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Sinkholes add four new holes to popular Ozarks golf course

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BRANSON, Mo. — The Top of the Rock golf course in Branson was already one of the more famous 9-hole par 3 courses in the nation.

And thanks to some geological quirks of Missouri’s Ozark Mountains, it’s now a 13-hole course.

According to the Springfield News-Leader, officials say that four “medium-sized” sinkholes opened on the course this week. Experts say that recent heavy rains in the area likely played a large role in the formation of the sinkholes—the largest of which measured 60 feet by 80 feet wide and 35 feet deep.

The four sinkholes displaced a combined 7,000 cubic feet of material. Geological engineers will conduct an in-depth investigation of the sinkholes next week to determine whether or not the holes can be filled in or if they will have to become a permanent part of the course.

Martin MacDonald, director of conservation for course owner Bass Pro Shops, told the News-Leader that the Ozarks’ karst topography is a major feature in the area, creating many of the state’s caves and, occasionally, sinkholes.

According to geologists, karst topography occurs in areas where water seeps into cracks in the limestone bedrock, eventually creating caves and underground passages. These underground features sometimes collapse, causing sinkholes.

The sinkholes opened near a practice green and driving range, and scheduled golf games would not be affected.

“If they were going to have a place for a sinkhole to open,” MacDonald told the News-Leader, “that was not bad.”

According to their website, the course—along with the Buffalo Ridge course—is home to the annual PGA Champions Tour Big Cedar Lodge Legends of Golf Tournament.

The course was designed by golf legends Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Arnold Palmer.