Explaining the Golf Course 'Collection Area'

A "collection area" is a place on a golf course, most commonly around a putting green, where golf balls are prone to settling (or "collecting") after rolling into it. Collection areas are below the level of the surrounding green (or sometimes fairway), with the terrain sloping down towards the collection area.

As already stated, collection areas are most commonly found beside putting greens — swales, hollows, depressions that collect golf balls that roll their way. The collection area is always grassed and frequently mowed at fringe height or fairway height.

When next to a putting green, part of the green might slope toward the collection area to funnel off-target shots away from the hole on the green. The result is that some golfers will watch as their golf balls roll across the green, off a sloping edge, and down into the collection area.

So, yes, collections areas are somewhat punitive in nature. But they are not like thick rough next to a green. A collection area's challenge to a golfer is in playing the correct type of shot to get back up a slope from a tight lie, and safely onto the putting surface.

Collection areas have always been common on links-style golf courses. But, as Tom Watson pointed out in a 2016 Golf Digest article, "During the past 15 or 20 years, American golf courses have copied the old British links by implementing collection areas. Miss a green, and instead of ending up in deep rough, your ball is sitting on a super-tight lie below the putting surface."

Obviously, knowing where a collection area is on a hole, on what side of a green one sits, which parts of a green slope toward the collection area, is important local knowledge to have.

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