The reason golfers shout fore is pretty simple. It’s used to alert - or forewarn - anyone standing or moving into the flight of a golf ball.
By dictionary definition, 'fore' means: the front part of something, especially a ship (noun) or situated or placed in front (adjective).
So, from that, it’s pretty easy to see how the word worked its way into golf. By yelling fore, it’s just a shorter way of saying ‘watch out’ if you’ve struck a wayward shot.
It’s one of the quickest pieces of golf etiquette amateurs learn.
How did fore come into golf
There are a couple of theories behind why fore started being used:
Theory 1: Evolution from ‘Forecaddie’
Historians believe fore, as a warning, evolved from ‘Forecaddie’ – a person who accompanies a group of golfers around the golf course, going forward on each hole to be in a position to quickly locate the group members' shots.
If a member of the group hits an errant shot, the forecaddie tracks down the ball and lets the golfer know its location.
The forecaddie became particularly popular in the late 1800s, when golf
balls were very expensive, meaning losing them wasn’t an option. So, the
theory is that fore is just shortened from Forecaddie.
Theory 2: A military background
Another popular theory is that the term has a military origin.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, infantry advanced in formation while artillery batteries fired from behind, over the heads of the infantrymen.
An artilleryman about to fire would yell 'beware before', alerting nearby infantrymen to drop to the ground to avoid the shells. So, in golf, 'beware before' was shortened to fore.