US20080242437A1 - Golf Training Device - Google Patents

Golf Training Device Download PDF

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US20080242437A1
US20080242437A1 US11574895 US57489505A US2008242437A1 US 20080242437 A1 US20080242437 A1 US 20080242437A1 US 11574895 US11574895 US 11574895 US 57489505 A US57489505 A US 57489505A US 2008242437 A1 US2008242437 A1 US 2008242437A1
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golf
golfer
address
ball
user
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US11574895
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Malcolm George Taylor
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TAYLOR INNOVATION Ltd
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TAYLOR INNOVATION Ltd
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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B69/00Training appliances or apparatus for special sports
    • A63B69/36Training appliances or apparatus for special sports for golf
    • A63B69/3658Means associated with the ball for indicating or measuring, e.g. speed, direction
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B24/00Electric or electronic controls for exercising apparatus of preceding groups; Controlling or monitoring of exercises, sportive games, training or athletic performances
    • A63B24/0021Tracking a path or terminating locations
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B69/00Training appliances or apparatus for special sports
    • A63B69/36Training appliances or apparatus for special sports for golf
    • A63B69/3667Golf stance aids, e.g. means for positioning a golfer's feet
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B24/00Electric or electronic controls for exercising apparatus of preceding groups; Controlling or monitoring of exercises, sportive games, training or athletic performances
    • A63B24/0003Analysing the course of a movement or motion sequences during an exercise or trainings sequence, e.g. swing for golf or tennis
    • A63B24/0006Computerised comparison for qualitative assessment of motion sequences or the course of a movement
    • A63B2024/0012Comparing movements or motion sequences with a registered reference
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B24/00Electric or electronic controls for exercising apparatus of preceding groups; Controlling or monitoring of exercises, sportive games, training or athletic performances
    • A63B24/0021Tracking a path or terminating locations
    • A63B2024/0028Tracking the path of an object, e.g. a ball inside a soccer pitch
    • A63B2024/0031Tracking the path of an object, e.g. a ball inside a soccer pitch at the starting point
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B69/00Training appliances or apparatus for special sports
    • A63B69/36Training appliances or apparatus for special sports for golf
    • A63B69/3667Golf stance aids, e.g. means for positioning a golfer's feet
    • A63B2069/367Detection of balance between both feet, i.e. weight distribution
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B2220/00Measuring of physical parameters relating to sporting activity
    • A63B2220/50Force related parameters
    • A63B2220/51Force
    • A63B2220/52Weight, e.g. weight distribution
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B2225/00Other characteristics of sports equipment
    • A63B2225/15Other characteristics of sports equipment with identification means that can be read by electronic means
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B2225/00Other characteristics of sports equipment
    • A63B2225/30Maintenance
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B2225/00Other characteristics of sports equipment
    • A63B2225/70Coin-operated
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B2230/00Measuring physiological parameters of the user
    • A63B2230/62Measuring physiological parameters of the user posture
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B24/00Electric or electronic controls for exercising apparatus of preceding groups; Controlling or monitoring of exercises, sportive games, training or athletic performances
    • A63B24/0075Means for generating exercise programs or schemes, e.g. computerized virtual trainer, e.g. using expert databases
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B47/00Devices for handling or treating balls, e.g. for holding or carrying balls
    • A63B47/002Devices for dispensing balls, e.g. from a reservoir

Abstract

A golf training device comprises an input portion (10) for inputting influence data comprising information that might affect how the user should address the ball, a calculation portion (13) for calculating address data, based on the input influence data, a playing surface (9). and an indication portion (14) for indicating address information from beneath the playing surface to the user, based on the calculated address data, relating to how the user should address the ball. In another aspect, a golf training device is provided for improving a user's bodyweight distribution during a golf stroke, comprising measurement means for providing a time series of bodyweight distribution measurements storage means for storing the time series of measurements and indication means for providing a comparison against a corresponding ideal.

Description

  • The present invention relates to a golf training device for improving golf swings and ball striking, and more particularly, for improving the stance, golf ball positioning, clubface alignment, bodyweight distribution and bodyweight transfers of an individual playing a golf stroke.
  • A wide variety of teaching and training aids have been designed to aid individuals in developing golf swings of improved power, accuracy and consistency. These devices have a diverse range of purposes, including improving posture, swing plane, hand and/or head position and the like.
  • Moreover, several devices have been proposed which are directed at improving a golfer's stance. However, as discussed in more detail below, these devices have drawbacks in terms of ease of use and accuracy. For a golfer to have a consistent, effective golf swing for striking the golf ball accurately to the target, correct stance, ball position and clubface alignment at address of the golf ball are fundamentally important.
  • On careful observation, there exists a consistency amongst many high performing male and female golfers of stance width, alignment, feet angles and ball position relative to the feet at address of the golf ball, depending on gender, height and build. By contrast, many amateur golfers routinely have some or all of these items in incorrect positions at address. Amateur golfers of this type, if they aim to improve their golf game, should, amongst other things, aim to simulate the correct positions at address of an expert golfer of similar gender, height and build to him or herself. Moreover, repeated enforcement and training of these and other correct fundamentals at address will aid significantly the improvement of the golf game of the golfer, especially a young or inexperienced one. Additionally, enforcement and training of these fundamentals in a high-level golfer will aid in maintaining his or her game in a consistently good state.
  • While many instructional articles, books, videos and the like instruct the golfer of ways to address the golf ball such that the feet, golf ball and clubface are in the correct positions relative to each other and the target, it is difficult for a golfer, especially a young or inexperienced one, to determine whether he or she has all of these items in the correct positions relative to each other during address of the golf ball without close supervision by a coach.
  • At address of the golf ball, correct alignment of the stance, with the feet aligned parallel or roughly parallel to the target line between the golf ball and the target, promotes, amongst other things, accuracy and consistency of swing path through impact of the golf club with the golf ball. Correct width of the golfer's stance aids in achieving optimal stability, balance, pivot and power during the golf swing. Correct angles of the feet at address promote optimal resistance of the rear side during the golfer's backswing and optimal clearing of the forward side during the forward swing. A stance at the correct distance from the golf ball aids in optimal posture, swing plane and swing path. Correct clubface alignment at address aids in the golfer's visualisation of the stroke to the target and also negates the requirement for compensatory action during the golf swing in order to align the clubface squarely to the target at the moment of impact of the golf club with the golf ball.
  • Golf mats which aid the golfer with foot alignment and golf ball placement are known. For example, Grabowski in U.S. Pat. No. 6,482,102 discloses a mat with foot print patterns of different colours and club numbers for indicating to the golfer correct foot placement positions. In another example, Dionne et al. in U.S. Pat. No. 5,645,494 disclose a golf mat with a grid for the golfer to use as reference lines for aligning feet and judging ball position. In another example, Shofner in U.S. Pat. No. 5,071,130 discloses a grid pattern for ball placement with numbers and letters. In another example, Bott in U.S. Pat. No. 4,805,913 discloses a mat with a grid pattern to which foot silhouettes are removably attached at desired stances.
  • Other instructional aids are known for aiding a golfer with width and alignment of the stance as well as ball position for use of various clubs. These devices are typically in the form of frames, strips, boards, templates and the like. For example, Froggatte in U.S. Pat. No. 6,726,576 discloses a cross-shaped device with adjustable sliding members. Harrell in U.S. Pat. No. 6,723,003 discloses a golf stance coordinator template comprising an adjustable E-shaped frame configuration with indicia provided to serve as golf stance indicator markers. Ferrara in U.S. Pat. No. 6,142,883 discloses a framework of strips with indicia. Mason in U.S. Pat. No. 5,984,801 discloses a frame comprising adjustable plastic rulers. Dubois in U.S. Pat. No. 5,944,613 discloses a horizontal tube with transverse shaft with marks for placing in front of the golfer's feet. Best in CA 2,303,673 discloses a stance instructor comprising two members attached at the ends, which is personalised on first use by an individual placing stickers on the device members. Lindberg Jr. in U.S. Pat. No. 5,131,659 discloses an acrylic mirror which has foot placement indicia.
  • Other devices are known for aiding golfers with their address position. For example, Yoshihiro, Ryoji, Masanori and Yoshiaki disclose in JP7051421 an address instruction device which indicates to the golfer proper footing positions by projecting beams of light from a console adjacent to the ball hitting mat. Golfer's data are input into the device and address data are calculated from an expression of various variables. On the console adjacent to the ball hitting mat, the projecting direction of a light beam projector is adjusted, and the beams of light project to points on the standing mat where the golfer should place the toe-end points of his or her feet. In U.S. Pat. No. 4,891,748, Mann discloses a system whereby a golfer addresses and plays a golf ball whilst being filmed from a plurality of angles. From the filmed images, the system calculates a model of ideal address and golf swing positions, and presents these ideal positions to the golfer by overlaying the model over images of the golfer on a screen. The golfer can then try to improve his or her address position and swing by moving his or her positions to coincide with those of the model. In U.S. Pat. No. 6,533,675, Funk discloses a system that uses recognition software to calculate a golfer's ideal address position and swing orbits. Once the golfer assumes his or her address position in front of the camera, he or she is then asked to make body adjustments until the stance is deemed satisfactory by the computer recognition software.
  • Golf clubface alignment guiding devices are also known, and these are laser devices which point to reflective devices attached to the clubface of putters.
  • In addition to the need for the above-mentioned fundamentals of the golfer to be correct at the address of the golf ball, correct distribution of bodyweight of the golfer through his or her feet at address of the golf ball and also correct weight transfers during the golf swing, in which the bodyweight is transferred substantially onto the rear foot, relative to the target, during the backswing and then substantially onto the forward foot during the foreswing, aid the golfer in playing golf strokes of optimal power, accuracy and consistency.
  • Devices that provide bodyweight transfer information to the golfer for use by the golfer in training for optimising his or her golf swing are known. For example, Bregman et al. in U.S. Pat. No. 5,118,112 disclose a system in which a golfer standing on two pads, each pad with weight measuring means, hits a golf ball using his or her normal golf swing. The golfer subsequently analyses the weight transfer results on a visual display of the golf swing at top of the backswing, at impact with the golf ball and at the top of the foreswing or follow through.
  • Another such golf training aid is described by Ashton in U.S. Pat. No. 5,358,251. Known pressure sensing devices are provided beneath the golfer's standing area platform for detecting the weight distribution between the respective feet, signals from which are fed during a golf swing to comparator means and thence to indicator means for showing the percentage of bodyweight taken by each foot at address of the golf ball and the transfer of bodyweight during a golf swing. In this device, the indicator means is a strip of light emitting diodes (LEDs) located in a low position directly adjacent to the golf ball striking mat.
  • According to a first aspect of the present invention there is provided a golf training device for improving a user's address of a golf ball, comprising: input means for inputting influence data comprising information which might affect how the user should address the ball; calculation means for calculating address data, based on the input influence data, specifying one or more aspects of an appropriate address for the user; a playing surface on which at least the user is positioned at address; and indication means for indicating address information to the user from beneath the playing surface based on the calculated address data, the information relating to how the user should address the ball.
  • The calculation means may calculate the address data based on pre-collected influence data and associated address data for a reference golfer or golfers.
  • The calculation means may use an algorithm derived from the pre-collected data.
  • The calculation means may use a store of such pre-collected data, selecting the closest match from the store based on the input influence data and using the associated address data for the closest match.
  • The address data may comprise information relating to the user's stance at address.
  • The address data may comprise information relating to the placement of the user's feet in relation to each other and to the ball.
  • The address data may comprise information relating to positions and angles of the user's feet.
  • The address data may comprise information relating to the position of the ball.
  • The address data may comprise information relating to the distance between the ball and the user's feet.
  • The address data may comprise information relating to the alignment of the user's stance.
  • The address data may comprise information relating to the ball position in the user's stance.
  • The address data may comprise information relating to the clubface placement in relation to the ball.
  • The address data may comprise information relating to alignment of the clubface.
  • The address information indicated to the user may depend not only on the influence data and address data derived therefrom, but also on the intended target direction. The intended target direction may also be indicated to the user.
  • The influence data may comprise one or more of the following items of information: gender; age; date of birth; height; weight; build; race; neck size; shoulder width; waist size; chest size; shoe size; inside leg measurement; distance from tips of fingers to floor when standing fully erect with arms hanging by the side; distance from wrist to floor when standing fully erect with arms hanging by the side; right or left-handedness; club selection for the stroke to be played; length of club for the stroke to be played; lie of the club for the stroke to be played; strength of the stroke to be played; intended direction of the golf stroke to be played; intended golf ball flight of the stroke to be played; golfing experience; golfing handicap; and manufacturer and model of club for stroke to be played.
  • The playing surface may comprise an area on which the ball is positioned at address.
  • The indication means may be operable to indicate the address information to the user by illuminating a part or parts of the playing surface from below.
  • The indication means may be operable to illuminate parts of the playing surface from below that specify the user's feet placement for the address.
  • The indication means may be operable to illuminate a part of the playing surface that specifies the ball placement for address.
