Patent application title: GOLF CLUB ALIGNMENT AID
Jason Goldsmith (Aliso Viejo, CA, US)
Tim Tucker (Coos Bay, OR, US)
IPC8 Class: AA63B6936FI
Class name: Adjustable implement or static position indicator (e.g., with respect to the golfer, projectile, target, etc.) integral with or attachable to swingable implement head selectively adjustable positioning means
Publication date: 2013-01-10
Patent application number: 20130012331
A method and apparatus for applying an alignment or aiming tool to a golf
1. A configurable aiming and shot shaping tool comprising: a temporary
decal adapted for releasable attachment to a golf club; and a permanent
decal adapted for secure attachment to a golf club.
2. The tool of claim 1 wherein the decals include markings that can be used to align the golf club relative to a target.
3. The tool of claim 2 where the markings are a line.
4. The tool of claim 2 where the markings are a circle.
5. The tool of claim 2 where the markings include vertical and horizontal lines.
6. The tool of claim 2 where the markings include diagonal lines.
7. A configurable set of aiming and shot shaping tools comprising: a plurality of temporary decals adapted for releasable attachment to a golf club; and a plurality of permanent decals adapted for secure attachment to a golf club.
8. The tools of claim 7 wherein the decals include markings that can be used to align the golf club relative to a target.
9. The tools of claim 8 wherein the markings vary from decal to decal.
10. A method of aligning a gold club and shaping a golf shot, comprising: providing a temporary decal and permanent decal; providing a golf club with a head suitable for attachment of the decals; attaching the temporary decal to the golf club head; evaluating the effect of the decal on the golf club on aim and shape; and attaching the permanent decal to the head of the golf club based on the evaluation.
11. The method of claim 10 further providing a plurality of temporary and permanent decals with different markings, and further comprising the step of attaching each temporary decal to the golf club head, evaluating the effect of each temporary decal on the golf club on aim and shape, and attaching the permanent decal to the head of the golf club based on the evaluation.
12. The method of claim 10 wherein the step of evaluating the shape of the golf shot is based on evaluating one or more launch conditions.
13. The method of claim 10 wherein the step of evaluating utilizes a launch monitor.
14. A method of shaping a golf shot, comprising: providing a temporary decal and permanent decal; providing a golf club with a head suitable for attachment of the decals; attaching the temporary decal to the golf club head; evaluating the effect of the decal on the golf club on shape; and attaching the permanent decal to the head of the golf club based on the evaluation.
 The present application claims priority to and incorporates by reference U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61,494,961 filed on Jun. 9, 2011.
 1. Field of the Invention
 This invention relates to an apparatus and method for aligning a golf club, and shaping a golf shot. In particular, the invention relates to an apparatus and method for progressively aligning a decal located on the head of a golf club to aid in proper alignment of the golf club with the target and shaping of the shot, and then attaching a permanent marker to the club in the proper position.
 2. Background of the Invention
 One of, if not the single, most important fundamental of golf is proper alignment or setup. Alignment is comprised of a number of factors, including, the position of the feet, head, hands, shoulders, club length, ball position, as well as many other factors.
 Understanding the initial setup position is critical to a successful golf shot. However, many, if not most, golfers are unaware that they are not properly aligned.
 Proper alignment contributes to a wide variety of mechanical issues in a golf swing. Among the most important is aim. The initial setup or alignment will in most regards determine where the golf ball ultimately goes. It is imperative that a golfer understand alignment and its impact on the ultimate flight of the ball to have the ball actually go where the golfer desires.
 The misunderstanding of alignment is pervasive. Even very experienced, seasoned, successful golfers are surprised to find out that the golf club is not actually aimed at the golfer's intended target. Even professional golfers will insist they are lined up at the target only to be proven wrong.
 As a result, golfers are unwittingly forced to make numerous adjustments and compromises in swing mechanics to correct for improper alignment. These adjustments then create further swing problems in a negative feedback loop where the misalignment leads to poor aim which causes further swing adjustments, which then in turn cause further misalignment, and so on. Generally this process is nearly unconscious, with the golfer substantially or totally unaware that over time the golfer's swing mechanics have been sabotaged by improper aim and alignment.
