how is the cut decided in golf

Uncovering the Mystery: How Is the Cut Decided in Golf?

Last Updated on May 30, 2023

Golf is a multifaceted sport with numerous regulations that all players must observe. After two rounds of play, ‘the cut’ is used to decide who will progress further in the tournament. But how exactly does this process work? In this blog post, we’ll take an in-depth look at the cut decided in golf – from “how is the cut decided in golf?” to what types of cuts exist – so you can be sure you’re up-to-date on your knowledge.

Table of Contents:

What is the Cut in Golf?

Golfers are familiar with the concept of the cut. In professional golf tournaments, such as PGA Tour events and World Golf Championships, the cut is an integral element. But what is it exactly? Let’s take a closer look at the rules and regulations that make up this important aspect of competitive golf.

The Cut Line:

The cut line is set by tournament organisers before each event begins. It marks the highest score that players can have after two rounds in order to move on to the final round or “cut” day. Players who finish below this number are eliminated from contention for any prize money awarded in that particular event, while those above it advance to play one more round for their chance at glory (and cash).

No-Cut Events:

There are some designated events on both tours where there is no cut rule applied, such as certain Major tournaments like The Masters and Arnold Palmer Invitational or certain World Golf Championship events. In these case all players who enter will compete through all four rounds regardless of their scores over the first two days, making them much more difficult fields than normal tour stops with cuts being enforced.

Projected Cutline:

During live scoring coverage, you may see something called “projected cutline”, which refers to an estimate of what score would be needed in order to make it into Sunday’s final round if the play were halted right then and there – based off current standings combined with weather forecasts etc. This number fluctuates throughout competition until finally settling when official scores become finalised after Saturday’s conclusion.

The cut in golf is an important concept to understand, and knowing how it is decided can help you better plan your game. To gain a deeper understanding of this concept, let us investigate the process by which the cut is determined.

Key Takeaway: The cut line is the maximum score players can have after two rounds of a golf tournament in order to advance; no-cut events like The Masters and Arnold Palmer Invitational do not enforce this rule. The projected cutline gives an estimate of what would be needed to make it into Sunday’s final round if the play were halted right then and there.

How is the Cut Decided?

how is the cut decided in golf

The cut line, or the number of golfers who progress to the last round, is established by various factors depending on the tournament.

At PGA Tour and PGA Championship events, as well as most other designated tournaments, the primary cut is established after two rounds of play. Any golfer within ten shots of the leader will be let through to compete in the third round. Additionally, those who are all within a stone’s throw (10 strokes) of each other make up what we call “the secondary cut,” allowing them to join in on the weekend play.

The cut is an essential element of the game, and its outcome can determine a player’s success or failure. To maximise success on the course, it is essential to comprehend the mechanics of the cut.

The Role of Scoring

Score is a major factor in determining who advances. The cut line is determined by the total score of each golfer after two rounds, usually on a Friday. The PGA Tour generally sets the cut at 10-under par or lower for most events and 5-under par or lower for major tournaments such as the Masters, U.S. Open, and British Open Championships. In addition to this primary cut line, some tournaments have a secondary “cut” that further reduces the field of players competing over the weekend by another 3-5 strokes below par. This includes no-cut events like World Golf Championships and designated events such as Arnold Palmer Invitational, where all golfers make it through to play in Sunday’s final round regardless of their score after two days of competition.

Tiger Woods is known to have set the bar high with an 8-under par projected cut line, while Rory McIlroy has been observed to raise the stakes even higher by typically setting his own target at 9-under par in order to ensure he gets enough rest before teeing off again come Saturday morning. With such a formidable benchmark being established by these two golfing titans, it goes without saying that any golfer wishing to make the cut must bring their A-game and be prepared for some stiff competition.

Accurately tracking one’s score is critical to advancing in golf, so let us now consider the various types of cuts seen on the course. Building on this, let’s explore the various cuts that golfers often utilise.

Different Types of Cuts

Golfers know that the cut is a big deal. The dividing line that marks who progresses to the concluding stage and those who don’t is a major event for golfers. But how exactly is this cut decided? And what types of cuts are there? Let’s examine the various kinds of golf cuts and how they function.

Stroke Play Cuts:

The most common type of cut used in professional golf tournaments is stroke play. This system takes into account every golfer’s score over the course of all four rounds, with the lowest scores making it through to the final round. In a tournament with 80 entrants, those who have posted scores of 70 or lower over all four rounds will progress to the final.

Match Play Cuts:

how is the cut decided in golf

Match play cuts are slightly different as they involve head-to-head competition between two players on each hole rather than overall scores across all four rounds like stroke play does. In match play, whoever wins more holes out of 18 (or however many holes are played) advances to the next round until there is one winner left standing – no matter their total score over all 18 holes.

For the extra savvy players, a secondary cut may be implemented if too many competitors make it through with stroke or match play rules alone. This is usually due to some rounds having more favourable conditions than others, resulting in abnormally low scores compared to other days. To remedy this issue, the best three out of four rounds are taken into account when deciding which participants progress to finals day – thus discounting any additional strokes caused by unfavourable weather.

In summary, understanding how different types of cuts work can help you better understand why some players make it onto finals day while others don’t quite manage it despite playing well enough throughout qualifying stages – especially if you’re new to golfing yourself.

Key Takeaway: The cut in golf can be decided by either stroke or match play rules, and the Modified Stableford Scoring System (MSFS) may also come into effect. Achieving a place on finals day is all about knowing which parameters to stay within – it’s as simple as that.

FAQs in Relation to How is the Cut Decided in Golf

How does a golfer know if they have made the cut?

In professional golf tournaments, the cut is determined by a predetermined number of players with the lowest scores. This can vary depending on the tournament and field size. Generally speaking, after two rounds of play, those who are within 10 strokes or fewer of the leader will make the cut and advance to compete in weekend play. Players outside this range do not make it through to continue competing for prize money or points toward rankings. Notwithstanding their scores, the cut can also be decided by a definite amount of players.

Is there a difference between amateur and professional cuts in golf tournaments?

Yes, there is a difference between amateur and professional cuts in golf tournaments. Amateurs are typically limited to two rounds of the tournament before being cut, whereas professionals must survive three or four rounds, depending on the size of the event. Amateurs must make it through two rounds, while professionals have to survive three or four before they can be cut from the field. The rules also differ slightly for amateurs as they may not be eligible for certain awards or prizes that professionals can receive if they make it past a certain round of play.


Golf is a multifaceted game that requires careful adherence to its numerous regulations, making it challenging for many players. Learning how is the cut decided in golf is essential as it is an important aspect of the sport, as it determines who will make it through to the next round or tournament. By understanding how scoring works and what types of cuts are available, you’ll have a better chance at making it into your desired event. With practice and dedication, anyone can master this essential part of the game.

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