Dr. Ronald Collins spent 43 years working as a pediatrician and infectious disease consultant, so he understands the risks the coronavirus pandemic poses.
The Florida resident remembers the MERS and SARS infections, both of which reside in the same family of COVID-19, a viral respiratory infection that has gripped the world with tense fingers.
“I know what it is to see terrible patients that are coming in,” he said. “This is nothing unlike a plague. When you read the stories of how people — one after the other, generations — just perished … it’s really quite astounding.”
While Collins understands the threats this virus poses, it didn’t stop him from golfing, at least until Palm Beach County recently shut down its golf courses.
“It’s the only sport where you’re not involved in close competition most of the time,” Collins says. “You’re twenty yards away from someone or more. You’re just alone, and you can play … as long as you can walk the 18 holes. That’s interesting in and of itself, I think.”
In fact, during a March round at Sandhill Crane Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, Collins accomplished something most golfers — professional or otherwise — don’t do in a lifetime.
On the 13th hole, Collins made an albatross, getting a 2 on a par-5. The fateful shot was a hybrid 5 iron from 182 yards out.
Off the course, it’s second-nature for Collins to look back on his time as a pediatrician — a 43-year career built in north-central New Jersey after his time bouncing between the New London submarine base and the United States’ first ballistic sub, the USS George Washington.
Collins points out that the world is far more equipped today than it was hundreds of years ago in dealing with infections with such far-reaching implications. But even then, with no cure and strained resources, he also acknowledges that the societal band-aid is much the same now as it was then.
“In the [olden] days, people would do exactly like you see — they would isolate. We are dealing with a case now where we have to isolate,” he says. “It would be so much easier if we found it to be malaria. We have a large number of medications to be used against such a thing. This is a viral disease. And more than that, it’s an unknown viral disease.”
On his recent albatross, initially Collins and his playing partner Bob Lord believed the ball was in a bunker or the woods. Just as Dr. Collins was about to give up the ball for lost, Lord saw it.
“Doc!” he exclaimed, “it’s in the hole!”
After the two confirmed it was, in fact, Collins’ ball, Lord said.
“This only happens in storybooks.”