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Now this is a Nike Golf Invention that I Could Use
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Alignment inventions have never really sparked my interest primarily because there are just so many of them. Additionally, alignment devices are generally directed to the putter. Recently Nike Golf had a patent application publish that did grab my attention because it is not directed to putters (and because it is directed to one of my many swing flaws). The application published as US Pub. No. 20100323806 titled “Visual Swing Indicator Golf Club Head,” which describes the invention as:

A golf club head with a body and an asymmetrical visual swing indicator is provided. The asymmetrical visual swing indicator may be formed to represent an apparent backswing path outward of an actual backswing path. In certain configurations the asymmetrical visual swing indicator is positioned such that a portion of the asymmetrical visual swing indicator closest to the hitting surface of the golf club is closer to a heel end plane of the golf club head then a portion of the asymmetrical visual swing indicator closest to a rear surface of the golf club head. A method of fitting a golf club head by determining an initial swing plane using a measuring device, determining a desired swing plane, and applying an asymmetrically shaped visual indicator to a golf club head based upon the determined initial swing plane and the desired swing is also provided.











The application go on to explain:

BACKGROUND

[0003] The swing of a golfer including the backswing and the downswing of a golfer is often related to the golfer's performance on the golf course. Golfers that can consistently swing a golf club in preferred manners may hit the golf ball farther, straighter and in a more consistent manner. Accuracy, control and direction may be improved when a golfer's swing has certain attributes associated with preferred swing directions and motion paths. However, many golfers have difficulty swing golf clubs according to certain preferred swing directions and motion paths. Also, because only portions of a full swing of a golf club are visible to the golfer, it may be more difficult to correct an improper backswing or downswing swing path.

SUMMARY

[0004] Inventive aspects pertain to a golf club head with an asymmetrical visual swing indicator on a top surface of the body of the golf club head and configured to represent an apparent backswing path. The apparent backswing path may be distinct and outward of an actual backswing path of the gold club head during a swing of a golfer. The golf club head includes a hitting surface on the front surface. The golf club head may also be coupled to a shaft.

[0005] Additionally, inventive aspects also relate to a triangularly shaped asymmetrical visual swing indicator oriented on a top surface of a golf club head. The triangularly shaped asymmetrical visual swing indicator may include a shortest side that is parallel with a hitting surface. On an opposing end the asymmetrical visual swing indicator may end in a pointed end at the toe end of the rear side of the top surface.

[0006] In another inventive aspect, a golf club head has an asymmetrical visual swing indicator on the top surface extending from a hitting surface housed on a front surface of the body to a rear surface of the body opposite the hitting surface. The asymmetrical visual swing indicator is positioned such that a portion of the asymmetrical visual swing indicator closest to the hitting surface is closer to a heel end of the golf club head than a portion of the asymmetrical visual swing indicator closest to a rear surface of the golf club head. The golf club head may be coupled to a shaft.

[0007] Another inventive aspect is a method of fitting a golf club head. In a method of fitting a golf club head, a determination of an initial swing path using a measuring device is made. The measuring device may include any of a variety of known measuring devices. For example, a photographic measuring device may be used in conjunction with a computing device. A determination of a desired swing path is also made. Based upon the determined initial swing path and the desired swing path, an asymmetrical shaped visual indicator is placed on a golf club head. The asymmetrical shaped visual indicator may be directly placed. Alternatively, a structure housing the visual indicator, e.g. as entire top surface or crown, may also be removed and replaced with a distinct top surface with another different asymmetrical shaped visual indicator. This visual indicator on the golf club head may assist the golfer in achieving a desired swing path.
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[0025] FIGS. 3A and 3B are illustrative top plan views of golf club heads and various exemplary swing paths including illustrative backswings and downswings. A golf swing may generally be considered as having an addressing state followed by backswing in which the club head 110 via the shaft 190 and hosel 180 is generally pulled rearward (and upward) of the golf ball 201 to be hit. During this backswing, the golfer also typically rotates his torso and "shifts his weight" using his legs. In essence, a golfer during the backswing is twisting or coiling his body and/or providing space in anticipation of the downswing motion that will contact the golf ball 201. The golfer 10 may continue his backswing as is known in the art until the golfer 10 reaches a "top" of the swing and then begins a downswing along a downswing path.

