WO2000043936A2 - Custom golf club fitting system - Google Patents

Custom golf club fitting system

Info

Publication number
WO2000043936A2
WO2000043936A2 PCT/US2000/000421 US0000421W WO2000043936A2 WO 2000043936 A2 WO2000043936 A2 WO 2000043936A2 US 0000421 W US0000421 W US 0000421W WO 2000043936 A2 WO2000043936 A2 WO 2000043936A2
Authority
WO
Grant status
Application
Patent type
Prior art keywords
club
golf
golfer
custom
golf club
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US2000/000421
Other languages
French (fr)
Other versions
WO2000043936A3 (en )
Inventor
Amar K. Goel
Eric M. Silberstein
Original Assignee
Chip Shot Golf Corporation
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date

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Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q30/00Commerce, e.g. shopping or e-commerce
    • G06Q30/06Buying, selling or leasing transactions

Abstract

Methods and apparatus for providing a custom golf club fitting system comprising a computer interface for receiving a user selection of a predetermined golf club-fitting parameters. The system may include a memory or storage device for storing the user selection and baseline values for predetermined parameters. The user interface may further include representative images of a golf club and/or player. A complete custom golf club fitting profile may be viewed and generated with a web browser by entering desired or recommanded values for selected golf club-fitting parameters on a website. The custom golf club profile may be transmitted over a network between a server and a remote site to order selected equipment upon command.

Description

CUSTOM GOLF CLUB FITTING SYSTEM BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Field of the Invention

This invention is directed generally to custom-fit sporting equipment. More particularly, this invention relates to methods and apparatus for providing custom golf club fitting systems that consider a selection of parameters including physical attributes and playing characteristics for individual players.

Description of the Related Art

It is well-known that many golfers today play with improperly fitted golf clubs. Beginners are often unaware of the concept of club fitting when first attempting to learn the game of golf. A standard set of golf clubs such as woods and irons, for example, are generally manufactured and provided according to specifications for a theoretical "standard golfer." These designs are largely based on available statistical information for the general population. However, since golfers have considerable differences in height, arm length and stance when addressing the golf ball, even persons of similar height often have different fitting requirements. Golfers also commonly select golf clubs by simply trying a variety of random clubs to determine which "feels" the most appropriate regardless of other considerations. Many players use poorly fitted clubs including putters that were chosen based upon appearance, head configuration, or current trends and marketing, rather than considering a proper fit. Furthermore, club manufacturers do not usually follow a standard fitting system which increases the likelihood of buying improperly fitted golf clubs. Individual golfers today are either limited to paying highly trained individuals to provide club fitting or assume the risk of purchasing improperly fitted clubs.

Different golfers have different golf club requirements and demands. Each person has a unique set of physical characteristics such as height, weight, and arm length. Individuals may have various degrees of knee bend, open or closed stances, foot spacing, and other individual tendencies according to build, style or level of play. Golfers also stand over a ball differently and possess different stances when addressing a golf ball. Meanwhile, off-the-shelf golf clubs with fixed configurations often fail to provide a proper match between a club and the individual player. Although golf clubs may be custom made by specialty club builders, as with professional golfers, this typically results in very expensive clubs and also requires the assistance of highly trained club fitters. Most golf clubs are generally manufactured with consideration of three critical angles: a loft angle and a lie angle. The loft angle may be defined as the angle of the striking face of a golf clubhead relative to a vertical axis passing through the center of golf ball, and has a critical effect on the trajectory of the golf ball.

The lie angle is generally the angle of the major axis of the club shaft with respect to the horizontal plane or ground. Any error in the lie angle may also have an adverse effect on the trajectory of the golf ball. For example, the common problem of hooking or slicing the golf ball often results from being unable to strike the golf ball in a manner that imparts rotation to the ball in a direction parallel to the direction of intended travel of the ball. If the golf club is not properly oriented at impact, with the proper loft angle and lie angle, the direction of the rotation imparted to the ball may not be parallel to the intended path of travel. The resulting lift will unfortunately have a horizontal vector component causing the ball to fly to the left or to the right of the intended path of travel. However, even assuming that the loft angle of the golf club is initially correct, i.e., the golf club is oriented in the proper vertical plane, errors in the lie angle may still result in striking the golf ball at an incorrect angle. The lie angle at impact, called the effective lie angle, may be further considered a function of the lie angle built into the club. In addition to the consideration of clubhead angles, the club shaft length is highly relevant factor in club fitting. Any effort to provide the correct lie for a club may be entirely wasted when the club shaft is either too long or too short. Improper club lengths basically alter the manner in which a club lies at address. An improper club fit may also result even with a correct club length if clubhead angles are improperly selected. A wide variety of golf club designs are available today. It is often difficult for golfers to select among the various combinations of club designs which include different club lengths, head-to-shaft angles, grip sizes, materials, head sizes and shapes. Since club lengths and head angles are interrelated, it is very difficult to select an optimum combination by simply trying a few clubs configured with fixed configurations. This is particularly true where a particular "feel" for a club is necessary for both optimum performance and maximum confidence. Many pro shops and golf specialty stores maintain in-store hitting areas and expensive computerized, club fitting systems that allow golfers to try out different clubs. Video cameras and computers may be also used to analyze the swing of a golfer to assist in the recommendation of particular club designs and models. However, with the great many different clubs available, it is very difficult for a player to try even a representative sample of products for any type of meaningful comparison because of the variables involved. Even with the help of a teaching professional, it is difficult for a golfer to choose the ideal club to fit his or her needs. As a result, a player is likely to choose an unsuitable or improperly fitted club based on appearance, marketing or the illusory "feel" that unknowingly escapes most golfers at every level. The simplistic concept of "one-size-fits-all" generally does not apply with golf club fitting. Accordingly, there is a need for a club fitting system that is easy to implement in a cost- effective manner particularly for the everyday golfing community.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention described herein provides methods and apparatus for convenient golf club fitting based upon selected physical parameters and playing tendencies for a wide variety of golfers. In addition to the body shape and size of a player, other considerations relating to the overall game of the individual, i.e., swing speed, handicap, plays a critical role in designing clubs that fit the individual. Although expensive equipment and highly trained personnel may provide club fitting to a limited number of golfers who can afford such services, the golf club fitting systems provided herein offer golf clubs that are built by trained club builders in accordance with a custom-fit profile compiled for any individual golfer. The custom-fit profile may be simply generated when purchasing or ordering golf clubs, and may include any number of selected parameters used in club fitting such as club lie, club length, shaft flex, and grip size. Even when the individual is unable to provide specific values for these parameters, the invention may provide suitable recommendations based upon personal playing ability or habits including the handicap for the player, and how often or how long the golfer has been playing golf. Additional considerations may include physical parameters such as the height, the arm length, and how far the person hits a golf ball with a particular club. By selecting specific clubheads, shafts and grips, many different club designs may be provided in accordance with the invention with the goal of providing custom-built clubs that permit the individual to feel more comfortable with any shot which moves the person one step closer in improving their game. The golf club fitting apparatus and methods described herein provide systems that are designed to successfully match a player with the correct set of golf clubs.