  • The indication means may comprise an array of light-emitting devices beneath the playing surface that are selectively illuminated to indicate the address information to the user. In this respect, therefore, illuminating the playing surface should be taken to include providing illumination through the playing surface from beneath, such that the playing surface appears illuminated to the user. The array of light-emitting devices may comprise LEDs.
  • The playing surface is to be understood as being the top surface of the area or mat on which at least the user is positioned, and as such has no volume or depth. The playing surface need not be contiguous; for example it may comprise separate areas for the user's feet and for the ball. The ball may be positioned on the playing surface using a tee.
  • The device may further comprise means for detecting the position of the ball.
  • The device may further comprise means for detecting the positions of the user's feet.
  • The detecting means may comprise a pressure-responsive device or devices beneath the playing surface.
  • The indication means may be operable to indicate the address information relating to a stroke after the user has completed that stroke.
  • The input means may comprise a device for receiving an electronic data tag or the like holding the influence data.
  • The input means may comprise an interactive screen.
  • The device may further comprise measurement means for providing a bodyweight distribution measurement.
  • The indication means may be operable to provide an automated instructional indication to the user involving a comparison of the bodyweight distribution measurement at address against a corresponding ideal bodyweight distribution.
  • The indication means are able to provide information to the user in an automated manner based on the calculated address data. This provides a very convenient training aid for the user, who is able to receive targeted training with minimal input from the user and minimal or no intervention from trained personnel or an experienced golfer.
  • According to a second aspect of the present invention there is provided a golf training device for improving a user's weight distribution during a golf stroke, comprising: measurement means for providing a time series of bodyweight distribution measurements during a predetermined period of the stroke; storage means for storing the time series of measurements; indication means for providing an automated instructional indication to the golfer after completion of the stroke involving a comparison of at least part of the stored time series of measurements against a corresponding ideal bodyweight distribution.
  • The predetermined period may at least include address of the ball.
  • The predetermined period may at least include address of the ball and impact of the ball.
  • The predetermined period may at least include the follow-through.
  • The indication means may comprise a display device for displaying the instructional indication.
  • The instructional indication may comprise a plot of the measured bodyweight distribution of the user.
  • The instructional indication may comprise a plot of the measured bodyweight distribution of the user together with a plot of the ideal bodyweight distribution.
  • The device may further comprise calculation means for determining differences between the measured bodyweight distribution and the ideal bodyweight distribution.
  • The instructional indication may comprise advice relating to how the user should change his or her bodyweight distribution at address and/or during the golf swing to reduce the determined differences.
  • The measurement means may be operable to measure bodyweight distribution between the heel end and toe end of one or both of the user's feet as well as bodyweight distribution between respective feet.
  • The instructional indication may comprise a graphical representation of the measured bodyweight transfer between heel end and toe end during a predetermined short period of the stroke.
  • The instructional indication may comprise a graphical representation based on the measured change in bodyweight distribution between the respective feet and between heel end and toe end of both feet during a predetermined short period of the stroke together with a graphical representation of the ideal change in bodyweight distribution for that short period. The graphical representation may be in the form of an arrow.
  • The instructional indication may comprise advice relating to how the user should change his or her bodyweight transfer between heel end and toe end of the respective feet during a predetermined short period of the stroke to reduce the determined differences.
  • The predetermined short period may include the moment of impact with the ball. The device may further comprise means for detecting the moment of impact. The detecting means may comprise a microphone. The device may further comprise a playing surface on which the user and ball are positioned. The measurement means may be located beneath the playing surface.
  • The measurement means may comprise one or more pressure-sensitive devices.
  • The device may further comprise input means for inputting influence data comprising information which might affect the user's weight distribution, and wherein the instructional indication is provided by the indication means in dependence on the input influence data.
  • The ideal bodyweight distribution may be based on pre-collected bodyweight distribution data for a reference golfer or golfers.
  • The indication means may use an algorithm derived from the pre-collected data to determine the ideal bodyweight distribution.
  • The indication means may use a store of such pre-collected data, selecting the closest match from the store based on the input influence data and using the bodyweight distribution for the closest match.
  • The predetermined period may at least includes address of the ball, and the indication means may be operable to provide an automated instructional indication to the user involving a comparison of a single one of the stored time series of measurements during the address, or an average measure relating to a plurality of the stored time series of measurements during the address, against a corresponding ideal bodyweight distribution. The average measure may, for example, be an actual average or some sort of median measure.
  • A device according to the first and second aspects of the present invention may be operable in a practice swing mode in which no physical ball is used during the address and/or the stroke. In such a mode, the user of the device could take his or her stance in relation to an indicated ball position but no actual ball.
  • According to a third aspect of the present invention there is provided an operating program which, when loaded into a device, causes the device to become one according to the first or second aspect of the present invention.
  • The operating program may be carried on a carrier medium. The carrier medium may be a transmission medium. The carrier medium may be a storage medium.
  • According to a fourth aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of providing golf training, comprising directing a person to use a device according to the first or second aspect of the present invention.
  • An embodiment of the present invention can provide a device which aids the golfer in playing golf strokes of optimal power, accuracy and consistency by displaying the precise positions and angles the individual should place his or her feet relative to a golf ball while using a chosen golf club.
  • A device embodying the present invention preferably allows the foot placement and angular instruction to be directed and tailored to the individual by allowing the individual to input data such as height and build into a computer. The correct clubface alignment is preferably indicated to the golfer.
  • It is preferable that at least one of the following is displayed: optimal foot placement positions and angles, golf ball position, clubface position and clubface alignment for a chosen straight ball flight stroke, straight high ball flight stroke, straight low ball flight stroke, right-to-left ball flight stroke, high right-to-left ball flight stroke, low right-to-left ball flight stroke, left-to-right ball flight stroke, high left-to-right ball flight stroke or low left-to-right ball flight stroke.
  • It is preferable that there is an option for the device to detect foot positions and angles and golf ball position during address of the golf ball before instruction commences, in order that the golfer can be given instruction by the device to direct him or her to move his or her feet and/or clubface into optimal positions and angles relative to the position of the ball if any of these were previously incorrect.
  • The device preferably measures, displays and saves information on bodyweight distribution between the golfer's feet both at address of the golf ball and during all of the golf swing for a golf stroke. The device preferably measures bodyweight distribution between the toe ends and heel ends of the golfer's feet. The device preferably possesses and displays a saved set of ideal golf ball address and golf swing bodyweight distribution and transfer data, including heel and toe bodyweight distribution data, from a large size and age range of expert golfers playing golf strokes using a range of golf clubs using a range of swing powers and swing tempos for use by the golfer in comparing his or her own results for use in improving his or her golf swing. The device preferably measures the bodyweight transfer of the golfer between the respective feet, as well as toe and heel weight distribution, for a short period of time during the golfer's swing before, during and after the impact of the golf club with the golf ball, and to display this information in the form of a vector arrow for use by the golfer in assessing his or her bodyweight transfer information and comparing it with saved data from expert golfers, for use in improving his or her golf swing.
  • The device preferably conveys instructional information to the golfer so that the golfer can easily and readily adjust his or her foot placement and/or ball position, bodyweight distribution and/or transfers towards those saved from expert golfers in order for the golfer to improve his or her golf swing.
  • In one embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention, a device comprises a matrix bed of lights beneath a translucent mat, golf ball striking areas on or beside the mat with golf ball position sensors beneath, a screen for inputting and displaying information, an algorithm for using input data to switch on particular lights in the matrix to form a line immediately behind the golf ball relative to the target to indicate correct clubface position and alignment and to form two feet shapes to indicate to the golfer precise foot positions and angles for use in a golf stroke, a pressure responsive device for detecting the positions of the respective feet of the golfer when the matrix bed of lights is not chosen for use, and a further set of pressure responsive devices for detecting bodyweight distribution between the respective feet of the golfer as well as the heel ends and toe ends of the golfer's feet, and a microphone for detecting the moment of impact of the golfer's club with the golf ball.
  • Should the individual using such a device choose to have the foot placement lights in delay mode for foot placement guidance, signals from the pressure responsive devices can be fed during address of the golf ball to the computer and the device will show to the golfer where the feet should be placed relative to where they were placed for the golf stroke unless no change is required, and the golfer will be notified of this.
  • One embodiment of the present invention provides a golf training device comprising a base unit including a platform providing standing area comprising translucent mat, and golf ball striking mats with a plurality of tees and a matrix bed of lights beneath the standing and hitting area wherein an algorithm programmed into a computer is used to switch on or off particular lights in the matrix bed of lights to indicate to the individual using the device the optimal positions and angles he or she should place his or her feet, place the golf ball and align the clubface behind the golf ball for playing a golf stroke depending on data input by the individual into the computer with regard to gender, age, weight and dimensions, club selection and type of golf stroke to be played.
  • In this embodiment, the golf ball location, which needs to be known for use by the device for indicated foot placement positions relative to the golf ball, is known from the golf ball being either placed in either a known fixed, a computer-selected position or else is ascertained by known pressure responsive devices beneath the golf ball striking areas.
  • An algorithm calculates foot placement positions for a large size and age range of right handed and left handed individuals of both genders to play a range of regular straight, low straight, high straight, regular right-to-left, low right-to-left, high right-to-left, regular left-to-right, low left-to-right and high left-to-right ball flight golf strokes using a wide range of golf clubs. An algorithm calculates foot placement positions for a large size and age range of right handed and left handed individuals of both genders to play a range of golf strokes of varying power. An individual has means of selecting a swing to the left whereby the right foot is the rear foot or a swing to the right whereby the left foot is the rear foot. An individual has a choice of at least two mats on the base unit from which he or she can play a golf stroke, and the golf ball can be placed either directly on a mat or on a plurality of tees.
  • A known pressure sensing device or devices can be provided beneath the standing area for detecting positions of the respective feet of an individual striking a golf ball from a known position wherein the matrix bed of lights does not indicate foot placement position. The matrix bed of lights then lights up after a chosen period or else after the individual has struck his or her golf ball to show the individual where he or she should have placed his or her feet to play that golf stroke, and concomitant instruction to the individual by way of text and/or arrows or lines on the computer screen or monitor and/or print-out, a computer or otherwise generated voice and/or a movie on the computer screen or monitor and/or lighting in the matrix bed of lights in the form of arrows or other suitable shapes to indicate this to the individual. This instruction may be flashing. This and other data and the instruction may be saved for subsequent retrieval and/or viewing either on the device or remotely on a database or on the world wide web via the internet.
  • It will be appreciated that the golfer can obtain beneficial golf stance training using the first aspect of the invention without the need for foot placement position sensors, such that foot and ball placement positions are indicated directly from matrix bed of lights 14.
  • Such a golf training device, as described in the first aspect of the present invention, serves to provide the golfer with useful automated address instruction tailored to his or her input data, and offers significant advantages over the prior art. The first aspect of the present invention is able to indicate address data for a large size range of golfers of both genders using a range of golf clubs, whereas devices such as the rods, strips, frames and mats with indicia are not able to express a sufficiently large number of parameters to provide ideal foot placement positions and angles for this group of individuals. The first aspect of the present invention offers more useful features as compared to the device disclosed in JP7051421 since the former is, in addition to indicating ideal address foot placement positions, able to indicate ideal angles for the whole of the golfer's feet through lighting directly beneath the golfer from below the playing surface. As such, optimal resistance from the rear side during the backswing (which arises from an optimal angle of the foot further from the target), and optimal clearing of the front side during the forward swing (which arises from an optimal angle of the foot nearer the target) will be facilitated. Furthermore, optimal width of the golfer's stance between the heels as well as the toes using the first aspect of the present invention will be achieved, and therefore optimal stability and balance during address and the swing will be facilitated. In the device disclosed in JP7051421, projected beams of light from a console adjacent to and above the standing area point to small areas on the standing mat equivalent to the positions of the toe-end tips of the golfer's feet. Therefore, when using this device, since desired foot angles are not indicated, angles of the golfers' feet could vary a great deal from the optimal angles, depending on individual preferences and habits. As such, the golfer's resistance during the backswing and clearing during the forward swing, as well as stability and balance may be sub-optimal. Furthermore, with the beams of light projecting directly across the golfer's swing path and line of vision to the ball, the device disclosed in JP7051421 may be distracting for the golfer during his or her practice session. The device in the first aspect of the present invention will not present this distraction problem since the golfer's feet will be covering the indicated regions on the playing surface. The golf training device as described in the first aspect of the present invention offers more useful features over the device disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,891,748, since the device in the present invention is able to indicate ideal address foot placement positions and angles to the golfer by use of a simple procedure whereby the golfer simply places his or her feet directly over the indicated areas on the playing surface, whereas when using the device disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,891,748, the golfer needs to study a plurality of images taken from the side and rear on a screen at a distance away and adjust his or her foot positions and angles until they match exactly the ideal model images overlaid over his or her own images. The image from the rear needs to be studied in order to achieve optimal stance distance from the ball, and the image from the side needs to be studied to achieve optimal stance width, ball position and feet angles. It will be appreciated that in order to ensure the foot nearer the target is precisely the correct distance from the ball, a third image, taken from the target side of the golfer, may be required since this foot would be likely to be somewhat hidden by the leg, ankle and/or foot further from the target. This situation could be impractical and/or distracting for the golfer.
