How Can I Qualify to Play in the U.S. Open?

Plus: How Qualifying Works, Entry Fees, How to Apply

Justin Rose holds the US Open trophy aloft
Justin Rose holds the US Open trophy. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

So you want to play in the U.S. Open. What does it take to go through qualifying? What are the eligibility requirements and fees? Is it doable? It's certainly doable, assuming you meet those requirements and are willing to pony up the entry fees. So let's go over the U.S. Open qualifying process and how you—yes, you!—can enter a qualifier.

Eligibility Requirements to Enter a US Open Qualifier

U.S. Open qualifying events are open to those who meet one of the following requirements:

  • Any professional golfer is eligible to enter.
  • And any amateur golfer who has USGA men's handicap index of 1.4 or lower can enter U.S. Open qualifying.

The US Open Qualifying Process

Every year, the USGA stages qualifying events at more than 100 locations in the United States, plus a few international locations. The qualifying process is this:

  • Enter a local qualifier.
  • If you finish high enough, advance to a sectional qualifier.
  • If you finish high enough, advance into the U.S. Open.

Easy-peasy! Okay, not really easy, just simple to understand.

In 2016, local qualifiers were scheduled at 111 locations, all of them in the United States, in early to mid-May. Local qualifiers are 18 holes in length, played at stroke play. The number of golfers advancing out of each local qualifier is determined by field size; in 2016, a total of 525 golfers advanced out of local qualifying and into sectional qualifying.

The field at a local qualifier includes many club professionals, many highly skilled amateur golfers, and even some golfers with pro tour experience—perhaps even some current or recent PGA Tour pros whose status or recent accomplishments in pro golf do not allow them to skip the local qualifying stage.

Golfers who advance out of local qualifying move on to the sectional qualifiers, where they are also joined by golfers who were exempt from local qualifying. Sectional qualifiers are 36 holes (played in one day) of stroke play. In 2016, 12 sectional qualifiers were scheduled in the United States, plus one in Japan and another in England. The international sites played in late May; the domestic tournaments played in early June.

The field at a sectional qualifier may include many current PGA Tour golfers, even some major championship winners, along with touring professionals from other pro golf tours.

Those who make it through sectional qualifying join the final field for the U.S. Open, along with all the golfers who were exempt from any qualifying (a total of 156).

Applying to Play in a Local Qualifier (And Entry Fees)

Fill out an application and mail it in, or submit it online, along with payment for the entry fee. As long as you meet the entry requirements (professional or amateur with 1.4 handicap index or below), and you correctly fill out the entry form, you're in. (Although it should be noted that if you get in and then your score fails to meet a "good play" scoring threshold set by the USGA, any future applications on your part might be rejected.)

In 2016, the entry fee was $175. Entry forms are posted when they become available each year on the USGA website:

  • Go to
  • Click on the "Championships" tab, then select the "Apply to Play" option.
  • Find the info for the U.S. Open and proceed.

The entry deadline is usually in late April. Be sure to carefully read the rules and requirements in the informational PDF—the fine print—before submitting an entry form.