Patent application title: GOLF BAG WITH ADJUSTABLE HIP BELT
Pat Couchois (Santa Monica, CA, US)
Les Oreck (Woodland Hills, CA, US)
IPC8 Class: AA63B5506FI
Class name: For a golf club golf bag including means for maintaining bag in upright position
Publication date: 2012-05-10
Patent application number: 20120111748
A golf bag that redistributes a large percentage of the bag's weight from
a user's shoulders to their hips features a unique one-piece hip and
lumbar support belt. The hip and lumbar support belt attaches to the golf
bag in a variety of positions. The golf bag includes a base plate
attached to the bag frame, the base plate having a series of spaced-apart
receptacles designed to accommodate fasteners disposed on the lumbar
support belt. By aligning the lumbar support belt and golf bag in a
position to maximize comfort, and wearing the lumbar support belt, weight
from the golf bag is transferred from the shoulders to the hips,
improving posture, and easily adjustable to a variety of positions.
1. An improved golf bag having a frame, a cover and further comprising: a
base plate having a first column and a second column of spaced-apart
receptacles, the base plate adapted to engage the frame and abut the
cover; a lumbar belt having a first fastener and a second fastener, the
fasteners adapted to engage one of the receptacles in the first column
and one of the receptacles in the second column; and wherein the
receptacles of the second column outnumber the receptacles of the first
column and are staggered, such that the lumbar belt may be attached to
the golf bag in multiple positions varying the height and angle of the
lumbar belt relative to the golf bag frame.
2. The golf bag of claim 1 wherein the frame comprises support rods.
3. The golf bag of claim 2 wherein portions of the base plate are curved around the support rods.
4. The golf bag of claim 1 wherein the cover has slits aligned with the spaced-apart receptacles.
5. The golf bag of claim 4 wherein the cover comprises color codes adjacent the spaced apart receptacles indicating predetermined belt angles.
6. The golf bag of claim 5 wherein the predetermined belt angles cause the open end of the golf bag to be higher than the lower end when worn.
7. The golf bag of claim 1 wherein the base plate is curved complimentary to the golf bag.
8. The golf bag of claim 1 wherein the receptacles are arranged in two parallel columns of three receptacles.
9. The golf bag of claim 1 wherein the lumbar belt comprises a lumbar pad between two support pads.
10. The golf bag of claim 1 wherein the fasteners are quarter turn fasteners comprising studs adapted to interface with the receptacles.
11. The golf bag of claim 10 wherein the quarter turn fasteners comprise spring-loaded studs, adapted to engage retaining rings opposite the receptacles.
12. The golf bag of claim 1 wherein the lumbar belt is positioned off-axis to the length of the bag, wherein the bag is disposed at a diagonal angle.
13. A method of distributing golf bag weight onto a user's hips, comprising the steps of: obtaining a lumbar belt having removable fasteners; obtaining a golf bag having receptacles, wherein the number of receptacles exceeds the number of fasteners; selecting receptacles in which to fasten the fasteners; affixing the lumbar belt to the golf bag by joining the fasteners to the selected receptacles, and; wearing the lumbar belt with the golf bag affixed.
14. The method of claim 13 including the step of adjusting the lumbar belt.
15. The method of claim 13 including the step of positioning a lumbar pad on the belt against the small of a user's back.
16. An improved golf bag having support rods and a cover, comprising: an arced internal base plate having a first column of six, and a second column of three, spaced-apart receptacles, the base plate adapted to engage the support rods and abut the cover; a lumbar belt having a first quarter-turn fastener and a second quarter-turn fastener, the quarter-turn fasteners adapted to engage one of the receptacles in the first row and one of the fasteners in the second row, respectively; and wherein the lumbar belt may be attached to the golf bag in multiple positions varying the height and angle of the lumbar belt relative to the golf bag frame.
 This application claims the benefit of the filing date of
provisional application No. 61/456,391, filed on Nov. 8, 2010.
 The present invention is directed generally to sport and utility bags, and in particular to golf bags with support structures designed to minimize user discomfort and fatigue, and improve the user's posture. Golf is one of the world's most popular sports, both on a professional and recreational level. With the increase in golf's popularity, there has been a corresponding increase in interest in equipment and techniques for improving skill and enjoyment of the sport. While considerable effort has been spent in developing golf clubs and balls, the impact that a golf bag has on the ability to enjoy the game has been largely overlooked. By reducing stress on a golfer's back, neck and shoulders, a much more relaxed and enjoyable golfing experience is obtained.