  • The golf training device as described in the first aspect of the present invention offers significant advantages over the device disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,533,675 in a similar way to that described for U.S. Pat. No. 4,891,748 since video filming, image recognition software and instruction are used. Furthermore, instruction from the device of U.S. Pat. No. 6,533,675 is only given based on images taken from directly facing the golfer, thus instruction on accurate distances the golfer should stand from the ball, depending on factors such as club selection, may not be provided.
  • According to one embodiment of the second aspect of the present invention, two moveable pressure sensing devices can be provided beneath a standing area for detecting bodyweight distribution between the respective feet of an individual striking a golf ball from a known position before and during all of the golf swing, these pressure sensing devices each having two components in order to measure bodyweight distribution between the heel and toe ends of each of the individual's feet.
  • A microphone or other known suitable detection device can be used to detect the moment of impact of the golf club of an individual using the device with a golf ball.
  • Data from an individual using the device can be saved, retrieved and/or viewed on a suitable computer screen or monitor and/or a print-out and/or viewed remotely from a database or on the world wide web via the internet.
  • Data can be collected of ideal bodyweight distribution and transfers before and during the golf swings of a range of experienced or expert male and female golfers, of a large size and age range using a range of golf clubs using a range of swing tempos and playing a range of types of golf strokes of varying ball flight and swing power are saved and can be viewed by an individual using the device to compare with his or her own golf swing results. If desired, the individual can view his or her results alongside or superimposed on those of the expert golfers and also if so desired these results can be saved together with or separately for retrieval and/or viewing later, either on a suitable computer screen or monitor and/or a print-out and/or viewed remotely from a database or on the world wide web via the internet for use by the individual in training his or her golf swing.
  • Bodyweight transfer and distribution between the two feet of the golfer and also between the heel and toe areas of the respective feet can be measured across a short time span immediately before, during and after the impact of the golf club with the golf ball during the individual's golf swing, and the results of these measurements can be displayed by vector-like arrows or similar indicating the degree and direction of bodyweight transfer in this time period.
  • Corresponding data can also be saved for the corresponding period for a range of expert golfers using a range of golf clubs and playing a range of types of golf strokes.
  • Data from the golf swings of both the individual using the device and the expert golfers can be displayed in the form of graphs, arrows pointing towards specific parts of the feet and the like can be displayed at the same time and instruction can be given to the individual using the device should this be required by way of text and/or arrows or lines on the computer screen or monitor and/or print-out, a computer or otherwise generated voice and/or a movie in order to reduce the difference between the results of the golfer using the device and the expert golfer or golfers should this be required. The instruction on the computer screen or monitor may be flashing.
  • This data and the instruction may be saved for subsequent retrieval and/or viewing either on the device or remotely on a database or on the world wide web via the internet for use by the individual in training his or her golf swing.
  • Two pressure responsive devices, each incorporating heel and toe component pressure responsive devices, can be provided to send signals during address of the golf ball and during the golfer's swing to comparator means, and thence to indicator means by way of a graphical representation of the feet on a computer screen or similar for showing the relative amount of bodyweight taken by each foot of the golfer both at address and/or a graph on a computer screen or similar for showing the relative amount of bodyweight taken by each foot both at address and during the golf swing and an arrow on a computer screen or similar for showing the bodyweight transfer between the heel-ends and toe-ends of the golfer's feet in a short time period before, during and after the impact of the golfer's club with the golf ball.
  • For use by the individual using the device to improve his or her golf swing by comparing his or her results with those of expert golfers, data can be provided of ideal bodyweight distribution taken in a continuous fashion by the feet of a large size range of expert golfers of both gender at address and during golf swings playing a range of ball flight strokes using a range of golf clubs using a range of swing powers and swing tempos. Data can be displayed, at the choice of the individual using the system, of bodyweight distribution and transfers for an expert golfer. The computer will select the expert golfer with the closest match to the golfer's input data, i.e. an expert golfer of the closest match in terms of for instance gender, height, weight and build using a chosen golf club with a chosen golf swing tempo categorized as one from a range of at least slow, medium or fast. The individual using the system will thus be able to compare his or her golf swing with that or those of an expert golfer or golfers playing a similar golf stroke to his or her chosen stroke with a similar swing tempo to his or her own. The individual can thus easily monitor and assess his or her bodyweight distribution and transfers against a known expert standard for use in improving his or her weight distribution and transfers before and during a golf swing.
  • Additionally, since the moment of impact of the golf club of the individual using the device with the golf ball can be detected by a microphone, the bodyweight distribution of the individual at the moment of impact is known.
  • An embodiment of the first aspect of the present invention provides a device that expresses simply and clearly to the golfer the desired foot placement positions and angles, golf ball position and clubface alignment for playing a golf stroke. Such a training aid can express a sufficiently large number of parameters to be applicable to both a wide range of golf clubs and a large size range of individuals of both genders. Such a training aid is able to indicate in a simple, easily understood fashion with precision optimal positions and angles the golfer should place his or her feet and clubface relative to the golf ball and the target when playing a golf stroke. Such a training aid can be both quick and easy to use, amenable to driving range use and is quickly and easily adjusted from one golf stroke to another, particularly when the golf club is changed, and for use by one individual to another.
  • Such a training aid can provide measurement of feet positions and angles before the golfer is instructed of correct foot placement, clubface and ball position, followed by instructional advice and information, conveyed to the golfer by means such as an audible voice generated by a computer or similar, text on a screen and/or print-out and/or indicating arrows on the screen, print-out and/or golf mat, to indicate to the golfer what adjustments he or she needs to make to his or her feet positions and/or angles and/or ball position at address of the golf ball in order to achieve optimal positions and angles at address of the golf ball.
  • Such a training aid system can serve the purpose of improving the stance alignment, stance positioning, stance width, feet angles, ball positioning, posture, address bodyweight distribution, swing bodyweight distribution, swing balance, swing plane, swing path, ball striking quality, power and consistency of golf strokes of the golfer. With repeated training use of the device by the golfer, the correct stance, golf ball and clubface positions, bodyweight transfers and balance should come more instinctively and comfortably to the golfer whilst he or she is playing on the golf course, practice range, driving range or similar with no instructional or training aid.
  • One embodiment of the second aspect of the present invention provides a system which measures and indicates bodyweight distribution in a continuous manner immediately before and during all of a golfer's swing, rather than just at extremes and golf ball impact, which can be viewed and/or saved on a computer or similar with monitor or similar or on a print-out after the golf swing has taken place such that the golfer can analyse, and if desired repeatedly analyse, his or her bodyweight distribution and transfer information at address of the golf ball and throughout all of the golf swing. By use of such a continuous bodyweight distribution and transfer measurement system, a comparison can be made between the results of the golfer's swing saved on the computer and shown on a monitor and/or print-out and that of an ideal swing made by an expert golfer for a similar golf stroke, thus allowing the golfer using the device to assess and/or modify his or her golf swing as appropriate to improve and/or optimise bodyweight distribution and transfers during his or her golf swing for achieving improved golf swing and golf stroke power, accuracy and consistency. Instructional advice and information can be conveyed to the golfer by means such as an audible voice generated by the computer or similar, text on the screen and/or print-out and/or indicating arrows on the screen, print-out and/or golf mat, to indicate what bodyweight distribution and/or transfer adjustments the golfer needs to make in his or her address position and/or golf swing in order to achieve optimal bodyweight distribution and transfers for improved golf stroke power, accuracy and consistency.
  • Reference will now be made, by way of example, to the accompanying drawings, in which:
  • FIG. 1 is an overall perspective view of a golf training aid embodying the present invention;
  • FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional side view of a golf training aid embodying the present invention;
  • FIGS. 3 a, 3 b, 3 c, 3 d and 3 e are schematic views of indications to the golfer to show optimal clubface alignment and foot placement positions and angles for right-handed straight, fade, draw, high and low ball flight golf strokes respectively in an embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 4 a shows an indication produced by an embodiment of the present invention to show the golfer's measured bodyweight distribution at address;
  • FIG. 4 b shows the indication of FIG. 4 a together with a corresponding indication for an expert golfer and instructional advice provided to the golfer in an embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 4 c shows a comparison and instructional advice similar to that in FIG. 4 b, using a quadrant percentage mode;
  • FIG. 5 a shows an indication produced by an embodiment of the present invention to show the golfer's measured bodyweight distribution during a golf stroke, together with a corresponding indication for an expert golfer;
  • FIG. 5 b shows an indication like that of FIG. 5 a, with the axes reversed for display;
  • FIG. 5 c shows an indication like that of FIG. 5 b, together with instructional advice provided to the golfer;
  • FIG. 6 is a diagram of a guidance element provided with an embodiment of the present invention explaining to the golfer the correct and incorrect means of transferring bodyweight during a golf swing;
  • FIG. 7 a shows an indication produced by an embodiment of the present invention to show the golfer's measured bodyweight transfer at impact, together with a corresponding indication for an expert golfer;
  • FIG. 7 b shows an indication like that of FIG. 7 a, together with instructional advice provided to the golfer;
  • FIG. 7 c shows an indication produced by an embodiment of the present invention to show the golfer's measured bodyweight transfer at impact, together with a corresponding indication for an expert golfer;
  • FIG. 7 d shows an indication like that of FIG. 7 c, together with instructional advice provided to the golfer;
  • FIG. 8 a shows an indication produced by an embodiment of the present invention comprising indications like those in FIGS. 5 b and 7 c;
  • FIG. 8 b shows an indication like that of FIG. 8 a, together with instructional advice provided to the golfer; and
  • FIG. 8 c shows another example of an indication corresponding to the type shown in FIG. 8 b, for a golfer exhibiting a reverse-pivot type of swing.
  • FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the overall arrangement of a golf training aid embodying invention. The aid comprises a base unit 1 with surround 2, and golf ball striking areas 3 (within the confines of which are located high tee 5 and low tee 6) and 4 (within the confines of which are located high tee 7 and low tee 8). Optionally, the outer margins of the golf ball striking areas 3 and 4 can be indicated by lines on the mat or else by lighting in the matrix bed of lights 14. The aid further comprises a mat providing a flat, level standing area 9. A microphone 18 is also located on the computer pedestal to pick up the sound of the impact of the golf club with the golf ball. Beneath the golf ball striking areas 3 (containing tees 5 and 6) and 4 (containing tees 7 and 8) and standing area 9, base unit 1 contains golf ball weight sensors 11 and 12 for detecting the position of the golf ball, a matrix bed of lights 14, and pressure responsive devices 15, 16 and 17. The aid further comprises an interactive screen 10 as the user interface.
  • FIG. 2 shows a cross-sectional view featuring a sandwich construction of the base unit 1 containing standing and ball striking mats 9, 3 and 4 respectively, matrix bed of lights 14, golf ball position sensors 11 and 12, foot position sensor 15 and moveable pressure responsive devices 16 and 17. The layers above the matrix bed of lights 14 are translucent.
  • The device can be operated by means of cash, credit or debit card, key, electronic card or electronic key or similar. A typical example would be an electronic key, which could be paid for in advance at, for example, a cash register or credit or debit card payment machine. A payment could be made corresponding to an allotted number of golf balls to be dispensed from the reservoir within pedestal 19. The electronic key indicating the allotted number of golf balls could be placed on a reader or sensor connected to computer 13 at the start of the practice session.
  • The payment or recognition of payment will start the computer and present the user with the main menu on screen 10. The language to be used can be chosen at an early stage, however many menu choices and/or instructions will be in simple and/or graphic format so as to be easily understood by a wide range of individuals.
  • Data applicable to both the individual and the intended golf stroke about to be played is input via the menu on screen 10. Such data includes, but is not limited, to any one or more of the following parameters, indications and measurements:
      • Gender
      • Age
      • Height
      • Weight
      • Build (such as very thin, thin, medium, athletic, large, rotund etc.)
      • Race
      • Neck size
      • Shoulder width
      • Waist size
      • Chest size
      • Shoe size
      • Inside leg measurement
      • Distance from tips of fingers to floor when standing fully erect with arms hanging by the side
      • Distance from wrist to floor when standing fully erect with arms hanging by the side
      • Right or left-handedness for golf stroke to be played
      • Club selection (this can include training clubs such as a known Momentus® training club (www.momentusgolf.com))
      • Length of the golf club
      • Lie of the golf club (e.g. standard, 1° upright, 1° flat etc.)
