Face-balanced golf putter

Abstract

The present invention is a golf putter having an offset shaft and balanced putter head which enables a golfer to accurately putt a golf ball towards a hole. The putter includes a shaft and a putter head. The shaft defines the toe portion and a heel portion of the putter head. The putter head includes a front surface, a back surface, a top surface, a bottom surface, and a receptacle defined by the putter head. The receptacle is preferably formed in the bottom surface of the putter head and receives a corresponding weighted plug. The center transverse axis of the weighted plug is axially aligned with the center transverse axis of the shaft along the longitudinal axis of the putter head to exactly balance, or at least approximately balance, the toe and heel portions of the putter head. The weighted plug is preferably inserted in the receptacle to balance the golf putter. In another embodiment, the weighted plug is attached to a surface of the putter head.

Claims

The invention is claimed as follows: 1 . A golf putter comprising: a putter head having a center transverse axis; a shaft attached to said putter head, said shaft being offset from the center transverse axis of the putter head and defining a toe portion having a weight and a heel portion having a weight; and a weighted plug attached to the heel portion of the putter head, wherein the weighted plug approximately balances the weight of the toe portion and the weight of the heel portion of the putter head. 2 . The golf putter of claim 1 , wherein the heel portion defines a receptacle for receiving the weighted plug and the weighted plug is secured in the receptacle. 3 . The golf putter of claim 2 , wherein the approximate weight of the weighted plug is D which is calculated based on the following formula: D=Y−(Z−C), wherein Y is the weight of the toe portion, Z is the weight of the heel portion and C is the weight of an amount of material of the putter head which would be needed to fill the receptacle. 4 . The golf putter of claim 1 , wherein the weighted plug is attached to a surface of the heel portion of the putter head. 5 . The golf putter of claim 1 , wherein the shaft and the weighted plug are positioned on a longitudinal axis of the putter head. 6 . The golf putter of claim 1 , wherein the shaft and the weighted plug are positioned on a center longitudinal axis of the putter head. 7 . The golf putter of claim 1 , wherein the shaft includes a curved portion of a predetermined length that is formed on one end of the shaft. 8 . The golf putter of claim 1 , wherein the density of the material of the weighted plug is greater than the density of the material of the putter head. 9 . The golf putter of claim 1 , wherein the putter head includes a top surface with at least one sight line for aligning the putter head with a golf hole. 10 . The golf putter of claim 1 , wherein the weighted plug exactly balances the weight of the toe portion and the weight of the heel portion of the putter head. 11 . A golf putter comprising: a putter head including a center transverse axis and a center longitudinal axis; a shaft attached to the putter head along the center longitudinal axis of the putter head, said shaft being offset from the center transverse axis and defining a transverse shaft axis, a first portion of the putter head on one side of the transverse shaft axis and a second portion of the putter head on the opposite side of the transverse shaft axis; and a weighted plug attached to the second portion of the putter head along the center longitudinal axis such that the weight of the first portion is substantially equal to a combined weight of the second portion and the weighted plug. 12 . The golf putter of claim 11 , wherein the second portion defines a receptacle for receiving the weighted plug and the weighted plug is secured in the receptacle. 13 . The golf putter of claim 12 , wherein the approximate weight of the weighted plug is D which is calculated based on the following formula: D=Y−(Z−C), wherein Y is the weight of the first portion, Z is the weight of the second portion without the weighted plug and C is the weight of an amount of material of the putter head which would be needed to fill the receptacle. 14 . The golf putter of claim 11 , wherein the weighted plug is attached to a surface of the second portion of the putter head. 15 . The golf putter of claim 11 , wherein the shaft includes a curved portion of a predetermined length that is formed on one end of the shaft. 16 . The golf putter of claim 11 , wherein the density of the material of the weighted plug is greater than the density of the material of the putter head. 17 . The golf putter of claim 11 , wherein the putter head includes a top surface with at least one sight line for aligning the putter head with a golf hole. 18 . The golf putter of claim 11 , wherein the weighted plug exactly balances the weight of the first portion and the weight of the second portion of the putter head. 19 . A golf putter comprising: a putter head having a center transverse axis; a shaft attached to the putter head, said shaft being offset from the center transverse axis of the putter head and defining a shaft transverse axis, a heel portion having a weight Y on one side of the shaft transverse axis, and a toe portion having a weight Z on an opposite side of the shaft transverse axis; a receptacle defined by said heel portion wherein an amount of material needed to fill the receptacle has a weight C; and a weighted plug attached to the putter head and having a weight which balances the weights of the toe and heel portions of the putter head, said weighted plug having a weight approximately equal to Y−(Z−C). 