Patent application title: PROTECTIVE COVER FOR GOLF CLUB GRIP
Adam Barnett (Flushing, NY, US)
IPC8 Class: AA63B5700FI
Class name: Purses, wallets, and protective covers protective cover made of flaccid material for a golf club (e.g., head cover)
Publication date: 2012-04-19
Patent application number: 20120090746
A removable protective cover for covering and protecting a golf club grip
from the elements, e.g., inclement weather, is provided and is intended
for use prior the golfer taking a final swing with the club.
1. A protector for a golf club grip for protection from inclement weather
comprising: a flexible first collar that has an open portion to allow a
golf club shaft to be received therein such that the first collar is
supported by the golf club shaft; a flexible second collar that has an
open portion to allow the golf club shaft to be received therein such
that the second collar is supported by the golf club shaft, the second
collar being spaced from the first collar; a protective flexible skin
member that is attached at a first end to the first collar and at a
second opposite end to the second collar, the skin member having a
longitudinal slit formed therein to allow the golf club shaft to be
received therethrough for positioning the skin member over the golf club
grip for protecting the golf club grip from inclement weather.
2. The protector of claim 1, wherein each of the first and second collars comprises a split C-shaped resilient clamp.
3. The protector of claim 1, wherein the clamp is formed of plastic.
4. The protector of claim 1, wherein the first collar includes an open first end that includes a top edge with a hook member integrally formed with the top edge and extending across the open first end.
5. The protector of claim 4, wherein the hook member comprises a resilient cantilevered finger that includes an integral hook that extends outwardly therefrom to permit the protector to be hung therefrom, the finger for positioning over a closed end of the golf club grip.
6. The protector of claim 5, wherein the hook opens towards the finger.
7. The protector of claim 1, wherein the first collar includes a closed first end that includes an integral hook that extends outwardly therefrom to permit the protector to be hung therefrom, the closed first end for positioning over a closed end of the golf club grip.
8. The protector of claim 1, wherein the second collar includes a bottom pull tab that extends outwardly therefrom, the bottom pull tab being curved along its length.
9. The protector of claim 1, wherein the skin member is attached to the first and second collars by means of a bond.
10. The protector of claim 1, wherein the skin member is attached to the first and second collars by means of a mechanical coupling, the skin member being removable from the first and second collars.
11. The protector of claim 1, wherein the first and second collars each includes a slot formed therein and respective first and second ends of the skin member are received within the slots to form a frictional fit between the skin member and the first and second collars.
12. The protector of claim 11, wherein each of the first and second ends of the skin member includes an O-ring segment that is frictionally held within the respective slot.
13. The protector of claim 1, wherein the skin member is formed of a material that is selected from a list consisting of a water repellant material and a waterproof material.
14. The protector of claim 13, wherein the skin member is formed of a synthetic material.
15. A golf club grip protector comprising: a first collar that has a top wall at a first end and an open second end and an opening formed along a side wall thereof and along a length thereof, the opening being of sufficient size to permit a golf club grip to be received therethrough, the first collar having an integral hook member that is formed along and extends outwardly from the top wall; a second collar that has an open first end and an open second end and an opening formed along a side wall thereof and along a length thereof, the opening being of sufficient size to permit the golf club grip to be received therethrough; and a protective flexible skin member that is attached at a first end to the first collar and at a second opposite end to the second collar, the skin member having a longitudinal slit formed that is axially aligned with the openings formed in the side walls of the first and second collars, the longitudinal slit of sufficient size to allow the golf club grip to be received therethrough for positioning the skin member over the golf club grip for protecting the golf club grip from inclement weather.
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
 This application claims the benefit of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 61/393,115, filed Oct. 14, 2010 and U.S. patent application Ser. No. 61/434,663, filed Jan. 20, 2011, each of which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.
 The present invention relates to sports equipment, and in particular, to a removable protective cover for covering and protecting a golf club grip from adverse elements, e.g., inclement weather, prior the golfer taking a final swing with the club.
 The game of golf has long been popular throughout the world and continues to increase in popularity. Golfers are always trying to find more time to be on the golf course. Often those times occur when the weather or playing conditions may not be ideal for the game, like on a hot, humid day, or in the early morning when there is still dew on the ground, or even on a rainy day when the grass and ground are still wet. These are the times a golf towel becomes a necessity for wiping your hands and for cleaning the golf club heads, golf balls, and the grip portion of the golf club from perspiration, dampness, dirt and grass.
