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Why Do Golfers Yell Fore?

by William McCoy

    On any golf course around the world, it's common to hear the word "fore" being shouted at times. If you are an experienced golfer, hearing this word should prompt you to take quick action. If you are inexperienced, it's important to understand the word and its implications so that you can react accordingly.

    Meaning

    Use of the term "fore" dates back to 1878, according to the Oxford Dictionary. The term is a short form of the word "before," which is a synonym to "ahead." Thus, fore literally means, "look out ahead." Golfers use this term immediately following an errant shot as a way to warn other golfers that a ball might be heading their way.

    Yelling

    When you hit a shot off the tee, fairway or even from the rough and the ball flies toward an adjacent fairway, shout "fore" loudly and clearly. Shouting the word once usually suffices, although it's acceptable to shout it repeatedly if you see your shot sailing toward another group of golfers. If you lose sight of your shot but know it was errant, yelling the term is suitable.

    Reaction

    During play, you might hear fore being yelled near you. When you hear the word, your immediate reaction might be to look around for the incoming ball. The best reaction, however, is to duck and shield your face. The incoming ball is more likely to miss you than hit you, but it's always best to protect yourself as quickly as possible, especially because you won't always know the direction from which the ball is coming.

    Considerations

    Golf etiquette dictates that golfers should always yell "fore" upon hitting a shot that carries the risk of hitting another golfer. As long as you yelled "fore," you did all you could to warn the other golfers. Convey this message to them in as polite a manner as possible.

    About the Author

    Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.

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