An object of the present invention is to therefore provide custom club fitting for individual golfers in a simple and straightforward manner without unnecessarily complicated calculations, expensive equipment or highly trained personnel. The invention further provides an on-line club system that may be installed on a website for the purchase of any type of golf club such as woods, irons, or even putters. The custom-fitting of golf clubs may substantially improve the performance of a golfer, and may further become particularly important when an established golfer is upgrading or replacing a set of golf clubs. The invention provides methods and apparatus for improved golf club fitting by offering or recommending suitable golf clubs and specifications based on personal considerations such as level of play or physical parameters such as particular club lengths or head-to-shaft angles for individual golfers. Golf club products are thus provided which optimizes performance and the effectiveness of clubs for the average golfer. The golf club fitting systems and methods described herein provide a relatively less expensive alternative to purchasing custom-made golf clubs from costly club fitters. Even though different players have different physical sizes, playing characteristics and skill levels, each golfer should still be able to enjoy the freedom to select golf clubs that match their particular needs or physical requirements. Additionally, the invention provides golf club fitting apparatus and methods that support the purchase of a large number of different head and shaft combinations quickly and easily without having to stock a large variety of finished golf clubs. A player or customer may interchangeably mix and match components club until an optimum combination is found for a player at any skill level. This provides far greater flexibility than off-the-shelf golf clubs in a store inventory, and are less expensive than ordering custom golf clubs from highly trained fitters and club builders. Moreover, the number of different golf clubs which are stocked or overstocked by large retail stores or distributors, is hereby reduced since a large number of different combination of clubheads, shafts and grips, may be custom-built at a convenient time or on command.

Another object of the invention is to provide a computer based system that receives club design criteria from an end user in creating a custom-built golf club or set of golf clubs. The system may comprise a computer for receiving a user selection of predetermined club-fitting factors directed at the individual golfer. The plurality of individual factors may include the physical attributes and playing tendencies or habits of the golfer, and may be combined or considered together to generate a custom-fit golf club profile. The system may include a memory storage such as a hard disk drive having a user library of baseline values for selected physical attributes such as height, weight, arm length, and clothing size. Moreover, the memory may store individual profiles for later use or modification with respect to future club purchases. Additionally, the computer may include a graphical user interface with a display including the custom-fit golf club profile. A set of tables may provide baseline values for the certain physical attributes derived from the general population. The system may also include a personal home computer in communication with a server that allows a customer to purchase golf clubs based upon the custom- fit profile at a selected website over the Internet.

In yet another embodiment of the invention, a system for custom-fit golf clubs is provided comprising a computer with a processor for receiving a selection of physical characteristics for an individual golfer. The selection of characteristics may include the height, the wrist-to-floor measurement for the individual golfer, and the approximate distance the individual golfer hits a golf ball with a preselected club. The glove size for the individual golfer may be also considered. The system may further include a memory storage for storing look-up tables containing club fitting values that correspond to the selection of physical characteristics or type of golf club. The computer may hold a club fitting program for directing the processor to provide a custom- fit golf club design output derived from the club fitting values which may be graphically represented or displayed. In another variation of the system, the computer may further receive a selection of golf playing characteristics for the individual golfer such as how long and frequently the golfer plays the game of golf, and an estimated 18-hole score for the golfer. The system may also consider an approximate handicap for the golfer in providing a custom-fit golf clubs. These and other factors may be received to modify the custom- fit golf club design output according to the set of golf playing characteristics for a particular individual.

