What It Means to 'Miss the Cut' In a Golf Tournament

Lee Slattery reacts after missing a putt in the KLM Open tournament.
Too many missed putts can lead to missing the cut. Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

What does it mean when a golfer "misses the cut" in a golf tournament? It means the tournament continues without that golfer. When you "miss the cut," you're out - you don't get to play the remaining rounds because your score didn't meet the standard to continue.

A golfer can only "miss the cut" in a stroke play tournament; match play tournaments don't have cuts.

The Cut Trims Tournament Fields

Many golf tournaments include a cut, a trimming of the field that eliminates golfers in (typically) the lower half of the standings, while those in the top half of the standings continue playing. A 72-hole tournament with 144 golfers in the field, for example, typically has a cut after 36 holes to the low 70 scores plus ties (although specifics vary from tour to tour or tournament to tournament).

Why remove the lower (approximately) half of golfers from a tournament? It's about making golfers earn their places in the final round or two rounds. Or it can be a way for professional tournaments to make their final one or two rounds more manageable in terms of player and fan movement around the golf course, pace of play and convenience for television networks.

Cut-Related Terms

The score a golfer needs to be at or above to avoid missing the cut is called the cutline. Those golfers who are at or above that score "make the cut." They continue playing until the tournament's end.

Those golfers below the cutline "miss the cut," and their play of the tournament ends at that point.

All golfers - even the greatest of all-time - miss the cut in a tournament from time to time. Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and all the rest missed cuts. But, generally, the better the pro golfer, the fewer times he or she misses the cut during a season and career.