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|United States Patent Application
Reimers; Eric W.
;   et al.
December 15, 2011
GOLF BAG WITH EXPANDABLE COLLAR APERTURES
An expandable top collar system (10) for a golf bag (12) is provided for
providing one or more expandable apertures (36) facilitating a smaller
lateral aspect collapsed mode (14) and a larger aspect expanded mode
(16). The system (10) includes expansion means (37) and securing means
(49) associated with each expandable aperture (36) so as to define the
degree of aspect expansion.
Reimers; Eric W.; (Missoula, MT)
; Enes; Seth M.; (Missoula, MT)
SUN MOUNTAIN SPORTS, INC.
June 14, 2011|
|Current U.S. Class:
|Class at Publication:
||A63B 55/00 20060101 A63B055/00|
1. An expandable top system for a golf bag, comprising: a golf bag collar
structure, open to the top and presenting at least one insertion
aperture; wherein at least one of said insertion apertures is provided
with expansion means such that the opening aspect of said insertion
aperture may be extended to transform said insertion aperture into an
expandable aperture having an expanded mode; and securing means are
provided such that each expandable aperture may be restored to a
collapsed mode and maintained in said collapsed mode.
2. The expandable top system of claim 1, wherein said expansion means are
selected from the group including: hinged segments, telescoping joints,
elastic rim segments, accordion segments and rim windows.
3. The expandable top system of claim 1, wherein said collar structure
includes at least three of said insertion apertures, one of said
insertion apertures being a rear aperture normally adapted to retain
clubs adapted for driving and fairway use; and said rear aperture is
selected to be said expansion aperture.
4. The expandable top system of claim 1, wherein said collar structure
includes a circumferential rim and collar dividers which separate said
collar structure into a plurality of said insertion apertures; and said
expandable aperture includes a hingedly mounted segment of said
circumferential rim, said hingedly mounted segment being pivotable so as
to facilitate expansion of said expandable aperture.
5. The expandable top system of claim 4, wherein said hingedly mounted
segment pivots on a pair of pivot pins and further includes a slide slot,
slide pin and thumb screw combination on each side of said segment to
adjust the degree which said hingedly mounted segment pivots.
6. The expandable top system of claim 1, wherein said collar structure is
laterally divided into symmetrical halves, with each half including a
circumferential rim and a plurality of collar dividers; and the portions
of said circumferential rim and said collar dividers on the adjacent
portions of each said half are joined together by telescope joints, with
receiving tubes on one said half and insertion segments on the other said
half, such that the halves may be pulled apart to a degree to create
expanded open aspects of some of said expandable apertures in an expanded
mode, or slid back together into a collapsed mode.
7. The expandable top system of claim 6, and further including at least
one spacer block to maintain said halves in a spaced-apart juxtaposition
in said expanded mode.
8. The expandable top system of claim 7, and further including at least
one securing mechanism to maintain said halves in a closely joined
juxtaposition in said collapsed mode.
9. An aperture expansion system for a golf bag, comprising: expansion
means incorporated into one or more club insertion apertures in the
collar of a golf bag in order to transform said insertion aperture into
an expandable aperture such that said expandable aperture can present a
greater open aspect in an expanded mode; and securing means for operating
in conjunction with said expansion means to limit and restrict said
expansion aperture between said expansion mode and a collapsed mode.
10. The aperture expansion system of claim 9, wherein said expansion
means is selected from the group including hinged segments, telescoping
joints, elastic rim segments, accordion segments and rim windows.
11. The aperture expansion system of claim 9, wherein said expansion
means is in the form of a hingedly mounted segment, being pivotally
mounted on the circumferential rim of said collar such that said segment
pivots outward to an expanded mode, or pivots back inward to a collapsed
12. The aperture expansion system of claim 11, and further including a
curved plate mounted on said circumferential rim by a pair of pivot pins
and including at least one a slide slot; at least one slide pin mounted
on said circumferential rim for mating with a corresponding said slide
slot; and a thumbscrew associated with each said slid post to tighten on
said slide post to secure a desired orientation of said slide post within
corresponding said slot.
13. The aperture expansion system of claim 9, wherein said collar is
laterally divided into symmetrical halves, with each said half including
a circumferential rim and a plurality of collar dividers to define a
plurality of said expandable apertures; and said expansion means is in
the form of telescope joints joining said halves at interface locations
such that said halves may be pulled apart to a degree to create expanded
open aspects of some of said expandable apertures formed therebetween in
an expanded mode, or slid back together into a collapsed mode.
