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United States Patent Application 20170209763
Kind Code A1
Hulbert; Matthew John ;   et al. July 27, 2017

AN APPARATUS FOR ASSISTING A PLAYER PLAYING GOLF

Abstract

An apparatus (10) for assisting a player playing golf is disclosed. The apparatus includes a club connector (14) for connecting part of the apparatus to a golf club. This part includes an accelerometer (22) and a processor (24) for processing the signals from the accelerometer. There is also a body connector (46) for connecting a second part (42) of the apparatus to the body of the golfer. This second part also includes an accelerometer. The two accelerometers are used to determine the angle the club to the horizontal, the rotational angle of the head of the club, the angle of the player's spine to the horizontal and the club to spine angle. These angles are output to a display (32) on the part of the apparatus attached to the club.


Inventors: Hulbert; Matthew John; (Middlesbrough, GB) ; Hulbert; Paul Warwick; (Middlesbrough, GB) ; Fisher; Steve; (Newcastle upon Tyne, GB)
Applicant:
Name City State Country Type

Mustachio Ltd

Middlesrough

GB
Assignee: Mustachio Ltd.
Middelsbrough
GB

Family ID: 1000002592909
Appl. No.: 15/326226
Filed: July 15, 2015
PCT Filed: July 15, 2015
PCT NO: PCT/GB2015/052044
371 Date: January 13, 2017


Current U.S. Class: 1/1
Current CPC Class: A63B 69/3632 20130101; A63B 60/16 20151001; A63B 60/42 20151001; A63B 69/3608 20130101; A63B 2225/50 20130101; A63B 2220/18 20130101; A63B 2220/40 20130101; A63B 2220/833 20130101; A63B 2220/836 20130101; A63B 71/0622 20130101
International Class: A63B 69/36 20060101 A63B069/36; A63B 60/42 20060101 A63B060/42; A63B 71/06 20060101 A63B071/06; A63B 60/16 20060101 A63B060/16

Foreign Application Data

DateCodeApplication Number
Jul 15, 2014GB1412584.3

Claims



1. An apparatus for assisting a player playing golf, the apparatus comprising: a first connector for connecting a first portion of the apparatus to a golf club; at least one first inclinometer; at least one first processor for receiving and processing signals from said first inclinometer; at least one output device for outputting an output signal from said first processor providing an indication of at least one static attitude of the club.

2. An apparatus according to claim 1, further comprising: a second connector for connecting a second portion of the apparatus adjacent the spine of a player; at least one second inclinometer; at least one data connector for sending data relating to measurements taken by said second inclinometer to said first processor, wherein said output signal from said first processor includes a static attitude of the player's spine.

3. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said output device comprises at least one display device for displaying a visual representation of said static attitude.

4. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said static attitude of the club includes at least one of the angle of the club shaft to the horizontal, the rotation of the club shaft, the angle of the club shaft to the vertical and the angle of the club shaft to a predetermined standard.

5. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said static attitude of the player's spine includes at least one of an angle of the player's spine to the club, the angle of the player's spine to the horizontal, the angle of the player's spine to the vertical and the angle of the player's spine to a predetermined standard.

6. An apparatus according to claim 4, wherein said display device displays said angle as a number.

7. An apparatus according to claim 2, further comprising at least one second processor for receiving and processing signals from said second inclinometer wherein said data connector comprises a wireless data transfer device for transferring data from said second processor to said first processor.

8. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein at least one inclinometer comprises an accelerometer.

9. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein at least one first connector comprises an elongate member adapted to be inserted into an aperture in the end of a golf club.

10. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein at least one second connector comprises at least one belt.

11. A method of assisting a player playing golf, comprising the steps: connecting an apparatus to a golf club, the apparatus including a first connector for connecting a first portion of the apparatus to said golf club, also including at least one first inclinometer, further including at least one first processor for receiving and processing signals from said first inclinometer and including at least one output device for outputting an output signal from said first processor providing an indication of at least one static attitude of said club; holding said golf club and adopting a stance; viewing a display device displaying a representation of at least one said static attitude of said club.