The invention further provides a custom golf club fitting computer system having a computer processor that is connected to a memory storage. The memory storage may include a golf club fitting program and look-up tables with predetermined baseline values. The program may direct the computer to receive user input for a set of golf club-fitting parameters and a set of physical attributes for an individual golfer. The user input for the set of golf club-fitting parameters may be compared with the look-up table of predetermined baseline values. These baseline values may relate to player height measurements, wrist- to-floor measurements, or any other physical attribute for the individual golfer.

A custom-fit golf club profile may be generated that includes these and other sets of golf club- fitting parameters with corresponding values based on the table of predetermined baseline values. Additionally, a computer-based custom golf club fitting apparatus is provided herein having a computer with a processor and a memory for storing at least one look-up table of baseline values and correction factors for a set of selected physical attributes for an individual golfer. The computer may be adapted for receiving input corresponding to the set of physical attributes to provide a custom-fit golf club profile. The memory may further include a program for generating the custom-fit golf club profile based upon the input corresponding to the set of physical attributes and the look-up table of baseline values and correction factors.

Another aspect of the invention also provides methods for custom-fitting a set of golf clubs for an individual golfer. A method described herein may include the following steps of receiving a particular club lie value, a shaft flex value, a club length value, and glove size for an individual golfer. These values may be compared with corresponding standard values to provide a custom-fit golf club profile with correction factors, if any, for the individual golfer. Another variation of the invention includes the steps of receiving an approximate length of time the golfer has been playing the game of golf, receiving an approximate frequency at which the golfer plays the game a golf, receiving an estimated 18-hole score for the golfer, and receiving an approximate handicap for the golfer. These values may also include adjustments or correction factors, if necessary, to provide an individualized profile corresponding to the golfer in order to provide custom-fitted golf clubs. Variations of the invention include a method for using a computer to provide custom-fit golf clubs based on the physical attributes of an individual golfer. Custom-fit golf clubs may be provided in accordance with the invention by inputting into the computer a desired golf club lie value based upon the height for the individual golfer, inputting into the computer a desired golf club flex value based upon a distance the individual golfer hits a golf ball with a preselected club, and inputting into the computer a desired golf club length value based upon the height and a wrist-to-floor measurement of the individual golfer. The method may further include the step of outputting a custom-fit golf club profile on a computer display that includes the club lie value, the club flex value, the club length value. The golf club profile may also include a predetermined set of standard values and corresponding correction values for the club lie, the club flex and the club length. These and other objects of the invention are described further in the following detailed description of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Fig. 1 is a flow diagram illustrating various aspects of the invention that generate an individual profile or output for selecting custom-built golf clubs.

Fig. 2 is a table of golf club lies in relation to the height of a golfer. Fig. 3 is a table of recommended club shaft flex in relation to the approximate distance a golfer hits a golf ball with a preselected club such as driver. Fig. 4 is a table of standard shaft lengths for a selected range of golf clubs.

Fig. 5 is a table of wrist-to-floor measurements in relation to the height of a golfer that may provide approximate correction values for a golf club shaft with respect to club length standards. Fig. 6 is a pictorial representation of a computer display screen user interface illustrating available golf club irons that may be ordered through an on-line purchasing system that is available on the worldwide web.

Fig. 7 is another illustration similar to Fig. 6 that describes on-line ordering information for the purchase of a selected golf club such as an iron. Fig. 8 is a graphical user interface with pull-down menus for entering information for selected parameters and links to assist the end user in determining recommended club specifications.

Figs. 9-10 are portions of the interface shown in Fig. 8 that illustrates pull-down menus that provides ranges of available choices for specific parameters. Fig. 11 is a portion of the interface shown in Fig. 8 that illustrates choices within the pull-down menus for information that is not known.

Fig. 12 is a custom-fit golf club profile provided in accordance with the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The invention is directed to methods and apparatus for providing custom-built golf clubs. It should be understood however that many different types of custom-built sporting equipment may be provided in accordance with the concepts of the invention. Any embodiment of the invention may be considered individually or in combination with other variations and aspects of the invention as set forth in detail below.

As shown in Fig. 1, the invention provides various methods for generating an individual profile or output with a detailed specification for custom-built golf clubs. An entire process or methodology may be established from start to end with intermediate steps that analyze a predetermined set of club-fitting parameters. A variety of parameters based on the physical attributes of an individual golfer may be selected as the basis for generating a custom-fit profile. The profile may include club parameters directed to three basic components of a golf club: the clubhead, the shaft and the grip. For example, the clubhead for a particular individual may be customized to have a selected or recommended club lie. The desired club shaft flex and length may be further modified to provide a customized golf club shaft. The glove size of the golfer may be also considered to provide clubs with the correctly fitted grips. User input values may be entered for these and other parameters when they are known or suggested by look-up tables provided in accordance with the invention. Moreover, separate look-up tables may be provided herein according to distinct groups within the golf population including men, women, seniors and juniors. Look-up tables offer recommended values for selected club-fitting parameters in addition offering confirmation of values entered by the user. Furthermore, the playing characteristics of the golfer may be considered in providing a custom-fit golf club profile. These characteristics may include any combination of objective club-fitting parameters that may be considered relevant in providing a custom-built set of golf clubs including: an established handicap, an average 18-hole score, the length of time a person has played the game of golf, and the frequency in which the person plays golf. Additional parameters relating to physical parameters and playing characteristics may be of course selected in accordance with the invention.

