What Does Cut Mean In Golf: Separating the Pros from the Rest

Golf is a game of skill, precision, and endurance. It captivates millions of fans around the world. But what truly sets golf apart from other sports is its unique format, particularly the presence of cuts in professional tournaments.

The cut serves as a filter, separating the top-performing players from the rest of the field. Typically, the cut is made after the completion of the second round in a four-round tournament. The exact number of players who make the cut varies depending on the tournament’s rules and regulations. 

join us as we explore the rationale behind golf tournament cuts and the impact they have on both players and spectators.

Why Do Golf Tournaments Have Cuts?

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Golf tournaments have cuts to narrow down the field of players as the competition progresses. 

A cut is essentially a predetermined score or ranking threshold that determines which players continue to play in the tournament and which ones are eliminated.

The primary reasons for having cuts in golf tournaments are:

Field Size

Golf tournaments often have a large number of participants, especially in professional events. 

The cut helps manage the field size by reducing the number of players as the tournament progresses. 

This ensures that the tournament remains manageable in terms of logistics, time constraints, and available resources.

Quality Of Play

By implementing a cut, tournament organizers aim to ensure that only the most skilled players advance to the later rounds. 

The cut helps separate the players who are performing well from those who are struggling, allowing the top performers to compete against each other. 

This enhances the overall quality of play and creates a more competitive environment.

Spectator Interest

Golf tournaments are spectator events, and having a cut adds excitement and maintains spectator interest throughout the competition. 

As the tournament progresses, fans and viewers can follow the progress of their favorite players and witness the intensity of the final rounds. 

The cut often occurs after the second round, providing a midway point where the field is significantly narrowed down.

Tv Coverage

Golf tournaments receive extensive television coverage, and having a cut helps in shaping the broadcast schedule. 

By reducing the number of players, organizers can focus television coverage on the players who are performing well and have a realistic chance of contending for the title. 

This allows broadcasters to provide more in-depth coverage of the tournament’s most significant moments and storylines.

How It Is Decided Who Makes the Cut?

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The decision on who makes the cut in a golf tournament is typically based on the scores or rankings of the players after a certain number of rounds. 

The specific criteria for making the cut may vary depending on the tournament and its rules, but there are a few common methods used:

Fixed Number

One common approach is to establish a fixed number of players who advance to the next round. 

For example, a tournament may decide that the top 70 players (including ties) based on their scores at the end of a specified round will make the cut. T

his number can vary depending on the tournament’s size, the course capacity, and other factors.

Cut Line

Another method is to use a cut line, which is a predetermined score threshold. Players who score better than the cut line or tied with it will make the cut. 

For instance, if the cut line is set at even par, players who finish the specified round at even par or better will continue playing in the tournament.

Percentage Rule

In some cases, the cut is determined based on a percentage of the field. For example, a tournament may decide that the top 70 players (including ties) or the top 70% of the field, whichever is greater, will advance. 

This ensures a consistent ratio of players making the cut regardless of the field size.

Historical Examples of Memorable Cuts in Golf

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There have been several memorable cuts in the history of golf that have had a significant impact on tournaments and players. Here are a few notable examples:

The 1996 Masters

One of the most famous cuts in golf history occurred during the 1996 Masters Tournament. A 21-year-old Tiger Woods, playing in his first Masters as a professional, shot a 4-over-par 40 on the front nine of the first round. With the cut projected to be around 5-over-par, it seemed like 

Woods might miss the cut. However, he rallied on the back nine and shot a 30, finishing with a 2-under-par 70, comfortably making the cut. 

This impressive comeback showcased Woods’ resilience and marked the beginning of his illustrious career.

The 2003 Open Championship

During the 2003 Open Championship at Royal St. George’s, one of the sport’s greatest players, Jack Nicklaus, bid farewell to his competitive golf career. 

Nicklaus announced before the tournament that it would be his final Open Championship. Despite struggling with his game, Nicklaus fought to make the cut. 

On the 18th hole of the second round, he holed a remarkable birdie putt, prompting a standing ovation from the crowd as he waved goodbye. Making the cut in his final Open Championship was an emotional and memorable moment for both Nicklaus and golf fans.

The 2011 Pga Championship

 At the 2011 PGA Championship held at the Atlanta Athletic Club, it was a challenging cut for many players due to the demanding course conditions. 

The projected cut was 4-over-par, and several high-profile players failed to make it. 

Notably, Tiger Woods missed the cut after shooting 10-over-par for the first two rounds. 

The cut line served as a reminder of the unpredictable nature of golf and showcased how even the best players can struggle on a given day.

The 2019 Open Championship

The cut at the 2019 Open Championship at Royal Portrush was particularly noteworthy as it created history. 

The cut line fell at 1-over-par, resulting in a major championship record with 79 players making the cut. 

This was due to a combination of challenging weather conditions, which affected scoring, and a large field size. The depth of talent advancing to the weekend added excitement to the tournament and showcased the competitiveness of the field.

Frequently Asked Questions

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned golfer, this compilation of questions and concise answers will provide you with valuable insights into the game of golf.

How Does The “Cut” Affect The Remaining Players?

The “cut” in golf affects the remaining players by reducing the field size. It narrows down the competition to the top-performing golfers who have achieved scores below the cut line. These players continue competing in subsequent rounds.

Can The “Cut” Score Change During A Tournament?

No, once the “cut” score is established at the beginning of the tournament, it does not change during the event. The score required to make the cut remains constant, ensuring consistency and fairness throughout the competition.

Do All Golf Tournaments Have A “Cut”?

No, not all golf tournaments have a “cut.” Some smaller or invitational events may not implement a cut, allowing all participating players to complete the entire tournament regardless of their scores. 

The decision to have a cut depends on the tournament’s format and organizers’ preferences.


The cuts in golf tournaments serve multiple purposes. They ensure that only the top-performing players advance to the later stages of the competition, enhancing the viewing experience for fans. 

Additionally, cuts add pressure and excitement, allowing the most skilled golfers to contend for the coveted title. It’s a captivating aspect that adds another layer of intensity to the game.