 When the golfer leaves the golf bag or golf cart to play through on the fairway, the golfer will often carry several golf clubs to the location where the golf ball has landed. After surveying the location, distance, and other factors, the golfer will select the club believed to the best for that situation. The remaining clubs are then either propped on a nearby tree or if a towel is available laid on a towel on the ground, or some golfers have even used a golf tee inserted into the ground as a rest for the grip portion of the other clubs. In the worst case scenario, the golf clubs are laid directly on the ground. Needless to say, the grips get wet or dirty.
 Moreover, when the golfer is playing in inclement weather, such as rain, the entire golf club, including the grip portion, becomes exposed to the rain when the golfer removes the club from a golf club bag and/or a golf cart. A wet grip makes it difficult for a golfer to properly swing the club and greatly increases the chance that an errant shot will result.
 As mentioned above, while towels are commonly used to dry the grip, this requires the golfer to carry a towel and most golfers only dry the club when they depart the golf cart or otherwise walk toward the ball and then perhaps after the golfer swings and strikes the ball. Thus, the club and in particular, the grip portion thereof, is exposed to rain for a significant amount of time including during the practice swings and during the time needed to survey the course and decide the manner of swinging the club.
 There is therefore a need to provide an alternative to using a towel to deal with water contacting the golf club grip as during inclement weather.
 The present invention relates to sports equipment, and in particular, to a removable protective cover for covering and protecting a golf club grip from the elements, e.g., inclement weather, prior the golfer taking a final swing with the club.
 These and other aspects, features and advantages shall be apparent from the accompanying Drawings and description of certain embodiments of the invention.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a conventional golf club;
 FIG. 2 is a front perspective view of a golf club grip protector installed on a golf club grip according to a first embodiment;
 FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view of a golf club protector;
 FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a hook member that is part of a collar that is part of the golf club protector of FIG. 2;
 FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of a golf club grip protector according to a second embodiment;
 FIG. 6 is a perspective view and cross-sectional view of a collar according to another embodiment;
 FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view of a membrane that is part of the golf club protector of FIG. 2;
 FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of a collar according to another embodiment;
 FIG. 9 is a partial perspective view of the protector of FIG. 1 with indicia formed thereon;
 FIG. 10 is cross-sectional view of an alternative collar and membrane;
 FIG. 11 is a side perspective view of a golf club grip protector according to another embodiment;
 FIG. 12 is a side elevation view of the protector of FIG. 11;
 FIG. 13 is a top perspective view of a top collar of the protector of FIGS. 11; and
 FIG. 14 is a perspective view of the bottom collar of the protector of FIG. 11.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF CERTAIN EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION
 In accordance with the present invention, a device 200 is provided that is configured to protect a golf club grip from adverse elements, such as inclement weather.
 FIG. 1 illustrates a conventional golf club 100 that has a shaft 110 with a head 120 formed at one end of the shaft 110 and a grip 130 being provided along and about the shaft 110 at the other end thereof. The shaft 110 has a first end 112 that represents the free end that is closer to the golfer's body and an opposing second end 114 that terminates in the head 120. Similarly, the grip 130 has a first end 132 and a second end 134, with the first end 132 being located at the first end 112 of the shaft 110 and the second end 134 being spaced from the first end 112 and located closer to the head 120. As is known, the grip 130 defines the portion of the club 100 that the golfer grips and holds during the swinging action.
 There are mainly two types of golf grips, namely, a soft type and a hard type. The hard grips have cord weaved throughout the grip in a number of different styles. Soft grips come with very little or no cord and are formed from a number of different synthetic and natural materials. The different gripping characteristics found in today's grips are a mix of synthetic and natural rubbers along with some compound materials that are used and suitable polymeric materials. The materials can be mixed with cord and different surface configurations can be provided to get different styles grips. Unlike older, conventional grips, many new grips are actually slip-ons and are not actually wrapped on the shaft as they are perceived to be. For example, a molded rubber grip can be provide that is closed at one end and open at the other end and is inserted over the shaft such that the closed end is disposed proximate the first end 112 of the shaft 110. Typically, the outer surface of the grip 130 includes some imprinted pattern or the like to facilitate gripping the grip 130.
 Unfortunately, while the grip 130 provides a nice gripping surface for the golfer, the grip 130 does not perform as well when placed under adverse conditions, such as inclement weather (e.g., rain). When a grip gets wet, it is uncomfortable and more difficult to grip and this results in potential slippage of the club 100 as it is swung leading to a less than satisfactory shot.
 It is therefore contemplated that the grip 130 can be formed from any number of different materials, including synthetic or natural materials.