The methods provided herein may be implemented on a computer system for providing custom-fit golf clubs. The system may include a computer with a processor for receiving a selection of physical characteristics for an individual golfer including at least a height for the individual golfer, a wrist-to- floor measurement for the individual golfer, an approximate distance the individual golfer hits a golf ball with a preselected club, and a glove size for the individual golfer. The selection of physical characteristics may be transferred over a network such as the INTERNET, and appear on a user interface that is configured for a variety of web browsers. The user interface may further include a representative digital image of a golfer with one or more physical attributes of the golfer. The system may also include a memory storage for storing at least one look-up table of club fitting values corresponding to the selection of physical characteristics. Furthermore, a club fitting program may be included in the system for directing the processor to provide a custom-fit golf club design output derived from the club fitting values. A computer display may be selected for graphically representing the custom-fit golf club design output. A selection of golf playing characteristics for an individual golfer may be further received that includes an approximate length of time the golfer has been playing the game of golf, an approximate frequency at which the golfer plays the game of golf, an estimated 18-hole score for the golfer, and an approximate handicap for the golfer. The custom-fit golf club design output may be adjusted according to the responses received for any set of golf playing characteristics. Another method is provided herein for custom-fitting a set of golf clubs for an individual with a computer based system. This process may include the following steps of receiving a club lie value of a golf club for an individual golf player, receiving a shaft flex value of a golf club for the individual golf player, receiving a club length value of a golf club for the individual golf player, and receiving a glove size value for the individual golf player. The values for the club lie, the shaft flex, the club length and the glove size, may be compared with corresponding standard values to provide a custom-fit golf club profile for the individual golfer. This comparison may further include the step of receiving additional input that corresponds to a set of physical characteristic values reflecting the height, the weight, the build, or the wrist-to-floor measurement, of a particular player. Recommended club fitting values may be provided based upon this additional input. While a golf club profile may be provided with applicable correction factors based upon physical attributes, the profile may be also modified according to certain playing characteristics of the golfer. The methods described herein for custom-fitting the golfer may further include the steps of receiving an approximate length of time the golfer has been playing the game of golf, receiving an approximate frequency at which the golfer plays the game a golf, receiving an estimated 18-hole score for the golfer, and receiving an approximate handicap for the golfer. These values may be considered to provide a profile confirmation for the golfer with correction values where applicable. The club profile may be thus adjusted with the correction values to provide a custom-fitted golf club.

A golf club lie table provided in accordance with the invention is shown in Fig. 2. The club lie may be defined as the angle formed between the hosel and the rest of the clubhead. Each golf club generally includes a hosel which is the projecting portion of the club that connects the head to the shaft. By adjusting the club hosel position, the lie of the club may be altered to provide a better fit according the physical characteristics of an individual player. When a player stands at address with a club, the bottom of the clubhead may be observed to determine whether the head is touching the ground evenly or if the club lie warrants any adjustment. If the middle bottom portion of the clubhead flatly rests on the ground, then the club lie may be considered correct. However, if the toe of the club is pointing up in the air and the heel of the club is on the ground, then the current lie may be too flat. A more upright lie may be recommended to provide an improved club fit. Similarly, when the heel of the club is generally lifted above ground and the toe is on the ground, the club lie may be too upright. A flatter lie may thus provide an improved club fit. Shorter players generally prefer a flatter lie (the hosel bent more down) to adjust for the fact that their arms are closer to the ground. Taller players generally prefer a more upright lie (the hosel bent more up) to help them adjust for their arms and torso being higher relative to the ground.

A club lie chart, as shown in Fig. 2, may provide some assistance to the golfer in selecting a club lie or deviation from a standard lie. Based upon an entered height value or range for an individual player, a suggested correct lie value is provided. For example, a player that is between 5 feet, 8 inches - 6 feet tall typically selects a club with a standard lie for a particular club. When the player height is between 5 feet, 2 inches tall - 5 feet, 5 inches tall, the recommended lie is 2 degrees flat relative to the standard lie. At the same time, for a player who is between 6 feet, 2 inches tall - 6 feet, 5 inches tall, the recommended lie is 2 degrees upright relative to the standard. The values provided in the lie table may be considered lie correction factors wherein a standard lie essentially has a correction factor of zero which suggests that probably no correction is needed. A correction factor with a particular number of degrees flatter or more upright may be applied to individually selected clubs or throughout an entire set of woods and irons. It will be understood that for purposes of this description, the term "standard" generally refers to the measurement of a selected club-fitting parameter for a person having average physical measurements for that particular sex. A baseline standard lie may be selected in accordance with industry standards for each type of iron or wood. Although the club lie table illustrated in Fig. 2 provides correct or recommended lies ranging from 3 degrees flat - 3 degrees upright for corresponding individuals ranging from approximately 5 feet, 2 inches - 6 feet, 5 inches, the height ranges and lie angle variances may be modified accordingly to provide different ranges or degrees of measurements and corrections. Lie tables may also vary between men and women since each have general anatomical differences which may create different standard lie angles for two persons of the same height but opposite sex. It should be further observed that lie angle tables provided herein offer general guideline, and are not considered absolute specifications in order to accommodate personal preferences or styles.

As shown in Fig. 3, a club shaft flex table is provided in accordance with the invention to assist an individual golfer in selecting an appropriate shaft flex.