      • Full or easy power golf stroke (or increments thereof)
      • Intended target direction
      • Intended golf ball flight of golf stroke to be played, for example:
        • straight ball flight
        • high trajectory straight ball flight
        • low trajectory straight ball flight
        • right-to-left ball flight (i.e. a “draw” for a right-handed golfer or a “fade” for a left-handed golfer)
        • high trajectory right-to-left ball flight
        • low trajectory right-to-left ball flight
        • left-to-right ball flight (i.e. a “fade” for a right-handed golfer or a “draw” for a left-handed golfer)
        • high trajectory left-to-right ball flight
        • low trajectory left-to-right ball flight
      • Golfing experience (for example, in years)
      • Handicap
      • Manufacturer and model of golf club
  • A measurement guide and/or tape can be located on the side of pedestal 19 and/or another suitable location on the device for use in determining one more of the above measurements. The most preferred parameter for measuring using this guide is the distance of the user's wrist to the floor. The individual operates the device by using screen 10 to choose options from menus and by following instructions in an ordered, logical fashion. It is also possible for an individual to be supplied with an electronic key or tag which can be used to store this data and other personal preferences so that these do not have to be entered before each use. The function of this data tag can be combined with the function of the above operating key in a single device. Alternatively, the user may enter his or her data remotely via the internet.
  • Golf balls are entered into a hopper housed within pedestal 19. The hopper may have a locked door so that only a limited number of people such as a driving range proprietor can have access. Should the device be used by an individual or individuals bringing their own golf balls, the electronic key can have no limit on it or else the golf ball dispenser can be by-passed and golf balls can be placed on the mat by the individual using the device and the device operated by screen 10 accordingly. If the hopper within pedestal 19 is in use and should the hopper become lower than a predetermined level of golf balls, the computer screen and/or computer generated voice will alert the individual of this so that the hopper can be charged with further golf balls for use.
  • Once the golfer using the device has entered all the relevant data into computer 13, and is satisfied with all the data entered and that he or she is ready to play a golf stroke, a menu option called “Dispense golf ball” or similar can be selected. This causes the holding peg or similar such device at the bottom of the hopper to release a golf ball and dispense it from outlet 20. The chute is angled such that the golf ball will fall out of the chute gently and will roll only a short, convenient distance, such as towards golf ball striking mat 3. An alternative option on the menu on screen 10 gives the individual using the device the choice of carrying out practice swings, i.e. simulated golf strokes without a golf ball, with the indicating, measuring and/or instructional features of the device turned on (i.e. practice swing mode). Use of the practice swing mode of the device can, if desired, be charged at a lower rate relative to striking golf balls or else can be used free for a limited or unlimited time. It will be noted that this practice swing mode is particularly useful for the golfer to use at the start of his or her training session to promote correct positions, angles and/or bodyweight transfers if so desired during a warm up. Furthermore, it will be noted that this practice swing mode is useful for an individual using training clubs or aids such as the Momentus® golf club swing trainer, which can involve the individual making practice swings.
  • When a golf ball is placed on the golf ball striking mat 3 or one of tees 5 or 6 for example for an individual inputting right-handedness, or golf ball striking mat 4 or one of tees 7 or 8 for example for an individual inputting left-handedness, and lies in a static position for a predetermined short period of time, one of golf ball position sensors 11 or 12 respectively detects the location of the golf ball to be struck. The predetermined period of time could be, for example, two seconds. This period of time could depend on the settings of the golf ball position sensors 11 and 12 linked up to the computer 13, and can if necessary be changed by the individual using the device and/or by a superuser (such as a driving range proprietor with extra access privileges) via the menu on screen 10. The system could also be programmed to detect if the golfer moves the ball subsequently so that the position can be re-calculated.
  • Alternatively, from the options on the menu on screen 10, the individual using the device has a choice of having the location in which the golf ball should be placed and played from indicated by the matrix bed of lights 14. This option is chosen automatically when the practice swing mode is chosen using the menu, where it will be appreciated the spot of lighting in matrix bed of lights 14 serves to indicate an imaginary golf ball. If, for example, a individual using the device selects a driver as the club to be used, the computer will present the user with a choice of high tee, low tee or golf ball striking mat from which to play the golf stroke or practice swing (depending on mode chosen), with the recommended location being the high tee. If, for example, the individual using the device selects a 8-iron as the club to be used, the computer will present the user with a choice of high tee, low tee or golf ball striking mat from which to play the golf stroke or practice swing, with the recommended location being the golf ball striking mat. Once the individual using the device chooses the position from which he or she wishes to play the golf ball, the device will indicate to the golfer the golf ball position, both to remind the golfer and also to ensure the golf ball is placed in the correct location, in the following manner. Should the individual using the device select, for example, a high tee, a flashing arrow pointing towards one of chosen high tees 5 or 7 (depending on input data to the effect of a right handed or left handed golf stroke respectively) in the matrix bed of lights 14 will indicate for a short period where the individual should place the golf ball. Alternatively, a ring of lights lit up in matrix bed of lights 14 around the base of the tee can be lit up to indicate to the golfer the location for placing the golf ball. This ring of lights can be chosen, via the menu on screen 10, to be illuminated for only a short period of time prior to the golf stroke, or else remain illuminated during the golf stroke. If the individual using the device selects for example a golf ball striking mat, a computer program will select a location within the confines of one of golf ball striking mats 3 or 4 (depending upon input data to the effect of a right handed or left handed golf stroke respectively). At the location for the golf ball to be placed on the appropriate golf ball striking mat will be lit up a set of lights in matrix bed of lights 14 in the shape of a small spot or similar (which can be similar in diameter as a golf ball (i.e. 1.68 inches) or else smaller, for example of diameter of around 0.7 inches to indicate an area resembling the resting area of a golf ball). The golfer may also be informed by text, graphics and/or movie on screen 10 and/or a computer or other generated voice that he or she must place the golf ball on the indicated illuminated spot.
  • A further device which can place the golf ball in a known position for the golfer to address and strike are systems which deliver the golf ball on an ascending height-adjustable tee from a hole in the mat. Such teeing systems are used by the Pareto Auto Tee (www.seoulnassau.co.uk), Golf Tech Ltd. Power Tee (www.powertee.co.uk), Computee by Sunaga Kaihatsu (www9.ocn.ne.jp/˜skg-ka/Products/golf/results1.htm), Golf Tee-Up Systems International (www.golfeeupsystems.com), Ikemoto Shatai Kogyo Co. Ltd. Auto Setter (www.ikemoto-shatai.co.jp) and the X-golf system (www.x-golf.net).
  • At the same time or optionally after a small delay period, lights will be lit up in matrix bed of lights 14 in the shape of a line immediately behind the golf ball location to indicate correct clubface alignment and position and also feet shaped sets of lights to indicate to the golfer optimal foot placement positions and angles for playing the chosen golf stroke. An algorithm programmed into computer 13 calculates which lights in matrix bed 14 to switch on beneath golf ball striking mat 3 or 4 to indicate optimal clubface alignment and standing area 9 to indicate to the golfer optimal foot placement. The positions and angles of the feet and clubface indications relative to the golf ball location will depend on the individual's data previously entered into computer 13 via screen 10 or data tag.
  • An algorithm programmed into computer 13 may light up areas in matrix bed of lights 14 beneath golf ball striking mats 3 and 4 to indicate the golf ball position in randomly chosen locations within the confines of the golf ball striking mats 3 or 4 for different golf strokes in order to reduce wear on the mat at specific points or regions.
  • Should the individual using the device choose to have the position of the golf ball sensed by one of golf ball location sensors 11 or 12, once the golf ball position is sensed, an algorithm programmed into computer 13 calculates which lights in matrix bed 14 to switch on beneath golf ball striking mat 3 or 4 and standing area 9, the lights acting to indicate to the golfer where his or her feet should be positioned and also the correct alignment and position of his or her clubface. The positions and angles of the feet and clubface indications relative to the golf ball location will depend on the individual's data previously entered into computer 13 via screen 10 or data tag.
  • In the mode wherein one of golf ball position sensors 11 or 12 is in use, the golfer will be informed by text, graphics and/or movie on screen 10 and/or a computer or other generated voice that he or she must place the golf ball in a static position for a particular length of time and wait this short period for the clubface alignment and foot placement lights to be illuminated, after which he or she can take his or her stance, address the golf ball and play the golf stroke.
  • Alternatively, if the golf ball is placed in a known fixed position such as a spot, mark, cross or tee, or illuminated area, the algorithm programmed into computer 13 will calculate which lights in matrix bed 14 to switch on without the need for golf ball position sensors 11 and 12.
  • The lights in matrix bed of lights 14 can be in the form of known lights such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs). The matrix bed of lights 14 may comprise many small lights in close proximity to each other in order that shapes and/or lines illuminated and indicated by the matrix bed of lights 14 are shown clearly to the user with good definition. Although any reasonable make-up of light-emitting devices can be employed for matrix bed of lights 14, the preferred constitution for the matrix bed of lights for the device embodying the first aspect of the present invention is high brightness LEDs of diameter of around 3.5 mm at a pitch of around 10 mm. The LED matrix may be situated beneath a hard-wearing translucent mat such that the selectively illuminated LEDs may provide useful indication to the user. In this instance the indication lighting will be directed from beneath the playing surface, however to the user this illumination will appear visually to be on the playing surface. It will be appreciated that even if the lighting source were to come from a position not beneath the mat but be directed through the mat to the playing surface (by for instance fibre optics), this will still constitute indication from beneath the surface since the playing surface is considered to be infinitely thin. Alternatively, the matrix bed of lights 14 can be in the form of a computer, television or other similar screen. To indicate correct clubface alignment and position, immediately behind the golf ball relative to the target will be lit up in matrix bed of lights 14 a line of lights perpendicular, or roughly perpendicular, to the target line, equal or approximately equal in length to that of the clubface of the golf club. The individual can use this line of lights as a visual guide to align the clubface of his or her golf club squarely to the target or intended line of golf ball flight for potentially improved accuracy and consistency of golf stroke. The line to indicate clubface alignment and position may be either straight or slightly bowed to simulate, for example, the clubface of a wood.
  • Should the individual choose via the menu on screen 10 a straight ball flight golf stroke, the line of lights behind the golf ball relative to the target will be perpendicular or roughly perpendicular to the imaginary line between the golf ball and the target.
  • For ease of alignment and use, the default setting imaginary target line running between the golf ball and the target, i.e. the default line on which the clubface alignment lights are directing the golfer to aim the clubface and play a straight ball flight golf stroke, will, if the mat is of square or rectangular form, be parallel to the edge of the mat, in the case of a rectangular mat the short sides, unless the mat is of a non-square or rectangular shape, such as oval or round. The target is either out in the distance of a driving range, practice ground or similar, or else the back of a net placed in front of the device, or else a spot on the back of a net placed in front of the device.
  • If the device were placed in a driving range, it would be useful if it were placed facing out directly perpendicular to the driving range bay front margin. As such, it will be appreciated that it would be useful to have a flag, board or other such target placed out in the driving range ball landing area on a line perpendicular to the front edge of the bay in which the device is situated. It will be appreciated that a straight ball flight stroke may be the most common a golfer will use during a practice session. Should the golfer align his or her address position for a straight ball flight stroke correctly using the device, his or her default-set alignment to the target or imaginary target will be perpendicular to the outer margin of the driving range bay. Since many golfers have a three-dimensional spatial awareness when aligning their golf strokes, there will be an added feeling to the golfer of correct alignment if the device is so aligned.
  • The device could also be adapted to indicate the target line by use of lights under the golf ball striking mat 3 or 4 as a further indication to the golfer. The device could also be adapted to allow the direction of the target line to be modified by the golfer to enable the golfer to play strokes at a target not directly in front of the device. To facilitate choices for targets to which the user can aim his or her golf strokes, via superuser access one or more target directions can be calibrated and set using screen 10. These target directions can correspond to, for example, different flags or target boards in the driving range ball landing area. Thus, when using the menu, the user will have an option of a default setting (directly straight) or one or more targets, which can be distinguished from each other by colour, yardage, text on the screen or other appropriate means, and the computer algorithm will calculate ideal stance and ball placement positions for aligning the user's address position to play the golf stroke to the chosen target.
  • If this device optionally comes with a net into which golf balls are struck, the net can be either a separate entity sitting out in front of the device or else an object which is attached or removably attached to the device. The net may have a spot or spots or similar mark or marks at which the golfer may aim his or her stroke.
  • Should the individual choose via screen 10 that he or she wishes to play a right-to-left golf ball flight stroke, the line of lights lit up in matrix bed of lights 14 behind the golf ball relative to the target may aim directly at, or slightly left of, the imaginary target line.
  • Should the individual choose via screen 10 that he or she wishes to play a left-to-right golf ball flight stroke, the line of lights lit up in matrix bed of lights 14 behind the golf ball relative to the target may aim directly at, or slightly right of, the imaginary target line.
  • The angle of the clubface alignment line of lights relative to the target line will depend upon the degree or amount to which the individual using the device has chosen to shape the golf ball flight in either a right-to-left or left-to-right fashion, and/or also the intended golf ball trajectory (i.e. high or low or increments thereof) via the menu on screen 10.
  • Optionally, other shapes of lighting could be lit up in matrix bed of lights directly behind, and/or in front of and/or to the side(s) of, the golf ball to provide particular indications. For example, shapes such as iron clubhead or wood clubhead could be indicated with a set of lights, with the leading edge forming the straight or slightly bowed edge of the set of lights directly behind the golf ball, and other shapes could be square, rectangular, triangular or other such shapes. The lights or sets of lights could also flash for a period to attract the golfer's attention.
