The Philosophy of Jayson Nickol

A chat with one of the world's top online instructors, live from the Broken Tee Society Discord server
Jayson Nickol header image - San Diego CC Matt Aylward

Editor’s Note: Jayson Nickol is a PGA-certified golf instructor in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Although he offers in-person lessons, his main method of teaching is via the Skillest app, where he’s become one of the platform’s top teachers. Among his many pupils is Mike Shade, one half of the duo behind Chasing Scratch. In this discussion, recorded live in the Broken Tee Society Discord server, Nickol lays out his teaching philosophy, offers a handful of drills for receiving actionable feedback on your swing, and answers a few questions from the audience. The excerpt below has been edited for length and clarity.

Jayson Nickol: No two golfers are built the same, and no two golfers move the same. So no two swings should be the same. There are elements that I like to see within the swing, but everything revolves around hitting the ball better: better impact, better ball flight. So I see those two things, then I reverse-engineer what I see in the swing to figure out what’s causing each result.

I determine what I need to move within your swing, or within your thought even, because concepts are half the battle to help you play better golf. From there I go into the fundamentals—grip, stance, posture, ball position—and address where you are on your takeaway, at the top, on your transition, and then through impact.

Robbie Vogel (TGJ Community Manager): That’s a lot. My first takeaway is that your checklist—grip, stance, posture and ball position—is important for all golfers to remember. It all starts with those four, and even though there are multiple ways to improve any of them, if all four of those things are matched up functionally, then you’re in good shape. 

JN: It’s funny. The majority of golfers want to be as good as the pros. You aspire to be a plus-8 handicap. But go to the range and you watch the pros work, and the first things they work on are grip, stance, posture, ball position and alignment. They get those dialed in every day.

Then you go to your average range and maybe one guy has an alignment stick on the ground. Everybody else is out there hitting balls with no feedback. This is one thing I harp on with all my students: If you don’t practice with some form of feedback, you’re just exercising. 

BMW Palm Springs event 2024 - rain golf
Alignment is vital

TGJ: You mentioned that golfers come in with the notion that they want to improve their swing or their ball flight. Have you seen a change in recent years in terms of what they’re looking for, as opposed to when you started? Perhaps people seeing things online like George Gankas’s teaching style that they want to implement into their games?

JN: Having just enough knowledge is always dangerous. For ball flight, probably in the past three to four years, you’re seeing more people saying, “I have to hit a draw. Only good players hit draws.”

Predominantly, the people who want to hit draws want that because they can’t do it. I would love all my golfers to have the skill to hit a draw, but you don’t necessarily have to work the ball both ways, or be able to hit a draw, to play great golf.

Outside of that, you mention Gankas, and he’s unbelievably smart. I love his personality, his teaching style, and I would probably assume that he doesn’t coach every single person into the same style, because a 50-year-old guy who works at a desk all day isn’t going to be able to move like that. But there are elements inside that are very beneficial for a lot of golfers.

People talk about wanting to shallow the club, which is the opposite of a very common struggle—being steep on the downswing. Being steep into the ball is very detrimental. Being too shallow, of course, can be the same thing. A few days ago, I had back-to-back live lessons. The first guy was slicing the ball because he was too steep, and the next guy was hooking it because he was too shallow. Everyone is always battling their tendency, and so if you can move the needle away from that tendency, you can start to see some real improvement.