20 . The golf putter of claim 19 , wherein the density of the material of the weighted plug is greater than the density of the material of the putter head. 21 . The golf putter of claim 19 , wherein the putter head includes a top surface with at least one sight line for aligning the putter head with a golf hole. 22 . The golf putter of claim 19 , wherein the weighted plug exactly balances the weight of the toe portion and the weight of the heel portion of the putter head. 23 . A method for making a golf putter, said method comprising the steps of: (a) attaching a shaft to a putter head offset from a center transverse axis of the putter head to define a toe portion having a weight Y and a heel portion having a weight Z; (b) calculating a weight D for a weighted plug to be attached to the heel portion to balance the toe portion and the heel portion, wherein D=Y−Z; and (c) attaching said weighted plug of weight D to the heel portion of the putter head to face balance the golf putter. 24 . The method of claim 23 , wherein the density of the material of the weighted plug is greater than the density of the material of the putter head. 25 . The method of claim 23 , which includes the step of forming at least one sight line in a top surface of the putter head for aligning the putter head with a desired location on a green.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION [0001] Golf putting is an essential part of any golfer's game. For many golfers, putting is the most difficult aspect of the game. Putting greens vary in dampness, softness, length and texture of grass, and several other factors that affect a putt. All putting greens are different, and therefore a golfer must adjust to each green. Additionally, a golfer's own putting stroke may vary and affect the alignment and accuracy of the golfer's putts. As a result, golf club manufacturers have designed several different styles and types of golf putters to help golfers overcome their own putting deficiencies as well as other difficulties of putting. [0002] Putting performance greatly depends on a golfer's ability to correctly align the putter with a hole and then hit the golf ball effectively and sufficiently so that the golf ball travels the correct distance to the hole. The angle of the shaft and the weight balance of the putter head are two factors that affect a golfer's putting stroke and follow-through. Thus, golf putter designs have, in part, focused on the angle of the golf putter shaft and on the weight distribution in the golf putter head. [0003] The angle of the golf putter shaft is one factor that affects the alignment and control of the putter. The optimum angle is zero degrees, or no angle, between the shaft and the vertical axis. In this case, the shaft is attached directly to the center of the putter head and extends straight up from the head or along the vertical axis from the center of the putter head. This style of golf putter enables a golfer to have substantial control over a putt because the straight, centered shaft improves the golfer's balance and control over the putter. This style of putter, however, enables a golfer to have too much control of a putt and the accuracy of the putt. Therefore, to make putting more difficult and to increase the use of a golfer's skill to make a putt, the United States Golfer's Association (USGA) formed rules that govern the shaft design of a putter as well as other parts of the putter such as the putter head. According to USGA rules, the projection of the straight part of the putter shaft must diverge from the vertical axis by at least ten degrees. Several known putter designs have accordingly altered the angle between the putter shaft and the vertical axis that extends from the center of the putter head. Thus, golfers must adjust their putting stance and strokes based on the slanted shaft designs required by the USGA rules. [0004] The weight distribution or balance of the putter head also affects a putt. Generally, there are three types of balance associated with the weight distribution of a putter. Putters are generally toe-weighted, face-balanced or somewhere between toe-weighted and face-balanced. These design terms refer mainly to the putter head. If a person lays a putter on a table and the toe portion of the putter head hangs straight down while the heel portion is pointing up, the putter is considered toe-weighted. Toe-weighted putters are typically better for golfers who have a putting stroke that moves in a gentle arc around the golfer's body because a toe-weighted putter closes the angle of the putter face as it moves through a putting stroke. Thus, a golfer who has a pendulum style, or back and forth stroke, will be less likely to contact or hit a golf ball in the “sweet spot,” or optimum spot, of the golf ball during a putt using a toe-weighted putter. The golfer will more likely hit the ball off center instead, which causes excessive face movement across the face or front surface of the putter head. Excessive face movement causes a putted ball to travel off target and miss the hole. [0005] A face-balanced putter employs an even and uniform weight distribution about the vertical axis formed by the putter shaft. The weight distribution of a face-balanced putter is uniform because the weight of the toe and heel portions of the putter head are approximately equal. Generally, golfers that have pendulum-like putting strokes will benefit from face-balanced putters because the even weight distribution of the putter head maintains a square and fluid putting stroke through the impact of the golf ball. Therefore, a face-balanced putter is more likely to contact a golf ball squarely and direct the ball towards a hole based on the alignment of the putter with the hole. [0006] The remaining types of balance use putter heads and shaft designs