  • The device may, by way of either text on the screen 10, a computer or similar generated voice and/or arrows lit up or flashing on the matrix bed of lights 14, indicate to and/or instruct the golfer to align the leading edge of his or her club with the line or set of lights behind the golf ball for correct clubface alignment for playing the golf stroke, and if necessary explain the reasons behind having correct clubface alignment for playing golf strokes of optimal power, accuracy and consistency by way of text, graphics, sound and/or movie.
  • Also, beneath standing area 9 in the matrix bed of lights 14 are lit up a pair of footprint-shaped (i.e. the filled-in two-dimensional shapes of the soles of shoes) sets of lights to indicate to the individual the correct positions and angles the individual should place his or her feet for addressing and striking the golf ball from its sensed, fixed or indicated position depending on the data the individual input into the computer 13 via data tag or screen 10 and also the algorithm programmed into computer 13 using address position data of a range of expert golfers.
  • For a straight ball flight golf stroke, the front such footprint-shaped set of lights (relative to the target, i.e. the left foot for a right-handed golfer and the right foot for a left-handed golfer), will typically be angled towards the target by around 10-30°, more preferably around 15°. In other words, the angle between an imaginary line perpendicular to the imaginary target line and the axis from heel end to the toe end is typically in this range, although any angle can of course be indicated if appropriate. For a chosen fade golf stroke (i.e. a left-to-right ball flight stroke for a right-handed golfer or right-to-left ball flight stroke for a left-handed golfer), this angle will be around 20°. For a chosen draw golf stroke (i.e. a right-to-left ball flight stroke for a right-handed golfer or left-to-right ball flight stroke for a left-handed golfer), this angle will be around 12°.
  • Likewise, for a straight ball flight golf stroke, the rear footprint-shaped set of lights (relative to the target, i.e. the right foot for a right-handed golfer and the left foot for a left-handed golfer), will typically be angled perpendicular to the imaginary target line or angled slightly away from the target (i.e. roughly in the range 0-10°). Due to body torsion during the golfer's backswing, this angle will need to be greater for users of lower flexibility, which is generally consistent with age. For a user of age below 20 years, this angle will be set around 0°, and users of age greater than 70 years, this angle will be set at around 8.5°. In other words, the angle between an imaginary line perpendicular to the imaginary target line and the axis from heel end to the toe end is typically in this range, although any angle can of course be indicated if appropriate. For a chosen fade golf stroke (i.e. a left-to-right ball flight stroke for a right-handed golfer or right-to-left ball flight stroke for a left-handed golfer), this angle will generally be smaller than for a straight stroke at around 0° for an average age user. For a chosen draw golf stroke (i.e. a right-to-left ball flight stroke for a right-handed golfer or left-to-right ball flight stroke for a left-handed golfer), this angle will generally be greater than for a straight stroke at around 6.5° for an average age user.
  • The size of the footprint-shaped sets of lights shown will be determined by the shoe size entered by the golfer into computer 13 via screen 10 or other input. If no foot size data is available, a combination of the gender, height and build data can be used to estimate an appropriate foot size and shape. Or the foot size and shape can be estimated by the height and build data alone, or else by other available data. If no suitable data are available, a default size and shape can be used.
  • Both the width of the stance and the distance of the feet away from the golf ball will also be dependent on data entered by the golfer, the most relevant being, but not restricted to being, gender, height and build. These issues are discussed in many golf articles and books, examples being Golf Magazine, April 1998, pages 146 to 147, Ben Hogan's book “Five Lessons; The Modern Fundamentals of Golf”, “The Encyclopedia of Golf Techniques” by Chris Meadows with Allen F. Richardson and also “Ultimate Golf Techniques” by Malcolm Campbell (published by Dorling Kindersley Limited).
  • Suitable widths of stance, distance of the feet from the golf ball, alignment of the feet, angles of the feet and placement of the golf ball in the stance relative to the feet have been estimated by analysing the stances of both right-handed and left-handed professional and high-level amateur golfers of both genders of a large size and age range. These prior measurements are used in the algorithm programmed into computer 13 for calculating which lights in matrix bed of lights 14 to illuminate to indicate optimal foot and/or ball placement.
  • This analysis has shown that both the width of the stance and the distance of the feet away from the golf ball will increase on changing the golf club from the shortest clubs, i.e. lofted wedge irons through the irons and fairway woods, to the longest club, the driver. The device also has the option of foot placement, ball position and clubface alignment guidance for a golfer using a putter and training aids or clubs such as a Momentus® golf club (www.momentusgolf.com).
  • The position of the centre of the golf ball may vary in position relative to the two feet from being approximately opposite the inside edge of the heel of the forward foot, relative to the target, of the golfer for the longest club, the driver, and will gradually move back in the stance towards being approximately in the middle of the stance, i.e. opposite the point mid-way between the inside edges of the golfer's two heels for the most lofted clubs, e.g. a sand wedge.
  • In general, the distance an individual should take his or her stance from the golf ball is governed by the lie, loft and shaft length of the golf club they are using. Typically, a tall person will stand with his or her feet slightly closer to the golf ball than a shorter person of the same gender, similar build and using the same golf club, assuming the golfers have their clubs fitted correctly for their height, gender and build, since the taller person will have a more upright posture and golf clubs with a more upright lie. Some junior golfers may stand closer to the ball than their taller adult counterparts due to the length of the shafts being smaller in junior golf clubs. An individual with a large shoulder width will typically have a wider stance, i.e. the feet will be further apart at address of the golf ball, than an individual of the same or similar height with a smaller shoulder width using the same golf club. Furthermore, a more senior golfer may have (but is not restricted to having) his or her rear foot, relative to the target, angled slightly more away from target, due to the individual's lower degree of body flexibility relative to younger golfers. All this information is ideally available to the golfer using the device.
  • Two example sets of data for expert golfers used by the algorithm programmed into computer 13 for indicating via matrix bed of lights 14 optimal foot placement as well as clubface alignment and positioning, relative to the position of the golf ball are provided below.
  • EXAMPLE 1 Input Data
      • Male, Caucasian, height: 5′11″ (180 cm), build: medium, age: 40 years, shoe size: UK 9
      • Right handed golfer
      • Club selection=7-iron
      • Golf ball placement selection=golf ball striking mat 3
      • Intended golf ball flight: straight, regular trajectory
    Indication Data
      • Shortest distance from nearest part of golf ball to imaginary line running across the toe ends of the golfer's shoes approximately =20 inches (50.8 cm)
      • Distance between the inside edges of the heels of the golfer's shoes approximately =14.5 inches (36.8 cm)
      • Distance between the centres of the points of the toe ends of the golfer's shoes approximately =19.5 inches (49.5 cm)
      • Distance from point on target line perpendicularly opposite the inside edge of the heel of the golfer's left shoe to the centre of the golf ball approximately =4 inches (10.2 cm) (i.e. the centre of the golf ball is back ca. 28% in the golfer's stance)
      • Left foot splayed towards the target, from the axis of the heel end to the toe end, relative to an imaginary line perpendicular to the imaginary line extending from the centre of the golf ball to the target by an angle of approximately 15 or 20°
      • Right foot splayed away from the target, from the axis of the heel end to the toe end, relative to an imaginary line perpendicular to the imaginary line extending from the centre of the golf ball to the target by an angle of approximately 4.5 or 7°
      • Length of each sole of shoe shaped set of lights illuminated in matrix bed of lights 14 approximately =11.75 inches (29.8 cm)
      • Width of each sole of shoe shaped set of lights at widest (ball) part of feet illuminated in matrix bed of lights 14 approximately =4.25 inches (10.8 cm)
      • Distance of point of toe end of the golfer's left shoe to an imaginary line that runs parallel from the point of the toe end of the golfer's right shoe to the imaginary line that runs from the centre of the golf ball to the target approximately =0.3 inches (0.8 cm)
      • Clubface alignment and position set of lights in matrix bed of lights 14: directly behind golf ball, straight line of approximate length 4 inches (10.2 cm) perpendicular to the imaginary line between the centre of the golf ball and the target lined up such that the golf ball is directly in front of the middle of the line of lights, or else, from the visual perspective of the golfer addressing the ball, the golf ball appears to be aligned with the centre of the clubface line of lights.
    EXAMPLE 2 Input Data
      • Male, Caucasian, height: 6′3″ (191 cm), build: medium, age: 25 years, shoe size: UK 12
      • Right handed golfer
      • Club selection=3-wood
      • Golf ball placement selection=tee 6
      • Intended golf ball flight: straight, regular trajectory
    Indication Data
      • Shortest distance from nearest part of golf ball to imaginary line running across the toe ends of the golfer's shoes approximately =27 inches (68.6 cm)
      • Distance between the inside edges of the heels of the golfer's shoes approximately =16.5 inches (41.9 cm)
      • Distance between the centres of the points of the toe ends of the golfer's shoes approximately =22.5 inches (57.2 cm)
      • Distance from point on target line perpendicularly opposite the inside edge of the heel of the golfer's left shoe to the centre of the golf ball approximately =2 inches (5.1 cm) (i.e. the centre of the golf ball is back ca. 12% in the golfer's stance)
      • Left foot splayed towards the target, from the axis of the heel end to the toe end, relative to an imaginary line perpendicular to the imaginary line extending from the centre of the golf ball to the target by an angle of approximately 15 or 20°
      • Right foot splayed away from the target, from the axis of the heel end to the toe end, relative to an imaginary line perpendicular to the imaginary line extending from the centre of the golf ball to the target by an angle of approximately 4.5 or 7°
      • Length of each sole of shoe shaped set of lights illuminated in matrix bed of lights 14 approximately 12.3 inches (31.2 cm)
      • Width of each sole of shoe shaped set of lights at widest (ball) part of feet illuminated in matrix bed of lights 14 approximately =4.4 inches (11.2 cm)
      • Distance of point of toe end of the golfer's left shoe to an imaginary line that runs parallel from the point of the toe end of the golfer's right shoe to the imaginary line that runs from the centre of the golf ball to the target approximately =0.3 inches (0.8 cm)
      • Clubface alignment and position set of lights in matrix bed of lights 14: directly behind golf ball, straight line of approximate length 4.3 inches (10.9 cm) perpendicular to the imaginary line between the centre of the golf ball and the target lined up such that the golf ball is directly in front of the middle of the line of lights, or else, from the visual perspective of the golfer addressing the ball, the golf ball appears to be aligned with the centre of the clubface line of lights.
  • Should the individual input data into computer 13 to the effect that he or she wishes to play a straight golf ball flight stroke of normal or full power, the device will indicate a square stance whereby the lights lit up in matrix bed 14 beneath standing area 9 will indicate feet position such that the individual's toes will line up parallel or approximately parallel to the imaginary target line and the line of lights lit up in matrix bed 14 beneath golf ball striking area 3 or 4 or tees thereon directly behind the golf ball to indicate clubface alignment will be substantially perpendicular to the imaginary target line. Since the golfer's front foot, relative to the target, may be somewhat splayed towards the target, the stance will appear to be slightly open, but only to the small extent that the point of the toes of the golfer's left foot will be further away from the ball than the imaginary line that runs parallel from the point of the toe end of the golfer's right foot to the imaginary line that runs from the centre of the golf ball to the target by approximately 0.3 inches.
  • Should the golfer indicate that he or she wishes to play a right-to-left golf ball flight stroke (i.e. a “draw” for a right-handed golfer or a “fade” for a left-handed golfer), the foot placement lights will be aligned such that the individual's toes will be aligned slightly right of parallel to the imaginary target line, i.e. “closed” for a right-handed golfer or “open” for a left handed golfer, and the clubface alignment will be perpendicular to, or aiming slightly left of, the imaginary target line. Also, optionally, the foot placement lights for a right handed golfer's front foot, relative to the target, may be splayed towards the target at a slightly smaller angle than for a corresponding straight golf ball flight stroke, and the rear foot, may be splayed away from the target at a slightly larger angle. Also for this type of stroke, the golf ball position will be slightly further back in the right handed golfer's stance. For the left handed golfer playing a right to left ball flight, the front foot, relative to the target, may be splayed more towards the target and the rear foot less so. Also, for this type of stroke, the golf ball position will be slightly further forward in the left handed golfer's stance. In general, the degree to which the foot placement lights may be aligned to the right of the target line and also the clubface alignment set of lights may be aligned to the left of the target line and also how much the splaying of the golfer's feet may vary from a straight ball flight stroke as described above will depend upon the degree of right-to-left golf ball flight shape the golfer chooses he or she wishes to play from the options on the menu shown on screen 10.
