Mark Mihal was hoping for a hole-in-one when he stood at the Annbriar Golf Course in Illinois March 8. But instead of a hole-in-one, Mihal literally got in a hole.
The mortgage banker suddenly fell 18 feet through the ground and into a hidden cavernous space that could "fit up to 10 people." Apparently the fairway of the 14th hole had a sinkhole. Other than Caddyshack's explosive ending, this may be the most action a golf-course has ever seen.
"It didn't look unstable," Mihal said. "And then I was gone. I was just free-falling It felt like forever, but it was just a second or two, and I didn't know what I was going to hit. And all I saw was darkness."
Efforts to save the fallen golfer were complicated because Mihal dislocated his shoulder during the fall. Thankfully, Mihal's real estate agent friend Ed Magaletta bravely descended down the hole with a ladder and tied a rope around his injured friend. Mihal was then hoisted to the surface.
Other than his dislocated shoulder, Mihal did not suffer other injuries. But the avid weekend golfer has since vowed not to return to the course.
When Mihal's wife Lori was informed of the accident, she was utterly dumbfounded, "it just sounds too unbelievable!" She even stated the bizarre incident reminded her of the scene in the movie Space Jam when Michael Jordan disappears into the ground while playing golf. Looks like Mrs. Mihal knows her '90s animated sports comedies.
Sinkholes form when acidic rainwater dissolves limestone or similar rock beneath the soil, leaving a large void that collapses when it's no longer able to support the weight of what's above — whether that be a road, house or an amateur golfer.
This incident comes in light of another, more tragic sinkhole occurrence in which Florida resident Jeffry Bush fell in a hole that opened suddenly beneath his bedroom in his Tampa home. Bush was never found and his body is now entombed underneath the rubble.
Deaths and injuries from sinkholes are rare, but certainly not unheard of. In 2012, a 15-year-old girl died when her family's car fell into a Utah sinkhole.
More than deadly, sinkholes are costly. Insurance claims submitted in Florida (the state in which sinkholes are most common) between 2006 and 2010 totaled $1.4 billion, according to a Florida Senate report.