Fore: One of Golf's Finest Words
One of the first things I learned after taking up golf half a hundred years ago was a four-letter word.
No, not that one. The word was fore. Only you pronounced it, FORE!!!!
Raymond Floyd is given credit in some corners for coining, “It’s called golf because all the other four-letter words were taken.” I’m not sure about that, but I’ve known Floyd for at least half a hundred years and I learned a long time ago not to argue with him.
Meanwhile, back to the subject at hand. Fore is a very good word to know when you’re on the golf course. If you hit a shot that heads in the direction of the head of your closest friend, yell FORE! If you hear someone else yell FORE!, don’t just duck. Drop to the ground and assume the fetal position.
Probably the most common occurrence resulting in the need for FORE! is a five-letter word, which as you may have already surmised, is one letter worse than a four-letter word.
Yeah, you know where this is going — shank. There, I just said the word that shall never be uttered on a golf course.
I have a friend named Harvey who I used to play golf with, before the Blizzard Age, who swears he’s never played without having at least one of those ugly sideways squirters. In fact, he’s hit so many of them that he calls them “Harveys.”
Now everyone we play with on a regular basis calls them “Harveys.” As in, “Dang, I hit a Harvey.” OK, so it’s not original, but it beats the heck out of that five-letter word.
If you’ve ever been hit by a golf ball, you never forget it. And you never forget to duck again, either. Life is full of unexpected things, but a shank and a beaning are not things you want sneaking up on you.
I’ve been hit on the leg a couple of times when I wandered a couple of feet in front of the guy hitting, but the most memorable hit I took came back on June 11, 1976, on the eighth hole at Gates Four Golf & Country Club.
OK, I may be fudging a little on the date, but hey, some things you never forget, and this was more memorable than a hole-in-one. That’s because it was a hole-in-head.
Our group that day was me, Dr. Putt, Bubba and Maxie. Maxie found some serious trouble with his second shot on the par-5 hole, semi-shanking a 3-wood into the bushes. We searched for at least twice the allotted five minutes, then left Maxie on his own. I was lining up a putt and turned to go back to my ball when the Top-Flite conked me in the right ear. I know it was a Top-Flite because nothing else back then was that hard.
I was on the ground before I knew I had been hit. Had no idea what had happened. But when I got to my knees and looked down the fairway, there was Maxie, still holding his follow through. Can’t blame him. It was the best shot he hit all day: a 6-iron from 165 yards. Uphill.
Actually, I’m lucky he didn’t yell FORE! If he had, I probably would have turned and been hit in the eye instead of the ear.
Anyway, it’s just plain good etiquette to yell FORE! when you hit one of those misguided missiles. In fact, I had such a severe bout of the shanks a few years ago that I prefaced every shot with FORE! Saved a lot of friends that way.
A recent court ruling cleared a golfer of reckless endangerment charges after he had clobbered a fellow player with a ball. The judge ruled that the other golfer should have been aware of the danger and made sure he wasn’t standing where he could be hit.
Yeah? Well, that judge hasn’t seen some of the shanks I’ve hit. No way some of my victims could have been aware of the danger they were in. Heck, the last one was standing about two feet behind me.
Too bad, I said. I just hit another “Harvey.”
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