  • Should the golfer indicate that he or she wishes to play a left-to-right golf ball flight stroke, (i.e. a “fade” for a right-handed golfer or a “draw” for a left-handed golfer), the feet lights will be aligned such that the individual's toes will be aligned slightly left of parallel to the imaginary target line, i.e. “open” for a right-handed golfer or “closed” for a left handed golfer, and the clubface alignment will be perpendicular to, or aiming slightly right of, the imaginary target line. Also, optionally, the foot placement lights for a right handed golfer's front foot, relative to the target, may be splayed towards the target at a slightly larger angle than for a corresponding straight golf ball flight stroke, and the rear foot, may be splayed away from the target at a slightly smaller angle. Also for this type of stroke, the golf ball position will be slightly further forward in the right handed golfer's stance. For the left handed golfer playing a left to right ball flight, the front foot, relative to the target, may be splayed to a lesser degree towards the target and the rear foot to a greater degree. Also, for this type of stroke, the golf ball position will be slightly further back in the left handed golfer's stance. In general, the degree to which the foot placement lights may be aligned to the left of the target line and also the clubface alignment set of lights may be aligned to the right of the target line and also how much the splaying of the golfer's feet may vary from a straight ball flight stroke as described above will depend upon the degree of left-to-right golf ball flight shape the golfer chooses he or she wishes to play from the options on the menu shown on screen 10.
  • Should the golfer indicate that he or she wishes to play a high trajectory ball flight stroke, whether this be with a straight, right-to-left or left-to-right flight, the feet lights may be aligned in the same or similar positions according to whether the golfer intends to play a straight, right-to-left or left-to-right flight stroke respectively, and the golf ball position may be located such that it is slightly further forward in the stance, i.e. closer to the target than for a regular trajectory stroke.
  • Should the golfer indicate that he or she wishes to play a low trajectory ball flight stroke, whether this be with a straight, right-to-left or left-to-right flight, the feet lights may be aligned in the same or similar positions according to whether the golfer intends to play a straight, right-to-left or left-to-right flight stroke respectively, and the golf ball position may be located such that it is slightly further back in the stance, i.e. further from the target than for a regular trajectory stroke.
  • The golfer may also have the option, for example via the menu on screen 10, of choosing a golf stroke to be played with a swing of significantly less than full power (i.e. an “easy” swing). The intended degree of power to be used for the golf stroke can be chosen via the menu on screen 10. In the case of such an easy swing golf stroke, the lights illuminated in matrix bed of lights 14 to indicate foot placement positions will aim parallel with, or slightly left of, the imaginary target line for a right-handed golfer and parallel with, or slightly right of, the imaginary target line for a left-handed golfer. Also, the stance may be narrower than for a corresponding full or normal power golf stroke. Also, the golfer's front foot, relative to the target may be splayed towards the target to a greater degree than for a corresponding full or normal power golf stroke. In general, the degree to which the indication lights in matrix bed of lights 14 for the stance is opened, narrowed and the also the amount of splaying of the golfer's front foot, relative to a full or normal power golf stroke, may depend on how much lower than full or normal power the golf stroke is, which is chosen by the golfer using the device via the options on the menu on screen 10. The easy swing golf stroke is particularly useful for practicing, using a training device embodying this invention, the iron clubs and more particularly the wedge iron clubs, where a less than full power stroke is typically often encountered during normal play on a golf course.
  • The golfer may also, via use of the menu, obtain instruction from the stance lighting from matrix bed of lights 14 to adopt a routine for moving into the address position in an ordered fashion. Using this function, the footprint lights may start off with the golfer's feet together, perpendicularly opposite the ball relative to the target at the correct distance from the ball with the correct foot angles, then after a small delay period (the time length of which may be controlled by use of the menu on screen 10) the footprint illuminations open out to form the full address stance. It will be appreciated that training of this ordered movement into the address position will promote a useful routine for the golfer to adopt a correct stance when on the golf course, when no instructional aid is used.
  • FIGS. 3 a, 3 b, 3 c, 3 d and 3 e are schematic views of the lighting on matrix bed of lights 14 used to indicate to the golfer optimal clubface alignment and foot placement for a right-handed golfer to play example golf strokes of straight golf ball flight, left-to-right (fade) golf ball flight, right-to-left (draw) golf ball flight, high straight ball flight and low straight ball flight respectively.
  • Other shapes of lights which can be illuminated in the matrix bed of lights 14 to indicate optimal foot placement positions and angles are suggested in the following non-exhaustive list: a line or lines outlining the shape of the shoe, straight lines at the desired angles, wavy lines at the desired angles, rectangles at the desired angles, ovals, circles, triangles, triangles at the desired angles, diamonds, diamonds at the desired angles, feet-shaped/foot-print shaped sets of lights (i.e. like bare feet showing individual toes) or an outline or outlines of this, a curve or curves outlining the toe-end of the shoes only, two curves showing where the heel should be placed and where the tips of the toes should be placed and other similar shapes.
  • Alternatively, lines of illuminated lights extending perpendicularly optionally either from the imaginary line between the golf ball and the target or the vicinity of the golf ball to the desired points at which the golfer should place the point of the toe end of each foot can be used (either instead of, or in conjunction with, any of the above shapes to indicate foot placement positions and angles). Also, optionally, a line of lights extending perpendicularly from the golf ball position to the vicinity of the golfer's feet can be illuminated. These lines may serve to give the golfer a good visual impression of the width of the stance and/or the golf ball position in the stance required for a particular golf stroke and thus adopt more correct positions on the golf course or similar without the use of a training aid.
  • Optionally, other indicating means can be used in combination with or instead of the lighting in matrix bed of lights 14 for indicating to the golfer optimal foot placement positions. These indicating means can be in the form of rods protruding from holes or gaps within the standing area mat 9 around the edges of the feet placement areas, and/or plates or rods which slide in from the edge of the mat to the edge of the foot placement areas, and/or arrows lit up in matrix bed of lights 14.
  • Alternatively, a computer, television or other similar display could be provided within the base unit 1 beneath the standing area 9, with a surface protective layer; this screen could convey information to the golfer in a similar way as the matrix bed of lights 14.
  • Alternatively, all of the lights in matrix bed 14 can be lit up except those indicating correct clubface alignment and position and foot placement positions and angles. The lights illuminated in matrix bed 14 to indicate foot placement positions and angles and clubface alignment and position can be either on for a short period of time, for the period of the stroke, and/or can be flashing to attract the attention of the golfer.
  • Also, the device may, by way of either text on the screen 10, a computer or similar generated voice and/or arrows lit up or flashing on the matrix bed of lights 14, indicate to and/or instruct the golfer to place his or her feet precisely on the lit up lights in order for him or her to have the correct width of stance, correct alignment of stance, have the correct feet angles and be standing the correct distance from the golf ball for an individual of his or her gender, height and build for playing the golf stroke, and if necessary explain the reasons behind having each aspect of the golf address position and possibly others correct by way of text, graphics, sound and/or movie for playing golf strokes of optimal power, accuracy and consistency.
  • The individual using the device can choose, if he or she wishes, via the menu options, the foot placement guidance lighting from matrix bed of lights 14 (or other indication means) to be in delay form. In this foot placement guidance lighting delay mode, the golfer will set up to and play the golf stroke (or practice swing if the practice swing mode is chosen) with the chosen club as normal without the lighting coming on to indicate foot placement and/or clubface alignment, and pressure responsive device 15 (such as a known force transducer from manufacturers such as Honeywell) will detect the positions of the two feet of the golfer.
  • In this foot placement guidance lighting delay mode, the golfer can indicate to the device when he or she is ready to address the golf ball and play the golf stroke (or make a practice swing, in which case instead of a golf ball is used a spot of lights indicated by matrix bed of lights 14) from its static position on one of mats 3 or 4 or a tee thereon, by pressing a start button or using a voice controller or other suitable interface. This start signal will initiate a delay period, the length of which may, optionally, be chosen on the menu by the golfer, which will count down to when foot placement measurement will commence. Additionally, optionally, via screen 10, for further ease of use, an audible signal can be chosen by the golfer for the device to indicate to the golfer, once the delay period has elapsed, when the foot placement position measurements are starting. The device will know when the golf stroke is complete by use of microphone 18 to detect the impact of the golf club with the golf ball and/or use of one of golf ball position sensors 11 or 12, which will detect that a golf ball is no longer resting on the golf ball striking mat or tee. In practice swing mode, the device will allow a suitable fixed time for the golfer to make his or her practice swing, or else the golfer can choose from options on the menu a measurement period.
  • In this foot placement guidance lighting delay mode, once the golf stroke is complete, the device will show via lighting in matrix bed 14 where the golfer should ideally place his or her feet for addressing and playing the golf stroke (or practice swing) of the golf ball from it's known position (or in the case of practice swing mode the known position of where the golf ball would be situated) with the chosen club for the particular gender, height, build etc. data entered into the computer. Other instructional advice for foot placement which can be given to the golfer at this stage include a pair of soles of shoes shaped sets of lights where the golfer actually took his or her stance and/or arrows pointing to, if necessary from the used footprint placement areas, the soles of shoes shaped sets of lights in the correct position(s), text, graphics and/or a movie on the screen and/or a computer or other generated voice. The soles of shoes shaped sets of lights and/or arrows can be flashing to attract the golfer's attention. It will be appreciated that the golfer using the device may obtain beneficial stance instruction from stance indication lighting directly, without the need for foot placement position sensors for the foot placement guidance lighting delay mode.
  • Although it is described above that golf ball weight sensors 11 and 12 are provided to detect the position of the golf ball, each of golf the ball striking mats 3 and 4 can have one tee or height-adjustable ascending tee such as those described above in a fixed position for placing the golf ball to be struck on, for use by all clubs, without the need for golf ball location sensors 11 and 12. It will be appreciated that the golf ball hitting area mat surrounding such a tee or height-adjustable tee need not be translucent since the position from which the ball should be struck is apparent above the playing surface. Another means of detecting the position of the golf ball to be struck upon one of the golf ball striking mats could be a device above the mat such as a known photometric device for positional detection of the golf ball to be struck.
  • Other possibilities for ensuring a known golf ball position without the need for golf ball position sensors 11 and 12 include marking a cross, spot or other similar indication on each of the golf ball striking mats 3 and 4 on which the golf ball is placed. These crosses, spots or other similar marks can be on their own, or in combination with one or more tees protruding from the golf ball striking mats 3 and 4. In such cases, the individual would have the option, via screen 10, to choose which tee or mark the golf ball is to be struck from (each may have an indication such as a label or illuminated instruction alongside it for ease of reference), or else this can be chosen by default by the computer program and instructions given to the golfer as to where to place the golf ball for striking.
  • For example, if the golf club selected by the user via screen 10 to be used is the driver, the golfer could be instructed either by text on the screen, a computer generated voice and/or an arrow from lighting beneath the mat, to place the golf ball on the high tee. Or when a fairway wood is selected as the golf club to be used, the golfer could be instructed to place the golf ball on the low tee. Or when an iron club (e.g. 6-iron) is selected as the golf club to be used, the golfer could be instructed to place the golf ball on a particular one of the marks on the mat 3 or 4, depending on whether he or she entered data to the effect of right-handedness or left-handedness.
  • Two golf ball striking areas 3 and 4 are provided in the example described above so that the device can easily be used by both right and left handed golfers in an enclosed area such as a driving range bay where golf balls are struck in one direction. It will be appreciated that it is not essential to provide two such areas 3 and 4 where a single area would suffice.
  • There may optionally be more or fewer than four tees on the device, i.e. greater or fewer than two tee height options per golf ball striking mat. Similarly, there may optionally be more than two golf ball striking areas. The mat providing standing area 9 can either be the same mat or a separate mat to golf ball striking areas 3 and 4.
  • The construction and maintenance of base unit 1, surround 2 and mats 3, 4 and 9 will be apparent to someone skilled in the art. The edging of the surround 2 of base unit 1 holding mats securely in place may be held in place by screws, Allen key locks or other similar means. Mats 3, 4 and/or 9 may be lifted and/or removed by removal of the edging of surround 2, for cleaning, maintenance or replacement purposes and/or for replacement of the tees with different or new tees, for instance new tees of different height, which may protrude through holes in the mat(s). Golf ball striking mats 3 and 4, if they are separate mats to standing area mat 9, may be held in place either by Velcro® or other similar attachments on the underside, or else by having a lip around the bottom edge which is trapped all the way around by a sure-fitting edge on the underside of the larger mat 9.
  • Either the entirety or surface of standing area mat 9 and/or golf ball striking areas 3 and 4 can be made of for instance durable artificial grass such as Astroturf® with many small translucent sections made of, for instance, moulded silicone, plugged through holes in this type of mat to allow light through from matrix bed of lights 14 beneath. Tees 5, 6, 7 and 8 can be made of for instance durable rubber, with the stalks of the tees protruding through holes in the mats 3 and 4 and supported and held by a base component trapped securely beneath the mats. Standing area mat 9 and/or golf ball striking mats 3 and 4 can be pale green or green in colour to simulate grass but still be transparent enough to allow lighting to show through from matrix bed of lights 14 beneath. These mats 9, 3 and 4 are sufficiently thick and strong to protect the layers of matrix bed of lights 14, golf ball position sensors 11 and 12, pressure responsive devices 15, 16 and 17 beneath from the impact of golf clubs from strokes and practice swings and also golf shoe spikes and other wear and tear. The surface of the translucent mat 9 can be made of either durable artificial grass such as Astroturf® or the same or similar durable translucent material used to cover aisle floor lighting in commercial aircraft or else other suitable material.
