The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

    Drayton Joseph: How the California native has found a home golfing in Pullman

    Wazzu senior making a name for himself this season

    To be a collegiate golfer, you must be dedicated, cool under pressure and understand your strengths and weaknesses. Dayton Joseph is all of those things. The Wazzu senior has been a committed member of the program for three years.

    Over that time, he has grown into an impressive golfer, as he has encountered the unique environment of golfing in Pullman.

    Drayton’s journey to playing golf at WSU was by no means a linear path. “It’s a funny story, because golf was not my #1 sport going into high school,” says Joseph. He was a multi-sport star in high school, playing both football and golf competitively.

    He began playing golf seriously in eighth grade when a rotator cuff injury sidelined him from football. By his sophomore year of high school, he already had a college offer.

    “I was told not to play contact sports, so I took up golf, and I kind of just…fell in love with it.” Joseph committed to golf for the University of San Diego as a sophomore in high school.

    The San Clemente, California native initially wanted to stay closer to home and chose USD over an offer from SDSU. However, into his senior year, he started getting more offers.

    Clemson, Oregon, UCLA, Colorado and WSU came calling, and Drayton realized he needed to broaden his scope.

    “I realized I really would like to play in the Pac-12,” he said. “I clicked with the coaches here.”

    Drayton would spend a year at Florida Atlantic University, but his goal of playing in the Pac-12 never faded. In 2021, he chose WSU over Colorado and moved to Pullman to become a Coug.

    “(The move to Washington) was 100% hard,” Joseph admitted. “I still don’t think I’ve fully adjusted. My coaches, when I told them I was coming to Washington, asked me ‘do you really want to do that?’”

    However, Drayton has enjoyed the challenge of playing golf on the Palouse. “If I had stayed in San Diego, all I’d know is golfing in the 75-degree sun.” Not like Pullman, where the winters often bring wind, rain, snow and hail.

    “We went to a tournament at Oregon State this year, and it was rainy and cold, and all these other schools struggled while we didn’t,” Drayton said.

    The Cougars finished second place in that tournament, and Joseph tied for 14th place overall. A testament to their ability to golf under any conditions, something that only comes with lots of practice in the elements.

    When talking about the strengths of his game, Drayton mentioned his driving.

    “I would say right now, my strengths are off the tee, and my iron play,” he said.

    For those unfamiliar with golf slang, ‘off the tee’ is code for driving, which is the first shot a golfer takes on each hole.

    ‘Iron Play,’ refers to using the iron clubs, which are the shorter, thinner edged clubs. Irons are used when you are close to the green and can be difficult to use due to the amount of finesse it can take to control them.

    “Green reading is huge, that’s a very important skill to have. Knowing which way the ball breaks,” Drayton said. “It’s a skill you have to develop over time.”

    Of course, to be a D1 golfer, you have to be good at putting, but Joseph is not satisfied.

    “I want to keep improving,” he said. “Putting is not an easy task.”

    Drayton also had a lot to say about the mental side of golf, which is often overlooked.

    “I’d say it’s more than 50% of the game. We have a mental coach who works with our team specifically,” he said.

    It’s important not to get frustrated after a bad shot, because one bad shot will lead to another, and then another until it feels like your entire day is ruined. It’s not easy to stay positive on the golf course, but without keeping a good attitude, your score will likely blow up in your face.

    “Golf is hard enough without getting mad…things are bound to go wrong,” Drayton said. “It’s just a matter of how you rebound from it.”

    Drayton said managing his emotions during a game is another area he has improved in.

    “I’d say I’ve gotten better at it,” he said. “I used to get pretty upset back in (junior golf). But I realize, me being upset, it’s not helping anything.”

    As Drayton looks ahead, he plans to stay at Wazzu for one more season, as he does have eligibility to play in 2025. After that, he would like to go professional, but for now, he is focused on his WSU career.

    “Getting a win (both) individually and as a team would be great,” Drayton said. “Making regionals is huge, that’s something we haven’t done in a long time, and right now we are inside the bubble.”

    Wazzu is currently ranked No. 56 according to the Scoreboard rankings, which would be enough to land into the field of seventy teams selected for the postseason. “Playing golf in May is the goal,” says Joseph, and right now, the team is on pace to do just that.

    Joseph finds inspiration to continue golfing from his family.

    “Everything I do is for them,” he said. “My parents have done everything for me, they motivate me to get better.”

    He hopes that by playing golf professionally, he will be able to financially support his family in the future, an admirable goal, and one that will hopefully be achievable, based on his recent strong performances. In his latest tournament, the Prestige he finished 22nd overall (out of a field of 93), with a score of one-under par.

    Drayton and the WSU men’s golf team have two more regular-season tournaments this year, including one this upcoming weekend that will be hosted by Stanford. As long as Drayton plays to his strengths and stays positive when things go wrong, he should have no trouble finishing the season strong, and hopefully helping the Cougars make the NCAA Tournament.

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    About the Contributor
    Levi is a sophomore broadcast news major from Tacoma, Washington. He loves the Seahawks, Mariners, Kraken and of course the Cougs.