12. A method according to claim 11 further comprising adjusting said stance and viewing said representation of said static attitude.

13. (canceled)

14. (canceled)
Description



[0001] The present invention relates to an apparatus for assisting a player playing golf and relates particularly, but not exclusively, to an apparatus for assisting a player through immediate visual information related to their angles of address and helps to adopt an appropriate and repeatable stance before taking a shot. This can provide consistency of address position and therefore repeatability.

[0002] The use of training aids for golfers is well known. Such aids generally aim to assist the golfer to create muscle memory allowing them to reproduce good shots consistently. However, such aids generally focus on the golf swing and numerous electronic devices exist to assist the golfer in analysing their swing. Such devices provide a retrospective analysis of the swing. However, another key element of any golf shot is the stance, which is the position adopted by the golfer immediately prior to taking their swing.

[0003] Where stance analysis is undertaken, this is generally as part of a swing analysis with video images being taken of a golfer, this usually remains a retrospective visual indication only, lacking immediate numeric or otherwise information, this only tells the golfer that their stance was considered correct or incorrect with hindsight and therefore provides very limited assistance in encouraging the golfer to adopt the same position consistently for each shot.

[0004] Preferred embodiments of the present invention seek to overcome the above described disadvantages of the prior art.

[0005] According to an aspect of the present invention there is provided an apparatus for assisting a player playing golf, the apparatus comprising: [0006] a first connector for connecting a first portion of the apparatus to a golf club; [0007] at least one first inclinometer; [0008] at least one first processor for receiving and processing signals from said first inclinometer; [0009] at least one output device for outputting an output signal from said first processor providing an indication of a static attitude of the club.

[0010] By using one or more inclinometers to indicate the static attitude of a golf club (that is the angle of the shaft of the club relative something else such as the ground/horizontal) prior to the golfer taking a shot, the advantage is provided that the golfer can ensure that the club is aligned identically for each shot that is taken. This therefore removes one variable from the multiplicity of variables that comprise a golfing shot assisting a golfer in their analysis of their shot. Furthermore, where the golf club attitude is displayed as multiple variables the golfer is able to adjust a single variable to experiment with the effect that this has on his shot. Because the output device gives information prior to a shot being taken, rather than after a shot has been taken as is typical with the prior art, the golfer is able to recreate similar conditions assisting their understanding of their golf shots. Furthermore, because the device of the present invention attaches to the golf club it can be used on the driving range or other practice area and on the golf course (although it would not be allowed for use in competitions).

[0011] The apparatus may further comprise: [0012] a second connector for connecting a second portion of the apparatus adjacent the spine of a player; [0013] at least one second inclinometer; [0014] at least one data connector for sending data relating to measurements taken by said second inclinometer to said first processor, wherein said output signal from said first processor includes a static attitude of the player's spine.

[0015] By providing a second inclinometer attached adjacent the spine of the golfer, the advantages provided that further information about the golfers stands can be provided. By providing information including the attitude, that is, the angle of the golfer's spine compared to the horizontal, the golfer's spine compared to the club shaft, the club shaft compared to the horizontal and the rotation of the club shaft, a golfer is able to consistently recreate the same stance and golf club position on numerous occasions. This significantly assists in creating muscle memory which later assists the golfer when they are not using the device of the present invention, for example during competitions. Because the second inclinometer attaches to the golfer the apparatus of the present invention can be used on the driving range and on the golf course.

[0016] In a preferred embodiment the output device comprises at least one display device for displaying a visual representation of said static attitude.

[0017] By providing a visual representation of the static attitude of the golf club and the golfer's spine, the advantage is provided that the golfer is able to look down at the apparatus, which is attached to the club, to determine these variables. If the golfer decides that the spine or club attitude is incorrect they can adjust their position until the display indicates the correct stance has been adopted.