[0026] A center 155 of golf club head 100 is used as a reference point for further clarity and comparison in demonstrating various swing paths and directions in the figures. FIG. 3A is an illustrative diagram of a golf club head 100 depicting the swing tendencies of a high handicap player (e.g. a player that has a higher number as their "handicap" according to the well known handicapping system of rating golfers based upon their play and scores.) Generally speaking, as shown in FIG. 3A, a high handicap golf player can have a tendency to "take-away" the golf club head 100 with a more inward (heel end 150) path than recommended by golf pros and conventional swing mechanics. For example, a high handicap golfer may have a tendency to take-away the golf club head 100 from its position shown in the addressing state along the initial backswing path 310A as is depicted in FIG. 3A. In this instance, the take-away or initial backswing path 310A has a generally inward or heelward path. When a golfer 10 begins his/her backswing along backswing path 310A along this inward or heelward trajectory, he will continue that backswing path until it reaches the top of his/her backswing as is known in the art.

[0027] The specific position known as the top of the backswing can vary from golfer to golfer but it is generally know to be at a position when the shaft 190 reaches a parallel position with the ground. Of course, for varying degrees of partial swings rather than full swings this position may be significantly short of this parallel shaft position. Additional, some golfers especially including professional golfers may have a backswing that extends beyond this parallel position when they are attempting to generate significant power and trying to, for example, hit the ball at the maximum distance for a certain club.

[0028] A golfer that has an initial backswing path 310A begins the club head with a more inward or heelward path than traditionally desired will often continue his swing with an overly inward or heelward trajectory. In order to continue this inward backswing trajectory, the golfer's 10 arms are forced inward and are prevented from remaining generally extended as desired according to preferred swing mechanics. The golfer will then reach the top of his swing in a position varied from an optimal top position (for example, arms further inward and cramped and torso rotation not completed).

[0029] After reaching the top of the backswing, the golfer will now begin a downswing until the golf club head 100 contacts the golf ball 201 and then the golfer 10 will finish his swing with the "follow-through." Here, because the golfer will reach the top of the backswing in misaligned position, the golfer will have a tendency to overcompensate, as the golfer uncoils and rotates back towards the initial addressing state for contacting the golf ball 201. For example, the golfer will feel cramped and his arms will be and feel too close too his body to return to an extended position at the time of contact as he moves through the downswing. The golfer may also have trouble returning to an aligned position sufficiently quickly during the downswing so the golfer will feel hurried to "catch-up" during the swing so as to not leave the club face of the golf club open. As a result of the initial backswing path 310A being inward or heelward of a preferred path the downswing path of the golfer 10 will be affected.

[0030] As illustrated in FIG. 3A, the golfer will perform a downswing that begins outward of a preferred position. This misalignment will be carried through as the golfer will strike the ball 201 with the hitting surface 125 on the front surface 120 of the golf club head 100 with an askew outward to inward direction through the hitting area as is demonstrated in FIG. 3A. As shown, the golf club head 100 will travel with an ending downswing travel path 320A. Additionally, the front face 120 of golf club head 100 may have a rotated orientation compared to its orientation in the corresponding state of FIG. 2. Accordingly, an incorrect or contrary to convention/preference path of motion and orientation of the golf club head 100 will cause the golf ball 201 to be contacted by the hitting surface 125 of golf club head 100 contrary to a desired orientation and contact direction. Further, this varied ending downswing path 320A will cause the flight path of golf ball 201 to vary from a general desired flight path 202 and after it is contacted by the hitting surface 125 and kinetic energy from the golf club head 100 is transferred to the ball 201. The varied resulting ball 201 flight may embody a number of undesirable variations on a desired or optimal ball flight. Distance may be lost. The ball may have a flight path of a slice or fade when a generally straight ball flight is desired. Even if the flight path of the golf ball 201 after being hit by a swing as described in FIG. 3A is generally straight it may be askew directionally due to the path of club head movement 310A at time of contact being diagonal relative to a desired flight path 202. Additionally, a club head front 120 including hitting surface 125 may be rotated relative to a desired "square" or other orientations leading to additional spin or direction variances to be introduced into the resulting ball flight.

[0031] FIG. 3B is an illustrative diagram of a golf club head 100 depicting the swing of a preferred backswing and downswing path of a golfer to achieve preferred results. While each golfer may have a somewhat unique and particular swing, golfers of low handicap including professional golfers typically have swing tendencies that are similar or correlate to the described and depicted in FIG. 3B. As is depicted, contrary to the swing tendencies of a high handicap golfer, low handicap golfers have an initial backswing path 310B that is generally straight rearward from the addressing state. By having an initial take-back that is generally straight, the golfer typically continues his/her backswing along a preferred backswing path until reaching a "top" of the backswing. The low handicap golfer draws the golf club head 100 generally rearward and upward and typically rotates his torso and "shifts his weight" using his legs during a backswing. As described, the low handicap golfer is twisting or coiling his body and/or providing space in anticipation of the downswing motion that will contact the golf ball. However, contrary to that shown in FIG. 3A, the backswing including initial backswing path 310B are proper as the initial take-away of golf club head 100 is straight forward. Accordingly, there is an increased likelihood and tendency for the golfer 10 with an initial backswing path 310B to reach the top of his swing in a proper position and orientation, such that when the golfer then proceeds with the downswing he will be likely to return to the square or slight inward to outward preferred swing path, specifically, ending downswing path 320B.

