ST. LOUIS – Mark Mihal was having a good opening day on the links Friday when he noticed an unusual depression on the fairway of the 14th hole at Annbriar Golf Club in southern Illinois.
Remarking to his friends how awkward it would be to have to hit out of it, he went over for a closer look.
One step onto the pocked section and the 43-year-old mortgage broker was plunging into a sinkhole. He landed 18 feet down with a painful thud, and his friends managed to hoist him to safety with a rope after about 20 minutes.
I feel lucky just to come out of it with a shoulder injury, falling that far and not knowing what I was going to hit, Mihal said.
Mihal was at 1-over par and waiting to hit his third shot on the par 5 when he noticed a bathtub-looking indentation about knee deep just behind him.
It didnt look unstable, he said. And then I was gone. It felt like forever, but it was just a second or two. And all I saw was darkness.
His buddies didnt see him vanish into the earth but noticed he wasnt visible, figuring he had tripped and fallen down a hill. But one of them heard Mihals moans and went to investigate.
One of his golf partners made his way into the hole, converted his sweater into a splint for Mihal and tied a rope around his friend, who was pulled to safety.