14. The aperture expansion system of claim 13, and further including at
least one spacer block to maintain said halves in a spaced-apart
juxtaposition in said expanded mode; and said securing means are selected
from the group including: securing straps and buckles, mating forks and
receptacles; and Velcro.TM. type fasteners
15. The aperture expansion system of claim 13, and further including a
turnbuckle associated with each telescope joint to maintain said halves
in a spaced-apart juxtaposition in said expanded mode and to secure said
halves together in said collapsed mode.
16. The aperture expansion system of claim 9, wherein said expansion
means is an accordion segment of collar rim adapted to unfold outward
into a pouch.
17. The aperture expansion system of claim 9, wherein said expansion
means is an elastic portion of collar rim adapted to stretch outward into
said expanded mode; and said securing means is a rim guard sleeve
restricting elastic expansion of said elastic portion in said collapsed
 This is a non-provisional application claiming priority from a
provisional application (U.S. Ser. No. 61/354,507) filed on 14 Jun. 2010
by the same inventors.
 The present invention relates generally to golf equipment and
particularly to golf bags.
 The heads of golf clubs, particularly "woods" (most of which are
actually now metal or composites) and hybrid (irons) have increased
dramatically from those known a decade or more ago. With the advent of
lighter materials and improved hollow head construction techniques, it
has become feasible and desirable to make clubs with larger striking
surfaces and much greater head volumes. In addition, shaft materials have
also become more delicate in terms of abrasive contact and it is more
desirable than ever to minimize rubbing together of shafts within the
golf bag. Further, bulkier head covers for clubs are more fashionable.
All of these factors increase the volume required at the top of a golf
bag in order to optimally accommodate modern sets of club.
 One approach to dealing with this issue is to simply use greater
diameter golf bags. This solution comes with its own disadvantages, such
as fitting into golf carts and storage locations, such as lockers and
 Accordingly, much room remains for improvement in resolving the
crowding of the golf club head when stored in a golf bag.
DISCLOSURE OF INVENTION
 Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide an
improved golf bag for providing improved accessibility to golf clubs
 Another object of the invention is to provide one or more
expandable roomy club insertion apertures in the golf bag collar.
 A further object of the present invention is to provide a golf bag
having an adjustable top shape so as to provide an optional expansion of
one or more apertures to facilitate access to and minimize interference
among club heads and club head covers.
 Yet another object of the invention is to provide a golf bag which
has a smaller collar aspect in a collapsed mode during construction,
shipping and storage, while having a greater width aspect during use in
an expanded mode, in order to provide additional room for club heads and
 Another object of the invention is to provide an option to the
golfer to use the bag in either collapsed or expanded mode.
 Briefly, one preferred embodiment of the present invention is an
expandable bag top system particularly adapted for use on the collar
portion of a golf bag. The system includes a collar with a
circumferential rim and variety of dividers which provide for multiple
club insertion apertures, where the club shafts are placed through the
apertures into the body of the bag, at least one of the apertures being
an expandable aperture. The collar system is adapted to be in a collapsed
mode for storage, shipping and compact use and an expanded mode, to
provide the greatest room for the club heads and covers. The inventive
system provides that one or more of the club insertion apertures is
radially expandable to present an aperture opening with an increased area
aspect. To facilitate this expansion, the circumferential rim may be
provided with any of a wide variety of modifications which facilitate
increasing the arc length of the segment associated with the particular
opening. A nonexclusive listing of some appropriate expansion mechanisms
for the rim segments includes: telescoping interfaces between rim
segments; accordion connectors; expansion joints; hinged panels; elastic
portions and others. In appropriate versions, limiting structures may be
provided to limit the amount of expansion and securing structures to hold
the collar in the compressed mode. The collar system is adapted for use
on any type of generally tubular golf bag.
 An advantage of the present invention is that it is collapsible in
order to store in a compact form in a compressed mode while expanding to
provide wide club openings facilitating access and preventing
interference between clubs and head covers in the golf bag in its
 Another advantage of the invention is that it provides a "normal"
aspect or footprint for shipping in standard shipping boxes, while
facilitating an expanded aspect when in use.
 An additional advantage of the invention is that it is particularly
adapted for use for golf bags carried on riding carts where the clubs are
stored vertically and have maximal likelihood of interference with
adjacent clubs in the bag.
 Yet another advantage of the present invention is that the expanded
apertures work with modern oversized club head and bulky headcovers by
providing greater lateral room at the volume near the insertion points of
the golf bag.
