Fore! seems to be the hardest word

2014 07 Fore

For most non-golfers, it’s the word they most commonly associate with the sport. So, it has always struck me as rather odd that the people who make a living - an obscenely lucrative one at that - seem so determined to resist shouting ‘Fore!’

The traditional warning that accompanies a shot struck towards an oblivious bystander, it’s nothing new to say that some of the game’s top players are a little too casual about yelling it. However, it has been particularly noticeable in this year’s Open – and we’re only a round and a half into the championship.

There have already been instances reported of spectators and marshals being struck by wild shots from those competing in this year’s 143rd edition of the tournament. Again, that’s nothing new. But when you have large crowds spectating - over 35,000 people turned up yesterday, with 200,000 expected to have been there by Sunday night - surely the players have an obligation to limit the chance of someone being seriously injured (or worse) when they spray one in the direction of the fans.

All it takes is a loud shout. That’s the warning and it’s one that everyone recognises. Accidents will happen but shouting ‘Fore!’ is not a bad way to reduce them.

Over the past few years, it has become customary with some players to simply point in the direction of their mishit. But, like I said on Twitter yesterday, I’ve yet to meet anybody who can hear an outstretched arm.
"Does someone have to be killed before they start paying attention?"

Getting hit by a golf ball is not a fun experience. I should know. It’s happened to me. Luckily, I only took the last few bounces of a mate’s shank battering into my shin but it still stung and left a nasty bruise that took a couple of weeks to clear. So, just imagine what it’s like getting hit on the top of the head by a solid object that has the full force of a 460cc titanium head driver and a swing speed in excess of 100mph behind it.

Stories of people being seriously injured by wild shots are becoming more and more common and, in fairness, getting hit will always be an occupational hazard of playing golf or attending tournaments.

For that reason, though, not shouting ‘Fore!’ isn’t just bad etiquette. It is simply inexcusable and, frankly, unfathomable. I mean, why wouldn’t you want to do everything in your power to avoid hurting someone?

More to the point, what more will it take for the game’s ruling bodies to weigh in and start punishing players who don’t deliver such warnings? Does someone have to be killed before they start paying attention?

A one-shot penalty for any player who hits a shot into the crowd without warning would surely be reasonable. Let’s face it, that’s what they’d likely be facing if their ball wasn't to ‘fortuitously’ rebound off some poor soul on the other side of the ropes and bounce back into play.

The lack of warnings is a problem which is becoming way too common – dangerously common at that – and which is easy to fix. But it needs to be done soon.


Shouting 'Fore!'  - your thoughts

Do you agree with Michael McEwan that something has to be done about players who don't shout 'Fore!' Leave your thoughts in our 'Comments' section below.

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