SEK's top golfer

Chanute junior Drayton Cleaver has teed off on a stellar season.


Chanute High School golfer Drayton Cleaver has won every SEK League meet this season, despite running into some challenges from time to time.

Cleaver is the No. 1-ranked golfer in the SEK with a total score of 301. It’s the first time for 30-year CHS head coach Bill Woodard that a golfer has had a perfect season, winning every league meet.

To hone his craft, Cleaver has been making strides since elementary school. The junior started to take the game of golf seriously at the age of 10, training in Kansas City with a swing coach. Over the summer, Cleaver golfed rigorously in anticipation of having this kind of season.

But even the best golfers have their challenges.

The toughest course Cleaver has played on this season was a regional meet at the Winfield Country Club on May 6. Cleaver said he wasn’t striking the ball the way he wanted to and he had many unlucky breaks that led to numerous self-adjustments. Still, Cleaver finished fourth in the non-league meet with an 84.

A few weeks earlier on April 19 at the Woodland Hills Golf Course in Fort Scott and on April 8 at the Independence Country Club, Cleaver once more faced some adversity despite placing first in both meets. In Indy, he ended with 77 strokes, while in Fort Scott, he tallied a 75.

Cleaver said at these two courses, he was battling the elements while making his steadfast corrections. The way the courses were set up and the wind direction, he needed to play conservatively going into the greens.

“That was kind of something that I wasn’t quite used to,” Cleaver said.

At the Hillcrest Golf course on May 4, it rained for much of the front nine. The adjustment for Cleaver was ensuring everything stayed as dry as possible, which ultimately led to first-place with 76 strokes.

Cleaver, who has had tremendous help from his swing coach, his father and grandfather, said his ability to change on the fly is due to new information weekly and his CHS coach.

“I learned a bunch about the swing this week, really trying to get to where I know what I’m doing and if I get off,” Cleaver said. “And Coach Woodard helped me a little bit, but knows when I want help and when I can control it myself. He does a good job of that.”

As an astute observer of his golf team, Woodard knows that these challenges won’t happen too often for Cleaver.

“First of all, Drayton’s an experienced player. He’s played a lot of competitive golf growing up, he makes decisions that don’t put himself into those positions very often unless a bad break happens or something really weird happens,” Woodard said. “He’s never really going to find himself in a lot of these positions that my other kids find themselves in because he’s not going to make a poor swing. He’s not going to make a poor judgment very often. But when he’s in those positions, he knows the smartest way to get back in the area where he can start again scoring. Sometimes he tries shots that he knows how to play. And that’s the other thing that he can do more than the other kids, he’s played all of those shots. He knows how to hit them.”

Cleaver and Chanute golf will next play at Regionals in Independence on Monday.

“I’m looking forward to the State tournament and then on to summer golf. Hopefully, I can get everything to click sometime soon,” Cleaver said.

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