Cheek finds his passion on golf course, pays off with OU scholarship

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By Ken MacLeod

It’s not uncommon for young athletes training and competing year round in a single sport from the age of 8 or 9 to burn out at 14 or 15, just when their parents who have invested thousands of hours, miles and dollars can see the promise of a college scholarship start to shimmer in the distance.

It is uncommon, however, for one of those burned-out athletes to turn around, pick up another sport and two years later sign with one of the most prestigious programs in the nation.

That’s exactly the story of Cameron Cheek of Owasso, a former home-schooled tennis prodigy who Monday signed to play golf for the talent-laden University of Oklahoma team coached by Ryan Hybl.

Cheek started swinging a tennis racquet at age three and from the ages of 8 to 14 he estimates he trained at least four hours six days a week. He knocked off the No. 1 ranked junior in the country when he was 12 and was ranked in the top 50 himself, with his sights set on a Division I scholarship and possible pro career.

Well one of those has happened and the other is still possible, just not in tennis. At 16 Cheek told his parents he was done with tennis and was going to spend his time out at Bailey Ranch Golf Course. He had taken a couple of lessons when he was 13, but now was smitten with the game, pouring as much time and energy into golf as he previously had tennis.

“My dad was a little disappointed, but he just wanted me to be happy,” Cheek said. “And golf is 100 percent what I lvoe to do now. I can spend 10 hours on the course and want more. I found my passion.

As a tennis player, then a switch to golf. Cameron is on the right with brother Cayden, who stuck with tennis, on the left.

“It didn’t come naturally, but I was too dumb to know any different,” Cheek said. “I shot in the 90s my first round and just loved it and wanted to keep going. Before long I was consistently in the 70s and just kept getting better.”

Working with PGA teaching professional Kyley Tetley at The Club at Indian Springs and playing and practicing daily at Bailey Ranch, the 6-foot-4 Cheek began to overpower the course with his length and speed. He routinely swings around 123 mph with 182 mph ball speed and can carry his drives 305 to 320 yards in the air. His iron play has improved drastically and his putting is solid, while he said wedges and short game is where he will need to continue to improve to earn playing time on the stacked OU roster.

Cheek won three times on the Oklahoma Junior Golf Tour in 2023 and was the Player of the Year. He also competed in four AJGA events with a best finish of tied for 15th. He will play in regular season high school events next spring and also in OJGT and AJGA events and possible national events before heading to OU next fall. Having never played on a golf team, he is relishing the experience.

“There will be 12 or 13 guys who will be my brothers and be pushing me to get better and I think that will be awesome,” Cheek said. “And the coaching staff are just all top-notch guys. Coach Hybl came out to watch me and he is all that you could ask for from a coach.”

Cheek said he first wanted to play for ORU and was recruited by Southern Methodist, but when Hybl called he was all ears.

“I was basically born in OU jumpers and I’ve been a life-long Sooner fan,” he said.

“Cameron is just a great story for us to be a part of,” Hybl said. “He’s one of the best tennis players in our state and then Covid happened and he got all in on golf.  He is learning at a fast pace and we are looking forward to helping him grow and develop here. Cameron is a grinder and will fit in well with our program.”

Cheek’s brother Cayden plays tennis for Oral Roberts and he enjoys hitting with the team in the off-season, but his passion is now strictly golf.

“I still enjoy tennis, a lot more now to play it on a whim than to practice four hours a day,” Cheek said. “But I love golf.”

Recruiting notes: Natalie Blonien, the top unsigned senior girls golfer in Oklahoma, is scheduled to sign with the University of Arkansas on Thursday, according to former OJGT director Morri Rose. Blonien recently won an AJGA event in Las Vegas for uncommitted seniors.

See here or all other Oklahoma prep signings announced earlier.

2024 OJGT signees
Layne AilshieFort GibsonUniversity of Central OklahomaNCAA DII
Britt BaileyOklahoma ChristianNortheastern State UniversityNCAA DII
Collin BondCommunity ChristianOklahoma State UniversityNCAA DI
Josey CavittTurnerUniversity of Central OklahomaNCAA DII
Cameron CheekOwassoUniversity of OklahomaNCAA DI
Peyton CoburnBishop KelleyBradley UniversityNCAA DI
Lucy DarrStillwaterOklahoma State UniversityNCAA DI
Grant GudgelStillwaterOklahoma State UniversityNCAA DI
Jaci HartmanTurnerNorthern ColoradoNCAA DI
Will HennesseeBishop KelleySeton HallNCAA DI
Ty HyattStillwaterUniversity of Central OklahomaNCAA DII
Allie JustizArcadiaTexas StateNCAA DI
Sam MorrisJenksOral Roberts UniversityNCAA DI
Bryson ParkerTurpinNortheast Community CollegeNJCAA
Parker PayneNobleDrake UniversityNCAA DI
Parker SandsEdmondUniversity of FloridaNCAA DI
Roger SmithHeritage HallGrinnell CollegeNCAA DIII
Connor WhitworthPoteauUniversity of Arkansas MonticelloNCAA DII
London WilsonAdaSouthwestern Oklahoma State NCAA DII

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Ken MacLeod

Publisher Golf Oklahoma | Oklahoma's No. 1 Golf Source