that create a putter that falls between the face-balanced position and the toe-weighted position. The intermediate balanced putters are balanced so that the face of the putter head ranges from fifteen to eighty degrees from the horizontal axis when the putter is laid upon a flat surface. These putters are used by golfers having various putting styles and strokes. [0007] Examples of such putter designs are provided in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,603,666; 5,795,239; and 6,083,115. U.S. Pat. No. 5,603,666, entitled “Golf Putter,” which issued on Feb. 18, 1997, discloses a golf putter having an adjustable shaft and weighting system. The shaft is adjustable using three set screws 36 and 38 which tighten the end of the shaft that is inserted into the putter head. The putter is adjustable by filling bore receptacles, which are aligned perpendicular to the swing path of the putter, with steel balls. The bore receptacles contain screws 36 and are sealed at the toe and heel portions of the putter head with plugs. The weights in the weighting system are mounted on both sides of the putter head and on both sides of the shaft. The weights are said to enable a golfer to alter the weight distribution of the putter to accommodate different putting strokes and styles. [0008] U.S. Pat. No. 5,795,239, entitled “Golf Putter,” which issued on Aug. 18, 1998 discloses an improved putter design for increasing putting accuracy. The increase in putting accuracy is accomplished by aligning the center of gravity of the putter with the swing path and striking point of the putter head. Aligning the center of gravity is said to reduce the putter head rotation when the ball is not contacted directly with the center of the putter head. An adjustable counter weight and specifically, a weighted screw, is incorporated into the front surface of the putter head. The counter weight may be adjusted to suit the preferences of a user. The putter further includes a removable putting surface and shaft. [0009] U.S. Pat. No. 6,083,115, entitled “Golf Putter,” which issued on Jul. 4, 2000 discloses a putter including a weight member positioned directly behind the front surface or putting surface of the putter. The weight member has a center of gravity in front of the longitudinal axis of the putter head that extends from the toe portion to the heel portion of the putter. The positioning of the weight member is said to improve the follow-through of a golfer's stroke during a putt. However, this putter design creates an uneven weight distribution between the front and back surfaces of the putter head. The weighting member may be replaceable with other weights to accommodate the putting preferences of different golfers. [0010] The above described patents generally disclose how to change the weight of a putter to accommodate a golfer's comfort and feel of a putter during a golf stroke, but do not disclose a face-balanced putter. U.S. Pat. No. 3,954,265, entitled “Balanced Golf Club,” which issued on May 4, 1976 disclose a face-balanced putter. The putter includes a shaft and head where the shaft has compound reverse curves 25 and 26 located above the attachment point to the head. The putter head 11 is positioned on the end of the shaft 12 so that the putter head and shaft are approximately balanced. The putter is balanced at a point 31 that is adjacent to, but spaced from, the putter head. This putter does not balance the putter head itself and does not use weights or other attachments to evenly distribute the weight in the putter head. [0011] As indicated above, face-balanced putters enable certain golfers to level their putting stroke and to consistently and accurately hit a golf ball during a putt. As a result, golfers can improve their putting skills and increase their level of enjoyment with the game of golf. Existing face-balanced putters, however, use curved shafts or a similar shaft configuration to adjust the balance point of the putters. These types of putters are difficult to balance because the curve of the putter shaft and the attachment point of the shaft must be repeatedly adjusted until the proper balancing is achieved. Therefore, there is a need for an improved golf putter which balances the putter head and enables golfers to consistently and accurately putt golf balls. SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION [0012] The present invention provides a face-balanced golf putter having a putter head, a shaft attached in an offset position along the longitudinal axis of the putter head and a weight or weighted plug positioned along the longitudinal axis of the putter head to provide golfers with the maximum moment during a putting stroke. The face-balanced golf putter of the present invention enables a golfer to consistently and accurately putt a golf ball to a desired location such as a hole. The golf putter of the present invention, which is alternatively referred to as a putter, includes a shaft, a putter head and at least one balancing weight or weighted plug having the exact weight necessary to face balance the putter head, based on the dimensions of the putter head, the shape of the putter head, the material of the putter head and the position of the shaft. [0013] In one embodiment, the shaft is inserted into the top of the putter head along the longitudinal axis of the putter head. Alternatively, the shaft may be attached to the putter head using any suitable conventional fastening methods. The shaft is preferably cylindrically shaped and is positioned on the longitudinal axis offset from the center transverse axis. A conventional grip is attached to the opposite end of the shaft. The grip is adapted to be grasped by the golfer to provide better handling and control of the shaft. The weighted