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United States Patent Application 20110303568
Kind Code A1
Reimers; Eric W. ;   et al. December 15, 2011

GOLF BAG WITH EXPANDABLE COLLAR APERTURES

Abstract

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.


Inventors: Reimers; Eric W.; (Missoula, MT) ; Enes; Seth M.; (Missoula, MT)
Assignee: SUN MOUNTAIN SPORTS, INC.
Missoula
MT

Serial No.: 159692
Series Code: 13
Filed: June 14, 2011

Current U.S. Class: 206/315.6
Class at Publication: 206/315.6
International Class: A63B 55/00 20060101 A63B055/00


Claims



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 mode.

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 mode.
Description



[0001] 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.

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0002] The present invention relates generally to golf equipment and particularly to golf bags.

BACKGROUND ART

[0003] 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.

[0004] 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 automotive trunks.

[0005] Accordingly, much room remains for improvement in resolving the crowding of the golf club head when stored in a golf bag.

DISCLOSURE OF INVENTION

[0006] Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide an improved golf bag for providing improved accessibility to golf clubs during use.

[0007] Another object of the invention is to provide one or more expandable roomy club insertion apertures in the golf bag collar.

[0008] 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.

[0009] 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 access thereto.

[0010] Another object of the invention is to provide an option to the golfer to use the bag in either collapsed or expanded mode.

[0011] 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.

[0012] 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 expanded mode.

[0013] 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.

[0014] 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.

[0015] 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.

[0016] Still another advantage of the present invention is that it facilitates aperture expansion in multiple directions, to accommodate the space available.

[0017] A further advantage of the invention is that club insertion into and removal from the golf bag is made easier for the user.

[0018] 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

[0019] The purposes and advantages of the present invention will be apparent from the following detailed description in conjunction with the appended drawings in which:

[0020] 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;

[0021] FIG. 2. is a top view of the preferred embodiment, shown in the expanded mode;

[0022] FIG. 3. is a side view of a presently preferred invention shown in the collapsed mode;

[0023] FIG. 4. is a side view of a presently preferred invention shown in the expanded mode;

[0024] FIG. 5. is a top view of a first alternate embodiment, shown in collapsed mode;

[0025] FIG. 6. is a top view of a first alternate embodiment, shown in expanded mode;

[0026] FIG. 7 is a fanciful illustration of a turnbuckle; and

[0027] FIG. 8 is a fanciful top view showing further alternate embodiments of the inventive expandable top system.

BEST MODE FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION

[0028] 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.

[0029] 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.

[0030] 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).

[0031] 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.

[0032] 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.

[0033] 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.

[0034] 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 shafts.

[0035] 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.

[0036] 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.

[0037] 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.

[0038] 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 mode.

[0039] 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.

[0040] 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.

[0041] 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.

[0042] 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.

[0043] 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.]

[0044] 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.

[0045] 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.

[0046] 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.

[0047] 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 purposes.

[0048] 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.

[0049] While various embodiments have been described above, it should be understood that they have been presented by way of example only, and not as limitations.

INDUSTRIAL APPLICABILITY

[0050] 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.

[0051] 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.

[0052] 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.

[0053] 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 equivalents.

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