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Why do golfers yell fore?

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If you’re a golf player or watched golf on TV, then you’ve probably heard someone yell “Fore”! after hitting a not-so-great shot. But why? There have always been a few theories about why and where this term came from. Believe it or not, this is great golf etiquette and should be yelled every time a golf ball is headed in the direction of someone not paying attention.

The golf term Fore is the equivalent to “heads up” in other sports like baseball.

Anytime you are on the golf course and hear someone yell “fore,” you must assume the golf ball is headed in your direction, and you need to take cover. You should always cover your head and try to get out of the open. Hopping into a golf cart or behind a nearby tree will always make you safer in this scenario.

Fore, a term used on the golf course, dates back to the early stages of golf. The golf term can be found in history publications dating back to the 1800s.

Where did the term “fore” come from?

Even going back in time to the 1800s with a wooden club and ball, golf used a person known as a forecaddie to help golf professionals locate their golf balls to speed up the pace of play.

The golfers, at this time, did not have a common term to warn people when the ball was not headed into the fairway. Because the forecaddies were positioned close to the anticipated spot they would land, they are in a direct line when a golf ball is off-line.

How did it originate and stay around today?

The golfers then started using the term forecaddie left or forecaddie right to let the specific forecaddies know to get out of the way of the ball. It eventually got shorted to fore left and fore right, which is still used in golf today.

Fast forward to the late 1920s and early 1930s when golf started to gain in popularity as a professional sport. The PGA tour was formed and with it, rules were put into place about how players should conduct themselves and use course etiquette while playing.


What is a forecaddie?

However, most of us know the forecaddies these days as the spotters. These people are the ones that let the players know if their ball is safe or not and typically sit in a chair in a safe area where they anticipate the golf ball to land. They are not the actual caddies that hold the golfer’s bag and assist in play.

forecaddie at WM phoenix open

The other theory worth mentioning:

On the USGA website, they describe the history of fore as a Scottish origin and is a shortened version of the word “afore,” which is a Scottish warning meaning “lookout ahead,” which was too wordy to say in that position. The military used the word afore warning troops in forwarding positions to look out when firing cannons. The rumor is that golfers adopted this military warning cry to use for their fellow golfers.

While the origin of fore is still debated, its meaning is very clear in the game of golf. The next time you hear someone yell fore on the golf course, take cover!

Responsibility as a golfer:

Yelling the word “fore” once usually suffices, though it’s acceptable to yell it repeatedly if you see your shot descending right at other golfers or spectators. Likewise, screaming the word is suitable if you lose sight of your shots and it is headed in the close direction of anyone not paying attention.

Hitting someone is not fun

Although a golf ball hitting someone always sucks, it’s not technically your fault if you shouted fore and they still got hit. The point is, as long as you yelled the word “fore” loud enough for the golfers or spectators to hear it, it is believed that you did all you could to warn them.

Of course, if you hit someone with your golf shot and they did not hear you yell fore, that’s on you. In that case, an apology is in order along with making sure the person who got hit is OK.

You can never be too loud

You want to make sure you yell it LOUD and CLEAR so that anyone in the vicinity can take cover. As long as everyone abides by the simple golf etiquette for beginners, playing golf should be fun and safe experience for all!

Long Bombs Golf Final Say:

The most likely story of wherefore came from is the forecaddie story. It makes sense that as golf became more popular and professional, the term fore would be formalized into the rules of golf.

The PGA tour created rules about how players should act on the course and using “fore” was one way for golfers to warn their fellow players of an incoming ball.

As a golfer, when you hit a crazy embarrassing shot off the tee (don’t worry we have all done it), your main responsibility as a golfer is to yell “fore.”


About the Author


How we got onto 16 with a 5 minute wait at the WM Phoenix Open!

How I got on hole 16 (The Stadium hole) at the Waste Management Phoenix Open with little to no wait!! I also have tips and tricks on what to do once you are inside the gate and inside the stadium hole. Check this out if you ever plan to make a trip out! If you ever have the chance, it is definitely worth the trip.

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