What Does 'MDF' Stand For in Golf Scores?

The 'MDF' Acronym Sometimes Appears Near the Bottom of PGA Tour Scores

Jordan Spieth reacts to a missed putt
The MDF might catch any PGA Tour golfer, even those among the best. Christian Petersen/Getty Images

"MDF" is an acronym that sometimes appears next to a golfer's name on PGA Tour leaderboards seen in print or online. Here's what it means:

  • Short answer: "MDF" stands for "made cut/did not finish."
  • Longer explanation: Everyone knows what "MC" means when it appears next to a golfer's name in tournament scores; "MC" means "missed cut." But the "MC" acronym has been around for a long time. Beginning in 2008, a new acronym started showing up in golf scores: MDF. And what does "MDF" stand for? MDF, when it appears in golf scores, means "made the cut but did not finish the tournament." That golfer made the 36-hole cut, but missed the 54-hole cut.

Let's go deeper, including explaining when and why a second, 54-hole cut started showing up on the PGA Tour.

Why Would a Golfer Not Finish a Tournament If He Made the Cut?

Today, at a handful of tournaments on the PGA Tour each year, there are actually two cuts: there is the traditional cut after 36 holes (those golfers go home following completion of the second round); and there is a second cut after 54 holes. This is called the secondary cut, and those golfers who miss the secondary cut do not play the fourth round.

The reason for the secondary cut has to do with keeping tournament fields smaller and more manageable for the weekend rounds. At most tournaments the secondary cut is not needed, because the 36-hole cut does the job of trimming the field to the desired size. But at some PGA Tour events, the first cut leaves more golfers than the tour wants playing the weekend rounds. That is when the 54-hole cut is triggered.

The "MDF" designation was introduced to differentiate the golfers who make the 36-hole cut but not the 54-hole from those golfers who missed the 36-hole cut.

The Cut Rule Change and Origins of MDF

The use of "MDF" dates to 2008 on the PGA Tour. Going into that year, the PGA Tour changed its cut rule. The change led to an odd result: At some tournaments, a small number of golfers were credited with making the 36-hole cut, yet were not allowed to play the third and fourth rounds. Those golfers received FedEx Cup points and were paid as if they had finished 72 holes, but—just like the golfers who missed the cut—they went home after 36 holes.

Using "MC" in the golf scores to refer to these golfers didn't really fit, since, technically, they made the cut. So "MDF" was created: made cut, but didn't finish 72 holes.

As it turns out, the rule that created this odd result—known as Rule 78—was quickly rescinded. The PGA Tour replaced it with the cut rule that is still in use now: If more than 78 golfers make the 36-hole cut, a second cut, after 54 holes, takes place.

And "MDF" lives on as a way to refer to the golfers who miss that 54-hole cut. If you see "Player X 71-70-77-MDF" in golf scores, you know the golfer made the 36-hole cut but missed the 54-hole cut.

When More Than 78 Golfers Make the Cut, 'MDF' Shows Up

Two things to keep in mind: Currently, "MDF" is only seen in PGA Tour scores; and it's only seen if the first cut after 36 holes results in more than 78 golfers playing the third round.

The PGA Tour wants the number of golfers advancing to the week to be around 70; that's the ideal number of golfers making the cut, in the tour's view. Why? Attendance is much higher on the weekend, and so is the TV viewing audience. Seventy-ish golfers on the course is simply much easier to manage, both in terms of on-course crowd control and in terms of pace of play and other factors that make television coverage better.