Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Golfer swallowed up by 18-foot sinkhole on fairway

Getting a hole-in-one is certainly one of golf's greatest achievements.  Becoming a hole-in-one is not.

Mark Mihal — a 43-year-old father who was golfing with friends at the Annbriar Golf Course near Waterloo, Mi. — found that out the hard way after he fell into a 15-foot deep sinkhole near the 14th green.

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

"I noticed this anomaly in the fairway and went to have a look but, by the time I took one step, I was gone, I was underground," Mihal said.

"When I went through (the opening) I couldn't see anything, I didn't know how far I was going or what I was going to hit," he added.

Mihal landed on a pile of mud in the cavernous space and dislocated his shoulder in the fall.

"I knew the only way to get out was straight up and I didn't have the use of my left arm," he said.

After finding out what it feels like to be a human Titlelist, Mihal's golf buddies called the pro shop and  hoisted him out of the huge divot with a rope and a ladder in a tense 20-minute rescue.

Mihal said thoughts of the Florida man who died in the sinkhole that swallowed his bedroom raced through his head.

"That crossed my mind when I was actually falling. Is this how I'm going to go out? In a sinkhole,' Mihal said.

"I felt quite stable on the mud, but when I looked around me there were some cracks where there was just blackness so I think (the hole) was just going to keep going."

But he said he quickly turned his focus to how he was going to get out. And how fortunate he was not to have been golfing alone that day.

The bruised mortgage broker said he would golf again, but wasn't so sure about teeing up at Annbriar.

"It'd be kind of strange playing that hole again," he said. "For sure."

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