 The length of the grip 130 can vary from club to club based on the overall length of the club 100. For example, longer clubs 100 tend to have longer length grips 130. Grip lengths can be greater than 8 inches. Once again, the length can vary depending upon club type. It will also be appreciated that the width of the grip 130 can differ from club to club and in particular, women's clubs are typically smaller than men's and there can be some differences in the diameter of the grip 130 even within clubs belonging to one gender. Some companies market their grips according to the following categories: undersized, standard, mid size and jumbo.
 In accordance with the present invention, a protector 200 for the golf grip 130 is provided and show in FIGS. 2-3. The protector 200 is configured to provide a barrier and protect the underlying grip 130 from the elements, such as rain. Generally, the protector 200 is designed to be easy to use, easy to remove, easy to reattach and is designed so that it can be used on the grip 130 as the golfer takes several practice swings prior to the actual swing. The protector 200 can thus be used to cover the grips 130 during an inclement weather day and can be used while the clubs 100 are in a golf bag and are used as the golfer removes the club from the bag and then walks to the ball and as mentioned above, the protectors 200 can be used during the practice swing session.
 In a first embodiment shown in FIGS. 2-3, the protector 200 includes a first collar 210 and a second collar 220 that is spaced from the first collar 210 and a protective membrane (skin membrane) 230 that extends between the spaced collars 210, 220 and is constructed and configured to cover the grip 130 and protect it from inclement weather.
 The collars 210, 220 are designed to releasably engage the golf grip 130 at its opposite ends and in particular, the first collar 210 is designed to engage the top of the grip 130, while the second collar 220 is designed to engage the bottom of the grip 130 that is closer to the club head 120. Since most club shafts 110 are tapered (inward taper toward the club head 120), the collars 210, 220 are designed to engage and be coupled to portions of the shaft that have different diameters. The first collar 210 engages the shaft 110 at a larger diameter portion compared to the second collar 220.
 The first and second collars 210, 220 can be in the form of split rings that are constructed so that they can be flexed open; however, once the opening force is removed, the collar returns to its original shape. In other words, each collar 210, 220 is at least substantially circular in shape and includes a slot (opening) 212 (defined by two edges 215 of the collar) about which the collar opens. The collar 210, 220 can flex open about a living hinge. The collars 210, 220 are each formed of a flexible material to permit the opening of the collar 210, 220 and the subsequent biasing action that restores the collar to its original shape (rest position). For example, the collars 210, 220 can be formed of a plastic material that provides the desired resilient and biasing properties. When the collar 210, 220 is opened, it stores energy and once the opening force is removed, it releases the stored energy and the collar returns to a position where the edges 215 are close to one another.
 The collar 210 has a bottom edge 211 that faces the collar 220 and similarly, the collar 220 has a top edge 213 that faces the collar 210. The protective membrane 230 is securely attached to the bottom edge 211 and the top edge 213 such that it extends between the two collars 210, 220 to permit the membrane 210 to wrap around and protect the grip 130 when the device 200 is attached thereto. The membrane 230 has a top edge 232 and a bottom edge 234 with the top edge 232 being attached to the bottom edge 211 and the bottom edge 234 being attached to the top edge 213. Since the top edge 232 and bottom edge 234 are attached to the collars 210, 220, the membrane 230 adopts the shape of the collars 210, 220 in that the membrane 230 has a generally circular shape (like a drape) that has a seam that is defined by first and second side edges 236, 238 of the membrane 230.
 The protective membrane 230 is preferably formed of a material that is either a water repellant material or a waterproof material. Any number of different materials can be used to form the protective membrane 230 so long as the material is flexible and either prevents or substantially reduces the passage of water therethrough. Preferably, a waterproof material is used to form the protective membrane 230. For example, the membrane 230 can be formed of a synthetic or naturally material, such as rubber or a polymeric material. In addition, the protective membrane 230 can be formed of waterproof fabrics. Waterproof fabrics are fabrics that inherently, or have been treated to become, resistant to penetration by water and wetting. They are usually natural or synthetic fabrics that are laminated to or coated with a waterproofing material such as rubber, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyurethane (PU), silicone elastomer, or fluoropolymers.
 In view of the tapered nature of the shaft and grip itself, the protective membrane 230 can likewise have a tapered shape in that the width of the top edge 232 is greater than the width of the bottom edge 234. The top and bottom edges 232, 234 can be planar in nature. Thus, when the top edge 232 is attached to the collar 210 and the bottom edge 234 is attached to the collar 220, the draped nature of the membrane 230 permits it to wrap around the grip 130.