 As more people take up golf as a sport, a significant number carry their bags rather than utilizing golf carts. Players who have carried a golf bag for 4 to 6 hours over an 18 hole golf course are familiar with the stress felt at the end of the round, as the neck, vertebrae and shoulders are not naturally designed for such activities. Golfers traditionally use golf bags to carry golf clubs, golf balls, golf tees, umbrellas, sweaters and raincoats, as well as food and beverage items, etc. A fully loaded golf bag can weigh between 20-60 lbs. Carrying such a golf bag is physically demanding as golfers walk up and down hills, etc.
 Conventional golf bags have a dual strap system attached to the center portion and top portion of a golf bag. The straps enable the golfer to carry the golf bag in an over-the-shoulder position, which tends to concentrate the weight of the golf bag on the shoulders, upper back and neck. Depending on the weight of the bag, carrying a golf bag with a conventional strap can be uncomfortable and create muscle aches and soreness. More importantly, carrying a bag via this method is physically harmful, leading to poor posture (inclusive of the forward head postures syndrome), which is permanently damaging to the spinal column.
 There are no golf products on the market today that efficiently redistribute the weight of a golf bag from the wearer's shoulders to the hips. Therefore, there is a need for a golf bag design that minimizes user discomfort and maximizes user physical well-being. In furtherance of this need, it is an object of the present invention to provide a golf bag belt and support mechanism to shift the weight of a golf bag predominately to the wearer's hips.
 In the short term, an object of the invention is to allow a golfer's upper body to remain less compressed, encumbered and tense during a round of golf, resulting in the golfer's ability to maintain a freer swing throughout the round. In the long term, an object of the invention is to greatly reduce unnatural compression on the vertebrae and resultant wear over a user's entire back, thus allowing for a longer, healthier time of life during which a golfer can play the game by significantly lowering the risk of injury. The added benefit of walking in a more supported position is especially important for children whose bodies are still in the development stages.
 Disclosed is a golf bag having a belt-type device attached to a traditional golf bag for redistributing a large percentage of weight from the bag's shoulder strap area to the wearer's hips. The benefits of such an arrangement include greatly reducing spinal compression while carrying the golf bag. By preventing the need for excessive forward posture, golfers experience reduced strain of the neck, shoulders and back. The reduced strain increases sustained energy for the game and relieves upper body fatigue, allowing for continued efficiency of swings and overall balance as the round progresses, especially important for ball striking ability.
 The belt provides back, hip and lumbar support and easily secures in position on the golf bag. Adjustments may be made at any time before, during or after a round of golf to accommodate a wide variety of user preferences. A lumbar pad for enhanced support and physical comfort is also employed.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES
 FIG. 1 is a side view of a golf bag having an adjustable lumbar belt attached thereto.
 FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a golf bag support frame having an attached base plate.
 FIG. 3 is a side view of a base plate.
 FIG. 4 is a side view of a lumbar belt adapted to attach to a golf bag.
 FIG. 5 is a cut-away view of a base plate engaging a golf bag support frame.
 FIG. 6 is a side view of a golf bag having an adjustable lumbar belt attached thereto, as well as the position of the base plate in the golf bag.
 FIG. 7 is a cut-away view of a base plate engaging a golf bag support frame, and a lumbar belt having a lumbar pad.
 FIG. 8 is an exploded view of a quarter-turn fastener.
 In an exemplary embodiment, the golf bag incorporates the use of a lumbar belt and base plate combination (the base being installed inside the golf bag). This base prevents wavering of weight distribution by maintaining a secure fit between the belt and the golf bag. At the same time, the system allows golfers to set their ideal personal belt placement.
 The design also allows the golfer to carry the bag horizontally on the hips, to which the golfer is accustomed (and which does not change appearance). This horizontal carriage promotes relief to the upper back, neck and shoulder area. The straps of the golf bag become secondary in that their main function becomes that of positioning rather than support. It is contemplated that the belt will be constructed in a variety of sizes, and be adjustable to rest snugly in the lumbar area, feel comfortable, and allow the user to walk more upright (without unnecessarily leaning forward or promoting forward head posture).
 Aesthetically, when carried, the golf bag looks no different than that which is observed currently on today's golf courses. Professionals and amateurs alike can adapt easily in this regard as there is no apparent change in appearance. Storage is simple in that the detachable belt may be kept in the large pocket of the golf bag itself in the event that a golf cart or other transport becomes optimal. The golf bag is comprised of a belt and a base plate assembly (two parts) designed to attach to each other snugly through slits in the golf bag. It utilizes the stability of the golf bag's support rods.
 Referring now to FIGS. 1 and 2, FIG. 1 shows the lumbar belt 20, including the lumbar pad 26. In one embodiment, the lumbar pad 26 measures 6 inches wide by 6 inches high and is 11/2 inch thick. On either side of the lumbar pad 26 are adjacent support pads 24. Slits 18 adjacent each end of the base 50, accommodate attachment of the adjustable belt 20 to the base 50. In one exemplary embodiment, attachment is facilitated using quarter-turn fasteners as shown in FIG. 8 via primary insertion holes 30 through the belt 20, the proportionate slits 18 in the bag, and ultimately the secondary holes 52 in the base 50.