  • The surface of standing area mat 9 may be level with the surfaces of golf ball striking mats 3 and 4 or else it may be at a level slightly below those levels of the surfaces of the golf ball striking mats 3 and 4. The latter option may be more preferable in order to simulate the type of lie a golfer would encounter during a round of golf, in that typically the lowest part of the golf ball will rest at a higher level relative to the soles of the golfer's shoes on a golf course than on a golf driving range mat. The reasons for this are that typically the golfer's feet will depress the ground slightly on the grass of a golf course whereas typically they will not on the hard surface of a driving range mat, and also a golf ball may sit up slightly higher when resting on the blades of grass on a golf course relative to how it would rest on the flatter surface of a driving range mat.
  • A touch sensitive screen 10 can be chosen for use in the example described above for durability and ease of use. However, other known types of computer apparatus, in combination with a screen, such as control buttons surrounding the screen, a joystick, remote control, keyboard, keypad, printer and/or mouse or other known devices could be used in conjunction with or instead of the touch sensitive screen 10. The computer may also be voice activated, which would be convenient for instructing the computer to commence measurements in situations such as when the golfer is about to play a golf stroke. Another option is to enable the golfer to select or change options by convenient use of the golf club to allow him or her to do so without taking his or her hands off the club. This type of interface could be in addition to the already-described interface, and may be provided, for example, by way of touch or pressure sensitive devices under the striking mat or similar. With such an interface an option could be selected or changed (for example to change the type of stroke to be played or to indicate use of a particular mode of operation) by tapping an area associated with an indication as to what option or mode is changed or selected by tapping there.
  • In the above-described examples, it has been assumed that the golf ball position is measured or chosen, and that the indications as to feet positions and clubface alignment are determined based on the golf ball position and target direction. Another mode of operation is possible in which the golfer is allowed to take his or her stance without any indication from the device, with the positions and angles of the golfer's feet subsequently being measured by the device. Based on the measured positions and angles, the correct golf ball placement is then indicated to the golfer, by such means as via matrix bed of lights 14, based on the golfer's physical data as well as the intended type of stroke (e.g. draw or fade). Alternatively, the device can suggest a particular stroke or strokes which can be played with such a measured stance. The electronic circuitry of the device will be apparent to someone skilled in the art.
  • According to an embodiment of another aspect of the present invention, the individual has the option, via the menu on screen 10, of having bodyweight distribution measurement during the address of the golf ball and/or golf swing whilst playing a golf stroke or making a practice swing. For this purpose, known pressure responsive devices 16 and 17 (such as known force transducers from manufacturers such as Honeywell) are provided beneath standing area 9, each being approximately the same size as a large foot. The pressure responsive devices 16 and 17 will move to the positions and angles where the golfer should take his or her stance (i.e. where the golfer is instructed to place his or her feet by illumination from matrix bed of lights 14 and/or instruction from the computer by way or computer or otherwise generated voice, and/or text, lines, arrows and/or movie via the screen or matrix bed of lights 14. The visual instruction may be flashing.). A sheet-like form of pressure responsive device 16 and 17 can also be employed which is responsive to force over a wide area to detect where the golfer has positioned his or her feet. The electronic circuitry of the device will be apparent to someone skilled in the art.
  • When using this mode, the golfer may be asked by the computer, via the menu on screen 10, to enter further data which may effect his or her bodyweight distribution and/or transfer during address and/or the swing. Such data may comprise some or all of the input data for the first aspect embodying this invention, as well as some or all of swing tempo (categorised as one of at least very slow, slow, medium slow, medium, medium fast, fast and very fast), shaft flex of the club to be used for the stroke to be played (e.g. extra stiff, stiff, firm, regular, senior, ladies, etc.) and clubhead speed at impact with a driver (e.g. >110 mph, 100-110 mph, 90-100 mph, 80-90 mph, 70-80 mph etc.). Should some of these data not be available, the parameters for use in comparing the golfer's bodyweight distribution and/or transfer with that of an expert golfer with the closest match can be estimated using a combination of the gender, age, height, build, handicap and shaft flex for the club to be used. Or the parameters can be estimated using a combination of the gender, age, height and build, or else by other available data.
  • During the address of the golf ball and during the golf swing, the pressure responsive devices 16 and 17 will electronically convey weight distribution data between the two feet, and also between the heel and toe areas of each of the two feet, to computer 13. The pressure responsive devices 16 and 17 are moved by hydraulics or other known means and may be each split 50/50 with heel area and toe area force transducers. If the force transducers are split halfway, there will be no need for them to turn round when a left-handed golfer uses the device after a right-handed golfer and vice versa. The computer will know which way round to collect and report data from the previously-input data relating to the right- or left-handedness of the golfer.
  • The golfer can give his or her indication when he or she is ready to address the golf ball and play the golf stroke (or make the practice swing if practice swing mode is chosen on the menu) from its static position on one of mats 3 or 4 or a tee thereon, by either pressing a start button, touching a start button area on the screen 10, using a voice controller or by some other interface. This start signal will initiate a delay period, the length of which can be chosen on the menu on screen 10 by the golfer, however for ease of use a default setting will also be programmed into the computer 13 which can be chosen if desired, which will count down to when bodyweight distribution measurement will commence. Additionally, for further ease of use, an audible signal could be chosen by the golfer for example via screen 10 which the device would emit to indicate to the golfer when the bodyweight distribution measurements are starting (once the delay period has elapsed).
  • The force transducers may measure bodyweight distribution between the right toe area, right heel area, left toe area and left heel area of the individual in a continuous manner for the duration of the measurement period. The computer will know when the golf stroke is complete by use of microphone 18 to detect the impact of the golf club with the golf ball and/or use of one of golf ball position sensors 11 or 12, which will detect that a golf ball is no longer resting on the golf ball striking mat or tee. If practice swing mode is employed, bodyweight distribution measurement will stop after a default period or else the period of time can be chosen by the golfer using the menu on screen 10.
  • Also, once the golf stroke is complete, the lights switched on in matrix bed of lights 14 may be switched off until the golfer indicates to computer 13 via screen 10 that he or she is satisfied with all of the data entered for the next stroke (amongst other things, the golf club selection and/or type of golf ball flight can be changed at this stage) and, if golf ball striking mode is chosen, another golf ball is placed upon golf ball striking areas 3 or 4 or one of the tees thereon.
  • Of course, the golf swing does not end with the impact of club against ball, but also comprises a follow-through period after impact. Since the moment of impact of the golfer's club with the golf ball is detected by microphone 18, and the golf swing does not last for a great deal of time following the moment of impact, the device can be adapted to continue to measure bodyweight distribution for each golf swing a predetermined time after the moment of impact of the golfer's club with the golf ball, for example 1.5 seconds. Immediately after the weight distribution measurement has been switched off at the end of the golfer's swing, and the lights on the matrix bed 14 have been switched off, the screen may display weight distribution results as measured for the last golf swing taken.
  • Optionally, the golfer can choose (for example via the menu on screen 10) to have his or her bodyweight distribution at the address of the golf ball measured. The force transducers 16 and 17 will measure bodyweight distribution between the golfer's left toe area, left heel area, right toe area and right heel area. The golfer has the option, via use of the menu on screen 10, of having the address position bodyweight distribution measured only, without the need for a stroke, or else having this measurement taken together with that of the proceeding swing (for either a golf stroke or practice swing) associated with that address. Should the golfer choose to have the address position bodyweight distribution measured before the commencement of a swing, the data shown will be from one particular time measurement or else an average over a short time period. The golfer may wish to have an indication of a period of time in which he or she should remain steady in his or her address position for the address position bodyweight distribution measurement, and he or she may receive this from the device in the form of a countdown (the length of this can be adjusted by the golfer if so desired) and/or a visual or audible signal for the start and/or end of this period.
  • Once measurement is complete, the address bodyweight distribution measurement data can be displayed on the screen and/or mat via matrix bed of lights 14, and this data may be displayed either on its own or in conjunction with instructional advice and/or data for an expert golfer or golfers using the same club intending to play the same type of stroke for use by the individual using the device to potentially improve his or her bodyweight distribution both through the respective feet in general and also in the toe and heel areas of the respective feet at address of the golf ball. An example set of results of an individual's address position bodyweight distribution measurement are shown in FIG. 4 a.
  • FIG. 4 b shows the results of the device user's address position bodyweight distribution shown in FIG. 4 a together with that of an expert golfer for the same type of chosen stroke. Also shown in FIG. 4 b is instructional advice given by the device for the golfer to modify his address position bodyweight distribution to a distribution resembling that of the expert golfer. The arrows and/or instruction and/or data may be flashing to attract the attention of the golfer. The golfer using the device has the option, via the menu on screen 10 to have the address position bodyweight distribution results shown as quadrant percentages, i.e. the percentage of the total bodyweight taken by the left toe area, left heel area, right toe area and right heel area. FIG. 4 c shows the results in quadrant percentage mode for the same measurements as taken for FIG. 4 b.
  • Descriptions of ideal bodyweight distributions and transfers can be found in “Ultimate Golf Techniques” by Malcolm Campbell (Dorling Kindersley Limited) and Golf Magazine, April 1998, pages 142 to 143.
  • For use of the device for golf swing bodyweight distribution measurement, information including such data as gender, height, build, weight, golfing handicap, swing tempo, clubhead speed at impact with a driver, club selection, club shaft flex and type of intended stroke (e.g. full power, low trajectory straight ball flight stroke) may be input by the golfer by use of the menu on screen 10 before a golf stroke or practice swing commences. Also, the countdown period and/or start and/or finish time of measurement may be selected. Pressure sensing devices 16 and 17 will measure bodyweight distribution both through the respective feet in general and also in the toe and heel areas of the respective feet. This bodyweight distribution measurement may be chosen to be carried out either in golf ball striking or practice swing mode by choosing from options on the menu on screen 10. Once measurement is complete, the bodyweight distribution measurement data can be displayed on the screen and/or mat via matrix bed of lights 14, and this data may be displayed either on its own or in conjunction with instructional advice and/or data of an expert golfer or golfers of the closest match to the golfer using the device in terms of the data input by the golfer using the device, using the same club intending to play the same type of stroke for use by the individual using the device to potentially improve his or her bodyweight distribution through the respective feet both at address of the golf ball and during the golf swing.
  • An example graph of bodyweight distribution of a right handed male golfer during a golf swing playing a golf stroke is shown in FIG. 5 a, in which the x axis shows the time elapsed. In this graph, also displayed is the bodyweight distribution and transfer information for an expert golfer with the nearest match from a selection of input data including but not limited to gender, height, build, weight, swing tempo, club selection, clubhead speed at impact with a driver and type of stroke. The y axis is a weight distribution ratio scale, with “0% R:100% L” at one extreme representing a distribution with all the golfer's weight on his left foot, and “100% R:0% L” at the other extreme representing a distribution with all the golfer's weight on his right foot. Should the individual be using this measurement feature of the device in practice swing mode, there will of course be no golf ball impact indication in the graphs. Should the individual be using the device in golf ball striking mode and should he or she miss the ball, or if the impact of the club with the ball is so faint that the microphone does not detect it, the bodyweight distribution measurement graph for the swing will still be shown, however without the golf ball impact indication. Should the individual using the device not commence his swing at the same time as bodyweight distribution measurement commences, the computer program will provide a best fit curve for the expert golfer's bodyweight distribution curve overlaid on the device user's curve. For example, if the individual using the device commences his swing with a significant delay after the bodyweight distribution measurement has commenced, there will be a significant portion of address-only bodyweight distribution before the swing curve commences. The computer program will recognise this and either remove the address-only portion of the curve and start the device user's and expert golfer's curve in a synchronised form, or else the program can leave the address-only portion in, and best-fit the expert golfer's curve to start after the same or similar delay period.
  • It can be seen from FIG. 5 a that the golfer using the device has too much of his bodyweight on his left foot at address of the golf ball and does not transfer enough of his bodyweight to his right foot during the backswing as compared with the expert golfer. At impact of the golf club with the golf ball, the golfer has too much of his bodyweight distribution onto his left foot.
  • The golfer can, if so desired, repeat his or her golf swing and use the graphs as a training device for improving bodyweight distributions and transfers during his or her address position and/or golf swing. The results can be printed and/or saved for future reference.
  • The golfer has means, optionally, via screen 10, to set the x axis to bodyweight distribution instead, so that the graph can more easily be interpreted whereby bodyweight distribution information is from left to right, as per a golfer's feet during the golf ball address and swing. The swing results shown in FIG. 5 a are shown in this axis form in FIG. 5 b. Additional information can be marked on the graph, for example to clarify which part represent the address, which part represents the backswing, which part represents the foreswing, which part represents the moment of impact, and which part represents the follow through.
