The 'Cutoff' (or 'Cutoff Number') in Golf Tournaments

Any golf tournament, professional or otherwise, that includes a cut will also have a "cutoff number." And what is that number? It is the score a golfer must match or beat to make the cut and continue playing.

The cutoff, in other words, is the same as the "cut line." And the cutoff number is the same as the score that represents the cut line. Today, "cut line" (or "cutline") is the more commonly used term. But cutoff and cutoff number are still sometimes used, too.

Quick refresher: Most pro golf tournaments are three rounds (54 holes) or four rounds (72 holes). And most have a cut following the second round (after 36 holes). That means that the starting field is cut, with (in most cases) the bottom half to third of golfers going home while the rest continue playing the tournament.

The cutoff (or cut line) is that point where the cut falls. The cutoff number is the specific score required to make the cut. If the cutoff number is +5, then golfers scoring +5 or better at the end of the second round continue on to the third and fourth rounds. Those scoring worse than +5 are done.

The cutoff number can change so long as players are still on the golf course completing their rounds: The score that represents the cut line can move up or down.

To understand how, let's imagine a tournament that has a cut following the second round and that is using the 10-stroke rule (everyone within 10 strokes of the leader makes the cut). If the leader of the tournament is on the 16th hole of the second round with a score of even-par, then the cutoff number at that point (in this example using the 10-stroke rule) is +10.

But if the leader then birdies the 17th hole to go to 1-under, the cutoff number at that point changes to +9. If the leader then bogeys the 18th hole to fall back to even-par, the cutoff number falls back to +10.

Related articles:

Davies, Peter. The Historical Dictionary of Golfing Terms*, 1993, Robson Books.
(*affiliate link, commissions earned)

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