Whether you’re just getting into golf or you’ve been at it for a while, chances are that not one of your visits to a golf course will be free of hearing some golfer shouting the word “Fore”.
This brings us to today’s question: why do golfers yell “Fore”?
Golfers yell “Fore” as a warning to spectators or other golfers on the golf course to take cover as they might get struck by the ball they just hit. “Fore” is the traditional shout used by golfers when they hit a shot too far or in a wrong way that the ball poses a risk to other golfers on the golf course or to people watching them play from the gallery.
If you’re a beginner golfer who doesn’t know what to do when this happens, or you’re a veteran golfer who knows all too well but would like to further understand its origin, this article is here to help.
Why Do Golfers Yell “Fore”?
To put it simply, yelling “Fore” at someone is like shouting “watch out” at them.
The question is, why would golfers warn others?
Well, “Fore” is the shout that’s been traditionally used in golf for a very long time as a warning call to other people to keep them safe from stray balls. These people could be other golfers on the golf course or spectators watching a game.
When golfers shout “Fore”, it’s to tell others that they should duck and take cover because a ball is flying their way and may strike them.
For example, if a golfer mishits or hits so far off the tee, fairway, or from the rough that they send the ball flying with a very slim chance of ending up in the hole and a much higher chance of whacking someone in the head, they’ll yell “Fore”.
The golfer may shout “Fore” once or multiple times depending on how many people are at risk and how far they’re standing. They may also yell “Fore right” or “Fore left” to let others know the direction of the flying ball.
Typically, a golfer will pair yelling with pointing their finger to where the ball is headed after it’s hit.
The reason why a point follows a “Fore” yell is to warn people who can’t hear the golfer shout to quickly take cover or get out of that area.
Unfortunately, some professional golfers won’t do the shout because they’re “too good” to yell and will rely on the screaming volunteers from the spectators while they only point to the direction where the ball is headed. This is poor etiquette by the golfer.
Where Does “Fore” Come From?
Now that you have a better idea why golfers yell “Fore”, you’re probably wondering why they specifically use this word. Why not another expression like “be careful” or “watch out?
The answer lies in the history of the word “Fore”.
Does that mean there’s a clear background on where “Fore” came from? Well, not really.
The origin of this term is debatable because no one is completely sure about it. There’ve been a few theories explaining the root of “Fore”, the following are the most common ones:
- The word “Fore” comes from the word “forecaddie”, which was used back in the 1700s and 1800s. It described a person whose job was to keep an eye on the location where a golf ball landed and point it out to the golfer.
If you were a golfer during those times, you’d yell “forecaddie” to let this person know you’re about to hit a ball. With time, it’s believed that the word was shortened to just “Fore”.
- The word “Fore” dates back to the Middle Ages when it was added to other words as a prefix to mean “ahead”, “initially”, or “in front of”. For example, the terms ‘foretold’, ‘foremost’, ‘foreman’, and ‘forerunner’.
As such, it makes sense to use the word “Fore” to warn others that a ball is coming “ahead” or “in front” of them. However, this raises the question: why wasn’t it called “foreball” or something like that to convey the specific meaning in golf?
- The word “Fore” might have originated from military slang as artillerymen would shout the same word as a warning for soldiers ahead to drop down and seek cover.
- The word “Fore” might have Scottish origins, much like the game itself. It’s said that a writer/reformer called John Knox who lived back in the 1400s used to warn the people in his town about friendly gunfire that may happen behind them by yelling “ware before”.
With time, the term was shortened to just “Fore” and was still used to alert others of possibly dangerous events happening around them. There’s a chance that the word transitioned to be used in golf.
What Should You Do When You Hear “Fore”?
Although you may be tempted to look up to see where the ball is coming from, you shouldn’t react like that.
Instead, the best thing to do is to immediately crouch and cover your head and face using your arms. You can also shield yourself behind a golf club bag or a golf cart for extra protection.
When Should You Yell “Fore”?
When you tee off or hit a ball from the rough or off the fairway and it soars towards another fairway, you should yell “Fore”. However, you shouldn’t yell “Fore” every time you tee off as it can get quite annoying for other golfers.
Save the yell for when it looks like your ball may land too close to spectators or other golfers or for when you’re not sure where your ball will land. Don’t forget to also point in the direction the ball is flying.
So, why do golfers yell “Fore”? The answer is simply to warn others of a ball potentially coming their way.
Golfers yell “Fore” as a way to alert spectators or other golfers on the course to take cover because they might get struck by the ball they just hit.
“Fore” is the traditional shout used by golfers when they mishit a ball or hit it too far that it poses a risk to other golfers on the golf course or to people watching them play from the gallery.