Deck Cheatham

Deck Cheatham has been a golf professional for more than 40 years. He lives with his family in Dalton.

It’s tournament time. The alarm meets its 4 a.m. appointment. I wake with the same thoughts I took to sleep with me as though I did not sleep at all. There is no time but to focus on the day’s tasks and preparations.

Normal life is suspended for the tournament’s duration. Details and staff demand attention and direction. There are no seconds to begrudge a lack of sleep. The preparations made in advance crave for someone to execute them when tournament time comes. The switch is turned on. It’s day one.

A golf tournament is like an orchestra. Everyone has a part, an instrument to play and a note to strike. Experience allows the mind a panoramic ideal of the days to come if this or that comes together. Underlying my experience is the unrelieved, immovable and expectant thought things can go wrong. After all, golf tournaments involve people and weather, the two things we think we can predict but never achieve with any regularity or reliability.

Living on the surface of life, tournaments allow little time for anything else, sleep included. We treat life the same way. Our panorama is one of normalcy. We plan, prepare, predict and conduct our symphony until. Until life turns the switch and normal (or abnormal) exerts its own will.

There is a tendency when life turns, when the genetic light switches, when death comes, when we lose a job or suffer defeat, to say, “It is God’s will.” I remain unconvinced.

Solitude, life, experience, the Holy Spirit convince me my response is in His will’s domain. In that quiet place where God demands I move deeper than life’s surface, where I lay down my cynicism amid immediacy and impatience, He comes to heal my insecurity and fear. In my slow dawn, he gives me the strength to endure life’s indifference, to allow hope and love to strengthen my inner spirit and faith, to believe in a promise unseen but made present by the Holy Spirit.

I cannot read God’s word and conclude He is distant. And since He is not, I conclude He does not tolerate my surface existence, the means by which I am often distant from him. I believe God wishes me to know him and this means admitting my vulnerability and insecurity not just to God, but also to myself and to my neighbor. In weakness, I find community rather than the means to divide. In weakness, God grants me the wisdom to change the things I can … the rest be damned.

Every day is a resurrection and healing, for as my outward body fades, my inner spirit is strengthened by faith and trust in that unseen promise. In my post meridiem years, I move toward God. Life’s midday has come and gone. Living and breathing my experience, my synapses are no longer teased by unordered thought. There is no time but to focus on God.

“For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14).

Deck Cheatham has been a golf professional for more than 40 years. He lives with his family in Dalton. Contact him at