The Masters — it truly is a tradition unlike any other. From the first drive to the almost ubiquitous, perennial, dramatic conclusion or playoff matchup, every first week of April brings a mix of emotion and talent that few other sporting events can match. And while being talented enough to make this golf tournament is a feat all its own, staying around through the weekend is even more difficult. That’s why every golf fan and golf enthusiast needs to know about The Masters cut rule. Discover more about who gets cut, who makes the final rounds, and how going into the weekend with dreams of a green jacket has changed.
Adopted in 2020, the current Masters cut rule allows the lowest 50 golfers and anyone tied at the bottom of that list to play the final 36 holes — this is known simply as the 36-hole cut. But with the fewest number of invited golfers of any tournament — between 90 and 100 invitees — the cut is one of the toughest to make, especially because there’s no arbitrary cutoff point.
Like any other tournament, the idea behind The Masters cut rule makes perfect sense. By eliminating the players that don’t have a shot at winning the tournament, organizers can avoid slowdowns on the course from poorly performing players and cut down on round times for the sake of golfers and television contracts. It’s that simple.
With the exception of a handful of PGA Championship tournaments — which we’ll get into later — you’re correct. All PGA tournaments have a cut rule. The major differences between The Masters and other PGA events are the number of participants and how many people make the cut.
The Masters field has the fewest number of golfers in comparison to any other major championship, as well as having the most competitive cut rule. In contrast, most PGA tour events — not counting majors — have 132, 144, or 156 golfers with a cut rule that allows the top 65 lowest golfers and ties to advance. Though more golfers are cut from these other tournaments, or at least in theory, The Masters remains the most competitive tournament with the most arduous cut rules, i.e. sticking around through the weekend at Augusta National Golf Club is insanely difficult.
But back real quickly to the tournaments that have no cut rule. Most of these are either match play or reward-based based tournaments, the latter of which invites players that have already won a PGA-sanctioned event in the past calendar year. In reward-based events, the number of participants is much lower, so the cut is unnecessary.
In case you were wondering, here are the PGA events with no cut rule:
The current Masters cut rule of the lowest 50 golfers and ties has only been in effect since 2020. Prior to that, the tournament had five different cut rules, which have changed the outlook of the tournament itself, allowing golfers to remain in the tournament for the weekend. While no golfer who’s scraped by the cut has ever won The Masters — especially now that it’s more competitive than ever.
Here’s a brief history of The Masters and its cut rule over time:
The number of golfers cut from The Masters Tournament has inevitably varied due to the changes in The Masters cut rules. However, this is more than a numbers game. How certain golfers are playing at the time, wind conditions, and weather can also play a factor.
Generally speaking, the number of golfers that make The Masters cut hovers between 50% and 65%. For example, the lowest number of golfers to make the cut was 39.6% at the 1957 Masters during the most difficult years of making the cut. On the flip side, 74.7% of golfers made the cut in 2019 — the final year with the most lenient cut rules.
The cut line, which is the score which a player must shoot through 36 holes to make the cut has also varied significantly over time based on weather, wind, and other conditions. The highest cut line at The Masters occurred in 1982, when a 154 — or +10 — was the cut. The 2007 Masters wasn’t far behind, featuring a cut line of 152, or +8.
Amazingly, the 2020 Masters Tournament had the lowest cut line of all time with par, or 144, as the cut line. The lowest cut line in Masters history aside from the 2020 anomaly is 145 — or +1 — which has occurred six times, but interestingly five times since 1992:
Between these highs and lows, the most common cut line throughout the Masters is a +4, or 148, which has occurred 14 times throughout the history of the tournament. And last but not least, the average cut line over the history of the Masters sits at 148.43.
While making the cut is always an exciting milestone for any professional golfer, The Masters cut rule has sorted out the best of the best in 85 different tournaments with plenty of interesting scenarios, shots, and situations along the way.
And while many people may know that Jack Nicklaus has won six Masters titles or that Hideki Matsuyama became the first Japanese player to win The Masters, The Masters cut rule brings another layer of curiosity and trivial facts. So if you want to hone your knowledge of The Masters to an exponential degree, here are some fun facts about the cut rule at the Masters:
In case you’re wondering, the other major tournaments and LIV Golf also have cut rules. Here’s a quick glance at how they work:
Every golfer misses the cut at some point, but some players seem to do better than others. Since 2017, former FedEx Cup winners Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas — two golfers in the top 10 of PGA rankings — have only missed the cut once in any tournament.
The longest made-cut streak in the history of the tour belongs to Tiger Woods, who played through the weekend 142 consecutive times between 1998 and 2005.
You may never grace Augusta during the first week of April or flirt with The Masters cut rule, but that doesn’t mean you can’t set goals for yourself. Whether you need to work on your short game with an indoor putting green or add a few new clubs to your bag, every step you take can get you a bit closer to a great round of golf. Adding in your own challenging cut line is just par for the course — or maybe it’s a bit higher.