 Still another advantage of the present invention is that it
facilitates aperture expansion in multiple directions, to accommodate the
 A further advantage of the invention is that club insertion into
and removal from the golf bag is made easier for the user.
 These and other objects and advantages of the present invention
will become clear to those skilled in the art in view of the description
of the best presently known mode of carrying out the invention and the
industrial applicability of the preferred embodiments as described herein
and as illustrated in the several figures of the drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 The purposes and advantages of the present invention will be
apparent from the following detailed description in conjunction with the
appended drawings in which:
 FIG. 1 is a side perspective view of the expanded mode of the
expandable bag top system of one preferred embodiment of the present
invention, shown installed upon a typical golf bag;
 FIG. 2. is a top view of the preferred embodiment, shown in the
 FIG. 3. is a side view of a presently preferred invention shown in
the collapsed mode;
 FIG. 4. is a side view of a presently preferred invention shown in
the expanded mode;
 FIG. 5. is a top view of a first alternate embodiment, shown in
 FIG. 6. is a top view of a first alternate embodiment, shown in
 FIG. 7 is a fanciful illustration of a turnbuckle; and
 FIG. 8 is a fanciful top view showing further alternate embodiments
of the inventive expandable top system.
BEST MODE FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION
 The present invention is an expandable top aperture system for a
golf bag to provide better access to and mutual protection of golf clubs
carried therein. The expandable top aperture system is referred to by the
general reference character 10 in the drawings and description. The
expandable bag top system 10 may be incorporated into various golf bags
and may exist in multiple embodiments.
 The following description refers to all of the figures of the
drawing, with occasional specific reference to one or more of the figures
to address particular features which are primarily or exclusively shown
in that figure.
 In one preferred embodiment of the invention illustrated in the
drawings, the expandable aperture system 10 is shown in perspective view
of FIG. 1 as attached to the upper portion of a typical golf bag 12, in
this case, an A-ONE.TM. model golf bag from Sun Mountain Sports, Inc. of
Missoula, Mont. Although the expandable aperture system 10 is an integral
part of the golf bag 12, the great majority of the golf bag 12 is not a
part of the invention, but is shown to illustrate how the invention is
typically used. The golf bag 12 will typically contain a number (usually
fourteen) of golf clubs 13 (see FIG. 1).
 The expandable aperture system 10 will exist in two distinct and
different modes. A compact collapsed mode 14, illustrated in FIG. 3,
provides essentially the same radial aspect as a conventional golf bag
top. The compact mode 14 is maintained when the bag is shipped (in order
to fit in standard packing boxes) or for storage in limited volume
circumstances, such as in a vehicle trunk or locker. An expanded mode 16,
shown in FIGS. 1, 2, and 4, provides a larger lateral area aspect and is
used by the golfer when it is desirable to provide greater "elbow room"
for the club heads and headcovers associated with the golf clubs, such as
when being used on a course.
 Almost all golf bags 12 include a top collar through which the
clubs 13 are inserted, shaft down, into the body of the bag. The club
heads and any associated headcovers extend beyond, usually above, the top
collar and are held in fairly close proximity to each other by the
dimensions of the collar and the alignment of the club shafts within the
tube portion of the golf bag.
 In a golf bag provided with the inventive expandable top system 10
of a preferred embodiment of the present invention shown in the top view
of FIG. 2, the top of the bag includes a collar 18 which includes a
circumferential rim 20 laterally subdivided by a plurality of collar
dividers 22. A plurality of insertion apertures 24 are defined by the
circumferential rim 20 and the collar dividers 22. The insertion
apertures 24 provide the openings through which the golf club shafts are
inserted into the bag.
 In the particular embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 1-4 and 8 of the
drawings, the collar dividers 22 subdivide the golf bag collar 18 into
four insertion apertures 24. These are identified for description
purposes as a rear aperture 26, a front aperture 28, a left aperture 30
and a right aperture 32. The orientation is somewhat arbitrary, but the
bag handle is defined as being at the "rear" of the golf bag so the rear
aperture 26 is that located to be aligned with the lifting handle of the
golf bag. Generally, golfers use the rear aperture 26 to hold the driver
and fairway wood clubs, which are the most bulky and have the longest
 Many other divider patterns are known and the shapes of the collars
vary widely from golf bag to golf bag. However the expandable top system
10 is most effective when used with fairly large apertures so a lower
number is preferred. It is noted that the present system will operate
even if there are no dividers and only a single aperture.