 The tapered shape of the membrane 230 is preferably designed so that the amount of overlap of the membrane along the length of the grip 130 is minimized in one embodiment. In other words, the first and second side edges 236, 238 of the membrane 230 are preferably in close relationship (proximate/abutting) along the length of the grip. There should not be too excessive of a gap between the edges 236, 238 since the user, during practice swings, is expected to grip the membrane 230 and therefore, too excessive of a space or gap may be noticeable and uncomfortable to the golfer. It is contemplated that the edges 236, 238 can overlap one another, especially closer to the collar 220.
 To install and attach the grip protector 200 to the grip 130, the collar 210 is separated by flexing its body outward, thereby increasing the size of the slot 212. The grip 130 is then received through this slot 212 and once the grip 130 is within a central opening (interior space) 215 of the collar 210, the collar body is then released and the natural biasing forces of the collar 210 cause it to flex back toward its original position, thereby clamping onto the grip 130. When installed onto the grip 130, the slot 212 can be of a greater size compared to prior to installation on the grip 130.
 The collar 210 is clamped onto the grip 130 at its top end.
 Similarly, the second collar 220 is installed using the same steps described above that are used to attach the first collar 210. The second collar 220 is attached to the bottom end of the grip 130.
 As shown, the length of the membrane 230 is such that when the collars 210, 220 are attached to the grip 130, the membrane 230 is generally in a taught condition in that the membrane 230 preferably does not include folded over sections, etc. along its length.
 In yet another aspect, the collar 210 can include a hook member 240 that permits the grip protector 200 to be hung on a support member, such as a belt of the golfer, a pant pocket of the golfer or a belt loop of the golfer, etc. As shown, the collar 210 can include a top support member 250 that extends across a top edge 219 of the collar 210 and is attached at one end to the body of the collar 210 and extends across the central opening of the collar 210. The top support member 250 is thus a cantilevered structure. At a free end 252 of the support member 250 an upstanding hook member 260 is formed. The hook member 260 can be a J-shaped structure and has a hook at its end to permit the grip protector 200 to be hung. The hook member 260 is proximate the slot 212 of the collar 210.
 The top support member 250 does not interfere with the flexing and opening and closing of the body of the collar 210 since it has some resiliency and is typically formed of the same material. The top support member 250 and the collar body are preferably an integral structure, such as a single molded member.
 The top support member 250 also serves other purposes in that it can act as a locator for positioning the grip protector 200 relative to the grip 130 and in particular, when installed, the top support member 250 seats against or proximate the top end of the grip 130 (and thus the top end of the club 100). The top support member 250 and hook member 260 also serve as a means for removing the collar 210 since the golfer's finger or thumb can be placed against the hook member 260 and pulled toward the golfer, thereby causing the body of the collar 210 to flex open to allow the collar 210 to be removed from the grip 130.
 The bottom collar 220 also includes a means for removing the bottom collar 220 form the grip 130 and in particular, the bottom collar 220 can include a tab or the like 225 to facilitate the removal of the bottom collar 220 from the grip 130. As shown, the tab 225 can have a rounded exterior edge and includes an upstanding wall 227 that creates a space 229 between the wall 227 and the collar 220 for receiving a finger to assist in pulling the bottom collar 220.
 FIG. 2 shows the parts of the protector 200 in an exploded view. The tapered nature of the membrane 230 is seen. In this embodiment, the bottom collar 220 includes a pair of wing-like protrusions 280 that extend outwardly from the body of the collar and provides structures for the golfer's fingers to engage in order to pull the bottom collar 220 off of the grip 130.
 FIG. 4 is modified such that the hook member 260 includes a shaped depression 265 that permits a finger or thumb to be received therein to assist in pulling the collar 210 from the grip 130.
 FIG. 5 illustrates another embodiment in which the membrane 230 is detachably coupled to the collar 210 and the collar 220 and in particular, the top edge 232 can be detachably coupled to the collar 210 and the bottom edge 234 can be detachably coupled to the collar 220. For example, the top edge 232 can include a bead 237 or the like that extends across the top edge 236 and the bottom edge 234 includes a bead 239 or the like that extends across the bottom edge 234. The collar 210 includes a groove or channel 260 formed along a bottom edge thereof and the collar 220 includes a groove or channel 270 formed along the top edge thereof. The membrane 230 is detachably coupled to the collars 210, 220 by inserting the bead 237 into the groove 260 formed in the collar 210 with the membrane 230 being frictionally held therein and similarly, the bead 239 is inserted into the groove 270 that is formed in the top edge of the collar 220.
 This design permits the membrane 230 to be removed and replaced by the golfer for any number of reasons. For example, as shown in FIG. 9, the membrane 230 can have different indicia (e.g., a different appearance) printed thereon and therefore, the golfer can customize the look of the protector 200 by switching the membrane 230. The membrane 230 can be switched for other reasons as well.
