The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Man Escapes 18-Foot Sinkhole On Illinois Golf Course

By Samantha Abernethy in News on Mar 12, 2013 10:20PM

A Missouri man was on a golf course in southwest Illinois when a sinkhole opened beneath his feet and swallowed him down. Insert obvious "hole-in-one" joke here.

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

“I felt the ground start to collapse and it happened so fast that I couldn’t do anything,” said Mihal, 43. “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.”

His companions and club staff at Annbriar Golf Course had Mihal out of the hole in about 20 minutes, but it was a precarious rescue, as they feared the hole could further collapse either outward or downward.

Mihal's wife Lori Mihal wrote about the rescue on

Mark has always been claustrophobic. He was beginning to panic and was in shock; he was also in excruciating pain. The clubhouse respondents brought a 12-foot ladder, which they put down the side of the hole and propped on a mound of mud within it. However, Mark was another six feet below that level and had dislocated his shoulder during the fall; he only had the use of one arm and couldn’t pull himself up to the ladder.

Mark Mihal said the hole "appeared to be shaped like a bell," 18 feet deep and about 10 feet wide. A geologist told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that sinkholes are common in the St. Louis region, due to limestone bedrock, but unlike Mihal's hole, most sinkholes are visible.