Many knowledgeable golfers consider the golf club shaft to be the most important part of the golf club. One of the most important aspects of the golf club shaft is the shaft flex. The term "flex" refers to the relative stiffness of the shaft. The bend or flex in the shaft is where much of the power is generated in striking a golf ball. It may be observed that some golf clubs shafts are relatively stiffer than others, and shafts of different length and material (such as steel or graphite) will also provide different degrees of flex. When choosing the correct shaft flex, the stronger or longer player generally tends to select a stiffer shaft. The stiffer shaft is less flexible, but generally provides more control. When a player swings a golf club, the clubhead essentially acts as a weight at the end of the club which causes the shaft to bend. On the downswing, the shaft is flexed as the golfer throws the clubhead at the ball. If a shaft is too flexible, and bends too much, then its becomes extremely difficult to control where the ball travels. At the same time, if the shaft does not flex enough, and is too stiff, then the golfer loses potential power, and accuracy may be also affected. Golfers thus desire a club shaft flex that provides the correct amount of flex for the individual.

The recommended flex values provided herein are again offered as a suggestion to the golfer in order to permit some allowable deviation based upon personal preferences. Although shaft flex may be selected based upon the measured club speed for a player, a suitable recommendation may be provided without complicated measurements and equipment by estimating the approximate distance the individual hits a golf ball with a preselected club. For example, a person who hits a golf ball less than 180 yards with a driver (without including roll distance) would probably select a ladies flex shaft. The relatively flexible shaft may provide or generate the proper or desirable amount of flex.

Meanwhile, the individual who is able to hit a golf ball more than 275 yards or more with a driver generally is more concerned with accuracy, and may often select an extra-stiff flex shaft. The distance table again provides recommendations when personal shaft flex preferences may not be known, and still permits an individual to select a shaft flex contrary to what may be indicated simply based upon playing style or personal preference. It is understood that the distance tables provided herein may be also adapted for any golf club other than the driver, and include corresponding distances to recommend suggested degrees of club shaft flex. Another important club-fitting parameter considered by the invention is the club shaft length. When selecting an appropriate club shaft length, a variety of factors may be considered including the height of the player and the wrist-to- floor measurement of the person. Another concept of the invention provides adjustment factors for individuals who may require a club shaft length that deviates from standard lengths. Fig. 4 provides a table of standard shaft lengths for a wide range of golf clubs. For most golf clubs, standard lengths are generally accepted in the industry for both woods (driver through 9 wood) and irons (1 iron through wedges). For example, as shown in Fig. 4, a driver may be formed with a 43 inch shaft when formed of steel, or a 43.5 inch shaft when formed of graphite. At the same time, a 35-36 inch shaft may be selected for wedges such as a pitching wedge (PW), gap wedge (GW), sand wedge (SW) or a lob wedge (LW). Club shafts may be of course formed of many different materials and have a variety of different lengths other than those illustrated. However, in general, wood golf clubs are longer than iron golf clubs. It is further understood that the shaft lengths described herein may be varied accordingly between club manufacturers, and a different range of shaft lengths may be provided for women (not shown) which may be generally 1 inch shorter than their male counterparts. In addition, the wrist-to-floor measurement of a golfer may be considered when selecting a club shaft length. The wrist-to-floor measurement may be considered the distance between the wrist of a golfer and the ground while wearing ordinary street shoes and standing on a level surface with arms hanging relaxed. The measurement may be obtained at the point where the hand meets the wrist. The wrist-to-floor measurement and the player height may together provide a recommended club length for a particular individual. Fig. 5 provides a table of club length correction values for individual golfers. Based upon the wrist-to-floor measurement and the height of the player, recommended club shaft length correction factors are provided in accordance with the invention. Club length tables described herein assist an individual in determining if and when club shaft alterations are recommended. Deviations from standard club lengths may be provided in any unit of measure such as inches. For example, a correction value of +1.75 inches suggest that the club shafts may be made longer than the standard length for any particular club or set of clubs. Meanwhile, a correction value of -0.5 inches may indicate a recommended shortening of the club shaft. When no correction factor is recommended or requested, a correction factor of "S" may be provided which essentially means that the proper club length is probably the commonly accepted standard length for the club. Accordingly, club length values for particular individuals may be derived from the standard club length for each club which includes any correction value derived from physical characteristics such as height and wrist-to-floor measurements.

In addition to the club shaft length and lie, the size of the golf club grip is another club-fitting parameter considered by the invention. The club grip is considered by many to be the only direct connection between a player and a golf club. It is generally important for the hands of the player to feel comfortable when holding the golf club. This level of comfort may be provided by fitting the player with a proper grip size. When the grip of a golf club is too large, the wrists of the player often becomes impeded which inhibits the person from completely hitting through the golf shot. This often results in pushes or weak slices. When the grips of the golf club are too small, the hands of the player tend to turn over prematurely through impact which often results in pulls or hooks. Based upon the particular glove size provided by the golfer or any other measurement of the hand, the grips of golf clubs provided herein may be formed either relatively larger or smaller as needed. The club grips may be formed of various thicknesses, sizes and materials. Grips may also include multiple layers of grip tape that may be added or subtracted to build up or reduce the grip size in predetermined increments of up to 1/32 of an inch which is the approximate thickness of the tape.

