The Rules to Qualify for the US Open Golf Tournament

Are you looking at growing your golf career? Do you dream about playing in the US Open Tournament? Well, it’s possible to play in the most difficult and most important tournament of the year. 

Moreover, it’s open to both amateurs and professionals. You must first understand some of the rules. For instance, if you are an amateur with a USGA Handicap, you must have an index below 1.4. Also, both male and female players must be fully exempt or compete successfully in qualifying. 


It is believed that an amateur player can get a spot in the 156-player field and beat the experts. However, open tournaments are so difficult that amateurs hardly stand a chance. Learn about how to qualify below.

The Rules to Qualify for the US Open Golf Tournament
Image Source: SI

What Is The US Open Golf Tournament?

It is the annual Open National Golf Championship in the United States that plays in June. It is among the four Grand Slam Golf Tournaments like the PGA Championship, Masters, and the British Open. 

Though it is one of the World’s major golf tournaments, it is open to both skilled golf players and amateurs. It was born in 1895 and is managed by the United States Golf Association (USGA). This tournament plays 72 holes of stroke play, and the winner is the one with the least number of strokes.


In case there is a tie after the 72 holes, it calls for a play-off that requires adding an 18-hole round. This is usually played the following day.  

The first US Open Golf game was played in 1895, having only 11 participants vying for the gold medal. The US Open Golf Tournament is such a difficult competition that people have named it a golfer’s examination.

How Amateurs Qualify

The United States Golf Association (USGA) states that for an amateur to qualify for the US Open, they should have a Handicap index of no greater than 1.4. 


In case an amateur player returns a greater score than his expected authenticated Handicap range, he is asked to explain it to the Department concerned.

Also, this might lead him to forego his future attempt to qualify. An amateur with a Handicap Index of 1.4 or less is allowed to compete with other qualified amateurs and some professionals in qualifying tournaments.

Professionals Qualifications

Note that even certified professional golfers don’t automatically qualify for the US Open.  They must meet two rounds of qualifying; the first is the local qualifying that entails 18 holes. 

In 2011, this allowed 550 players to progress to the next level-the sectional level. The second qualifying level is the 36-hole level that selects the remainder of players to make up the 156-player field. Also, the USGA carries out qualifying for players that rarely compete in the US.

Other requirements for professionals include those that won the US Open in the last 10 years, those that won the British Open, Masters, or PGA Tournament in the last five years, those that finished among PGA’s money list top 30 in the previous year, and professional golfers that finished in the European Tour’s top 15 in the previous year. 

A professional golfer that ranks in the world golf rankings top 50 two weeks to the tournament automatically qualifies.

The Rules to Qualify for the US Open Golf Tournament

Qualifying For Non-Exempt Players

Games to qualify non-exempt players begin with a local qualifier in early May. It begins with an 18-hole test in the US for amateurs and professionals. 

If you win these, you advance to 36 holes in sectional qualifying. Qualifiers here get to the US Open with other 36-hole International qualifiers from outside the US.  

However, the number of holes at each site varies according to size. Larger fields have more spots than smaller ones.

Final Thoughts

Much as the US Open Tournament is one of the major Golf tournaments in the US, it’s open for both professionals and amateurs. However, there are rules that both groups of players have to pass to qualify. 

Even a certified golf player doesn’t automatically qualify but has to meet some of the above rules.