Tom Fielding Golf School Japan
"Fore" is another word for "ahead" or "forward" - think of a ship's fore and aft. And in golf, yelling "fore" is simply a shorter way to yell "watch out ahead" (or "watch out before"). It allows golfers to be forewarned, in other words. Any golfer who hits an errant shot that sends their golf ball hurtling toward golfers ahead should yell out "fore" as a warning.
When Did Golfers Start Using Fore As a Warning?"Fore" is in use by golfers around the world. One reason is that its use goes back a long time.
The British Golf Museum cites an 1881 reference to "fore" in a golf book, establishing that the term was already in use at that early date (the Merriam-Webster dictionary pegs the beginning of the golf use of fore to 1878, while the USGA Museum has suggested it goes back farther).
Did the Warning 'Fore!' Evolve from 'Forecaddie'?Historians at the British Golf Museum have surmised that the term "fore," as a warning in golf, evolved from "forecaddie."
A forecaddie is a person who accompanies a grouping of golfers around the golf course, often going forward to be in a position to pinpoint the locations of the group members' shots. If a member of the group hit an errant shot, the thinking goes, he or she would have alerted the forecaddie by yelling out the term. It was eventually shortened to just "fore."
The Military Origin of ForeAnother popular theory is that the term has a military origin. In warfare of the 17th and 18th century (a time period when golf was really taking hold in Britain), 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 screaming overhead.
So when golfers misfired and sent their missiles - golf balls - screaming off target, "beware before" was shortened to "fore."
The fact is that the origin of "fore" as a golf term of warning cannot be precisely pinned down.
What can be said with certainty, however, is that the term does originate in the fact that "fore" means "ahead" or "before," and, used by a golfer, is a warning to those ahead that a golf ball is coming their way.
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