In accordance with the concepts of the invention, many different combinations of custom-built golf clubs may be manufactured with various club heads, shafts and grips. Because golf clubs herein are generally not formed until the custom-fit golf club profile for the individual golfer is received, a high degree of flexibility is thus provided. These fitting apparatus and methods greatly reduce the stocking needs of both manufacturers and distributors. At the same time, the golfer is able to custom select a club combination after considering important club-fitting parameters based upon physical characteristics and playing style. The systems provided herein assist the custom-fitting of individual players at all skill levels ranging from the touring professional to the amateur. Extremely convenient custom golf club-building is also provided which is readily adaptable for electronic commerce applications and the sale of golf equipment over the worldwide web. For example, a computer-based custom golf club fitting apparatus may be provided comprising a computer having a processor and a memory for storing at least one look-up table of baseline values and correction factors for a set of selected physical attributes. The computer may be adapted for receiving input corresponding to the set of physical attributes for an individual golfer to provide a custom-fit golf club profile. The memory may further include a program for generating the custom-fit golf club profile based upon the input corresponding to the set of physical attributes and the look-up table of baseline values and correction factors. Another embodiment of this system may be configured to receive a set of selected physical attributes such as the height for the individual golfer. One or more look-up tables may be further provided including a lie table with standard lie values and correction factors in relation to the height of the individual golfer.

Many computer user interfaces may be designed for various websites to implement the invention as described herein. As shown in Fig. 6, a pictorial representation of a computer display screen user interface is provided for displaying different types of golf clubs that may be ordered through available on-line purchasing systems on the worldwide web. When viewed through a selected web browser such as Netscape Communicator, a variety of internal links 10 may direct the end user to other portions of the website as is commonly known. For example, a variety of irons may be available for sale on the website as viewed through the browser window 20. A listing of irons may include text descriptions for the products, and include links for more technical or pictorial information 30 on the club, or for the ordering of a custom-built set of golf clubs. Another variation of the invention may be applied in this environment including a method for using a computer to provide custom-fit golf clubs based on the physical attributes of an individual golfer. A desired golf club lie value may be input by a user or customer that is derived from the height for the individual golfer. In addition, a desired golf club flex value may be input into the computer user interface that is based upon a distance the individual golfer hits a golf ball with a preselected club such as a driver or a commonly used 7 iron. The desired golf club length value may be also requested that is based upon the height and the wrist-to-floor measurement of the individual golfer. As a result, a custom-fit golf club profile may be generated and displayed on the computer that incorporates the club lie value, the club flex value, the club length value. The profile may also includes a predetermined set of standard values to provide corresponding correction values. It is understood that other club-fitting parameters may be selected for consideration within the custom-fit golf club profile such as the glove size for the player. In accordance with the concepts of the invention, baseline or standard values for any set of relevant parameters may be organized within look-up tables or otherwise stored in memory which may further include any suggested deviations from average values for physical characteristics such as club speed, body type/size, or even any type of disability.

Personal preferences may be also added to a particular custom profile as another adjustment factor for any selected club-fitting parameter.

Fig. 7 provides another webpage illustration of a graphical user interface that describes on-line ordering information for the purchase of a selected set of irons. When the particular style of iron is selected, the user may be prompted within a form to select either the purchase of individual custom-fit clubs or a complete set of clubs. For example, a set of eight irons (3-9, PW) or nine irons (4-9, PW, SW) may be ordered and entered within a form input field 40. Individual clubs may be also ordered to provide a flexible and full range of irons that are available to the on-line customer. Golfers who desire to carry a 1 iron club in their bag may be accommodated, while at the same time, commonly lost clubs such as a PW or a SW can be easily replaced. These and other custom-fit clubs, including woods, may be ordered based upon individual profiles which may be recorded in a computer memory for future use, and may be updated as the game and characteristics of a player changes. The custom-profile may also include another club-fitting parameter to suggest a particular set of clubs that may be well-suited for a certain type of player. Because a beginner would not generally select a set of irons including a 1 iron, which is considered by many to be a difficult club to hit, the systems provided herein may be configured to offer intelligent recommendations for a set of clubs or to verify a selection made in view of club-fitting parameters included within an individual profile.

When the particular model and set of golf clubs are selected, they may be added to a shopping cart by clicking-on submit buttons 50 to holds the items that have been selected for purchase. Although club-fitting parameters may be requested at any time during the prospective purchase on the website, this information may be obtained and verified during check-out as shown generally in Fig. 8. A graphical user interface may be provided with pull-down menus 60 for entering information for selected parameters. At the same time, internal links 70 may be provided to assist the end user in determining recommended golf club specifications in ordering custom-built golf clubs. The user interface may be part of a custom golf club fitting computer system that includes a computer processor connected to a memory storage having a golf club fitting program and a look-up table of predetermined baseline values. The computer processor may be directed by the golf club fitting program to receive a variety of user input relating to club fitting information including golf club-fitting parameters and physical attributes for an individual golfer. The user input for the set of golf club-fitting parameters may be compared with the look-up table of predetermined baseline values that is determined by the set of physical attributes for the individual golfer. A custom-fit golf club profile may be thus generated that includes the set of golf club-fitting parameters and the table of predetermined baseline values. For example, the set of golf club-fitting parameters may include a lie for a selected club, and the set of physical attributes may include a height for the individual golfer. The user has either the option to enter: (i) a desired lie such as standard or +1 degree upright; or (ii) a recommended lie from a club lie look-up table that may be derived from physical parameters such as the height of the player. The available information within the look-up tables provided herein may also serve as confirmation of a desired value. This available information may be again ignored entirely in order to accommodate individuals players with individual needs or demands. The set of golf club-fitting parameters may further include a club length selection. When the standard club length is not recommended or desired, the custom-fit golf club profile may include a corresponding correction factor to provide a longer or shorter club. A recommended club shaft length or standard deviation may be provided from a club length look-up table based upon a set of physical attributes including the height and the wrist-to-floor measurement for the individual golfer. Additional information directed to other physical characteristics may be considered or recommended in accordance with the invention such as grip size or whether the player is right or left handed.

