There are many explanations why golfers yell “fore” on a golf course. Yet, no one can be entirely sure about its origin. Right now, it is a common way to warn other golfers playing in the golf course. Researchers suggest that this term has been used for centuries, at least since the 18th century. One possible reason why it is used may be because of its meaning.
In the ship, seafarers don’t say “back” or “front”. Rather, they use the term “aft” for back and “fore” for front. Basically, shouting “fore” in the golf course became a way of warning people in front of you to watch out. Though this theory makes sense, there are many other explanations why the term is shouted in the golf course.
Another reason may be military in nature. At the time when golfing was becoming popular in the United Kingdom, the cannon also became an important aspect in battles. The infantry usually marches in front of the cannon and other artillery. To prevent accidents, the shooters will need to shout a warning before using their artilleries. These shooters used to shout “beware before” but as infantrymen take cover, it was shorted to “fore”. Soon, the term also became used in golfing wherein people in front are warned about incoming balls.
Right now, a lot of people still cannot agree on the exact origin of the term. There are actually many other suggestions about its nature. Basically though, it involves other variations of the word “before” similar to the theories stated above. Another interesting suggestion about its origin can be traced to Scotland. A port town named Leith was built above a golf course, the Leith Links. Every time there is an artillery practice, the shooters will shout “fore” to warn the golfers. This explains how the term has moved from the military to golfing.
Meanwhile, the British Golf Museum suggests that “fore” may have been developed because of the forecaddie. This person is tasked with going ahead of the golfing party in order to mark the exact location of the golf ball. Golfers shout to their forecaddie when they’re on the verge of hitting the ball and the forecaddie will warn others in front that an incoming ball is arriving.
Typically, “fore” is not used every time a golfer shoots. It is only shouted when a ball went astray from its desired destination. If you hear “fore” in the golf course, run for cover.