plug is attached to or inserted in the putter head to evenly distribute the weight between the toe and heel portions of the putter head. The face-balanced putter thus enables a golfer to squarely contact a golf ball and to adjust the follow-through of the golfer during a putting stroke to accurately hit and direct the golf ball towards a desired location such as a hole. [0014] More specifically, the putter head includes a body having a top surface or top, a bottom surface or bottom opposite the top surface, a front surface or face which laterally extends between the top surface and the bottom surface, and a back surface or back, opposite the front surface and laterally extending between the top surface and the bottom surface of the head. The outer end or portion of the putter head that does not include the shaft is generally referred to as the toe portion, and the fixed end or portion of the head to which the shaft is attached is generally referred to as the heel portion. [0015] In one embodiment, the putter head defines a receptacle in the heel portion (i.e., on the same side as the offset shaft). The receptacle extends from the bottom surface vertically upwardly inside the heel portion of the head. The receptacle is positioned on the same longitudinal axis of the putter head as the shaft. The receptacle is suitably sized and shaped to receive at least one weighted plug, which balances or equalizes the weight of toe and heel portions of the putter head. [0016] The weighted plug is inserted into and secured in the receptacle and provides the exact amount of weight to the heel portion of the putter head to counterbalance or offset the weight of the toe portion. Thus, the weight of the weighted plug depends on the factors listed above as well as the style and type of golf putter. Accordingly, it should be appreciated that the exact weight of the plug must be specifically calculated for each putter type and that the density of the weight or weighted plug will be greater or substantially greater than the density of the material used for the putter head. The weight of the putter head is also preferably distributed directly on the same longitudinal axis as the shaft. Accordingly, the present invention provides a face-balanced putter, which is balanced in two different directions, between the front and back surfaces of the putter head and between the toe and heel of the putter head. The balancing of the putter head in two directions is achieved because the weighted plug is centered on the same longitudinal axis as the center of the offset shaft and the weighted plug provides the exact or approximately exact weight necessary to balance the toe and heel portions of the putter head along the longitudinal axis and perpendicular or transverse to that axis. [0017] In another embodiment, the putter head includes sight lines, which aid a golfer in lining up a putt with a desired location such as a hole. The sight lines are formed in the top surface of the putter and are viewable from above by a golfer. Preferably, the sight lines are lines formed across the top surface of the putter head and are substantially perpendicular or transverse to the front and back surfaces of the head. [0018] It is therefore an advantage of the present invention to provide a golf putter having an offset shaft and a center aligned weight positioned in the putter head that face-balances the putter. [0019] Another advantage of the present invention to provide a golf putter having an offset shaft and a weight that is inserted into a putter head to exactly balance the toe and heel portions of the putter head. [0020] A further advantage of the present invention is to provide a golf putter having a putter head that maximizes the moment during a putting stroke. [0021] Another advantage of the present invention is to provide a golf putter having a putter head that enables a golfer to consistently and accurately direct a golf ball during a putt. [0022] Additional features and advantages of the present invention are described in, and will be apparent from, the following Detailed Description of the Invention and the figures. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES [0023] [0023]FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one embodiment of the present invention illustrating a golf putter having a putter head with a v-shaped bottom surface and an offset shaft mounted to the putter head. [0024] [0024]FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view of the golf putter of FIG. 1 illustrating the weighted plug removed from the putter head and the position and location of the receptacle (shown in phantom) in the putter head which receives the weighted plug. [0025] [0025]FIG. 3 is a front elevation view of the golf putter of FIG. 1 illustrating the weighted plug (shown in phantom) in the putter head. [0026] [0026]FIG. 4 is a top view of the golf putter of FIG. 1 illustrating the offset shaft insertion point and the weighted plug (shown in phantom) in the putter head aligned along the center longitudinal axis of the putter head. [0027] [0027]FIG. 5 is an elevation view of the back side of the golf putter of FIG. 1 illustrating the offset shaft (partially in phantom) and the weighted plug (in phantom). [0028] [0028]FIG. 6 is a schematic view of a center-shaft putter illustrating the weight of the toe portion, A, and the weight of the heel portion, B, of the putter head. [0029] [0029]FIG. 7 is a schematic view of an offset shaft putter illustrating the weight of the toe portion, A+X, and the weight of the heel portion, Z. [0030] [0030]FIG. 8A is schematic view of the present invention shown in FIG. 1 illustrating the weight of the toe portion, A+X, the weight of the heel portion, Z−C, and a weight C which is the weight of