 FIG. 3 shows a design for collar 210, 220 in that the collar body includes a pair of protrusions or ribs 285 that extend outwardly from the body and provide a gripping surface to allow the golfer to more easily pull the collar 210, 220 from the grip 130.
 FIG. 6 shows a design for collar 210, 220 in that the collar body includes a pair of protrusions or ribs 290 that extend outwardly from the body and provide a gripping surface to allow the golfer to more easily pull the collar 210, 220 from the grip 130.
 FIG. 7 illustrates an optional feature of the membrane 230 in that a detachable fastener 295 can be provided as part of the membrane 230 that a portion (such as the middle portion of the membrane 230) to be joined. For example, the fastener 295 includes a first part 297 formed along one edge 236 of the membrane 230 and a second part 299 formed along the other edge 238. The fastener 295 can be of a hook and loop type in that the first part 297 is a hook and loop pad and the second part 299 is a hook and loop strap that attaches to the pad for joining and drawing the edges of the membrane 320 in closer to one another at a select location, such as the middle of the membrane 230.
 FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of a collar 300 according to an alternative embodiment. In this embodiment, the body of the collar 300 includes a detachable fastener 310 formed as a part thereof to allow the two edges of the split ring collar 300 to be fastened to one another. For example, the fastener 310 can be of a snap fit type. The body of the collar 300 is defined by a first edge 312 and a second edge 314 that mate with one another. The first edge 312 can include a first interlocking structure 320 and the second edge 314 can include a second interlocking structure 330. In the illustrated embodiment, the first interlocking structure 320 is a ball shaped protrusion and the second interlocking structure 330 is a complementary opening with a narrow neck that receives the ball 320 such that when the ball clear the narrow neck, the ball snap-fits into the opening. Other interlocking mechanism, such as a beveled locking tab and a complementary opening, can be used so long as the edges 312, 314 can be separated to remove the collar.
 FIG. 10 illustrates another embodiment where the membrane 230 is coupled to the collar 210, 220 using a different technique. The collar 210, 220 includes a slot 255 formed in a bottom edge 211 of the collar 210 that has teeth 259 angled in one direction such that the membrane 230 can be inserted into but not easily removed from the slot 255 due to the barbed nature of the teeth 259.
 In use, the golfer can keep the protector 200 on the grip 130 during practice swings and then remove the protector 200 from the club grip 130 to take the final swing and strike the ball.
 The protector 200 overcomes the deficiencies of the prior art and provides a product that protects the grip 130 from inclement weather.
 FIGS. 11-14 show another embodiment of the present invention. In particular, protector 400 is similar to the other protectors described herein with several differences being noted herein. In particular the protector has two collars 410, 420 similar to the other collars described herein and to which the membrane 230 is attached. The top collar 410 has a closed roof portion (top wall) 412 that protects the top end of the golf club grip when the protector is inserted thereon. As with the other embodiments, the top collar 410 has a hook 415 for hanging the protector 400. The bottom collar 420 has a pull tab 430 to help the user remove the collar 420.
 As shown in FIG. 12, the top collar 410 can include a slot 411 formed between the top wall 412 and a lower body 417. The top wall 412 includes an overhang 413 that deflects water from running into the slot 411.
 The lower body 417 is the portion that resembles a clamp (C-shaped) that frictionally grasps the golf club grip. The clip 415 can include an indented thumb rest 419 to assist a user in placing the top collar 410 on the golf club grip. As shown in the figures, the lower body 417 can have flared ends 421. Similarly, the body of the second collar 420 has flared ends 425.
 The membrane or skin 230 generally takes the shape of the collars 410, 420 and therefore, as shown, the membrane 230 can have flared ends 231 at each of the collars 410, 420. The flared ends of the different components can assist in directing water.
 To completely attach the membrane 230 around the golf club grip, the membrane 230 can, in some embodiments, include a fastener positioned along the length of the membrane 230 between the two collars 410, 420. For example, pieces of hook and loop material can be attached to opposing edges of the membrane 230 that extend beyond the flared ends 421, 425.
 FIG. 13 is a close-up of the top collar 410 showing the features discussed herein. FIG. 14 is a close-up of the bottom collar 420.
 While the invention has been described in connection with certain embodiments thereof, the invention is capable of being practiced in other forms and using other materials and structures. Accordingly, the invention is defined by the recitations in the claims appended hereto and equivalents thereof.
Patent applications in class For a golf club (e.g., head cover)
Patent applications in all subclasses For a golf club (e.g., head cover)