New Masters cut rule: How the change will affect field at Augusta National

Almost without question, the Masters is the most exclusive professional golf tournament in the world. Fewer than 100 golfers are extended invites each year, a far cry from the typical 144- or 156-player field for other majors. For some, an invitation to Augusta National is the highlight of their career.

But once you get in the gates, you still have your work cut out for you if you want to stick around for the weekend. Like most tournaments, the Masters utilizes a 36-hole cut. But unlike those other tournament, they do things a little different at Augusta National.

In years past, the cut line has been calculated in a simple manner — the low 50 players and any player within 10 strokes of the leader make the cut. But this year, the cut has been reduced to low 50 and ties only — no 10-shot rule. The club announced the change Monday.

Early in the week, it seemed likely that the new rule was implemented because of the reduced daylight hours this time of year. However, Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley indicated this new rule was in the works long before this unique November Masters.

“That was a decision that we made for the April Masters,” Ridley said Wednesday. “It’s not something we did just for this week. Although it could be nice or could come in handy as it relates to darkness.” 

Ridley went on to say the decision was made for two reasons. One, to make it easier to predict the size of the weekend field. And two, when looking at the recent past, just two players have been in contention after making the cut because of the 10-shot rule.

“While certainly it can happen, it just doesn’t,” Ridley said. “It’s not relevant that often, and we thought this was a way to sort of tighten things up and have a more predictable field size for the weekend.”

The most exclusive tournament in golf just got a little more exclusive.

Golf.com Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF.com, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf.