Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Shout "Fore!"

Phil Mickelson shouting ‘Fore!’
Whilst not strictly about any Rule of Golf, this article is about an important golf-related subject that should concern all of us who play the game. When viewing competitive golf at any level, I am regularly surprised at how often players who hit errant shots fail to shout the customary “fore”, to warn anyone in the vicinity that they should take cover and/or protect themselves from being hit by a golf ball.

The Rules of Golf do not require a player to shout "fore" to warn other players, but good etiquette certainly does. This is from the front of the Rules Book, Section 1, Etiquette; Behaviour on the Course;

If a player plays a ball in a direction where there is a danger of hitting someone, he should immediately shout a warning. The traditional word of warning in such situations is "fore."

So, I was pleasantly surprised that at least the European Tour is beginning to take this matter more seriously. Prior to the Turkish Airlines Open, earlier this month, they circulated a memo informing players that incidents of spectator injury are on the rise and that players are expected to increase their use of "fore", as a verbal warning whenever a shot goes awry. This is the full text of the European Tour memo:

An increase in complaints from marshals and spectators over the lack of use of the above warning by players, combined with an increase in resultant injuries to spectators, claims for compensation and indeed a recent injury to a member are of serious concern to the Tour.

Members are reminded that the use of the word "fore" remains the traditional and expected warning/etiquette when there is a danger of hitting someone (see page 26 of Rules of Golf) and that regulation D 1 (b) 2 (page 48 of your handbook) requires you to ‘comply with normally accepted standards of golf etiquette’

All members are therefore strongly recommended that the use of such warnings is expected at all times when there is risk of injury and failure to do so will result in a player being disciplined under the above regulation.

The following short extract is taken from an article on the subject a year ago in GolfLink.com, by Sky Sports pundit and PGA Master Professional, Denis Pugh;

On the European Tour, I'd say it's about half-and-half between players that do and don't shout "fore". The problem is more widespread in the USA, and I’d say only 10 per cent of PGA Tour players consistently shout “fore” when they should. It's no coincidence that the galleries on the PGA Tour are bigger, meaning there is a better chance of getting a lucky deflection off an unsuspecting spectator. It happens every week. The bigger the name, the bigger the galleries, and the less likely there will be a shout from the player or his caddie.

Readers may be interested to know that there are three differing explanations regarding the origin of the use of “fore!” as a warning cry to people positioned in front of a golf stroke. The use of this shout can be traced back at least as far back as a reference in The Oxford English Dictionary in 1878:

  1. A shortened version of ‘forecaddie’, a person employed to stand where the ball might land, so as to reduce the number of lost balls, which were handmade and substantially more expensive in the early days of the sport than they are now. (This is the explanation that I favour). 
  2. From the military battle craft of musket days, when rank after rank would fire fusillades over the heads of those in front. In other words, the term ‘Fore” might have been used to warn those in front to drop to their knees. 
  3. Similar to 2. above, it is claimed that “Fore!” was derived from an artillery term warning gunners to stand clear with the term “Ware Before!” (Beware Before!) being foreshortened to “Fore!” (rather than “Ware!”).
More information on the origin of this traditional warning in golf can be found at the excellent Scottish Golf History web site at this link.

Good golfing,


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1 comment:

Dean Walker said...

It really bothers me when pro golfers smash it into the crowd and can't even be bothered to shout fore.

Then when it smashes someone in the face, they give the poor victim a glove to apologise.

How about shout in the first place.

Im pleased to see the tour doing something about it, it's long overdue.

Dean Walker