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Golfer Falls into Sinkhole at Annbriar Golf Course in Waterloo

Mark Mihal was golfing with his friends at the Annbriar Golf Course near Waterloo, Missouri on Friday when he fell into the ground on the fairway at the 14th hole, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“I was standing in the middle of the fairway,” Mihal said Monday. “Then, all of a sudden, before I knew it, I was underground.”

Mihal said he fell into a sinkhole that had to be 18 feet deep and 10 feet wide. The rescue effort was excruciating because no one knew if the hole would grow in size when people walked around its outskirts above ground.

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During the fall, Mihal dislocated his shoulder, which meant that he could not climb out of the hole using the ladder sent down to him. His friend, Ed Magaletta, climbed into the hole and wrapped the rope around his waist so he could be hoisted.

Even though he was rescued in less than 20 minutes, Mihal immediately began to think about the sinkhole in Florida that swallowed a man who was in his bedroom.

“That certainly went through my mind when I was down there,” Mihal said. “It looked like it was more room to go down (in the hole). I wasn’t too happy to be in there.”

“It’s one of my favorite courses around,” he said. “Always in great shape, with not many houses lining the fairway, diversity in the holes. It’s one of the better, if not the best public course in the area.”

Russ Nobbe, the general manager of the course, said, “You try to think what you can do to help. You’re trying to imagine where in the world there’s a sinkhole on 14.”

A geologist who examined the sinkhole, Philip Moss, said that Mihal was not moving when the ground gave way under him.

“This guy just really was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Moss said.

“It’s a gradual process that creates a void in the soil,” Moss explained. “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.”

The picture in this post comes from Mihal’s website, golfmanna.com. friends have asked Mihal if he will ever gold again and he says, “Sure.” But, he said that he does not know if he will ever golf again at Annbriar. He explained his thought process: “It’d be kind of strange playing that hole again, for sure.”

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