[0018] In another preferred embodiment the static attitude of the club includes at least one of the angle of the club shaft to the horizontal, the rotation of the club shaft, the angle of the club shaft to the vertical and the angle of the club shaft to a predetermined standard.

[0019] In a further preferred embodiment the static attitude of the player's spine includes at least one of an angle of the player's spine to the club, the angle of the player's spine to the horizontal, the angle of the player's spine to the vertical, and the angle of the player's spine to a predetermined standard.

[0020] The display device may display the angle as a number.

[0021] By displaying the attitude as an angle and doing so numerically on the display device, the advantage is provided that the golfer can determine the most appropriate set of angles for each club and ensure that they consistently address the ball in the appropriate standards for that club.

[0022] The apparatus may further comprise at least one second processor for receiving and processing signals from said second inclinometer wherein said data connector comprises a wireless data transfer device for transferring data from said second processor to said first processor.

[0023] A wireless connection between the second inclinometer and the processor ensures that the device does not interfere with the golfer whilst taking a shot.

[0024] In a preferred embodiment at least one inclinometer comprises an accelerometer.

[0025] In another preferred embodiment at least one first connector comprises an elongate member adapted to be inserted into an aperture in the end of a golf club.

[0026] In a further preferred embodiment at least one second connector comprises at least one belt.

[0027] According to another aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of assisting a player playing golf, comprising the steps: [0028] connecting an apparatus to a golf club, the apparatus including a first connector for connecting a first portion of the apparatus to said golf club, also including at least one first inclinometer, further including at least one first processor for receiving and processing signals from said first inclinometer and including at least one output device for outputting an output signal from said first processor providing an indication of at least one static attitude of said club; [0029] holding said golf club and adopting a stance; [0030] viewing a display device displaying a representation of at least one said static attitude of said club.

[0031] The method may further comprise adjusting said stance and viewing said representation of said static attitude.

[0032] Preferred embodiments of the present invention will now be described, by way of example only, and not and in any limitative sense with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

[0033] FIGS. 1 and 2 are respectively front and side views of an embodiment of the device of the present invention;

[0034] FIG. 3 is a side view of another embodiment of the device of the present invention in use;

[0035] FIG. 4 is a schematic representation of the functional components of the device of the present invention;

[0036] FIGS. 5 and 6 are side views of a device of a further embodiment of the present invention;

[0037] FIG. 7 is a sectional view of a component of the device of FIGS. 5 and 6;

[0038] FIGS. 8 and 9 are top and rear views of the device of FIGS. 5 and 6;

[0039] FIGS. 10 and 11 are top views of components used with the device of FIGS. 5 and 6;

[0040] FIG. 12 is a top view of the component of FIG. 11 together with a tool used with the device of FIGS. 5 and 6;

[0041] FIG. 13 is a side view of the tool shown in FIG. 12;

[0042] FIG. 14 is a sectional view of the component of FIG. 11; and

[0043] FIG. 15 is a combination of the tool as shown in FIG. 13 and the component as shown in FIG. 14.

[0044] With reference to the FIGS. 1 to 4, an apparatus 10 is used to assisting a player 12 who is playing or practising the game of golf. In the context of this application it should be noted that the term "playing golf" is used to refer to all forms of both playing and practising playing including, but not limited to, playing and practising on a golf course, practising at a driving range, practising using a lightweight golf balls and practising without balls.

[0045] The apparatus 10 includes a first connector, in the form of a spike 14, which is used for connecting a first portion 16 of the apparatus 10 to a golf club 18. The spike 14 is sized and shaped to be reminiscent of a golf tee and is designed to be inserted into the small hole that is commonly found in the end of the handgrip 20 on the butt (the end of the shaft furthest from head) of a golf club. It will be apparent to persons skilled in the art that the spike 14 could be replaced with any other suitable means for connecting the first portion 16 of the apparatus 10 to the golf club 18. However, it should be noted that it is preferable that the first portion 16 of the apparatus 10 is located adjacent the handgrip 20 of club 18 so as to be close to the hands of the golfer 12 and therefore interferes with the weight and balance of the club as little as possible.

