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I would have made this a poll, but there are too many variables. I shared somewhere that I yell "fore" maybe 2-4 times per year, either for myself or for golfers in my group. I also said I don't yell "fore" if I know my ball will not hit someone (i.e. if it's going to land far enough away from them, I don't yell it). Others were incredulous at this, and acted as if I was not yelling fore when a ball might land ten feet from someone else. This isn't the case at all. So, here is my multi-step, multi-variable poll: How many times per year do you yell "fore" (either for yourself or someone else in your group)? 0 1-4 5-8 9-14 15-20 20+ What is your handicap level and those of the people you play with? 0-5 6-10 11-15 16+ How holes on the course(s) you play most often have "danger areas" where a shot played from the tee or an approach shot that's hit off-line can land near an area where other golfers commonly are? 0 1-3 4-6 7-9 10-14 15+ How likely are you or the people you typically play with to yell "fore" when a ball has a chance to hit someone? Highly likely Likely Average Unlikely Highly unlikely I could think of some other questions, but basically, that covers most of it. My answers would be 2, 1 or 2, 2, and 1 or 2. (The higher the numbers for questions 2, 3, and 4, the higher the number will likely be for question 1.)
I tried to make the best poll options I could (without making three questions with ten answers each or something), but basically, I: yell "fore" when I can't see where the ball is going (i.e. it's over a line of trees or over a hill toward another tee box, green, etc.). yell "fore" when the ball is likely to hit someone that I can see. do not yell "fore" if I can see that the ball is not going to hit anyone. When someone else yells "fore," I: cover my head and duck in place when I don't know the source of the yell or I can't see the source. run away while covering my head if the people yelling "fore" can see me. This may not be what y'all do, but basically, if I can see that my ball is not going to hit someone, I don't yell. Yelling may cause them to run INTO the golf ball, when if they keep walking or standing as they are, they'll be safe. I apply the same logic when I'm on the receiving end of the yell. If the people can see me, I assume they think it's going to hit me, so I'll run while covering my head. The direction I run is governed by some logic - if there are trees nearby, I'll run under them, as a deflection will take speed off the golf ball. Or I'll try to guess whether the ball is slicing or hooking, or likely to be long or short… that sort of thing (though running toward the person who hit the golf ball is generally not something I do). It's somewhat of a game theory type approach, as I see it. I read a day or two ago here at TST that you're supposed to cover your head and stay in place, but you're staying in an area that prompted someone to yell "fore." So I say going to a different area increases your chances of not being hit. That's if they can see you. If they can't see you (or you can't see them), and you're just in a general area where a ball may be coming, I feel it's better to cover your head and make yourself as small as possible by bending down (or better yet if you can duck behind your bag, or a cart, or something very quickly). I have two stories here: The 17th green at Lake View is forward and right of the 18th tee at Lake View. A number of years ago I hit a pull that was hit toward the location of some people walking off the green (we gave them plenty of time - it was a big pull). I saw that if they kept walking, the ball would miss behind them (it also ended up hitting about 15 yards beyond them). They were upset at first, but I explained that if I had yelled "fore" and they had stopped, they'd have likely gotten hit, while if they had done as they did, they had no chance of getting hit. They understood the logic and told me that made sense. Someone on this forum, at a biennial event… yelled "fore" and I covered my head and ran, because he could see me (the approach shot was from about 100 yards away). I ran about 15 yards and the ball landed about a foot in front of me. It would have missed me by 15 yards had he not yelled, but yelling implied to me that he could see the ball was likely going to hit me… and so moving out of the area made the most sense. I felt that the mistake there was in yelling "fore" for a ball that wasn't going to hit anyone - I was standing there, not moving, and the ball was clearly not going to hit me. I don't think there's any right or wrong thing here. My default is to duck and cover, and I only ever choose to "cover and run" when I'm fairly certain that the person can see me and see that I'm likely to be hit. For example, were I at a PGA Tour stop, I'd duck and cover, because that's going to be a generalized "fore" intended for any number of people, and there'd be nowhere to run, anyway. If I'm standing on the green with three other golfers, and a golfer on a par four nearby says "fore," I duck and cover, because I don't know which golfer it might hit, and so running toward one of them wouldn't do anything, either. One last thing: one thing I never do is look toward the direction the yell came from or try to see the golf ball flying through the air. Both of those just expose your face to the ball.