A selected set of club-fitting parameters may be further requested on a webpage form that relates to personal playing style and level of play including a handicap, how long the person has been playing golf, and how far the person hits a golf ball with a particular golf club. As shown in Fig. 9, an approximate score on an 18-hole course of average difficulty may be included in the custom- fit profile. A person who scores more than 125 in a round of golf may be generally characterized as a beginner-level player. The custom-fit profile may be therefore adjusted or reflect this level of play in order to assist the user in selecting a custom-built set of golf clubs. As a result, recommendations may be directed to a variety of golf clubs that are believed to be relatively forgiving and easy to hit. At the same time, relatively difficult clubs such as a driver or 1 iron, or sets of clubs that are known to be difficult to hit such as professional blades, may be offered or discouraged for certain players in accordance with the invention. As shown in Fig. 10, the custom-fit profile may further include other club-fitting parameters such as how often the person plays golf. When a person plays infrequently, it may be assumed the person is probably a beginner-level player that would benefit from a relatively forgiving set of irons. Meanwhile, a very durable and long-lasting set of irons may be preferable for a person who plays very often. The custom-fit profile again provides recommendations that be may at anytime ignored by the player who has specific demands or individual needs that may be contrary to conventional wisdom. The club fitting systems provided herein utilize individual playing habits and levels of ability with a goal of matching a player with the correct set of golf clubs. When the golfer is unable to respond to these club-fitting parameters, as illustrated in Fig. 11 , a custom-profile may still be provided in accordance with the invention based upon relatively simple parameters based upon physical attributes including height. A pull-down menu may offer a "don't know" selection that neither contributes to nor disrupts the custom-fit club profile. After an on-line purchaser enters desired or recommended values for the set of selected club- fitting parameters, a confirmation may be requested as shown in Fig. 12. Before completing or finalizing the purchase, the custom-fit golf club profile may be confirmed and accepted from the purchaser prior to manufacturing and delivery of the custom-fit golf clubs. The confirmation may include a complete custom- fit golf club profile which includes the model of the product to be purchased, the number of irons selected individually or within a set, and any of the selected club-fitting parameters. It is understood that these and other club-fitting parameters may be selected and considered in generating a custom- fit golf club profile for the individual golfer in accordance with the concepts of the invention.

While all aspects of the invention have been described with reference to the aforementioned applications, this description of various embodiments and methods shall not be construed in a limiting sense. The aforementioned is presented for purposes of illustration and description that is consistent with all applicable standards. It shall be understood that all aspects of the invention are not limited to the specific parameters, depictions, configurations or relative proportions set forth herein which depend upon a variety of conditions and variables. The specification is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed herein. Various modifications and insubstantial changes in form and detail of the particular embodiments of the disclosed invention, as well as other variations of the invention, will be apparent to a person skilled in the art upon reference to the present disclosure. It is therefore contemplated that the appended claims shall cover any such modifications, variations or equivalents as to the described embodiments as falling within the true spirit and scope of the invention.

