The Masters is perhaps the most prestigious golf event of the year.
Golfers that have a chance to play in the Masters will typically tell you that it is their dream come true.
As a young golfer coming up the ranks, there is no doubt that getting the chance to play in the Masters tournament will be a special day in your life.
With all of these players working so hard to get into the Masters tournament, the group of golfers that plays in the event is very unique, and pairings can make or break the first two days of the event.
We have all the information you need if you have ever wondered how the Master’s pairings are determined and why this greatly impacts the event.
How Are Pairing Determined For The Masters
The pairings for the first and second rounds of the Masters are determined by Augusta National Golf Club members.
There is a specific committee of members that meets to put these pairings together and decide who should play with who.
However, there is one set grouping that is the same year after year.
The US Amateur champion must play with the reigning Masters champion.
This is a right and honor that comes with winning the US Amateur and, for many golfers, the most important benefit of the win.
The only stipulation is that the US Amateur champion must still be an amateur when they compete at the Masters; otherwise, they are not eligible for this pairing.
The pairings for the first and second rounds of the Master’s tournament stay the same.
Golfers play with each other for two straight days before the pairings are readjusted based on the scoring that has occurred in the event.
These pairings are really important, and some believe they have a major impact on the overall event.
Pairings for the first and second rounds are groups of three.
It then switches to groups of two.
It’s also important to note that Augusta National does not use a split tee system that would require players to tee off of both one and ten.
When you play in the Masters, you will tee off the first hole for all four rounds of golf.
The Augusta National Golf Club members that get to be a part of this process take great pride in what they do.
Why Do Pairings Matter?
Golf is very much an individual sport, so it can seem confusing that so much consideration is given to the pairings and who people play with.
However, for most golfers, playing with other players they like or who challenge them to be better can create a much different experience.
If you are playing a round of golf with a player who is struggling, it can quickly bring your game down.
There are delays in locating lost golf balls and issues with timing and slow play.
These can be very distracting for golf professionals as they are working to shoot their lowest rounds possible.
Sometimes in these first few days of pairings, you will even see that golfers that are paired together have similar scores, which is simply a natural feature of the game due to the way they tend to play off one another.
Pairings also impact the pace of play, as well as the fans that will want to watch certain groups.
They can make a difference, and that is why the Augusta National Golf Club members are so careful about who they put together.
It’s a great honor to do the pairings for the Masters, but there is also quite a bit of pressure.
Do Professional Golfers Care About Their Pairings?
Professional golfers try to keep the strongest mental game that they can.
The stronger a golfer is mentally, the easier it is for them to play a great round of golf.
However, this is not to say that professional golfers are immune to the effect who they are paired with can have on their game.
Most golfers care about who they are playing with and would much rather play with a golfer who is highly respected or with whom they are friends.
The professional golfers on the PGA Tour have a pretty good idea as to how the Augusta National club members work and what goes into making these pairings.
Through the years, there have been some very good pairings put together that complement and highlight different golfers and make it a really interesting start to the event.
Professional golfers don’t get any say in who they play with.
It can be tough to have those things out of your control, but it is simply the nature of the game.
When Are The Pairings For The Masters Determined?
The pairings for the Masters are determined just a few days before the event, and then they are released to the public ahead of the first round.
Even though the field for the Masters is mostly determined ahead of the event, the pairings don’t come out right away.
There can be last-minute changes that impact pairings, so it is important to wait for a bit before letting the media and general public know the pairings.
The pairings for the 3rd and 4th rounds of the Masters are released right after the completion of the 2nd round.
These pairings are considerably easier to determine because they are based specifically on scoring and not on any opinions of the club members.
What Do Tournament Administrators Consider When Choosing Pairings?
As a member of the pairings committee at the Masters, there are quite a few things that you need to keep in mind.
This process likely results in some debates and strong opinions as to who should play with who.
Here are some of the things that tournament administrators consider when putting together the pairings for the Master’s tournament.
1. Player Relationships
The Masters likes to be a historical and classy golf event.
If there are major issues or rivalries between players, these will often be considered before the event.
Sometimes in other golf tournaments, these issues like the Koepka and Dechambeau relationship will be publicized and pushed to gain attention.
Typically, the Masters won’t do that.
In addition, the pairings committee may look at players that are known to have a really strong relationship.
Sometimes putting three guys together that get along well will create a great day of golf for fans and spectators.
This is a goal of all of those involved in the Master’s tournament, and it certainly comes into play when determining the pairings.
2. History At The Event
Sometimes the history of the Masters will be looked at to determine who should play with who.
Was there a year where two players played well together and almost encouraged each other to shoot lower scores?
This could be set up again for the upcoming Masters.
They may look at putting a past champion with a person who has never played in the Masters before.
This creates not only a good story but also a good experience for the newer player getting a chance to play golf with a legend in the game.
The history of the Masters is a rich one, and there is no lack of stories or details that are interesting and enjoyable for amateur golfers and fans.
3. Crowds And Popularity
Many players draw large crowds.
As you can imagine, when Tiger Woods plays in a Masters, there are quite a few people that want to follow him and walk the golf course along with him.
Sometimes keeping two or three of the most popular players from being paired with each other will make it more manageable to move people through the golf course throughout the day.
Crowds are pretty much in control at the Masters as they will limit the number of people that can come into the event.
However, considering this when doing the pairings is quite important.
How Far Apart Are The Tee Times At The Masters?
Masters tee times are 11 minutes apart for the first two rounds of the tournament.
In addition, there are two times during the day when no group will be sent out to help leave a gap should there be any issues with finding a ball or a penalty hold-up at some point that day.
The tee times for the third and fourth rounds of the Masters will be just 10 minutes apart, but this is when there are only two players in each group.
If you have the chance to go to the Masters and can find a good spot on the tee box to watch players start their day, you will be able to watch continually throughout the day.
Although tee times are not nearly as close as they are at your local golf course, the slight difference in time does help to keep the pace of play moving along quite well.
What Is The Cut Rule For The Masters?
The cut rule for the Masters is a bit different than it is for other PGA Tournaments.
With the Masters cut rule, only the top 50 players and ties make it to the weekend.
This is a very small field, so if you can make it to the weekend at the Masters, you have certainly gotten past some of the best players in the game.
The typical cut rule for a PGA Tour event is the top 70 players and ties.
Although this is still quite competitive, it is better than the Master’s tournament.
The cut rule for the Masters has changed a few times throughout history.
Most recently, in 2020, there was a stipulation that said that the top 50 players and anyone within ten shots of the lead would make it to the weekend.
Today, the only cut rule that is in place is simply the top 50 players and ties; there is no need to be within 10 shots of the lead to make it to the weekend.
The Master’s committee analyzes all of these decisions yearly, and they put together solutions that work for most players.
The initial Master’s pairings are based on the opinions and ideas of a very knowledgeable golf committee.
There is quite a bit of pressure involved in choosing the pairings for the Masters, but in the end, they usually work out quite well.
Some pairings end up working themselves out for the weekend of the Masters.
Watching the way the scores naturally fall and who ends up playing with each other is one of the most interesting parts of the tournament.
The next time you watch the Masters, chances are you will understand more about the pairings and the thoughts that went into it.