 The particular preferred embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 1-4 of the
drawing also includes auxiliary gripping handles 34 to aid the golfer in
lifting and rearranging the orientation of the golf bag. The gripping
handles 34 are integral to the illustrated collar but are not a part of
the present invention. As shown in the remaining figures of the drawing,
many collars 18 will not include the gripping handles 34.
 Each golf bag which is provided with an expandable top system 10
will include at least one expandable aperture 36. In the embodiment of
FIGS. 1-4 the expandable aperture 36 is selected to be the rear aperture
26; an appropriate choice since this insertion aperture is where golfers
typically store their "woods" which will have the largest club heads and
require the greatest amount of space. Each expandable aperture 36 is
provided with an expansion means 37 to facilitate the expansion. In the
embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 1-4 this expansion means 37 is in the
form of a hingedly mounted segment 38 which may pivot outward (see FIGS.
2 and 4, particularly) to expand the open aspect of the aperture.
 The hingedly mounted segment 38 includes a curved plate 40 secured
at its lower extent to the circumferential rim 20 of the collar 18 by a
pair of spaced apart pivot pins 42. On the upper forward sides of the
curved plate 40 are a pair of slide slots 44 each of which engages a
slide post 46 on the circumferential rim 20. A thumbscrew 48 on the end
of each pivot post 46 provides a means to hold the curved plate 40 in
position (e.g. in the collapsed mode 14 of FIG. 3 or the expanded mode 16
of FIG. 4). The thumbscrew 48, in cooperation with the slide slot 44,
provides a securing means 49 for holding the invention in the desired
 A first alternate embodiment of the invention 10' is illustrated in
FIGS. 5 and 6, with FIG. 5 showing the collapsed mode 14 while FIG. 6
shows the expanded mode 16. In the first alternate embodiment 10' the
pattern of collar dividers 22 is different in that it divides the bag top
into five insertion apertures 24, with a center aperture 50 located in
the middle area of the top.
 In the embodiment 10' the expansion means 37' for expanding the
collar 18 is provided by a plurality of telescope joints 52 with these
being laterally aligned in the circumferential rim 20 and the collar
dividers 22. As is best seen in FIG. 6 each telescope joint 52 includes a
receiving channel 54 on one side and an insertion segment 56 on the other
side of the joint. Each insertion segment 56 slidably mates with the
associated receiving channel 54 to allow the collar 18 to expand
laterally. In this manner the rear aperture 26, the front aperture 28 and
the center aperture 50 become expandable apertures 36, the open area
aspects of which are increased when the telescope joints 52 are
activated, while the aspects of the left aperture 30 and the right
aperture 32 are unaffected.
 In the embodiment 10' an alternate securing means 49' is provided.
It is understood that many types of mechanisms may be used to secure the
golf bag top in the collapsed more 14 and the expanded mode 16 and each
one illustrated herein is for purposes of example only. Various varieties
of snaps, buckles, Velcro.TM. components, tighteners and the like may be
utilized. As illustrated in FIGS. 5 and 6, a snap buckle 58 is
illustrated. As is best seen in FIG. 6, the snap buckle 58 mechanism
includes a female snap receptacle 60 and a male snap fork 62, each of
which is attached to the collar 18 by securing straps 64. When the male
snap fork 62 is engaged with the female snap receptacle 60 (FIG. 5) the
collar is held in the collapsed mode 14. When these are disengaged (FIG.
6) the collar 18 may be spread apart to the expanded mode 16. Various
methods may be utilized to secure the embodiment 10' in the expanded mode
16. Once such is illustrated in FIG. 6, where a spacer block 66 is shown
as draped/snapped over one of the insertion segments 56 to prevent the
telescope joint 52 from closing.
 It is noted that the in the method of expanding the insertion
apertures of FIGS. 5 and 6, it is possible to combine the expansion means
37 and the securing means 49 into a single mechanism (or more accurately,
a plurality of the same mechanism). One such possibility is to replace
each telescope joint 52 with a turnbuckle 68 such as the one illustrated
in FIG. 7. By rotating each turnbuckle 68 simultaneously in one direction
the collar 18 may be spread to the expanded mode 16 and by rotating the
turnbuckles 68 in the opposite direction the collar may be returned to
the collapsed mode 14.
 FIG. 8 illustrates, in a fanciful manner, some other envisioned
alternate embodiments of the expandable top system 10. In order to show
that any of the insertion apertures 24 may become expandable apertures
36, this view shows the left aperture 30 and the right aperture 32 as
being expandable apertures 36. [It is noted that there is nothing to keep
all of the apertures from being expandable, but it is expected that, more
commonly, one or two will be selected.]
