What Is the Cut Rule at the Masters Tournament?

General view of a Masters scoreboard at Augusta National
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The current cut rule at The Masters Tournament is this:

  • Following the second round, golfers with the low 50 scores, plus ties, plus any golfer within 10 strokes of the lead, advance to play the final two rounds.

Therefore, if the golfer in 51st place is 11 strokes behind the leader after 36 holes, only 50 golfers advance to play the weekend. But more than 50 make the cut when there are ties for 50th place following the second round, or when golfers outside the Top 50 are still within 10 strokes of the 36-hole leader. A golfer could be in 75th place following two rounds, but if he's no more than 10 strokes behind the leader, he (and everyone ahead of him) makes the cut.

To put it the other way around—who misses the cut at The Masters—you can state it this way:

  • Those outside the Top 50 plus ties and not within 10 of the lead miss the cut—they do not get to play the third and fourth rounds. (Keep in mind that the 10-stroke part of the equation applies only to golfers outside the Top 50. A golfer who is 15 strokes off the lead but is in, say, 48th place, makes the cut.)

The current Master's cut rule has been in effect since the 2013 edition of this major championship.

Evolution of The Masters Cut Rule

  • 1934 Through 1956: From its first playing in 1934 through the 1956 Masters, the tournament did not have a cut. There was no need for one. Why do (most) pro golf tournaments use a cut? To make the field size more manageable for the final two rounds, putting the focus on those golfers in contention to win and improving viewing opportunities for fans. When The Masters debuted in 1934, it had 72 entrants. That's not enough players to require a cut. By 1956, field size had grown to 84 golfers.
  • 1957 Through 1960: A cut was used for the first time in this tournament at the 1957 Masters when the field size reached 101 golfers. So that year, the tournament instituted a cut after two rounds to the Top 40 golfers on the leaderboard, including ties, plus any golfer within 10 strokes of the lead. Did anyone famous miss the cut the first time The Masters used one? Yes—one of the most famous of all. Ben Hogan missed the cut in 1957 by one stroke. Other future Hall of Famers who missed that first Masters cut were Tommy Bolt, Gene Littler, Cary Middlecoff, Paul Runyan, Denny Shute, Gene Sarazen, Julius Boros, Horton Smith, and Craig Wood. Quite a casualty list for Year 1 of the Masters' cut era. This rule—Top 40 and ties plus anyone within 10 of the lead—remained in effect through the 1960 tournament.
  • 1961 Through 2012: The field size at The Masters fluctuates annually but usually is in the range of 90 to 100 golfers. So since that first cut in 1957, the cut rule has been tweaked only a couple times. The first change came with the 1961 Masters. Beginning that year, the cut was to the Top 44 (rather than Top 40) plus ties and those within 10 of the lead. That rule remained in effect through the 2012 tournament.
  • 2013-Present: And beginning with the 2013 Masters, the cut was expanded to the Top 50 plus ties and anyone within 10 strokes of the lead. The cut at the Masters is different from the US Open cut rule, the British Open cut rule and the PGA Championship cut rule. Each of the four majors establishes (and updates as its organizers see fit) its own cut rule.