Fill your brain will all the swing tips and hacks there are, there is no more important piece of knowledge than the answer to “why do golfers yell fore?”. Yelling “fore” is what you do when you hit the golf ball at another group of people to warn them. And before you ask, yes this includes golf course workers.
What is Yelling Fore?
Yelling fore is a universal way of letting those on holes in close proximity to you know that danger is on the way. Things happen quickly on a golf course, and as such require immediate action. Yelling fore is your duty as a golfer to letting others prepare for the incoming danger. We can’t control our golf shots.
We can control what we do after they happen. Let’s take a deeper look and answer the question of why golfers yell fore.
The Origins of Fore
So where does the “fore” golfers have been yelling for more than a hundred years come from? Long story short, no one is really sure. We’re also not sure exactly who came up with it, though it’s believed to be of Scottish origins, like the game of golf itself.
“Fore” most likely derives from the use of forecaddies. If you don’t know, these are individuals not playing golf, but traveling around the course with a group. They go ahead and wait where balls are expected to land, spotting for the group. They’ll stand off to the side, but inevitably balls travel their way.
Thanks to many an errant shot, the cry of “forecaddie” was shortened to “fore”. Instead of alerting the forecaddie of incoming golf balls, we warn our fellow golfers. No matter where golf is played, fore is known and used.
When Should Golfers Yell Fore?
We don’t want to complicate things too much with different scenarios, so we’ve decided to list things out in a way that’s easy to understand and absorb.
Q: Who should yell fore?
A: Everyone in the group, immediately after it becomes clear the ball has strayed from the intended path and is heading in the direction of other people. If you hear someone in your group yell fore, join them in doing so.
Q: What should be yelled?
A: A simple “Fore!” does the trick. If you can think quick enough, use a directional call-out as well. This is something like “Fore right!” or “Fore 13!” if you know the holes well enough to add a little bit of clarity for those your ball is heading towards.
Q: Where should fore be yelled?
A: Anywhere on the course, with any shot.
Q: When should fore be yelled?
A: As soon as the ball comes off the club. Time is of the essence when a ball is going directly at someone.
Q: How should fore be yelled?
A: As loudly as possible
Q: Does pointing a direction when yelling “fore” help?
A: Absolutely. If there’s a spotter or forecaddie ahead, it helps for picking up the line. If it’s to warn a group, they will have another signal danger is coming their way.
Others on the course might get aggravated with a “Fore” call that happens while they are swinging, but don’t let it stop you from yelling with all you have. Hitting a poor shot is one thing, getting hit by a stray golf ball is another.
Hit a bad shot because of a fore call and it might mess up your shot, a shot you’ll forget by next week. Don’t yell fore for fear of upsetting someone and the results could be disastrous. I can promise you that not allowing someone to take cover and ending up being hit by the ball will leave a much longer-lasting memory than the person who hit the bad shot.
What You Should Do When Someone Else Yells Fore
If you know what it means when you hear golfers yelling fore, that’s good.
But, does this mean you’re a duck on a pond waiting for the golf ball to come to pick you off? Absolutely not.
By the time you hear fore and realize you’re in danger, there’s not much time to spare. You won’t be able to find the ball in the air and make a Hollywood-esque escape from danger. What you can do is any one or more of the steps below.
- Cover your head using your arms. A golf ball to the bicep will hurt like crazy, but a ball to the dome has potential for knocking you out and doing serious harm.
- Turn your back to where the ball is coming from. This one isn’t as essential, but if I had the choice of getting hit in the calf or kneecap, I’ll take the calf every time.
- Squat down. A smaller target is less likely to be hit than a bigger target.
- Always drop the club you’re holding. Covering up with two arms offers more protection than one—double, actually.
If you’re next to your cart, it’s a great idea to jump into it for cover. The cart provides an immediate source of cover. While there is still gaps on the side and at the windshield, some cover is better than none.
The best-case scenario is not having to hear “fore” before taking cover. If you’re adjacent to a hole and people are hitting, keep an eye on them. Not even the pros always come close to the spot they’re aiming. A weekend golfer will surely be worse. Be aware of your surroundings and you’ll have an extra couple seconds to jump out of harm’s way.
What Happens When Golfers Don’t Yell Fore
This section can be explained far more easily with a couple pictures than it can words. Regardless, restate the obvious.
Getting hit by golf balls = bad.
Walking around with a massive welt or an injury because someone didn’t yell fore = bad.
Knowing you should have yelled fore = bad.
I also wanted some words in this section for a quick reference to Caddyshack and the “should have yelled two” incident involving Al Czervik (Rodney Dangerfield). Do a little googling for golfers hit by balls, many aren’t for the weak of stomach.