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GUEST COLUMN: Twice-told tale told again

Deck Cheatham

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

His name was Daniel. He was the caddy master at my home course. The title puzzled me. We did not have caddies, but then, golf claims its traditions.

Daniel could not read or write, but man, he could hit a golf ball. I was the little bird under his wing. In that comfort, that love, he taught me about golf and life. I saw him sign his name once. It was an “X.” This moment, a first in my life, stopped me. Discerning the divide, it remains sad.

If God is anything (I know he is all things good), he is a storyteller. God weaves his tale through history, through time, through us. Why we retain some memories and why others are lost escapes explanation. There are theories about how emotions attached to memories make them stick. It may be the means by which God tells his story.

When I was wandering through my story, I ran across Peter McWilliams’ book, “You Can’t Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought.” Some 530 pages long, I can boil it down to one sentence — you cannot (must not) worship the god of someone else’s opinion. That god, opinion, was a symptom of my “Charlie Brown” life. God was trying to tell me this story.

Our story is one that seeks love and we are adept at looking in all the wrong places (my apologies to Johnny Lee). Searching, we accommodate much in rendering unto Caesar, rendering unto anything and everything really, and are stubborn in our reluctance to render unto God. It is a twice-told-tale told many times over, thus, our familiarity with it.

One might think God would tire repeating this narrative. His patience reveals his love. As with all stories, the telling is in the re-telling. Each time, it reveals a little more truth, more details, and more nuanced wisdom that satiates our thirst.

Daniel was a gentle giant, always good natured and joking until that one day. On that day, Daniel exploded. An angry, pestering brat named Bobby Sears was taunting Daniel because he did not like Daniel’s skin color. I don’t remember all the words used but one bad slur got repeated.

In an instant, less than a syllable, restraint left Daniel. He picked Bobby up by the neck, lifting him to shoulder height, and began choking him. I froze. It occurred to me Daniel was about to kill Bobby. I am not sure what stopped him. As quickly as the vein-popping anger appeared, it left. The moment subsided. Life went on.

Until today, I have never told this story to anyone, family or friends. It remained between those present and God.

The human story continues. Human will has an inveterate inertia spiraling to a transitory end. God, in his love, intervenes in our oft told tale introducing hope eternal.

Dear Daniel, I began my career as a caddy master. Your friend, Deck.“Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” (Matthew 11:15).

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