CGCS Soetaert on sinkhole

By |  March 13, 2013

Just got off the phone with John Soetaert, CGCS at Annbriar Golf Course in Waterloo, Ill. The course made national headlines after a golfer was swallowed by a sinkhole on the 14th fairway last Friday, suffering a dislocated shoulder and bruises. The sinkhole was 10 feet across, marveled Soetaert, who was at the barbershop with his kids Friday afternoon when he got the call to return to work.

“I couldn’t believe it. It was unbelievable!” he said of getting the call. He rushed to the course and sprung into action, fencing off the sinkhole. 

“It looks like he just fell through the earth,” Soetaert said. “I crawled up to the hole. It looked like a Hershey’s Kiss under the ground, a bell-shaped void.” The sinkhole is smack in the middle of the fairway, so there’s really only one worse place it could be—on a putting green, Soetaert said

The course has other sinkholes but none so drastic as this one. It’s too early to estimate how long it will take to excavate and repair it, but Soetaert‘s hoping repairs won’t take longer than a couple weeks. Since he and his grounds crew are fully occupied with the sinkhole, Soetaert had to call in reinforcements to help with pre-emergents and day-to-day maintenance. 

But he’s just happy the golfer wasn’t injured more than he was. “I’ve been working on a golf course since 1986 and I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said.

For more of our interview with Soetaert, check out our April issue!

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