[0046] The apparatus 10 includes, within the first portion 16, means for determining at least one static attitude of the inclinometer and therefore the club, the static attitude being the angle of the first portion 16 relative to the force of gravity, by the use of an inclinometer. In the example shown in FIG. 4, this inclinometer is specifically in the form of an accelerometer 22. The signals produced by the accelerometer 22 are passed to a processor, in the form of microcontroller 24, which processes the signals to determine that attitude, that is, the angle of inclination of the accelerometer 22 relative to the force of gravity. The spike 14 has an axis 25 which, when the first portion 16 of apparatus 10 is inserted correctly into the end of golf club 18, is aligned coaxially with the axis 26 of the shaft 28 of golf club 18. Because the accelerometer 22 is fixed relative to the spike 14 within the first portion 16 of apparatus 10, the processor is able to calculate the angle of the axes 25 and 26 relative to the force of gravity. This in turn allows a calculation of the angle of axes 25 and 26 relative to the playing surface 30 which is assumed to be horizontal. This angle, an example of the static attitude of the club, is indicated as A on FIG. 3. It should be noted that the surface 30 may not be horizontal. However, because the angle A is calculated based on the direction of the force of gravity the angle calculated is always the angle of the axes 25 and 26 relative to the horizontal and not relative to the playing surface 30, unless this is itself horizontal.

[0047] The first portion 16 of apparatus 10 includes a display device 32. In the example shown in FIG. 1, the display device 32 is a LCD display although it will be immediately apparent to person skilled in the art that any form of display would be suitable. It is also the case that other forms of output device could be used to confer information to the golfer 12. The display device 32 has a first display portion 34 which displays the static attitude of the club, in the form of a numerical display of the angle A. The display device 32 is arranged so that the golfer 12 is able to look down at the first portion 16 of apparatus 10 as it is conveniently positioned between his forearms as he looks down. This positioning is particularly advantageous as it allows the player to view the display without moving any part of their body and in particular they are able to keep their head and spine still. Furthermore, this position does not interfere with the players grip and makes only the very slightest change to the position of the centre of gravity of the club meaning that makes no difference to the players swing when comparing the club with and without the device 10.

[0048] The accelerometer 22 is preferably of a type that is able to determine its inclination in more than one axis. For example, the output of the accelerometer 22 can be used by a processor 24 to calculate the rotational angle of the accelerometer around the axis 25. This rotational angle is also the rotational angle of the shaft 28 of club 18 and therefore indicates whether the face of the head 33 of club 18 is "open" or "closed". In order to ensure that this angle is displayed accurately it is important that the first portion 16 of apparatus 10 is correctly aligned with the shaft 28 of club 18. A marker 36 is provided and this marker should be aligned with centre of the club. On many golf clubs the handgrip 20 is provided with symmetrical markings which indicate this centre of the club and are provided to assist golfers in ensuring that they locate their hands correctly and consistently on the handgrip of the club. These markings can be used to align with marker 36 to ensure that the first portion 16 of apparatus 10 is correctly aligned with the centre of the club 18. The rotational angle can be displayed as a number or in the embodiment shown markings 38 either side of a central marker 40 are used to indicate rotation with each of the markings 38 representing a predetermined amount of rotation. These predetermined amounts of rotation can be a linear or non-linear scale and can represent single degrees, multiple degrees or parts of degrees.

