A sinkhole on a golf course in Illinois opened up underneath a golfer, ruining an otherwise lovely day.
Mark Mihal noticed a shallow depression on the fairway of the 14th hole at Annbriar Golf Club. When he stepped closer to investigate, the ground gave way underneath him. He fell eighteen feet, injuring his shoulder. After about twenty minutes, his golfing buddies managed to pull him out to safety.
As many as fifteen thousand sinkholes have been recorded in that region of southern Illinois. The ground is limestone which can be dissolved by rainwater and snowmelt. The sinkhole that opened up on the golf course ended up ten feet wide at the top (once Mihal fell through) and it got wider as it got deeper.
Nationwide, around 20% of the U.S. is susceptible to sinkhole formation. While most sinkholes are formed naturally, sinkholes can also be formed when abandoned mines fill with water and erode the supporting land or when caverns collapse. Decaying infrastructure is often the source of the water when a sinkhole forms under a town, such as the one in Allentown, Pennsylvania that swallowed several homes last year or the one that opened up on a busy street in Washington, D.C. this month.
Golf course photo via Shutterstock