RIDGEDALE, Mo. – A treasure hunt is underway at the Top of the Rock golf course in Ridgedale, Missouri.
Currently excavation crews are in the process of widening, and digging deeper inside, the sinkhole that opened up at the PGA sanctioned par-three.
The hole is currently 12-times larger than when KOLR 10 first reported on it, back in May.
“When the water gushed in from the collapse of the lake [last year]” says Bass Pro Shops conservation director Martin MacDonald, “that water went somehow, someway, through some passage — out through ‘John L’s Cave.’”
“John L’s Cave,” discovered back in the early 90s, sits some 2000-feet west of the sinkhole.
“What that meant to [Bass Pro Shops and Top of the Rock owner] John Morris, was that there has got to be a link to the sinkhole and ‘John L’s’ cave,” he says.
“That’s what you see here today — the treasure hunt.”
Currently, the sinkhole is 200 feet across and roughly 100 feet deep, compared to the original size of 70- by 40-feet.
Crews have removed nearly 350,000 cubic yards of dirt in search for the underground cavern. It’s unknown where or how large the passage might be, or if it even exists.
“Are we sure? No, It’s all part of that sense of adventure to see if it is there,” he says.
While the search is still ongoing, so far it has uncovered several geological formations – some standing more than 50-feet tall.
“We work to not abuse them, or scar them, with the equipment,” says Jimmy Wolfinbarger, project manager at the excavation site.
Wolfinbarger says currently crews are “relaying” dirt out of the hole, one bucket at a time.
So far, the six-month effort has created enough room for 2.3-billion golf balls, according to estimates by Bass Pro Shops.
“[We] work our way down. That’s why you see these benches — the soil has been benched back –to lessen the pull of gravity on the slopes,” he says.
The overall vision for the site will depend largely on what is eventually discovered.
While excavation sites may not be common at PGA events, the massive project isn’t expected to impact the upcoming “Legends of Golf” tournament.
“This is just the opportunity to come do all the things you want to do at Top of the Rock,” says MacDonald, “and get an extra bonus by seeing these formations.”