[0049] In addition to the first portion 16 of apparatus 10, a second portion 42 is preferably provided to determine and display additional information to the golfer 12. The second portion 42 of apparatus 10 includes a second accelerometer 44 which attaches, via a belt 46, to the golfer 12 so that a housing 48, that contains the second accelerometer 44 is located adjacent the spine of golfer 12. The housing 48 is sized so that when the belt 46 is placed with the housing 48 in the small of the golfers back, the housing, and the axis against which the second accelerometer 44 measures the direction of the force of gravity, are approximately parallel to the axis of the golfer's spine. Measurements taken from the second accelerometer 44 can therefore be used to calculate the angle B which approximates to the angle of the axis 49 of the golfer's spine to the horizontal surface 30. As with the first portion 16 of apparatus 10, the measurements are calculated and displayed relative to the horizontal irrespective of the surface on which the golfer 12 is standing. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 3 and 4 the signals output from the accelerometer are sent to the processor 24 via a wired connection 50. This wired connection allows a single battery 52, located in the housing 48, to act as the power supply 54 to the second accelerometer 44 and as the power supply 56 to the components in the first portion 16, namely the first accelerometer 22, processor 24 and display 32.

[0050] Having calculated the angle B this is displayed on the display device 32, as indicated at 58. Having determined the angles A and B the processor can easily calculate the angles C and D, which is the angle between the axis 26 of the club's shaft 28 and the axis 49 of the player's spine. The angle D is displayed on the display device 32 as indicated at 60. This angle D is particularly important in determining the golfer's stance and is hence the largest of displays on the display device 32.

[0051] Operation of the apparatus 10 will now be described. When a player 12 has selected the club 18 they wish to use, they insert the spike 14 of the first portion 16 of the apparatus 10 into the hole that is formed in the handgrip 20 aligning the marker 36 with the centreline markings on the handgrip 20. Ideally the end surface 62, which is immediately adjacent the spike 14, engages the butt end of handgrip 20. This end surface 62 is perpendicular to the axis 25 and therefore ensures, when engaged with the butt end of handgrip 20 which is also typically perpendicular to the axis 26 of the club shaft 28, that the axis 25 is aligned with the axis 26 (or is at least consistently positioned from one use to the next).

[0052] The second portion 42 of the apparatus 10 is attached to player 12 by fastening the belt 46 around the golfer's waist. The belt 46 should be arranged so that the housing 48 is positioned in the small of the back of the golfer adjacent his spine.

[0053] With the wire 50 connecting the first and second portions 16 and 42 of the apparatus 10 the first and second accelerometers 22 and 44 are able to measure their inclination relative to the direction of the force of gravity. When these signal are received by the processor, it can then calculate the angle of the axis 26 of the club shaft 28 to the horizontal (angle A), the angle the axis 40 of the spine to the horizontal (angle B), the angle of the axis of the club shaft to the axis of the spine (angle D) and the rotational angle of the club shaft 28. These angles are displayed on the display device at 34, 58, 60 and 38/40 respectively which the player 12 is able to see by looking between his forearms. The player 12 is then able to make adjustments to his stance in order to obtain the optimum angles for A, B, D, and the rotational angle for the club that he is using. It should be noted that the present invention is suitable for use on all types of clubs including woods, irons, wedges and putters.

[0054] The rotation angle can also be interpreted as a lean angle of the club to provide additional information to the golfer. Referring to FIG. 3, if a line is imagined extending along the playing surface perpendicular to the plane of the paper on which FIG. 3 is shown, this line would represent the trajectory of the ball, as followed on the ground, if the ball was hit perfectly straight. The generally recommended position for the shaft of the golf club to be perpendicular to this line at the point at which the player is addressing the ball with the club nearly touching the ball. However, it can be advantageous to alter the angle of the club relative to this line extending perpendicular to the plane of the paper. In particular, it can be useful to lean the club forwards during the stance set up, by moving the hands forward without changing the rotation of the club. This angle can be measured using the rotation display.