the material removed to form the receptacle in the heel portion of the present invention. [0031] [0031]FIG. 8B is a schematic view of the present invention shown in FIG. 1 illustrating the weight of the toe portion, A+X, the weight of the heel portion, (Z−C), and a weight D which is the weight of the weighted plug. [0032] [0032]FIG. 9 is a side perspective view of the golf putter of FIG. 1 positioned on a level table top illustrating the face-balanced feature of the present invention. [0033] [0033]FIG. 10 is a perspective view of another embodiment of the present invention illustrating the weighted plug inserted in the top surface of the body of the putter head. [0034] [0034]FIG. 11 is a perspective view of another embodiment of the present invention illustrating the weighted plug attached to a surface of the heel portion of the putter head. [0035] [0035]FIG. 12 is a top view of another embodiment of the present invention illustrating sight lines formed on the top surface of the putter head. DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION [0036] The face balanced golf putter of the present invention enables a golfer to more accurately and consistently putt a golf ball. Generally, putter heads are not evenly weighted. The toe portion of the putter head is typically heavier than the heel portion of the putter head because the putter shaft is mounted in an offset position closer to the heel of the putter head than the toe of the putter head. The offset shaft is the pivoting axis for the putter head and thus, the putter head naturally turns or pivots towards the heavier toe portion of the head. Therefore, the weight of the toe portion pulls the face or front surface of the putter head inward and causes uneven contact between a golf ball and the front surface of the putter head during a putt. [0037] In one embodiment, the present invention eliminates the uneven weight distribution between the toe and heel portions caused by or defined by the position of the offset shaft by positioning a relatively heavy weight or weighted plug in the heel portion of the putter head. The weighted plug increases the weight of the heel portion of the putter head so that the weight of the heel portion exactly or approximately equals the weight of the toe portion of the putter head. The weight of the weighted plug is specifically determined based on the material of the putter, the dimensions or size of the putter, the shape of the putter head, the style and type of the putter head and the offset position of the putter shaft. Furthermore, the weighted plug is centered and positioned on the longitudinal axis of the putter head that passes through the center of the offset shaft. Thus, the weights of the toe and heel portions of the putter head are exactly equal or approximately equal, and balanced along the longitudinal axis and perpendicular to that axis, to enable a golfer to consistently and accurately putt a golf ball. [0038] Referring now to FIGS. 1 through 5, a golf putter of one embodiment of the present invention is shown and generally designated by numeral 50 . Throughout the description, the golf putter 50 will be alternately referred to as the golf club putter or the putter. The golf putter 50 generally includes: a shaft 60 for holding and controlling the putter; a putter head 62 mounted to one end of the shaft 60 for aligning and contacting a golf ball and a weight or weighted plug 88 for balancing the head 62 . [0039] The putter head 62 includes a toe portion 64 and a heel portion 66 . For purposes of this application, the toe portion is generally the outer portion of the head 62 that does not include the shaft. The heel portion 66 is generally the inner portion of the head 62 to which the shaft is attached. In the illustrated embodiment, the head includes an elongated top surface or top 68 and a v-shaped bottom surface or bottom 70 that is opposite to the top surface 68 . It should be appreciated that the bottom surface and other surfaces may be any suitable shape. The bottom surface 70 faces downward and is the closest surface to the ground when a golfer is putting a golf ball. The bottom or bottom surface 70 includes in one embodiment a sole portion 80 , which is made of a suitable durable material such as stainless steel. The sole portion 80 is v-shaped and conforms to the bottom surface 70 . The v-shaped design enables a golfer to pivot the golf putter 50 to adjust the positioning of the putter with respect to the golf ball and minimizes the friction between the bottom contact surface of the putter and the ground during a putt. It should be appreciated that the putter head itself may be made with any suitable material. [0040] A front surface or front 72 extends laterally downward from one edge of the top surface 68 and is connected to the top surface 68 to the bottom surface 70 . The front surface 72 is the forward-facing surface or face of the putter head 62 , which contacts or impacts a golf ball during a putt. A back surface or back 74 extends laterally downward from the edge of the top surface 68 that is opposite to the front surface 72 , and is connected to the top surface 68 with the bottom surface 70 . [0041] A receptacle 78 is defined by the putter head. In one embodiment, the receptacle 78 is formed in the bottom surface 70 of the heel portion of the putter head 62 and extends upwardly from the bottom surface 70 towards the top surface 68 . It should be appreciated that the receptacle 78 may be formed in the top surface 68 and extend downwardly into the putter head as illustrated in FIG. 10 and described below. Preferably, the receptacle 78 does not extend completely through to the top surface of the putter head 62 . In one embodiment, the receptacle 78 is cylindrically shaped and has an