  • Once this graph is displayed, automated instruction can be provided by the device as to what aspects of his or her bodyweight distribution and/or transfers can be improved to be the same as or more like that or those of an expert golfer with an ideally balanced golf swing. This instruction can be in the form of text on the screen and/or a computer generated voice and/or arrows and/or animation on the graph and/or display of an instructional video, or by some other similar means. For the golf swing made by the golfer using the device producing the graph shown in FIG. 5 b, an example of a text-based instruction post-swing is shown in FIG. 5 c. The arrows and/or instructional text and/or graphs shown in FIG. 5 c can be flashing to attract the attention of the individual using the device.
  • It will be noted that a young or inexperienced golfer using the system may try to effect a transfer of bodyweight onto his or her rear foot, relative to the target, during the backswing and/or forward foot relative to the target during the foreswing by a swaying motion. This type of weight transfer can be detected by the training device, and immediate guidance and instruction can be provided to the golfer. Referring to FIG. 6, there is seen a diagram of a guidance element of the system, for example located on the face of the pedestal 19 and/or provided on the screen 10, conveniently facing the golfer, which is an instructional diagram explaining to the golfer in simple terms the correct and incorrect means of transferring bodyweight during the golf swing. Such a guidance element explains to the golfer that the correct motion is to transfer bodyweight during the backswing by a turning motion of the shoulders and upper body (the so-called coil), and the incorrect motion during the backswing is via a swaying motion of the hips and upper body, with reduced or no turn of the shoulder and upper body (less coil). The training device is therefore able to offer specific advice to the golfer tailored according to the golfer's actual swing as determined from the measurements taken. The device can also tailor the advice based on the golfer's data, for example so that different advice can be offered according to the golfer's experience, gender, age or handicap.
  • The golfer, when using the device in golf ball striking mode, can also select the option (for example via screen 10) to have further measurement taken and displayed during the time around impact of the golf club with the golf ball. In addition to, or instead of the above diagrams and graphs, an arrow representation can be provided showing the golfer's measured bodyweight distribution and/or transfer between the right toe area, right heel area, left toe area and left heel area in a short period of time prior to, during, and after the moment of impact of the golf club with the golf ball during the golfer's swing. The moment of impact is known from the sound detected by microphone 18. Should the individual using the device in this mode miss the golf ball, or if the impact of the club with the ball is so faint that the microphone does not detect it, during the measurement period, the device may not be able to provide an accurate impact area measurement. The device may notify the individual of this via text on the screen, computer generated voice or some other means, in which case it may instruct him or her to attempt another stroke if so desired.
  • FIG. 7 a shows an example arrow representation of a golfer using the device in this mode together with an expert golfer. It will be seen in this example in FIG. 7 a that the right-handed golfer using the device, in the short period just prior to, during and just after the moment of impact, as compared to the expert right-handed golfer, has initiated the general transfer of bodyweight from his right side correctly (since the arrow for the golfer using the device starts from the same place as the arrow for the expert golfer), and generally from his right foot to his left foot to the correct degree (since the arrow for the golfer using the device is of the same width and length as the expert golfer), however he has transferred too much of his bodyweight onto his left toe area (as also indicated by the arrow), rather than onto the left heel area, as was done by the expert golfer. It can be seen that the expert golfer has transferred his bodyweight from his right foot (with the bodyweight distribution in the right foot being roughly equal across the heel and toe areas) towards the left foot, and more specifically to a bodyweight distribution across the left foot biased towards the heel area. FIG. 7 b shows the same data as shown in FIG. 7 a but with instruction.
  • FIG. 7 c shows another example arrow representation of a golfer using the device in this mode together with an expert golfer. This representation is for the same golf stroke as was used to generate the graphs in FIGS. 5 a, 5 b and 5 c. It will be seen in this example in FIG. 7 c that the right-handed golfer using the device, in the short period just prior to, during and just after the moment of impact, as compared to the expert right-handed golfer, has initiated the general transfer of bodyweight with too much of his bodyweight on his left side (and consequently not enough bodyweight on his right side), since the arrow for the golfer using the device starts at a point well to the left of the right foot. Also, since the arrow for the golfer using the device is fatter and ends further left than for the expert golfer, the golfer's general bodyweight distribution is further to the left. Additionally, as also indicated by the arrow, the golfer transferred too much of his bodyweight onto his left toe area, rather than onto the left heel area, as was done by the expert golfer. FIG. 7 d shows the same data as shown in FIG. 7 c but with instruction.
  • In a similar fashion to the instruction given by the device to the golfer shown in FIG. 5 c, arrows, text and/or a computer generated voice or similar can instruct the golfer using the device how to improve his bodyweight distribution and/or transfer during the time around the impact of the golf club with the golf ball. Examples of this are shown in FIG. 7 b, FIG. 7 d, FIG. 8 b and FIG. 8 c. The text, arrows, and/or instructional arrow can be flashing to attract the attention of the individual using the device.
  • In another example, FIG. 8 c shows a graph for the entire swing and arrows for the impact area made by a right-handed golfer striking a golf ball using the device, in which a swing with a so-called “reverse-pivot” is used, i.e. bodyweight is transferred onto the forward foot (the left foot) relative to the target during the backswing and onto the rear foot (the right foot) relative to the target during the foreswing. FIG. 8 c also shows an example of instruction given to the golfer.
  • As described above, a device is provided for indicating optimal clubface alignment and positioning and foot placement positions and angles for a wide range of golfers to make practice swings and play golf strokes using a wide range of golf clubs and training aids or clubs. The device also measures and indicates to the golfer optimal bodyweight distribution and bodyweight transfers during the address position and golf swing. The system comprises a base unit containing a matrix bed of lights, beneath a translucent mat, which illuminate to form a line behind the golf ball to indicate correct clubface alignment and positioning and footprint-shaped sets of lights to indicate optimal foot placement positions and angles. The information given by the lighting depends on data entered into the computer by the golfer including gender, height, build, right or left handedness, shoe size, club selection and type of stroke to be played, as well as the position of the golf ball on one of the golf ball striking areas or tees of the mat, which can be either from a known or selected fixed position or else the golf ball position can be elucidated by a weight sensor. Also, two force transducers, each with heel and toe components, beneath the mat measure bodyweight distribution and transfers between the respective feet during address of the golf ball and all of the swing. Graphs of bodyweight distribution and transfer information of ideally balanced expert golfers playing golf strokes using a range of golf clubs using a range of swing tempos and playing a range of types of golf strokes are provided for use by the golfer in comparing with his or her data for use in training his or her golf swing. Also measured and displayed are the bodyweight distribution through the right toe area, right heel area, left toe area and left heel area at the address position and also bodyweight distribution and transfer through the right toe area, right heel area, left toe area and left heel area through the impact area for the individual using the device as well as a range of expert golfers using a range of golf clubs. Instruction is given by the device to highlight to the golfer what he or she needs to do with his or her bodyweight distribution and transfers in general between the two feet during his or her full swing and also between the toe and heel areas of his or her two feet during both the address position and the impact area in order to be more like an ideally balanced expert golfer. Variations and modifications of this are described above.
  • The functionality of the computer 13 (or similar calculating or operating device) described above can be implemented in hardware or software, or a combination thereof. A program for use in directing the computer can be stored on a computer-readable medium or could, for example, be embodied in a signal such as a downloadable data signal provided from an Internet website. Examples of devices which could have hardware and/or software of one or more aspects of the present invention added to them to improve the usefulness of these devices include, but are not limited to, golf simulators and computerised video overlay golf tuition systems. The appended claims are to be interpreted as covering a computer or operating program by itself, or as a record on a carrier, or as a signal, or in any other form.
  • It should be noted that the appended claims are also intended to cover a device used in the practice swing mode described above in which no actual ball is employed during use, either at address or during the stroke.
  • It will be appreciated that embodiments of the present invention have been described specifically in relation to a golf training aid. It is also possible that the same or equivalent principles are applied to provide a training aid for use with other sports. For example, the principles can be applied to provide a training aid for improving a snooker player's stance, or for improving the stance and weight distribution of a baseball/softball pitcher.

Claims (32)

  1. 1. A golf training device for improving a user's address of a golf ball, comprising:
    input means for inputting influence data comprising information which might affect how the user should address the ball;
    calculation means for calculating address data, based on the input influence data, specifying one or more aspects of an appropriate address for the user;
    a playing surface on which at least the user is positioned at address; and
    indication means for indicating address information to the user from beneath the playing surface based on the calculated address data, the information relating to how the user should address the ball, and the indication means being operable to indicate the address information to the user by illuminating a part or parts of the playing surface from below.
  2. 2. A golf training device as claimed in claim 1, wherein the calculation means calculate the address data based on pre-collected influence data and associated address data for a reference golfer or golfers.
  3. 3. A golf training device as claimed in claim 2, wherein the calculation means use an algorithm derived from the pre-collected data.
  4. 4. A golf training device as claimed in claim 2, wherein the calculation means use a store of such pre-collected data, selecting the closest match from the store based on the input influence data and using the associated address data for the closest match.
  5. 5. A golf training device as claimed in claim 1, wherein the address data comprise information relating to the user's stance at address.
  6. 6. A golf training device as claimed in claim 5, wherein the address data comprise information relating to the placement of the user's feet in relation to each other and to the ball.
  7. 7. A golf training device as claimed in claim 6, wherein the address data comprise information relating to positions and angles of the user's feet.
  8. 8. A golf training device as claimed in claim 6, wherein the address data comprise information relating to the position of the ball.
  9. 9. A golf training device as claimed in claim 6, wherein the address data comprise information relating to the distance between the ball and the user's feet.
  10. 10. A golf training device as claimed in claim 6, wherein the address data comprise information relating to the alignment of the user's stance.
  11. 11. A golf training device as claimed in claim 6, wherein the address data comprise information relating to the ball position in the user's stance.
  12. 12. A golf training device as claimed in claim 1, wherein the address data comprise information relating to the clubface placement in relation to the ball.
  13. 13. A golf training device as claimed in claim 12, wherein the address data comprise information relating to alignment of the clubface.
  14. 14. A golf training device as claimed in claim 1, wherein the influence data comprise one or more of the following items of information: gender; age; date of birth; height; weight; build; race; neck size; shoulder width; waist size; chest size; shoe size; inside leg measurement; distance from tips of fingers to floor when standing fully erect with arms hanging by the side; distance from wrist to floor when standing fully erect with arms hanging by the side; right or left-handedness; club selection for the stroke to be played; length of club for the stroke to be played; lie of the club for the stroke to be played; strength of the stroke to be played; intended direction of the golf stroke to be played; intended golf ball flight of the stroke to be played; golfing experience; golfing handicap; and manufacturer and model of club for stroke to be played.
  15. 15. A golf training device as claimed in claim 1, wherein the playing surface comprises an area on which the ball is positioned at address.
  16. 16. A golf training device as claimed in claim 1, wherein the address data comprise information relating to the placement of the user's feet in relation to each other and to the ball, and wherein the indication means are operable to illuminate parts of the playing surface that specify the user's feet placement for the address.
  17. 17. A golf training device as claimed in claim 1, wherein the address data comprise information relating to the placement of the user's feet in relation to each other and to the ball, and wherein the indication means are operable to illuminate a part of the playing surface that specifies the ball placement for address.
  18. 18. (canceled)
  19. 19. (canceled)
  20. 20. A golf training device as claimed in claim 1, further comprising means for detecting the position of the ball.
  21. 21. A golf training device as claimed in claim 1, further comprising means for detecting the positions of the user's feet.
  22. 22. (canceled)
  23. 23. A golf training device as claimed in claim 1, wherein the indication means are operable to indicate the address information relating to a stroke after the user has completed that stroke.
  24. 24. A golf training device as claimed in claim 1, wherein the input means comprise a device for receiving an electronic data tag holding the influence data.
  25. 25. A golf training device as claimed in claim 1, wherein the input means comprise an interactive screen.
  26. 26. A golf training device as claimed in claim 1, further comprising measurement means for providing a bodyweight distribution measurement.
  27. 27. A golf training device as claimed in claim 26, wherein the indication means are operable to provide an automated instructional indication to the user from a separate display, involving a comparison of the bodyweight distribution measurement at address against a corresponding ideal bodyweight distribution.
  28. 28. A golf training device for improving a user's weight distribution during a golf stroke, comprising:
    measurement means for providing a time series of bodyweight distribution measurements during a predetermined period of the stroke;
    storage means for storing the time series of measurements;
    indication means for providing an automated instructional indication to the user after completion of the stroke involving a comparison of at least part of the stored time series of measurements against a corresponding ideal bodyweight distribution.
  29. 29. A golf training device as claimed in claim 28, wherein the predetermined period at least includes address of the ball.
  30. 30. A golf training device as claimed in claim 28, wherein the predetermined period at least includes address of the ball and impact of the ball.
  31. 31. A golf training device as claimed in claim 28, wherein the predetermined period at least includes the follow-through.
  32. 32.-58. (canceled)
US11574895 2004-09-10 2005-09-06 Golf Training Device Abandoned US20080242437A1 (en)

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GB2417908A8 (en) 2006-03-28 application
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