[0032] It is apparent that the preferred ending downswing path 320B is distinct from the initial backswing path 310B and not merely the same path in the reverse direction. This variation is well known in the art as based upon dynamics and mechanics of the golf swing as the golfer is connected to the golf club head 100 through the shaft 190 and grip 195. Accordingly, in a preferred mechanics golf swing, the golf club is generally pivoted around the hands of the golfer as the golfer swings. However, as mentioned and is known in the art, the golfer's lower body including his legs and torso also move, translate, and/or rotate to allow the golfer to generate a smooth and powerful swing. Because the golf club head 100 is coupled to the golfer 10 and his hands gripping the grip 195 through shaft 190 and grip 195 during the swing, the golf club head 100 will be moved from a somewhat inward position during the downswing and become aligned with the golf ball 201 in the general desired travel path 202 (which is often parallel with the alignment of the golfer's feet) when the hitting surface 125 of the golf club head 100 impacts golf ball 201 or only a little bit before hand. As a result of the hitting surface 125 of the golf club head 100 impacting the golf ball 201 in a square position the golf ball will likely have a ball flight or travel path similar in direction to the desired travel path 202.

[0033] From the depiction and accompanying descriptions of FIGS. 3A and 3B it is apparent how the initial backswing path 310A-B will likely affect the downswing and performance of the golfer 10 and the associated particular swing as a whole including the striking of the ball 201. As shown in FIG. 3A, a golfer 10 that takes the golf club head 100 back inside, e.g. initial backswing path 310A, will typically cast over and return the club head in an "outside-inside" manner as illustrated in FIG. 3A. As a result, the golfer hits the ball on the toe end 130 of the hitting surface 125 ("toeing") and/or slices the ball. In contrast, as illustrated in FIG. 3B, a golfer 10 that takes the golf club head 100 straight rearward or square during the take-away such that the initial backswing path 310B is straight, has a greater likelihood of returning the golf club head 100 in an inside out downswing path including resulting in generally square contact between the golf ball 201 and the hitting surface 125 at the "sweet spot." While a golfer 10 may recognize that a straight take-away of the club is desirable, high handicap golfers, golfers that play infrequently and other golfers may develop habits, tendencies or improper muscle-memory movements such that further assistance is needed to help prevent such golfers from continually repeating these common mistakes especially relating to the backswing or initial take-away of golfers.

[0034] For example, golfers often refer to a "feel" when contact is made between the club and the ball and also during just the backswing and downswing among other times during a round of golf. As such, certain golfers through repetition of improper swing mechanics may have trained their body such that when the golfer 10 moves the golf club head 100 in a preferred initial backswing path 310B, this take-away feels wrong and the golfer does not feel as if they are taking the golf club head 100 rearward 140 in the desired manner. Likewise, when the golfer 10 moves the golf club 199 such that the golf club head 100 has an initial backswing path 310A the golfer 10 may feel as if their backswing was proper and straight when in fact their backswing was incorrect and not straight rearward. Therefore, a mechanism for making a golfer 10 with tendencies to perform a backswing along initial backswing path 310A perform an initial backswing path 310B in accordance with preferred mechanics of golf is beneficial.

[0035] FIG. 4 depicts an illustrative diagram of a visual swing indicator 400 housed on the top surface 110 configured to assist the golfer taking the golf club head 100 back "straight" or "square." To facilitate a proper initial backswing path 310B despite a golfer's improper tendencies a visual swing indicator 400 may be housed on a top surface 110 of a golf club head 100 to help the golfer 10 take the golf club head 100 back more square. A visual swing indicator 400 may have a variety of particular configurations including varied size, shapes, dimensions, orientations and appearances, etc. Depending on particular tendencies of a golfer, the visual swing indicator 400 may have a particular configuration. For example, to assist a golfer 10 with an initial backswing path 310A due to a tendency to bring the golf club head 100 inward during the backswing rather than straight back, the visual swing indicator 400 is orientated such that the front side of the visual swing indicator 400 is parallel to the front surface 120 of the golf club head 100 and the visual swing indicator 400 runs rearward and towards the toe end 130. In such a configuration the visual swing indicator 400 may be described as pointing from a front of a golf club head 100 toward an area between the rear 140 and the toe end 130 of the golf club head 100. A golfer 10 in an addressing state looking downward at the top surface 110 of the golf club head 100 will view the visual swing indicator 400 as a reminder and a pointer as to the direction that the golfer should begin the take-away of the golf club head 100 from the addressing state. Thus, when the golfer 10 begins the take-away of the golf club head 100 he will "feel" as if he is bring the golf club head outward of a straight initial backswing path 310B. However, in fact, he will be performing an initial backswing path 310B that has a straight rearward path. Accordingly, by following the visual swing indicator 400 indicated path which acted as reminder and guide as to which direction to take-away the golf club head 100 from the initial addressing state, a golfer can more easily overcome a tendency to have an improper take-away such as the initial backswing path 310A of FIG. 3A. Because golfer 10 now was able to modify his backswing to have an initial backswing path 310B that is generally straight rearward, there is an increased likelihood the golfer 10 will be able to return the golf club head 100 in a proper path through the hitting region and contact the golf ball 201 in a proper and preferred fashion including an ending downswing path 320B rather than ending downswing path 320B, as was previously described.