opening adapted to receive a similarly shaped weight or weighted plug 88 . It should be appreciated that the weighted plug 88 and the receptacle 78 may be any suitable shape. The receptacle 78 is formed in the heel portion 66 of the putter head 62 to balance the weight of the putter head 62 as further described below. It should be appreciated that the weight or weighted plug is positioned so that the plug surface is flush or even with the corresponding surface of the putter head. In order to create an equally balanced putter head, the receptacle 78 is directly aligned along the center longitudinal axis of the head. The shaft is also aligned along the center longitudinal axis. This alignment along the longitudinal axis also works to achieve an exactly or substantially equal weight balance between the toe portion 64 and the heel portion 66 of the putter head 62 . The weighted plug 88 is shaped similarly to the shape of the receptacle 78 so that the weighted plug 88 may be inserted into and secured in the receptacle 78 . In one embodiment, the diameter of the weighted plug 88 is approximately the same diameter of the receptacle 78 so that the weighted plug 88 fits securely into the receptacle 78 . In another embodiment, the receptacle 78 and the weighted plug 88 are threaded so that the weighted plug may be screwed into the receptacle 78 . It should be appreciated that any suitable fastening methods may be used to secure the weighted plug 88 into the receptacle 78 . [0042] As indicated above, the weight of the weighted plug 88 is based on the putter head size, shape and material in addition to the position of the shaft as described below. The weighted plug 88 is preferably made of a suitable durable material such as metal, and in one embodiment is made of Tungsten which has a greater density than other materials. In one example embodiment, the total weight of the head is 335 grams and the weight of the plug is approximately 70 grams to properly balance the weight between the heavier toe portion of the putter head 62 and the heel portion. The density of the material that forms the weighted plug is preferably greater than or substantially greater than the density of the material that forms the putter head. The density and positioning of the weighted plug 88 in the receptacle 78 on the heel portion 66 of the putter head 62 enables the weight of the weighted plug 88 to balance or counteract the weight of the generally larger toe portion 64 of the putter head about the axis created by the shaft 60 as further discussed below. Preferably, the weighted plug 88 is inserted so that the center transverse axis 86 of the weighted plug 88 is parallel to the center transverse axis 94 of the shaft 60 . It should be appreciated, however, that the weighted plug 88 may be positioned at any angle desired inside the putter head provided that the center of the weighted plug is positioned on the longitudinal axis of the putter head. [0043] The sole portion 80 is formed on the bottom surface 70 of the putter head 62 to protect the putter head 62 from damage and enable a golfer to adjust the position of the putter. Also, the sole portion reduces the friction of the putter with the ground during a putting stroke because the v-shaped sole reduces the surface area that contacts the ground during a putt. The sole portion 80 is preferably made of a durable material such as stainless steel. However, it should be appreciated that any suitable material may be used to form the sole portion 80 . The sole portion 80 is preferably integrally formed with the bottom surface 70 of the putter head. It should be appreciated that the sole portion 80 may also be a separate component that is secured to the bottom surface 70 using suitable fasteners. Preferably, the sole portion evenly distributes weight about the transverse axis 84 such that the weighted plug 88 does not need to compensate for the sole portion. [0044] The shaft 60 is in one embodiment cylindrically shaped and is connected to the putter head 62 at an offset position from the center of the top surface 68 of the putter head. In one embodiment, the shaft 60 is inserted into the putter head 62 . It should be appreciated that the shaft may be made of any suitable material. It should also be appreciated that the shaft may be formed into any suitable shape or size that complies with the USGA rules. The shaft is offset from the center of the top surface 68 of the putter head 62 and extends upwardly and backwardly away from the insertion point on the putter head as illustrated in FIGS. 1, 2, 3 and 5 . It should be appreciated that the angle formed between the shaft and the transverse axis that extends from the center of the putter head is equal to or greater than the angle specified by the USGA rules. In one embodiment, the shaft 60 includes a grip 61 , as shown in FIG. 9, to help a golfer further control the putter during a putt. The grip is preferably made of rubber or similar material and enables a golfer to grasp and handle the shaft 60 . The grip may be made out of any suitable material as desired by the manufacturer. [0045] The offset nature of the shaft 60 causes the weight of the toe and heel portions of the putter head to be unequal. Typically, the unevenly weighted putter head causes the putter head to be toe-weighted as described in detail above and makes a golfer have a less consistent and accurate putting stroke. The shaft 60 forms the transverse axis 94 of the putter about which the weight of the toe and heel portions of the putter head act or pivot. Thus, the forces caused by the weight of the toe and heel portions of the putter head 62 cause the putter head to rotate about the transverse axis formed by the shaft. The present invention provides the weighted plug 88 in the heel