35-Foot Deep Sinkhole Opens, Swallows Part Of A Missouri Golf Course

Golfers may be used to having sand pits as hazards, but how about a 35-foot-deep pit? Those seeking a little tee-time in Branson will have to find away to play around newly opened sinkholes. Top of the Rock Golf Course now has four extra, unplanned hazards to get around.

According to Branson Tri-Lake News, the sinkholes appeared early Friday morning. Luckily, no one was around when the Earth decided to have a little golf course for breakfast.

Altogether, there are four sinkholes with the largest reaching down to a 35-foot depth. That sinkhole is approximately 80 feet wide. Gary Pendergrass of GeoEngineers called the largest sinkhole only “medium sized.”

Pendergrass believes that all the sinkholes are from the same system. Sinkholes occur when empty cavities underground collapse and create a hole on the surface. It is not uncommon to have sinkholes appear near ponds or lakes. The largest of the golf course sinkholes is right on the edge of a pond.

“Soil collapsed right into the bedrock cavity,” Pendergrass said. “Usually, these begin fairly deep… In this case with the pond, you have a sudden collapse.”

The largest sinkhole has drained most of the nearby pond, causing some of the soil from the walls to slough off. However, Pendergrass believes that once the water is gone, the sinkhole will not get any larger.

Martin Mac Donald, Director of Conservation for Bass Pro Shops, and Pendergrass stated that sinkholes are not uncommon in Missouri. Martin Mac Donald referred to Missouri as a “cave state.”

“Now, that’s kind of a fancy word, but what it means is when water circulates down, it basically dissolves rock and creates different kinds of formations, caves, as an example, or in the case that we have here, a sinkhole.”

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The other sinkholes are not quite as large; one measures 25-feet wide and 18-feet deep while the remaining two are only a few feet deep.

Top of the Rock will remain open for the Memorial Day weekend. The sinkholes have been cordoned off to keep visitors safe. Nearby structures on the golf course, such as the chapel and clubhouse, have remained unaffected and are safe.

Sinkholes come in all shapes and sizes, and some can have a devastating impact. One sinkhole swallowed two people as they walked off a train. Luckily, they only fell a few feet and were safely rescued.

Top of the Rock has not postponed any tee times. The course just will have to take a detour around some unplanned sinkhole hazards.

[Photos via Sara Karnes/Branson Tri-Lake News]