 Many subtle factors and biases are at work in this process. In particular, it is known that the problem of aiming in golf also relates to how the eyes view the intended target line. The eyes' view is from a place in between the club head and the body line, which creates an optical illusion. With binocular vision when looking front on, both eyes focus in on what is called the triangulation focal point. For right-handed golfers at address, the right eye is further away from the target than the left eye. When the golfer turns, their head turns to view the target, a bias is introduced that frequently causes right-handers to aim their shoulders too far to the right. This is a visual mistake where the shoulders line up with the sighting eye.
 Also, because the eyeballs are round, straight lines appear curved elliptically to the right and the more right eye dominant the more the lines curve.
 Furthermore, people interpret shapes differently because their eyes triangulate differently. Different golf club shapes, golf club head design, and shaft placements produce optical geometries that create different subconscious aim responses. Some tend to aim more to the right and some more to the left. If a shape produces a perception of the golf club face to be closed or aimed left, then the player will open or aim more to the right to create the appearance of the golf club being square.
 The golf club head shape and where the shaft attaches to the golf club head will affect how a player perceives the golf club as square or aimed. The more circular the trailing edge of the golf club, the more likely it will cause the golfer to aim to the right. Golf clubs with a square or flat trailing edge are more likely to cause a player to aim more to the left. A golf shaft that is offset from the golf club head will cause a player to aim more to the left. A golf shaft that is in line with the golf club head will cause a player to aim more to the right.
 As a result it is very difficult, if not impossible, for a golfer to properly aim a golf club. The problem is exacerbated with longer clubs such as drivers. The problem is highly dependent on the individual golfer, making uniform alignment aids ineffective.
 While prior art alignment aids exist, they tend to exclusively rely on permanent markers or aids. In this manner, the golf clubs come from the manufacturer, or are marked shortly thereafter, with an aid. These aids will not accommodate all golfers for the reasons stated above, namely, that set up and perceptual biases vary greatly from person to person. As a result, the aids will not produce the intended result and in fact can further cement in the golfer's mind the false belief that they are properly aligned when this is not the case.
 A seemingly unrelated matter is the shape of the golf shot. A number of parameters are used to measure or quantify the shape of the shot. These include trajectory, spin rate, launch angle, spin axis, swing plane, swing path, vertical/horizontal swing speed, face angle, angle of attack, smash factor, speed, acceleration of golf shaft, vertical descent, and others. These parameters can be described generally as representing launch conditions (although some of these terms may not technically meet this definition), but the term is used herein to refer to any parameter that affects the flight of the golf ball. In any event, these parameters affect the shape of the resultant shot and variation of these parameters is very difficult to control precisely and consciously, which makes it difficult to consciously control or vary the shape of a golf shot on demand.
 Accordingly, a need exists for an improved method and apparatus for assisting golfers in proper alignment, aim, and shape of a golf shot.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 An object of the present invention is to provide an improved apparatus and method for assisting golfers in proper alignment, aim, and shaping of a golf shot that substantially eliminates the problems of the prior art.
 These and other objects of the present invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon reference to the following specification, drawings, and claims. To that end, the present invention comprises a temporary and permanent alignment and shaping tool attached to the surface of a golf club in a progressive manner that allows a golfer to better align and aim the club and shape a golf shot.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
 FIG. 1 is a prior art golf club head.
 FIG. 2-14 are golf clubs with various decals of the present invention attached thereto.
 FIG. 15 is a results table for a skilled golfer using different tools of the present invention.
 FIG. 16 is a visual depiction of the distribution of golf shots hit with different tools of the present invention.
 FIG. 17 is a visual depiction of the individual and average flight path of baseline golf shots.
 FIG. 18 is a visual depiction of the individual and average flight path of golf shots hit with one of the tools of the present invention.
 FIG. 19 is a visual depiction of the individual and average flight path of golf shots hit with one of the tools of the present invention.
 FIG. 20 is a visual depiction of the individual and average flight path of golf shots hit with one of the tools of the present invention.
 FIG. 21 is a visual depiction of the individual and average flight path of golf shots hit with one of the tools of the present invention.
 FIG. 22 is a visual depiction of the individual and average flight path of golf shots hit with one of the tools of the present invention.
