Thankfully, Mark Mihal can now laugh at any hole-in-one jokes following him around after a close call on the links last week.
Because his situation was anything but funny after an 18-foot sinkhole opened beneath him as he stood on the 14th hole at Annbriar Golf Course in Waterloo, Ill., last Friday.
“I felt the ground start to collapse and it happened so fast that I couldn’t do anything,” he said on his website, Golfmanna.com.
“I reached for the ground as I was going down and it gave way, too. It seemed like I was falling for a long time. The real scary part was I didn’t know when I would hit bottom and what I would land on.”
Luckily he was golfing with three intrepid friends who arrived to help almost immediately after he fell and called the clubhouse.
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Help arrived with rope and a ladder, but Mihal had separated his shoulder and was in shock so couldn’t help with their efforts.
Instead, Ed Magaletta volunteered to lower himself into the hole, secured Mihal’s shoulder with his sweatshirt and tied the rope around his friend’s waste.
No more than 20 minutes later, the mortgage broker from Creve Coeur, Mo., was in an ambulance.
Sinkholes—this one was about 10 feet wide—are reasonably common in the area, one expert told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Because the ground is limestone, it’s prone to erosion with heavy rains. What’s unique is this particular sinkhole cratered just as Mihal, 43, arrived.
“It’s a gradual process that creates a void in the soil,” geologist Philip Moss told the newspaper. “Over time, (the void) migrates upward through the soil to where the soil arch gets too thin to support the weight of what’s over it, and it collapses.”
Mihal said he couldn’t help but think of Jeffrey Bush, who died in a Florida sinkhole a week earlier.
As for returning to the course, he’s unsure how quickly he can play No. 14 again.
“It’d be kind of strange playing that hole again, for sure,” he told The Associated Press.
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