Fore is perhaps the most famous golf term in the game (aside from mulligan!). For golfers, not only does the word fore become something they must know to play the game, but it’s also a matter of safety.

If you have ever hit a bad shot, now is the time to know what fore means in golf and the steps to protect yourself and others.

image of what does fore mean in golf question - AEC Info

Why do golfers yell fore

When a golfer yells the word fore it is to alert other golfers that they have hit an errant shot that could be dangerous. Not only is yelling the word “fore” part of proper golf etiquette it is a very important part of golf safety. As a golfer, you must know when to yell fore and what to do if someone yells fore and a golf ball is headed your way!

Always yell fore if you feel your golf ball could be on a track to hit another person. Yelling fore can be to alert a playing partner or a person in another group. In addition, sometimes you must yell fore if a golf ball is traveling towards a home on the golf course.

If you hear the word fore, it’s time to take cover. The best thing to do is drop your golf club and use both arms to cover your head. If the golf shot were to strike you, at least you have covered your head. Some golfers like to duck down as well, hoping that the ball will potentially fly over them and miss.

Fore (golf)

The term “Fore” is a warning term that golf historians believe was created during the game’s early days when players had forecaddies. The forecaddies would head down the fairway ahead of the players to look for golf balls.

If a player on that golf hole happened to hit a shot that was headed at that caddie, they would yell fore to alert them.

Why do they yell fore in golf?

When you hear a golfer yell fore in the game of golf, they are trying to warn other players that a golf ball could be headed their way. A seasoned golfer knows it’s better to yell fore and ensure that no one gets hurt than it is to be cautious about being too loud on the golf course.

Where did the term come from?

The term fore in golf came from the word forecaddie. A forecaddie is a person that runs ahead of the golfers to keep an eye on where the golf balls land. If an incoming ball was headed at the forecaddie, golfers would yell to alert them, and it likely started by yelling “forecaddie.”

Over time the word was shortened, and the common golf term we know today is simply fore.

Wondering why we don’t yell “Caddie”? See the difference between a Caddie vs forecaddie.

When should I yell fore?

image of a man yelling fore - AEC Info

So many players understand the concept of fore as it is one of the Beginner golf terms, but many don’t know when to use it.

It’s so important that regardless of skill level, you are yelling fore anytime you hit an errant shot that could be traveling toward another group, other golf carts, or even a home or clubhouse. Yelling fore as a false alarm is not going to get anyone mad. However, if you don’t yell and a player gets hit, you may have a problem.

The biggest tip I can give you is to make sure you watch all of your shots. When you keep an eye on the ball, you will know when it’s appropriate to yell and alert other players.

Do pro golfers yell fore?

Professional golfers on the PGA Tour will yell fore from time to time; however, as a spectator at a professional tournament like one of the Men’s major golf championships, you must watch the match and be prepared for an oncoming ball.

A golf professional often points left or right to indicate the direction of their shot. On the inside of the ropes, the PGA Tour events have spotters that help professionals find their golf ball, but these spotters may also warn spectators of a ball coming their way.

Why don’t the professional yell the phrase?

Tournament golf is much different than casual golf. When professionals hit a wayward shot, there are usually spotters in the area marking the ball and helping the professional find it. Some of these spotters will also yell fore to the spectators around them.

Some professionals shout fore, but when you are a spectator at a golf tournament, you are always at risk of getting hit with an errant shot.

The next time you watch a golf tournament on tour, keep an eye on the spotters behind the golfers.  If the ball is down the middle, they will wave their hands right down the middle indicating a straight shot.  If they motion right or left with their hands, the ball is headed in that direction and you will likely here someone on the tee box yelling fore. 

What is fore right vs fore left? 

It is very common to hear the phrases “fore right” or “fore left” when on the golf course.  This indicates from the golfers perspective which direction the golf ball is traveling. In professional tournaments, this warning tell spectators if they need to take cover from an errant golf shot. 

Final Thoughts

I recommend that any golfer understands this standard term before heading out for the next round of golf. Golf sayings can be tricky at times, but fore is simple and can keep you and fellow golfers safe.