'Fore!' controversy at Open Championship: When do you warn spectators?

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US golfer Kyle Stanley tees off from the 13th hole during the third round of the British Open golf Championships at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on July 20, 2019. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE        (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Kyle Stanley at the Open Championship. (Getty)

Anyone who’s ever swung a golf club knows what you do if your ball’s headed in a bad direction: holler “FORE!!!” and hope you don’t nail someone too badly. It’s standard procedure, it’s a safety valve, it’s standard and expected protocol.

On Friday, “Fore!” became a topic of controversy at the Open Championship. Friday night, Scottish rookie Robert MacIntyre ripped American Kyle Stanley for not shouting “Fore!” on multiple occasions where Stanley’s shot headed toward fans. On the 14th, Stanley’s wayward shot hit a marshal on the shin, and on 17, the ball hit the mother of MacIntyre’s caddie.

“My playing partner doesn’t shout ‘Fore’, his ball goes into the crowd, we’re shouting ‘Fore’ as the ball is coming into the crowd. He’s just standing watching it. And people didn’t have enough time to react when we shouted,” MacIntyre said Friday evening.

“It hit [caddie] Greg [Milne]’s mum. So I told him how it was. I said I wasn’t happy – and he didn’t really like my response. He’s the only one I’ve seen do that. It was straight into the crowd. It was into the crowd from the word go. And we’re expecting him to shout fore. She’s all right, I think, but it’s not what you want.”

MacIntyre’s discussion with Stanley didn’t go well. “Aye, there were harsh words,” MacIntyre said. “It wasn’t too pleasant. But you’ve got to tell him it’s not right. He didn’t take it well at all.”

Stanley got his chance to speak Saturday afternoon after his round, and presented a somewhat different side of the story. In his telling, several other people on the tee box shouted “Fore!”

“My two playing partners, my caddie, a couple of the volunteers or the marshals, even had them signaling it was going right. I mean, everyone to the right of that ball, they knew it was coming,” he said. “So to me it's kind of a nonissue. I'm not really sure why he decided to make such an issue about it. I know it hit his caddie's mom's hands off the bounce, and that's unfortunate. But as far as I'm concerned, a number of people yelled ‘fore.’ He made the argument that since I hit the ball that it maybe should have come out of my mouth first. I guess I can see that.” Stanley indicated that his own wife and coaches were in the galley as well.

Stanley got 15 questions after his round, and literally every single one was about this particular controversy. He suggested that perhaps MacIntyre use a bit more caution when airing grievances. “You know, when you talk about somebody playing within the boundaries of etiquette in golf, that's kind of a touchy situation,” he said. “To paint somebody in a bad light, not playing within the etiquette of the game, you've got to be careful when you do that. When you tell your story, you've got to make sure you have all the details. From what I read [Friday] night, he didn't do that. He's a young player. I've been out here a while. So I don't feel the need to be schooled on the rules of golf or what to do when you hit a shot off line.”


Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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