 FIG. 23 is a visual depiction of the individual and average flight path of golf shots hit with one of the tools of the present invention.
 FIG. 24 is a visual depiction of the individual and average flight path of golf shots hit with one of the tools of the present invention.
 FIG. 25 is a visual depiction of the individual and average flight path of golf shots hit with one of the tools of the present invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
 In the Figures is shown an apparatus and method for aligning and/or aiming a golf club. In particular, for illustrative purposes, FIG. 1 shows a prior art golf club head of the type contemplated for use with the present invention. The present invention comprises an alignment template and/or kit for use as an alignment and shaping tool.
 The alignment template can be attached to the top of the golf club and thereby provide a tool in the correct aiming or squaring of the golf club face to the intended target line. Through an understanding that different alignment templates with varying shapes and patterns affect each player's ability to aim or square the golf club differently, the ability to use a template that is temporarily attached to the top of the golf club to identify which pattern tools in proper alignment for that player is particular useful. Once the proper alignment template is found and positioned, then a permanent template can be attached to the golf club in the position identified as providing for proper alignment for the particular golfer.
 Alignment templates and the permanent alignment marker will allow golfers to hit intended shot shapes through proper setup in a repeatable manner that is individualized to the golfers' particular setup and perceptual biases.
 FIG. 1 shows a golf club, in particular a driver merely for illustrative purposes. FIGS. 2 and 3 show the golf club with a temporary alignment and shaping tool attached. FIG. 4 shows the golf club with a permanent alignment and shaping tool attached to the golf club, which is attached after the alignment process described herein. FIGS. 4-14 show different alignment tool and shaping tools attached to the head of a golf club.
 The alignment and shaping tool can be used in a variety of manners. First, a temporary tool is affixed to the club head based on an educated guess or arbitrary determination. Then the golfer, preferably but not exclusively, can begin using the club to determine if the tool is properly placed. For example, a trial and error process can be used. The golfer can select a target, hit one or more golf shots, assess if the ball traveled to the right or left of the target, realign the temporary tool and repeat the process until the golf shots are satisfactorily targeted. At this point, the temporary tool is removed and a permanent tool is placed on the golf club in the position occupied by the temporary tool to allow for proper repeatable aim and alignment particularized to individual golfers.
 Another method of using the present invention involves the use of more sophisticated alignment procedures. For example, the alignment process can utilize a laser. Lasers can be used to reflect off a mirrored golf club. The golfer can then determine which alignment template creates desired aim of the golf club. The tool can be affixed to the proper position based on the feedback obtained from the laser.
 Still further, the method can proceed with the use of a launch monitor. An individual golfer can try alignment template positions by hitting shots tracked by radar to determine the aim that creates on target and consistent shot dispersion pattern. Once that has been determined, the permanent tool can be attached in that same position.
 The temporary tools are of a type that can be temporarily attached to any surface, and can be static cling decals, adhesive decals, and the like.
 The permanent tool can be made from vinyl which is durable and waterproof, making it a good choice for outdoor use, or other suitable material. The permanent tool can be printed with a coat of polyester that makes designs on the decal weather resistant, or other suitable material.
 As shown in the Figures, the tool can be of a variety of different shapes, sizes, and design, including, lines, circles, triangles, diamonds, rectangles, squares, dots, and multiple color designs and shapes can be used to assist with proper golf club alignment.
 The present invention eliminates, or substantially eliminates, the problems of the prior art. The invention provides a method and apparatus to individualize the alignment process by providing temporary and permanent indicia of alignment affixed directly to the golf club. Since it is impossible to predict in advance how a particular golfer views the target line, a process that includes a temporary tool that can be used to progressively align and aim the golf club and that is then replaced with a permanent tool has the advantage of providing for proper aim and adjusting the individual's particular mechanics and biases.
 In a surprising and seemingly unrelated manner the tool of the present invention is not only highly effective at controlling aim, and minimizing the dispersion of golf shot, it also has a dramatic affect on the shape of the golf shot. This affect takes place automatically without any instruction or conscious alteration of the golf shot by the player. This entirely eliminates the very difficult process of consciously working to adapt a golf swing to create specific desired launch conditions.