portion of the putter head and centered along the same longitudinal axis as the center of the insertion point of the offset shaft to exactly, substantially or approximately balance the toe and heel portions of the head. Therefore, the putter is exactly, substantially or approximately balanced about the vertical axis 94 of the shaft. It should be appreciated that the weight distribution between the toe and heel portions of the putter head will change based on the positioning of the offset shaft on the putter head. [0046] As indicated above, the weight of the weighted plug 88 will vary based on the type, size and style of putter as well as the position of the shaft on the putter head. The weight of the weighted plug 88 is selected based on the amount of weight that is needed to exactly balance the weight of the heel portion 66 with the weight of the toe portion 64 of the putter head about the offset shaft axis. [0047] The facially-balanced putter head 62 of the present invention evenly distributes the weight between the toe portion and the heel portion about the offset shaft axis using the weighted plug 88 so that the stroke direction of the front surface 72 is perpendicular to the contact point of the golf ball. Thus, a golfer will regularly strike or contact the golf ball evenly and squarely and thereby enables the golfer to consistently and accurately aim and hit a golf ball towards a desired location such as a hole on a green. [0048] The face-balanced putter 50 also enables a golfer to have a more uniform and consistent putting motion. Because the putter head 62 is evenly weighted, the putter will not move or change angles during the motion of the golfer's putting stroke. Therefore, a golfer can make adjustments and align the putter head 62 with a desired area or hole and accurately direct the golf ball to that desired location with a consistent and fluid putting motion. [0049] Referring now to FIG. 6, a schematic of a golf putter 50 is illustrated where the putter head 62 includes a toe portion 64 and a heel portion 66 . In this example, the weight of the toe portion is designated by the letter A and the weight of the heel portion is designated by the letter B. The putter shaft 60 is attached to the center of the top of the putter head 62 . The transverse axis 94 of the shaft 60 is exactly aligned with the transverse axis 84 that extends from the center of the putter head. The transverse axis 94 formed by the shaft 60 divides the putter head 62 into two halves so that the size and shape of the toe portion 64 is approximately equal to the size and shape of the heel portion 66 . The toe and heel portions of the putter head 62 are made from the same material and therefore the weight A of the toe portion is approximately equal to the weight B of the heel portion. The putter head 62 is balanced about the center transverse axis 84 because weight A equals weight B. The weight distribution of the putter head 62 becomes unequal, however, when the shaft 60 is offset or attached to the putter head at a different point than the center point shown in FIG. 6. [0050] Referring now to FIG. 7, in this embodiment, the shaft 60 is attached to the putter head 62 at a point that is offset from the center transverse axis of the putter head. The center transverse axis 84 extends from the center of the putter head 62 . The shaft transverse axis 94 is the axis extending from the center of the insertion point of the shaft 60 in the putter head. The shaft transverse axis 94 is the point about which the putter head pivots or rotates based on the weight distribution between the toe and heel portions of the putter head. In FIG. 6, the shaft transverse axis 94 of the shaft is equal to the center transverse axis 84 of the putter head and therefore, the weights A and B of the toe and heel portions balance about the shaft axis (i.e., A=B). In FIG. 7, the shaft transverse axis 94 and the center transverse axis 84 are not in the same location on the putter head. The offset shaft 60 , thus, causes the putter head 62 to be unevenly divided where the toe portion 64 is larger than the heel portion 66 . Now, the toe portion 64 includes the weight A of the original toe portion shown in FIG. 7, plus an additional weight X, which represents the extra weight of the toe portion that was created when the shaft 60 was offset from the center transverse axis of the putter head. Now the combined or total weight of the toe portion 64 , weight A plus weight X (i.e., Y), is greater than the new weight Z of the heel portion 66 (i.e., (A+X)>Z). Also note that X plus Z equals A. The heavier toe portion 64 causes the angle of the putter head 62 to close during a putting stroke and increases the likelihood that a golfer will not squarely contact a golf ball during a putt. [0051] One embodiment of the present invention is schematically illustrated in FIGS. 8A and 8B, where the weighted plug 88 having a weight D is inserted and attached to the putter head 62 to add weight to the heel portion 66 and balance the putter head. As described above, a receptacle 78 is formed in the bottom surface of the putter head 62 so that the weighted plug 88 (shown in FIG. 8B) may be inserted into the head. The weight of the removed material to form the receptacle in the heel portion 66 of the putter head is represented by the letter C. Because material is removed from the putter head 62 , the weight of the heel portion 66 becomes (Z−C), which is the weight of the heel portion Z minus the weight of the removed portion C. Therefore, to balance the putter head 62 , the weight D of the weighted plug 88 shown in FIG. 8B, must be sufficient to add enough weight to the weight (Z−C) of the heel portion to equal the weight of the toe portion 64 , which is A+X. Thus, the putter