Claims

CLAIMSWhat is claimed is:
1. A system for providing custom-fit golf clubs comprising: a computer with a processor for receiving a selection of physical characteristics for an individual golfer including at least a height for the individual golfer, a wrist-to-floor measurement for the individual golfer, an approximate distance the individual golfer hits a golf ball with a preselected club, a glove size for the individual golfer, and a memory storage for storing at least one look-up table of club fitting values corresponding to the selection of physical characteristics; a club fitting program for directing the processor to provide a custom-fit golf club design output derived from the club fitting values; and a display for graphically representing the custom-fit golf club design output.
2. The system according to claim 1, wherein the computer transmits the selection of physical characteristics over a network.
3. The system according to claim 1 , wherein the computer includes a user interface for receiving the selection of physical characteristics.
4. A system according to claim 3, wherein the user interface includes a representative digital image of a golfer with one or more physical attributes of the golfer.
5. A system according to claim 1 , wherein the computer further receives a selection of golf playing characteristics for an individual golfer including: an approximate length of time the golfer has been playing the game of golf, an approximate frequency at which the golfer plays the game of golf, an estimated 18-hole score for the golfer, and an approximate handicap for the golfer; and wherein the custom-fit golf club design output is adjusted according to the set of golf playing characteristics.
6. A custom golf club fitting computer system comprising: a computer processor connected to a memory storage having a golf club fitting program and a look-up table of predetermined baseline values; and wherein the computer processor is directed by the golf club fitting program to receive user input for a set of golf club-fitting parameters and a set of physical attributes for an individual golfer, to compare the user input for the set of golf club-fitting parameters with the look-up table of predetermined baseline values that is determined by the set of physical attributes for the individual golfer, and to generate a custom-fit golf club profile that includes the set of golf club-fitting parameters and the table of predetermined baseline values.
7. The computer system as recited in claim 6, wherein the set of golf club fitting-parameters includes a lie for a selected club, and the set of physical attributes includes a height for the individual golfer.
8. The computer system as recited in claim 6, wherein the set of golf club- fitting parameters includes a club length for a selected club, and the set of physical attributes includes a height and a wrist-to-floor measurement for the individual golfer.
9. The computer system as recited in claim 6, wherein the computer processor is directed by the golf-club fitting program to transmit the custom-fit golf club profile, and to receive an acceptance of the custom- fit golf club profile prior to manufacturing the custom-fit golf clubs.
10. A computer-based custom golf club fitting apparatus comprising: a computer having a processor and a memory for storing at least one look-up table of baseline values and correction factors for a set of selected physical attributes for an individual golfer; wherein the computer is adapted for receiving input corresponding to the set of physical attributes to provide a custom-fit golf club profile; and wherein the memory includes a program for generating the custom-fit golf club profile based upon the input corresponding to the set of physical attributes and the look-up table of baseline values and correction factors.
11. The apparatus as recited in claim 10, wherein the set of selected physical attributes includes a height for the individual golfer, and wherein at least one look-up table is a lie table for providing standard lie values and correction factors in relation to the height of the individual golfer.
12. A method for custom-fitting a set of golf clubs for an individual golfer with a computer comprising: receiving a club lie value of a golf club for an individual golf player; receiving a shaft flex value of a golf club for the individual golf player; receiving a club length value of a golf club for the individual golf player; receiving a glove size value for the individual golf player; and comparing the values for the club lie, the shaft flex, the club length and the glove size with corresponding standard values to provide a custom-fit golf club profile for the individual golfer.
13. The method of claim 12, further comprising : receiving an approximate length of time the golfer has been playing the game of golf, receiving an approximate frequency at which the golfer plays the game a golf; receiving an estimated 18-hole score for the golfer; receiving an approximate handicap for the golfer; processing the values for the approximate length of time the golfer has been playing the game of golf, the approximate frequency at which the golfer plays the game of golf, the estimated 18-hole score for the golfer, and the approximate handicap for the golfer to provide a profile confirmation with correction values; and adjusting the custom-fit golf club profile with the correction values to provide a custom-fitted golf club.
14. The method of claim 12, wherein the golf club lie value is derived from a lie table based on the height of the individual golf player.
15. The method of claim 14, wherein the golf club lie value includes a lie correction factor.
16. The method of claim 12, wherein the shaft flex value is derived from a distance table based on the approximate yardage the golf player hits a golf ball with a predetermined club.
17. The method of claim 16, wherein the predetermined club is a driver.
18. The method of claim 12, wherein the club length value is derived from club length table based on the height and the wrist-to-floor distance of the individual golf player.
19. The method of claim 18, wherein the club length value includes a club length correction value.
20. The method of claim 12, wherein the steps are repeated for an entire set of custom-fit set of golf clubs for the individual golf player.
21. A method for using a computer to provide custom-fit golf clubs based on the physical attributes of an individual golfer comprising: inputting into the computer a desired golf club lie value based upon the height for the individual golfer; inputting into the computer a desired golf club flex value based upon a distance the individual golfer hits a golf ball with a preselected club; inputting into the computer a desired golf club length value based upon the height and a wrist-to-floor measurement of the individual golfer; and outputting for display on the computer a custom- fit golf club profile that includes the club lie value, the club flex value, the club length value, and wherein the profile includes a predetermined set of standard values to provide corresponding correction values for the club lie, the club flex and the club length.
22. The method as recited in claim 21, further comprising inputting into the computer a glove size for the individual golfer.
PCT/US2000/000421 1999-01-22 2000-01-06 Custom golf club fitting system WO2000043936A3 (en)

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US6431990B1 (en) 2001-01-19 2002-08-13 Callaway Golf Company System and method for measuring a golfer's ball striking parameters
US8579731B2 (en) 2011-12-15 2013-11-12 Ebay Inc. Computing device for custom golf club fitting
WO2013169428A1 (en) * 2012-05-07 2013-11-14 Karsten Manufacutring Corporation Golf fitting systems and related methods
US8872914B2 (en) 2004-02-04 2014-10-28 Acushnet Company One camera stereo system

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WO1998034684A1 (en) * 1997-02-11 1998-08-13 Zevo Golf Co., Inc. Method for fitting golf clubs for golfers

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Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
WO1997045177A1 (en) * 1996-05-29 1997-12-04 Smith Earl F Precise fit golf club fitting system and golf shaft selection methods and apparatus
WO1998034684A1 (en) * 1997-02-11 1998-08-13 Zevo Golf Co., Inc. Method for fitting golf clubs for golfers

Cited By (7)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US6431990B1 (en) 2001-01-19 2002-08-13 Callaway Golf Company System and method for measuring a golfer's ball striking parameters
US6561917B2 (en) 2001-01-19 2003-05-13 Callaway Golf Company System and method for measuring a golfer's ball striking parameters
US8872914B2 (en) 2004-02-04 2014-10-28 Acushnet Company One camera stereo system
US8579731B2 (en) 2011-12-15 2013-11-12 Ebay Inc. Computing device for custom golf club fitting
WO2013169428A1 (en) * 2012-05-07 2013-11-14 Karsten Manufacutring Corporation Golf fitting systems and related methods
GB2519697A (en) * 2012-05-07 2015-04-29 Karsten Mfg Corp Golf fitting systems and related methods
GB2519697B (en) * 2012-05-07 2015-09-09 Karsten Mfg Corp Golf fitting systems and related methods

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