January 10, 2010: Why do golfers shout 'fore' during a golf game?
'Fore' basically means watch out, a ball is heading in your direction. Most of the time, once you hear it, there is not much you can do anyway unless you are brave enough to look up into the sky to find the ball heading your way.
The following are some explanations of where the term came into existence.
1.Because golf balls were expensive, golfers employed ‘Forecaddies’ to stand where the ball might land and reduce the number of lost balls, as is done in tournaments today. In 1875, Robert Clark mentions that Andrew Dickson performing this role for the Duke of York in 1681 and describes it as “what is now commonly called a fore-caddie”. It is probable that golfers called to their “Forecaddie!”, who would always be some distance ahead to draw attention to the fact the ball was coming and, in time, this was shortened to “Fore!” The almost contemporaneous appearance of the terms caddie, fore-caddie and fore! supports this theory over the others.
2.A second explanation derives from the military battle craft of musket days, when rank after rank would fire fusillades, some over the heads of those in front. It was speculated that the term Fore! might have been used to warn those in front to keep their heads down. Modern historians pour cold water on this theory, partly because it is difficult to relate it to a Scottish golf connection and partly because the relevant military terms used do not appear to be connected. However, this theory may in fact be a misunderstanding of the theory below.
3.There is a third explanation, which appears utterly implausible, but which is an outside possibility. It derives from a story told by John Knox (1505?-1572) the ‘hellfire’ protestant reformer. He tells the tale, as only ‘hellfire’ preachers can, of someone arriving at the East Port (east gate) of Leith.