[0055] Referring to FIGS. 8 to 15, an alternative embodiment of the present invention is described in which like reference numerals, increased by 100, have been used to indicate features in common with the embodiments shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. The apparatus 110 is divided into two components, these being a display and processor component 160 and a club attachment component 162. The two components are clipped together using a latch 164 which is connected to a spring-loaded button 166 with the latch 164 being retained by a notch 168 in the club attachment 162. As a result multiple club attachment components 162 can be provided and connected to a range of clubs and the display and processor 160 interchanged between the clubs by simply moving from one club to another. The club attachment 162 has the spike 114 but is more securely held in place by a side portion 170 which extends around the very uppermost portion of the club and is clamped into place by having bolts (not shown) extending through apertures 172 and 174 and into a retaining block 176 which has threaded apertures therein.

[0056] A series of covers are also supplied one for each of the club attachment components 162 and examples of these covers are shown in FIGS. 10 to 12, 14 and 15. The cover 178, shown in FIG. 10 is a simple cover which protects the club attachment component 162, in particular when the club is in the club bag. The cover 178 has a button 180 which operates a latch (not shown) in exactly the same manner as button 166 and latch 164. An alternative cover 182 is shown in FIGS. 11, 12, 14 and 15 and this cover has a recess 184 which is adapted to receive a tool 186. The main use of the tool 186 is to tighten the bolts (not shown) which extends through the apertures 172 and 174. However, it is also used as an alignment tool for initially ensuring that the club attachment component 162 is correctly aligned with the club. When the handle 188 of tool 186 is inserted into the recess 184 in cover 182 the shaft 190 of tool 186 acts as an alignment indicator. The club attachment 162 is inserted onto the end of the club so that the spike 114 extends into an aperture in the end of the grip of the club. The cover 182 with the tool 186 inserted into recess 184 is clipped onto the club attachment component 162 and the club attachment component is rotated so that the shaft 190 appears parallel to the shaft of the club and the edge of the club head when viewed down the club from the grip end. This is particularly useful where the grip of the club is not provided with any markings indicating the centreline of the club which can be used to align with the marker 136. Once the correct position has been found the cover 182 is removed from the club attachment component 162 and the tool 186 is removed and used to tighten the bolts extending through apertures 172 and 174.

[0057] Referring to FIGS. 8 and 9, slight variance on the embodiment described in FIGS. 1 and 2 can be seen. For example, although the angle displays 134, 158 and 160 are substantially the same as those shown in FIG. 1, the club face rotation angle is shown numerically at 192 with the arrow indicators 194 and 196 showing the direction of the rotation. A power switch 198 is provided on the underside of the device together with a battery charging point 200 which is suitable for charging the device 110 using a standard USB cable. It will be appreciated by persons skilled in the art that the above embodiments have been described by way of example only and not in any limitative sense, and that various alterations and modifications are possible without departure from the scope of the protection which is defined by the appended claims. For example, the above description suggests the use of an accelerometer to measure the angle of the first and second portions 16 and 42 to the direction of the force of gravity although it will be apparent to person skilled in the art that any inclinometer or other suitable device for measuring an angle of inclination to the force of gravity would be equally applicable in the implementation of the present invention.

[0058] The above described display device primarily uses numerical values to indicate to the player the angles of their stance. However, these could be replaced by indicators more closely related to the angle indicator at 38/40 which identifies the angles proximity to an optimum. These optimum angles could be pre-programmed for an individual player and individual clubs. Furthermore, the skilled person would also recognise that the output device could be any other suitable device to replace or supplement the display device 32. For example, an audio device or a haptic device located in the belt 46 or housing 48 indicating the angles or proximity to optimum angles could be used.

[0059] Although the above embodiment indicates the use of a wired connection, the device can be designed to provide a wireless connection between the first and second portions 16 and 42 of the apparatus 10. In this instance a second processor is required in the second portion 42 which also requires a transmitter to send signals to a receiver in the first portion 16. Any short distance data transmitting and receiving apparatus is suitable. Both portions also require separate power supplies, typically rechargeable batteries.

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