determined in step 21) was sufficiently far from the line 54 (e.g., as determined from the evaluation made in step 24). As noted above, in the preferred embodiments, the platform 74 can be moved laterally along a member 78 on the stand 60, and this upon-stand lateral adjustment preferably is used whenever possible in this step 26.

A conceptual top plan view of one structure for performing such lateral adjustment is shown in FIG. 6. In this case, the platform 74 (including the rotation mechanism) moves along a pair of tracks or channels 130 and 132 when knob 79 is turned, e.g., through the use of a screw-drive or worm-drive mechanism.

In order to correctly adjust the lateral position of the point at which the audio-emitting device 50 is to be located in step 26, the information obtained in the just-completed performance of step 24 preferably is used. For example, if it was determined in step 24 that lines 110 and 112 actually align with a point that is approximately 6 inches to the left of location 51, then in step 26 the point at which the audio-emitting device 50 is to be located preferably is moved slightly less than 6 inches to the right. Mathematically, the ideal distance to move the point at which the audio-emitting device 50 is to be located is

M = E  ( 1 - d D )


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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20100273584 A1
Publish Date
10/28/2010
Document #
12534149
File Date
08/02/2009
USPTO Class
473409
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
63B69/36
Drawings
16


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