Friday, December 31, 2010

Fore! (Look out!)

I’m sorry I can’t give you an exact reference, but a judge recently ruled in a case where a golfer made a wildly errant shot that seriously injured another golfer. The victim wanted damages because the golfer failed to yell “Fore” before hitting his ball. The judge ruled that the ancient “Fore” rule of golf is reasonable: that you yell “Fore” only if there are people ahead of you, where you intend to hit the ball. There’s no need to yell “Fore” if someone, far to the side, might be hit befause your shot goes completely awry.

Now you may feel that the judge was wrong. But please, imagine what it would mean if the judge had ruled otherwise. Suppose you are on a golf course, near the green at, say, the tenth hole. According to the judge, if you hear “Fore,” then you should look back at the tee of the tenth hole, to see if a ball will be struck toward you. But if the judge had ruled otherwise, where would you look? That “Fore” could mean the ball will fly at you from anywhere. You could be eating a ball before you had begun to gaze at all the directions the ball might originate from. The judge was right.

Disclosure: this writer once took a mighty swing at a golf ball – without saying “Fore” – and somehow made the ball fly directly backward, 180 degrees from its intended direction. No one was injured, thank goodness.

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