 Heretofore, changing such conditions required a great deal of skill, practice, time, and professional supervision/coaching to incorporate conscious swing changes into the essentially unconscious process of swinging a golf club. The result of making these type of changes are not satisfactory for even the world's best golfers. All golfers constantly struggle to turn conscious swing modifications into an unconscious/automatic movement that creates the desired result.
 FIG. 15 shows a summary of launch conditions for a highly skilled golfer utilizing different tools attached the top of the head of the driver, using a state of the art launch monitoring system. Each row of the chart shows a result for a different shaped tool, and the columns summarize the results for different swing parameters. The golfer was instructed to consciously change nothing in the swing, but the shape of the golf shot varied in a dramatic and repeatable manner. This resulted from nothing but changing the tool on the head of the driver. This can be best seen in FIGS. 22 and 23, for example, where the average ball flight when from a fade to a draw without any conscious effort to change the swing.
 FIG. 16 visually depicts the grouping of the shots by different tools, which demonstrates repeatability and the difference in location of the end results. However, the difference in the shape of the shot is seen best in the following Figures.
 FIG. 17 show the baseline results for this golfer. The driver head did not include any tool. Each of the following FIGS. 18-25 shows swing diagrams and parameters for different tools depicted in FIGS. 2-15. The data includes launch condition information as well as a graphical depiction of the shape of each individual shot as well as an average shape.
 These results have been repeated several times for golfers of varying ability levels and the results consistently show that the tool is capable of not only improving aim but also in altering the shape of the shot as well, without any conscious effort to make any change. Golfers insist that they are not doing anything different, and are not aware that their swing has changed, but the results show that tools is causing the player to alter their swing in a repeatable manner.
 The process is individualized. Golfers can and do react differently to a given tool. Not wishing to be bound by any particular theory of operation, the individual differences in shape of the golf shot and the differences in how individual golfers react to particular tools is believed to result from variability in how individuals process information visually. Every person perceives shapes and colors slightly differently, and as a result each person will experience unique variations in perception that will affect their swing without conscious awareness of the affect. Thus, a preferred method of determining the optimal tool includes utilizing a variety of tools in an environment where the results can be closely monitored. This can include using a launch monitor, or similar devices. Then after reviewing the results the tools that best fits the needs of the individual golfer, and the position of the tool on the golf club, can be determined. At this point the process is as described above, where the temporary maker is replaced with a permanent marker.
 The present invention has enormous advantages. It allows a golfer to not only improve aim, but to achieve a desirable shape to the golf swing without the arduous process involved in consciously accomplishing this task utilizing prior art techniques and devices. The golfer does nothing but what they have always done, but can control and select the best results.
 While the preferred embodiment of the invention has been described in reference to the Figures, the invention is not so limited. The invention can be adapted to use a permanent marking in or on the surface of the golf club applied in some conventional manner instead of using a decal or sticker. Also, the method and apparatus of the present invention is not necessarily limited to the sport of golf, but can be applied to any activity where aim and alignment are difficult and dependent on individual needs, such as baseball, hockey, tennis, and the like.
 Unless otherwise defined, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which this invention belongs. Although methods and materials similar to or equivalent to those described herein can be used in the practice or testing of the present invention, suitable methods, and materials are described below. All publications, patent applications, patents, and other references mentioned herein are incorporated by reference in their entirety to the extent allowed by applicable law and regulations. In case of conflict, the present specification, including definitions, will control.
 The present invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from the spirit or essential attributes thereof, and it is therefore desired that the present embodiment be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive, reference being made to the appended claims rather than to the foregoing description to indicate the scope of the invention. Those of ordinary skill in the art that have the disclosure before them will be able to make modifications and variations therein without departing from the scope of the invention. For example, the present invention is not limited to the golf clubs shown in the Figures. The invention is applicable to any clubs including, drivers, fairway woods, irons, hybrids, and even putters. It is anticipated that the invention is best suited for longer shafted clubs, but is not necessarily so limited. Additionally, the decal and/or the permanent marker can be weighted to alter the weight of the club head to provide for further refinement and/or tuning of the golf swing.
Patent applications in all subclasses Selectively adjustable positioning means