 In one alternative embodiment, one or both of the studs 46 of the belt 20 is adapted for slight horizontal movement, while remaining capable of being tightly incorporated into the receptacles 48. In this manner, the belt may be attached to the golf bag using receptacles spaced apart at different lengths. In another embodiment, bolts and wing nuts may be used to attach the belt 20 to the bag. It is also contemplated that a single connector could be used allowing clockwise and counterclockwise adjustments without removing the belt from the bag.
 Referring to FIG. 2, an illustrated internal view of the golf bag, is shown illustrating how the base 50 attaches to the support rods 12. The base 50 is preferably attached to the support rods in a position such that the bag is balanced on the belt 20 when worn fully loaded. The unique feature of the golf bag and belt is the easy coupling of the belt 20 and the base 50; the base 50 is built permanently into the golf bag utilizing molded grooves 19 along the top and bottom edges of the base 50 to cradle the bag's support rods 12. Subsequently, the belt is then attached as described in FIG. 1. In this FIG. 2 view, the stud receptacles 48 are visible on the internal side of the base 50 as are the secondary holes 52; note three positions available for attachment of the belt 20.
 Referring to FIG. 3, the lightweight base 50 is installed inside the golf bag matching the outside curve of the golf bag (as shown in FIGS. 5 and 7). This base 50 is a 14''×12'' sheet of 1/4'' thick plastic. To match the curve, the plastic sheet is heated to the temperature at which it begins to be bendable. It can then be bowed to the curve of the golf bag between the bag support rods 12. The two 12'' ends of the sheet are each then curled around guide rods, 1/16'' less in diameter than the bag support rods 12, creating curvatures 19 along the top and bottom edges of the base 50 (also shown in FIGS. 2, 3 and 5). As the base 50 then cools, the guide rods are removed. These curvatures 19 serve as cradles for the golf bag's support rods 12. Positioning is such that there is no extra strain on the support rods 12 themselves when the bag is used nor can the support rods 12 become loose. A heavy duty epoxy is applied to the bag support rods 12 and the curved ends of the back plate are snapped over them. Additional epoxy is poured over the top gap for strength and adhesion.
 Directly over each receptacle, 48 (FIG. 8), the bag 20 is color coded, allowing a user to easily select a desired combination of receptacles 48 for the belt's studs 46. It is anticipated that the color combination is adapted so that like colors are an equal distance apart, enabling the belt to be easily and quickly connected, and designed so that when worn, the open end of the bag is higher than the closed end. In an alternate embodiment, zippered slits 18 (mentioned previously) are sewn into the fabric of the golf bag directly over the columns of the receptacles 48 (FIG. 8), allowing the slits 18 to be zipped closed when the Hip Caddie belt is not in use. The receptacles 48 for the belt's studs 46 are fastened on the inside of the base 50; they are approximately two inches from each side edge and 8 inches apart top to bottom.
 The belt 20 (FIG. 4) is made from tight knit weatherproof material, as used in backpacks. The quarter-turn studs 46 are pushed through primary insertion holes 30 drilled through the belt material. The studs 46 are supported by stud retaining rings 47 on the back side of the belt material. Padded supports 24 and 26 are sewn in to cushion the lumbar spine and hips when the belt 20 is used. At each end of the belt 20, there are adjustable straps 39 (FIG. 4); at the end of each strap 39, is one of two parts of a buckle assembly with the male end 40 at the end of one strap and female end 41 at the end of the other as shown in FIG. 4. The user secures the belt 20 around the waist. The belt 20 comes in four different sizes ranging from child to large adult. It is positioned off-axis to the length of the bag to accommodate the diagonal angle at which the bag naturally hangs.
 To use The Hip Caddie, the golfer puts the studs 46 on the belt 20 into the receptacles 48 of the base 50 as shown in FIGS. 6 and 7, then tightens them down by twisting the heads of the studs 46. The golf bag is then put on in the way the golfer is accustomed. The golfer then fastens the belt 20 and checks for hip support and overall alignment, making sure the lumbar pad 26 is positioned comfortably in the small of the back. If the belt 20 needs adjustment, the golfer takes off the bag and repositions the attachment. Once the ideal position is achieved The Hip Caddie is ready for use on the golf course.
 The foregoing enumeration of embodiments has been for illustrative purposes only. Other embodiments, combinations of embodiments and combinations of features are also within the scope and spirit of the teachings described herein, as will be apparent to persons skilled in the art of these teachings.
Patent applications in class Including means for maintaining bag in upright position
Patent applications in all subclasses Including means for maintaining bag in upright position