 In the left aperture 30 illustrated in FIG. 8 the expansion means
37 is illustrated as having a portion of the circumferential rim 20
replaced with an accordion segment 70. The accordion segment allows the
collar 18 to expand outward when it is unrestrained, while also
facilitating squeezing back into minimal size when constrained. The
restraining means 49 illustrated for this purpose is in the form of a
Velcro.TM. strap and sliplock 72. This strap and sliplock 72 includes a
strap component 74 and a sliplock component 76 being secured to the rim
20 at opposing locations beyond the extent of the accordion segment 70.
The strap component 74 is provided with male Velcro.TM. 78 on the inside
surface of its distal extent and with female Velcro.TM. 80 on the outside
surface of its proximal extent. The strap component 74 is threaded
through the sliplock 76 and returns upon itself. The engagement of the
male Velcro.TM. 78 with the female Velcro.TM. 80 determines the effective
length of the strap and sliplock 72 and accordingly determines the extent
of expansion permitted to the accordion segment 70. Thus, when the strap
and sliplock 72 is tightened to minimum effective length the left
aperture 30 is restricted to minimal aspect in the collapsed mode 14
while when it is loosened to any degree the expansion can occur in
expansion mode 16 to any desired degree.
 Another form of expansion means 37 is illustrated for the right
aperture 32 in FIG. 8. In this case the material of the circumferential
rim 20 within the right aperture 32 is replaced with an elastic rim 82
material. When unrestrained, the elastic rim 82 can bow outward with the
internal pressure provided by the weight of the clubs 13 which will allow
the club heads more room within the aperture 24.
 One potential securing means 49 for use with the elastic rim 82 is
a rim guard sleeve 84 molded in the shape of the arc of the rim and
extending over and exterior to the elastic rim 82. The rim guard sleeve
84 (shown removed in FIG. 8) is relatively rigid and restrains the
elastic rim 82 in the collapsed mode 14 when it is installed thereupon.
In the version shown, the rim guard sleeve 84 is provided with a pair of
terminal guard hooks 86 which engage the collar dividers 22 to secure the
rim guard sleeve 84 in position.
 The expansion means 37 and securing means 49 illustrated and
described herein are just a few of the many possibilities for
facilitating expandable apertures 36 according to the present invention.
For example windows and pouches in the rim 20 may be provided to allow
some clubs to extend beyond the collar 18. Those skilled in the art will
no doubt envision other structures and methods of accomplishing these
 Many modifications to the above embodiment may be made without
altering the nature of the invention. The dimensions and shapes of the
components and the construction materials may be modified for particular
circumstances or types of bags to be carried.
 While various embodiments have been described above, it should be
understood that they have been presented by way of example only, and not
 The expandable top system 10 of the present invention is intended
for use primarily by golfers who wish to have more space available for
club heads and, especially, bulky head covers when the clubs 13 are
carried in a golf bag 12. This is particularly valuable in golf cart
environments, where the bags are often carried vertically and the club
heads are jostled together during motion and can be difficult to select,
remove and replace during the round. Having one or more larger aspect
club insertion aperture 24 makes the golfer's round easier and more
enjoyable and also minimizes damage to adjacent club heads and covers as
well as to the associated club shafts.
 The expandable top system 10 will be incorporated into the golf bag
12 during manufacture. During shipping and storage, the collar 18 will be
ordinarily maintained in the collapsed mode 14 for compactness. It will
only be when clubs 13 are loaded and the bag 12 is ready for use that the
expanded mode 16 will ordinarily be invoked. At this juncture the
securing means 49 will be released and the various expandable apertures
36 will be expanded using the built in expansion means 37 to provide a
greater open aspect during use, with the degree of expansion being
limited by the securing means 49. After the round, if the golfer wishes
to store the bag 12 in a limited size space (such as a vehicle trunk),
the securing means 49 may then be reactivated to restore the bag 12 to
the collapsed mode 14. The expandable top system 10 is designed such that
either mode may be utilized at any time, at the golfer's convenience.
 For the above, and other, reasons, it is expected that the
expandable top system 10 of the present invention will have widespread
industrial applicability. Therefore, it is expected that the commercial
utility of the present invention will be extensive and long lasting.
 While various embodiments have been described above, it should be
understood that they have been presented by way of example only, and not
limitation. Thus, the breadth and scope of a preferred embodiment should
not be limited by any of the above described exemplary embodiments, but
should be defined only in accordance with the following claims and their
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