Golf is a difficult game. That’s hardly a controversial statement. Anyone who has ever tried to play golf will tell you that it’s a hard game. Even those who play it well will tell you it’s a hard game.
For those who have never tried to play it, golf can seem like an easy game. Watching it on television typically means watching the best players in the world go at it, and they do it at such a level of expertise that a lot of skills a duffer finds challenging, like hitting the ball off the tee, for example, can seem like a piece of cake. What those who don’t play golf can fail to recognize when they’re watching a tournament on television is that much of the drama, a great deal of the challenge, is going on in the player’s mind, in reaction to a host of different challenges in a host of different situations. It’s watching the player perform under that internal tension that makes the game interesting.
This is going to sound strange, but I was thinking about golf recently in relation to the upcoming 20th anniversary of MidState Medical Center. I was asked to participate in a Morning Record podcast about it, which I did, with the Record-Journal’s Mike Savino and Mary Ellen Godin. Godin’s retrospective is set to run in Sunday’s paper.
There’s a conference room at MidState named for Theodore H. Horwitz. Horwitz, who died in 2013, was “one of the gangsters who ruined Meriden,” as one resident put it 20 years ago. You could also say he’s the one who dragged Meriden kicking and screaming into the 21st century, at least when it came to medical care.
What he recognized was that trends in hospital care were no longer going to accommodate the situation in Meriden, which at the time was home to two hospitals. You see this struggle today in what is going on with Bradley Memorial, in Southington, where people still want to keep what they can of their old hospital. Had Horwitz’s vision not been brought to fruition there’s the possibility there would be no hospital at all in Meriden. Twenty years ago, Meriden’s mayor, Joe Marinan, told me that would have been ruinous for the city.
Horwitz first had to convince the city that Meriden-Wallingford Hospital and World War II Veterans’ Memorial Hospital had to merge. It was not an easy sell. Then, just a few years after city voters in 1990 approved the merger, Horwitz had the gall to suggest that what the city really needed was a new hospital.
During a public hearing at the library in 1992 Horwitz was drowned out by boos. “I don’t know how I’ll convince you of this ...” he’d started to say.
Now, he was not a politician but a hospital executive, and when I had the chance to interview him I was curious as to what could bolster someone not used to facing such public scorn.
I found at least part of the answer in golf.
At the time I talked to him, Horwitz’s handicap was 20, which is not great but is also not horrible, but at one time it had been an eight, which is very good. He’d played the courses in Scotland, where the game has its roots. “... I was an eight when I was over there, which was nice,” he told me. “So I played very well when I was over there. Then I just went to pieces. It’s a head game, as you know.”
Yes, I do. And people who’d played golf with Horwitz told me he was very good at that part of the game. His game was marked by patience and endurance. Many players, including yours truly, will unravel after a bad shot and become resigned to the likelihood of a bad score.
But Horwitz did not play golf like that. “He plays every hole, every shot, with the same care, concentration and tenacity, regardless of the situation, regardless of his score,” I wrote. “It’s an exhausting approach, both mentally and physically, and not too many people can play golf that way. Horwitz does not give up.”
Such dogged determination is the reason MidState Medical Center now has 20 years to celebrate, and obviously Horwitz deserves to be honored in that celebration.
See how much you can learn from the game of golf?
Reach Jeffery Kurz at 203-317-2213, or firstname.lastname@example.org