Court rules: Yelling 'fore' not legally required

April 29, 2009

It might be bad form, but it is not illegal to fail to yell "fore" when an errant shot endangers a fellow golfer, an appellate court in New York has ruled. The court said that getting hit by a golf ball is "an inherent risk in the game of golf."

The court's ruling was in response to an incident that occurred at Dix Hills Golf Course in Nassau County in 2002. Dr. Azad Anand was struck in the eye by a wild shot hit by his friend, Dr. Dr. Anoop Kapoor, who failed to yell, "Fore!" Anand lost his sight in the eye. Anand had filed a personal injury suit.

"While we are sympathetic to the fact that plaintiff was seriously injured as a result of this accident," the appellate court panel wrote, "to conclude that the defendant can be held 'liable' in tort for a poorly-executed golf shot because he may have negligently failed to shout 'fore' is inimical to the rationale underlying the doctrine of primary assumption of the risk, and at odds with the public policy goal for its adoption -- to encourage 'free and vigorous participation' in sports and recreational activities."

-- John Strege