Playing golf takes more than swinging a club and hitting a ball. Sometimes players have to yell. But why do golfers yell “fore?” If you have heard golfers yelling “fore” and you wondered what the use of yelling “fore” in golf was, strap in.
Initially, golfers were expected to yell “fore” before they teed. In this context, they yelled to indicate they were about to take a shot. Fore was a shortening from words indication prior to like before, foremost, and forerunner.
Nowadays, golfers yell “fore” to warn another golfer on or off the pitch of impending danger. Likewise, it is an alert to warn people near the pitch that they may get hit by the ball.
This article looks at the following in-depth:
- Why do golfers yell “fore?”
- Where the tradition came from,
- Dos and don’ts when yelling “fore.”
Read on to find out more so that the next time you are playing or watching golf, you don’t get confused when you hear a player yell “fore.”
Why Golfers Yell Fore
When a shot is hit off the tee, fairway, or from a rough area, and the ball flies in an unintended direction, the golfer should yell “fore” in a loud and clear tone.
When golfers hit the ball and are unsure of where it will land, they should yell “fore.” However, you shouldn’t yell fore every time your golf ball misses. Instead, it’s advisable to yell “fore” only when you make a shot and the ball heads towards other golfers or spectators.
A pointing sign accompanies the yell. The point is usually to overemphasize the direction the ball is heading. If one did not hear the yell, the pointing helps people watching from the gallery be more attentive and watch out for an incoming ball.
Also, yelling fore in golf can act as a legal mitigation measure. For example, assuming a golfer yells “fore” and the ball hits a person. The golfer may not be liable for any harm or damage caused because they gave prior warning. Indicating with the hand is further cushioning against legal liability.
Fore Right and Fore Left
The term fore is enough for an average golfer, or if the practice is being carried out in a relatively quiet place with very few people.
For professionals playing on a course packed with fans, you will likely hear them yell fore left or right. This way, the fans in the gallery or course will understand better where the ball is heading. Golf misses often hit fans, so the golfer must indicate efficiently where the ball is headed.
Where Did the Term “Fore” Come From?
The golf world has some distinctive terminologies, one of them being the term “fore.” So let’s dive in and explore some theories that may lead us to where the term originated.
The Forecaddie Theory
We start with one of the most widely accepted and plausible explanations.
In the early golf days, the balls were very difficult to make. They were also expensive. To avoid losing these expensive balls, spotters were employed. These spotters’ role was to watch the ball’s direction, follow it and figure out where it would land. These people were called “forecaddies.”
Golfers would call out the forecaddies before hitting the ball to alert them. But the word forecaddie seemed long; hence the caddie was dropped and the word shortened to just “fore,” which was easier to yell.
The John Knox Theory
This assumption dates back to the 16th century. It traces its roots to John Knox, a Scottish protestant reformer.
In one of John’s writings, he refers to a story about tactics that were used to defend the city of Leith. He explains that when opponents approached, one of the teammates would yell, “ware before.” This statement warned teammates to lay down so that guns would fire over their heads.
Over time golfers shortened the phrase to just “fore .” However, it is believed that golfers adopted this phrase and started using it on the pitch.
The golfers might have adopted the word because when it was yelled on the battlefield, it indicated that soldiers protect themselves from being hit, which would be the same as people in the gold course preventing themselves from being hit by the golf ball.
What to Do When Someone Yells “Fore.”
You might be puzzled when someone yells fore in your direction. But no worries, we’ve got you covered. Here is what you should do when you hear golfers yelling fore.
Rule number one, don’t look up. You may be caught unaware, and curiosity might tempt you to glance at where the alert is coming from. Never be tempted to look. Golf balls go at high speed, and when you look up, you might be hit in the face by a golf ball.
It is usually advisable to bend down as soon as you hear the alert and cover your head and face. The ball may still hit, but at least your face and head will be safe. The hit will hurt much less, and you are less likely to get any serious injuries.
The second option is even better, but speed is key with this option. However, if you are a fan, just stick with the first one. You can choose to hide behind your golf cart. Hiding behind your cart may protect you from getting hit by the golf ball if it’s your lucky day. But then you will need to be fast enough to get behind the cart.
If there is a tree close by, you can duck behind the tree if you are a fan. The tree might just stop a ball flying your way or deflect it.
Are Golf Balls Dangerous?
A golf ball is not exactly a weapon and therefore not dangerous. However, it can cause a lot of damage if it hits you on the face. Therefore, you should yell “fore” so that other golf players and gold watchers can protect themselves. Better be safe than sorry.
Dos and Don’ts When Yelling the Term Fore
Golf players should follow set etiquette while they are on the pitch.
- Always yell fore after a shot that may pose harm to another golfer.
- When yelling “fore,” be polite and considerate to other golfers.
- Don’t rely on spotters to yell on your behalf the term “fore.” It is inappropriate and inconsiderate. It also depicts a wrong attitude and motive by the golf player.
Why Don’t Some Golf Players Yell Fore?
Some professionals don’t yell fore because they are reluctant to acknowledge that they just made a poor shot or are embarrassed. Instead, they assume that someone else will yell fore on their behalf.