Why do people yell fore in golf? Golfers yell, “Fore!” to let others know there might be a small ball sailing perilously close to their head within the next few seconds. It is basically a warning for others to duck out of the way.
Golf, like many games involving a ball propelled at speed, can sometimes incur injuries to both players and spectators. When a player hits a ball across the green it can often go off course and end up near spectators or other players, and if a golf ball hits you on the head, it hurts. A lot!
Many people who are new to the game of golf often ask, “Why do people yell fore in golf?” This is hardly surprising as it seems such an absurd thing to say! Why would you not just shout, “Duck!”?
The shout of ‘fore’ is a shortened version of ‘watch out for the ball’ and is only yelled when the ball has gone astray from its intended path. If golfers were required to shout the entire sentence each time they hit the ball off course, most of us would be knocked on the head before we had even heard half of the words!
But whatever the absurdity of the phrase, it is believed to date back to around 1881. The word ‘fore’ is thought to derive from the military phrase ‘beware before’. It means ‘look ahead’ and was commonly used as a warning for infantry troops, who were marching ahead of artillery and cannons, to take cover before shots were fired.
Another possible military origin for the word ‘fore’ can be traced back to artillery practice in Scotland. The port town of Leith was built high above the town golf course and whenever there was artillery practice fire, the men had to shout “fore” to warn anyone playing golf that there was likely to be artillery blasting over their heads.
The word ‘fore’ also relates to sailing as the front and back of the ship are referred to as fore and aft. Because ‘fore’ is a warning to the people in front of you to watch out, it is possible that ‘fore’ has come from naval terms.
Some golfing historians believe that the word ‘fore’ can also be derived from the term ‘fore-caddy’. This is the name of caddy who waits further down the green for his golfer to hit the shot and whose job it is to discover where the golf ball has landed. Caddies were often warned about incoming balls by a loud shout of “fore!” from the golfers back up the course.
But despite all the conjecture, nobody really knows for sure where the phrase originated from. All that really matters is that if you happen to be on a golf course and you suddenly hear a very loud shout of “fore!” from somewhere in the vicinity, you should immediately duck, or you might experience a very painful impact from a small ball somewhere in the region of your head!