[0036] In the depicted illustrative configuration shown in FIG. 4, the asymmetrical swing indicator 400 is triangularly shaped with first, second and third sides 401, 402, 403 and first, second and third corners 404, 405, and 406. For reference purposes, any one of the sides 401-403 and/or one of the corners 404-406 may be considered an "end" of the visual swing indicator 400. Additionally, as is apparent from FIG. 4, the visual swing indicator 400 in this configuration is oriented such that the overall shape of visual swing indicator 400 points in the rear 140 and toe end 130 direction from the perspective of a golfer 10 in an addressing state. First side 401 of the visual swing indicator 400 is the shortest side in length. Second side 402 is second in length and third side 403 is the longest side. As such, each of the three sides 401, 402, 403 has a different length.

[0037] The visual swing indicator 400 in certain configurations may be positioned such that the first side 401 sits closer to the heel end 150 of the golf club head and is parallel to the hitting surface 125 on the front surface 120 of the golf club head 100. As described, the other two sides 402, 403 of the visual swing indicator 400 will then run such that the asymmetrically shaped visual swing indicator 400 has an orientation running from the front 120 and the heel end 150 of the top surface 110 to the toe 130 and rear end 140. Accordingly, side 402 of the visual swing indicator 400 may be aligned with a portion of the ball 201 closest to the toe end 130 when the golfer 10 is in the addressing state. In this alignment, the golf ball will sit on the heel end 150 side of a center of the golf club head 100. While golfers traditionally try and align a golf ball to be in the center of the golf club head 100 and in particular in the center region of the hitting surface 125 (which is commonly referred to as the sweet spot), this configuration of the visual swing indicator 400 will encourage a golf ball 201 to be aligned closer to a heel end 150, than a toe end 130. Positioning the golf ball 201 in this fashion in the addressing state also facilitates and assists the golfer 10 in an improved swing and performance as most golfers (including high handicap golfers) have a tendency to strike the golf ball 201 with the hitting surface 125 during the downswing portion of the swing at a location approximately a half inch or even more closer to the toe end 130 of the hitting surface 125 than where they lined up when they were in the addressing state. Therefore, positioning the golf ball 201 a given distance closer to the heel end 150 of the hitting surface 125 in the addressing position may facilitate the golfer striking the golf ball with the center or "sweet spot" of the hitting surface of the golf club head by accounting for the described tendency to strike the ball further on the toe end 130 of the club head 100 than the alignment location in the initial addressing state. By aligning the toe end side 402 of the visual swing indicator 400 with a toe end side of the golf ball 201, a smooth visual impression can be formed that facilitates proper swing mechanics despite tendencies of the golfer 10. Additionally, initial alignment of the golf ball may be more easily and more consistently accomplished because the visual swing indicator 400 may also be used as a reference for aligning and positioning the golf club head 100 in the addressing state. While the golf ball 201 may be aligned with the visual swing indicator 400 in the fashion described during the addressing position, the visual swing indicator 400 may also be formed such that first side 401 is centered between the toe end 130 and heel end 150 and aligned with the center of the hitting surface 125. Certain golfers may strike the golf ball 201 at the same position on the hitting surface 125 and thus a centered alignment in the addressing state may better facilitate proper alignment and striking of the golf ball during the golfer's downswing. Likewise, the visual swing indicator 400 in certain configurations may even be positioned such that a front side 401 sits closer to the toe end 130 than the heel end 150. Accordingly, it is understood by those with skill in the art that the particulars of the visual swing indicator 400 especially including positioning on the top surface 110 of the golf club head 100 may be varied depending on the swing tendencies, physical characteristics and preferences of an individual golfer 10.


Pretty cool. I would buy a pack of removable alignment indicator stickers, but don’t want to see that built into the crown of my driver.

David Dawsey   – The Golf Attorney

PS – check interesting putter patents HERE  




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