Golf involves the swinging of metal clubs, which propel golf balls at high speeds. If you're in the way of either the clubs or the balls, you're in danger. You could be placing yourself in danger, too, if you do not respect the power of the sun, the danger of lightning, or your body's need for the right kind of fluids on warm days.
Here are some guidelines that can help ensure your safety, and that of those around you on the golf course (note - when finished here, be sure to check out our Golf Etiquette section for additional suggestions):
Keep Track of Those Around You
When a golf club is in your hands and you are preparing to swing, it is your responsbility to make sure your playing partners are a safe distance away from you. It's not too difficult, after all, to keep track of where everyone is when your group is likely just four or fewer golfers.
Never swing a golf club when another golfer is close to you. That's the most important thing to remember. And be a little extra cautious on practice swings, when it's easy for golfers to let their guard down. Extra vigilance is also needed when younger golfers are part of your group.
Also, look ahead of you, and to the left and right of the area where you are aiming your shot. Don't hit your ball until you are confident that any golfers up ahead are out of your range.
While it's the responsibility of every golfer to be sure it is safe for them to take their stroke, you can't always rely on every golfer to do just that. So even when it's not your turn to hit, stay aware of your surroundings.
Be especially careful if you have to venture into an adjoining fairway to retrieve or play an errant shot, or if you are close to an adjoining fairway and golfers on that hole are hitting toward you.
And always keep a safe distance from golfers in your own group when they are preparing to play a stroke.
Yell Fore, or Cover Up When You Hear It
Even if you follow the advice above, there will surely come times when you hit your drive farther than you expected, or a hook or slice comes out of nowhere and takes your ball toward an adjoining fairway. Or when you play your stroke believing the fairway ahead is clear ... only to notice players up ahead who had been obscured by a hill or trees.
You know what to do: Yell "Fore!" as loud as you can. That is the international word of warning in golf. It lets golfers playing near you know that an errant golf ball might be heading their way, and they need to take cover.
And what should you do when you hear "fore!" being yelled in your direction? For goodness sakes, do not stand up, crane your neck, and try to spot the ball! You're just making yourself a bigger target.
Instead, cover up. Crouch behind your golf bag, get behind a tree, hide behind the cart, cover your head with your arms. Make yourself a smaller target, and protect your head.
(See also - History FAQ: Why do golfers yell "fore"?)
Never Hit Into the Group Ahead of Yours
This should go without saying, shouldn't it? What we're talking about are those occasions when a very slow group is ahead of yours, and frustration takes over. It happens to all of us. Someone in your group gets angry, and next thing you know, they're teeing up a ball and intentionally hitting into the slow-playing group ahead.
If you're ever tempted to do this ... don't. It's very rare, but golfers have been killed after being struck by golf balls. Injuries do occur.
Instead of taking aim at someone in anger, take a deep breath. Remind yourself that you're playing golf, a great game, and enjoy the camaraderie with your buddies. If you spot a course marshall, flag him down and ask if he can help speed up play. Don't take the risk of hurting someone ahead.
Next Page: More Safety Guidelines