head in the present invention balances where the weight of the toe portion, A+X, equals the weight of the heel portion, Z−C+D (i.e., A+X=(Z−C)+D.) [0052] The weight D of the weighted plug 88 , thus, must equal the weight of the toe portion (A+X) minus the weight of the heel portion (Z−C). Thus, the total weight D of the weighted plug 88 is generally calculated using the following formula: D=(A+X)−(Z−C). The density of the material that forms the weighted plug 88 is therefore preferably greater than the density of the material that forms the putter head. It should be appreciated that D=Y−(Z−C), where Y is the weight of the toe portion, Z is the weight of the heel portion, and C is the weight of the removed portion of the body of the putter head, if any. [0053] Referring to FIG. 8B, the weighted plug 88 is positioned on the putter head 62 so that the transverse axis 86 extending from the center of the plug 88 is on the same longitudinal axis as the transverse axis 94 of the offset shaft 60 (as illustrated in FIG. 4). The alignment of the transverse axes of the shaft and the weighted plug enables the present invention to exactly balance the weight between the toe and heel portions of the putter head in two directions. If the weighted plug 88 or the shaft 60 are slightly off center and shift towards the front or back of the putter head 62 , the weight distribution between the front and back surfaces becomes uneven and causes the putter head to be unbalanced along the axis that is perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the putter head. Therefore, to exactly balance the toe and heel portions of the putter head in two directions, the center transverse axis 86 of the weighted plug 88 must be aligned on the same longitudinal axis as the center of the shaft. [0054] Referring now to FIG. 9, the golf putter of the present invention is shown lying on a table 90 . The front surface or face 72 of the putter head 62 is facing upward away the table 90 . This is known as a face-balanced putter. The weight of the toe portion 64 and the heel portion 66 of a putter head 62 balance about the center transverse axis of the offset shaft due to the insertion of the weight or weighted plug (not shown) in the heel portion of the putter head. Therefore, the face or front surface 72 of the face-balanced putter head is parallel to the ground and faces upward. [0055] Referring now to FIG. 10, a further embodiment of the present invention is illustrated where the golf putter 50 a of the present invention includes a weighted plug 88 a that is inserted and attached to the top 68 of the putter head 62 a. The center transverse axis 86 of the weighted plug 88 a is positioned along the same longitudinal axis 79 as the center transverse axis 84 of the offset shaft 60 . In this position, the weighted plug 88 a adds exactly, substantially or approximately the necessary amount of weight to the heel portion 66 to balance the toe and heel portions of the putter head. It should be appreciated that the weighted plug may be positioned on the toe portion of the putter head where the shaft is offset to the toe portion side of the center transverse axis of the putter head. [0056] Referring now to FIG. 11, another embodiment of the present invention is illustrated where the golf putter 50 b includes a weighted plug 88 b that is attached to the exterior surface of the heel portion of the putter head 62 . In this illustration, the weighted plug 88 b is attached to the end surface 75 of the heel portion of the putter head. To exactly, substantially or approximately balance the toe and heel portions of the putter head, the weighted plug 88 b is positioned such that the center of the weighted plug (i.e. which in this example is the center longitudinal axis) is parallel to and in the same plane as the longitudinal axis 79 that intersects the center transverse axis 94 of the shaft 60 . It should be appreciated that the weighted plug 88 b may also be positioned on the top and bottom surfaces of the putter head. [0057] Referring now to FIG. 12, another embodiment of the golf putter 50 c of the present invention is illustrated where the putter head 62 c includes sight lines 92 . The sight lines 92 are etched or formed in the top surface 68 c of the putter head 62 c . One or more sight lines may be formed in the putter head 62 c as desired by the manufacturer. It should be appreciated that the sight lines may be lines, circles or any other suitable shape that enables a golfer to align a putt with a hole. The sight lines 92 enable a golfer to better align and adjust the front surface 72 c of the putter head 62 c to face a desired putt location or hole. In this manner, the golfer will be able to contact and direct a golf ball to a desired location on a green. [0058] It should be understood that various changes and modifications to the presently preferred embodiments described herein will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Such changes and modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention and without diminishing its intended advantages. It is therefore intended that such changes and modifications be covered by the appended claims.

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Patent Citations (1)

    Publication numberPublication dateAssigneeTitle
    US-4063733-ADecember 20, 1977Benedict Mark CGolf club

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Cited By (4)

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    US-2004152538-A1August 05, 2004Bonneau Michael D.Golf putter head
    US-2015238825-A1August 27, 2015Michael Mario DippolitoGolf putter
    US-6875128-B2April 05, 2005Michael D. BonneauGolf putter head
    US-9573027-B2February 21, 2017Sri Sports LimitedWeight member for a golf club head