Wednesday, December 3, 2014

How Do You Yell 'Fore' in Cricket?

Phillip Hughes was buried today. He was 25. I won't repeat the story of how he died - if you don't know then you've been living under a rock.

If you play a sport that involves a hard ball being thrown or hit very hard, then there are inherent risks. If that ball is coming straight at you, then consider those risks multiplied.

In cricket, bowlers can reach speeds of close to 100mph*. In golf, the ball can reach speeds over 170mph.

The ball in golf is smaller and lighter, but by god does it fly fast. Watch just about any professional tournament and someone in the crowds that throng the fairways invariably gets hit. Normally, it is just a painful sting and a bruise - the ball having decelerated by the time it hits someone - but think back to Ernie Els at this year's Open Championship. His ball caused damage as it flew into the crowd and the incident shook him up enough that he fell to pieces on the course... imagine how the  spectator felt.
No matter the size of crowd/event, spectators get very close to the action.
Let's be honest here: in golf, only some of us shout Fore.

Ah look, it's not going to hit them... Oops, just pretend you didn't see which way it went... I never saw you over there...

Excuses, excuses, none of which is acceptable. In the Pro game there should be no excuse either. Could it really be that the Pro is hoping for a favourable bounce... or do they simply believe that it's the responsibility of someone else to shout Fore for them.

Greg Chalmers

It is disgraceful that, days after Hughes died from being struck by a speeding ball, Greg Chalmers, an Australian Professional golfer, did not shout Fore as his ball flew into a crowd of people during the Australian Open. The sad irony was that the ball bounced out of the crowd and onto the green. He almost had a hole in one. If you want to see the shot: GolfChannel. And the commentators thought it was hilarious.

As Paul O'Neill points out in his weekly column, "Are the R&A and P.G.A. of America waiting for a fatality and a court case before they act?" 

And it's time someone did act... it's time penalties were imposed on Professionals who don't shout Fore when a ball goes into a crowd or a grandstand. Oh, you'll argue I'm being draconian and that spectators have to accept the risks as they walk the fairways and watch the world's best golfers, but one of the first things any golfer learns (again, as Paul points out) is to shout Fore. Professionals are no different. IT'S NOT BLOODY DIFFICULT!

What kind of penalties am I suggesting? How about a fine? How about a percentage of the golfer's winnings. That would make him or her think! And the stain on their reputation... It's a bit drastic but I'd prefer that to a spectator being badly hurt. Wouldn't you?

The only people who can impose such regulations are our governing bodies... so, yes, we'll be waiting a while before anything happens. In the meantime, spectators beware.

* Spare a thought for Sean Abbott, the man who bowled the delivery that resulted in such an unexpected fatality. That sort of thing will never leave you... golfers take note.

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