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Let’s use the “Fore” word

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While not strictly about any Rule of Golf, this article is about an important golf-related subject that should concern all of us who play the game.

When viewing competitive golf at any level, I am regularly surprised at how often players who hit ‘stray’ shots fail to shout the customary “fore”, to warn anyone in the vicinity that they should take cover and/or protect themselves from being hit by a golf ball.

The Rules of Golf do not require a player to shout “fore” to warn other players, but good etiquette certainly does. This is from the front of the Rules Book, Section One, Etiquette; Behaviour on the Course;

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If a player plays a ball in a direction where there is a danger of hitting someone, he should immediately shout a warning. The traditional word of warning in such situations is “fore.”

So, I was pleasantly surprised that at least the European Tour is beginning to take this matter more seriously.

Prior to the Turkish Airlines Open, earlier this month, they circulated a memo informing players that incidents of spectator injury are on the rise and that players are expected to increase their use of “fore”, as a verbal warning whenever a shot goes awry. This is the full text of the European Tour memo:

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“Fore” expected use of warning

An increase in complaints from marshals and spectators over the lack of use of the above warning by players, combined with an increase in resultant injuries to spectators, claims for compensation and indeed a recent injury to a member are of serious concern to the Tour.

Members are reminded that the use of the word “fore” remains the traditional and expected warning/ etiquette when there is a danger of hitting someone (see page 26 of Rules of Golf) and that regulation D 1 (b) 2 (page 48 of your handbook) requires you to ‘comply with normally accepted standards of golf etiquette’

All members are, therefore, strongly recommended that the use of such warnings is expected at all times when there is risk of injury and failure to do so will result in a player being disciplined under the above regulation, reads the memo.

Let us all use the customary word. A golf ball is a very dangerous object that has even caused death several times.

The Author is an Apprentice Member of the Professional Golfers Association of South Africa and an R&A Level 2 Certified Rules Official Feedback: +265 888 346 510

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